Post Reply Majin Bone
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Posted 6/13/14 , edited 6/13/14
by MasakoX2

What do kids, specifically boys, like most of all when it comes to a TV show? Fighting? Robots? Powers? Fighting robots with powers? Well, that’s the formula we’ve got here with Majin Bone. A tale about a young boy who gains powers and turns into a robotically armoured fighter with dragon powers and beats enemies up. Sounds good, yeah? Simple action; maybe too simple. In fact, it’s a little lacking.

Majin Bone is a multi-media property created by Bandai. Bandai has created a digital card game of the same name and has, logically, joined forces with Toei Animation to create an anime series to go in tandem with the game. It started with a manga in January published in the magazine Saikyo Jump and now three months later has its animated brother in arms to help push the Majin Bone property into the public eye. Did I say push? I mean lightly tap. The anime is a very lacklustre affair in terms of style and finesse, but I will give it credit for trying its best with what it has. At first, he is clueless about this but his friend Saho constantly points him in the direction of aliens [and for once is on a hiding to something!] and he ultimately finds himself hearing strange sounds that aren’t his mind telling him to jump ship and find a better anime to be an average high school student in. Three figures watch over him (who later are his cohorts Antonio, Tyrone and Luke) and could easily help him when a warrior accosts Shougo when he comes into contact with a magical stone tablet and merges with it, but they choose to just watch instead of…helping. Yeah. The rest of the story revolves around Shougo learning his powers of the Dragon Bone and fighting more baddies in a similar vein whilst also dealing with the sexual tension of having his best friend Saho staying in the same house as him (Saho's family home got destroyed in the aforementioned fight) and her unearthing his porn collection doesn’t bode well for our young man.

I think the first thing I need to point out here is that this isn’t meant to be a deep and philosophical analysis of robotic warriors and such; this is merely a show invented to help sell a card game. They cover the bases of what we should expect in an anime of this sort. However, there is a critical point to make which helps make Majin Bone stand out above Yu-Gi-Oh! clones; its acting. If Toei and Bandai wanted to follow a formula one hundred percent, they could’ve used more grating and simplistic vocals which would sound brash, shrill, over-acted and annoying to anyone over the age of fourteen. Instead, it sounds a lot more natural and realistic. These characters sound more normal than I expected. It makes the show more accessible and that’s a good thing.

Another good thing is what the Majin Bone production team does with the seemingly meagre budget that Toei has bestowed upon them. Toei has been doing this a lot lately, neglecting some of its anime properties for its more popular titles when it comes to animation quality. I applaud them for trying their hardest to make something that punches above its weight. Their efforts pay off somewhat; it actually has a retro feel to it. The superflat art style and simplistic character designs complement the limited resources and add a little charm to proceedings. It saves the show from becoming another cheap ploy for cash. I mentioned earlier that the characters had stock archetypes when it comes to their personalities; but thankfully the designs are more original. Most of the fighting uses 3D models of the robotic armour-clad characters in a grid-like environment. The designs look cool, but the fighting isn’t. It is so stale and unfinished; the limited use of sound effects and minimal dialogue left me feeling cold and distant. I didn’t engage with any of the action save for a couple of moments when Shougo was finding his feet [by planting one in a robot's face]. It brought everything down in my eyes and I felt sad.

I think if Majin Bone got the budget it deserved or maybe a studio that would give it the attention it needed, it would be a better show. I respect it for doing the best it could with what it got. I think the characters are decent and do a far better job than the animation does. It is such a letdown. I will keep watching for a while to see how it goes but I feel that I know that the animation quality will steadily get worse as the mid-series slump occurs but I have hope.

When not working in the Crunchyroll offices, Masako writes for his personal review site Anifile -
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