Forty years ago, an unknown event left the citizens of Paradigm City without any memories. Life has somehow managed to stabilize itself, and the people go about their business with memories of the past haunting their steps. The desire for memories gives way to vile characters and criminal activity. Enter Roger Smith, Paradigm City’s top negotiator. But when the problem becomes too great, Roger calls in his ultimate weapon: the Big O!
summary by Ender
Highs: Unique; interesting characters; nice action
Lows: Falls into a formula; music’s a bit bland; raises more questions than answers
Leave it to Sunrise for the giant robot franchises. Although mecha series have been the studio’s mainstay for decades, only a select few of them can be deemed “original”, Big O is one of those select few.
The idea of combining the elements of film noir, spy thrillers, Asimov science-fiction themes, pulp comic books and fierce robot battles is very unique, to say the least. You’d be hard-pressed to find another anime that utilizes the same idea and executes it with such panache… especially a series with characters as unique as their world. You can tell that Roger Smith and his associates (androids and butlers, mysterious fatales and psychotic villains) were distinctly molded for this world. And like the world they belong to, they also maintain the “sci-fi noir” feel of the show. Adding to this is Roger’s continuous narration that is reminiscent of the Hollywood noir characters of yester-year. Of course, the music could have done better to portray this. The lone saxophone theme fits the mood when used, as does Big O’s retro launch music, but most of the tunes seem to be either too somber or too bombastic in most cases.
The story does play off of Roger’s job as a negotiator and the whole memory issue in every episode. Although these are enjoyable detective-style episodes, they do tend to follow a set formula: Roger gets a job, searches for clues, finds clues about said job, giant robot/monster shows up, Big O is summoned to trounce said giant, Roger goes back home. This formula can get frustrating and tends to create more questions than Roger can find answers. Though, the giant-robot smashing is done with fun in mind and does provide for a much needed shot of “over-the-top-ness” to what would otherwise be a very solemn series.
Big O is a must for fans of giant robots and provides for a good stepping stone for those whose only exposure is Evangelion, Escaflowne, or Gundam. If you like stories that are just a few steps away from the norm, then this is definitely one to watch.
Big O can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.