Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 300 minutes
Rating: TV MA
Release Date: Available Now
You’re despicable, Kouichi, but this show certainly isn’t.
Kouichi Hayase is the kind of guy you would will not like nor will you cheer for him. In fact, he is actually – as a character will reminded you in almost every episode – a despicable person.
However, people change and, in Linebarrels of Iron, Kouichi does just that but not after we are subjected to his despicable personality. You see, Kouichi Hayase is a Junior high student who has been picked on by the same three bullies that made his childhood a living hell. As always, his childhood friend named Yajima would step in and defend him. Embarrassingly enough, so does his female friend (and love interest) named Risako.
One day, while fetching treats for the bullies, an Arma (an armored mech) called Linebarrel drops from the sky and literally lands on Kouichi. When he wakes up, the boy finds himself laying next to a mysterious and beautiful naked girl. He takes said girl back home with him and while she doesn’t remember her name at first, her memories come flooding into her mind. She is Emi Kizaki and she and Linebarrel are connected. Interestingly enough, Linebarrel is now connected to Kouichi as well.
It is because of this connection, Kouichi discovers that he has powers as well as the ability to summon and operate Linebarrel. Having always had the childhood dream of being an “ally of justice,” Kouichi says he is out to protect the innocent but instead flaunts the power while not caring about the destruction he leaves behind. On top of using Linebarrel, he even discovers he has great strength and proves it by beating up the bullies. Sadly, he even becomes cold and bitter towards his friend Yajima who just wants to understand the changes his friend is going through.
Unfortunately, a group has had their eye on Linebarrel and sends Armas to capture it but with Kouichi operating it he displays his true potential in using Linebarrel. He discovers that another group wants Linebarrel as well but to keep it safe. They are the JUDA Corporation and their Arma operators try to convince Kouichi to join with them before he causes too much destruction. In the end, it takes a tragedy to make the boy realize he’s no champion of justice but a jerk with newfound power.
With Emi’s memory returning, she joins the members of the JUDA Corporation and so does Kouichi who is now determined to make up for his earlier turn as Linebarrel’s operator. We meet the members of JUDA such as the hilarious President of the corporation and the operators of various Armas. This is where the series truly changes from grim and dramatic to action-packed and fun. A running gag in this half of the series has Kouichi getting into a number of misunderstandings with Emi who sees him as a disgusting pervert.
Kouichi actually finds his true calling among the members of JUDA and realizes that there’s a true threat to fight such as the Katou Organization led by a man named Hisataka Katou who shares a very interesting secret with Emi. Katou wants Linebarrels for a reason and it is to see the world burn for reasons he does not quite disclose. He’s not alone either because he has agents who know how to handle themselves using their Armas. At one point, he even pays Kouichi a visit in the JUDA Corporation offices to try to persuade him to join them.
There are battles aplenty in Linebarrels of Iron and many a truly dramatic moment as Kouichi and his comrades try to keep the Kotou group from carrying out their plans to destroy the world including an exciting moment in space as Kouichi and a teammate try to keep a satellite from destroying Earth.
Thankfully, there are plenty of comical and fun moments as well in this series and that keeps the series lively enough that you will come to like all the rest of the characters. The series goes through the usual anime essentials such as a Christmas episode and even a trip to the beach. There’s a cute love triangle as well between Kouichi, Emi and Risako. Some of the best moments come when Risako clashes with Emi because the school girl is jealous of the time she spends with Kouichi.
Despite a grim and unflattering first few episodes, Linebarrels of Iron gets better and a lot more appealing as the series gets more exciting and more fun. Sure, Kouichi doesn’t make a great first impression but once the series takes off you will find yourself enjoying the action, likeable characters and the change of a jerk who becomes Earth’s best champion. We definitely cannot wait for the second part to this series.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Kouichi has always been the weak kid who has been the target of bullies since grade school but when a mech called Linebarrel and a beautiful naked girl named Eri lands on him the boy who was picked on becomes a powerful force for justice. Unfortunately, his quest for justice becomes a greedy need to show he’s not weak … until he joins an organization that finally shows him the path to true justice.
VIDEO QUALITY: B+
The animation looks decent enough and looks as close to the original manga as it could get and that’s a very good thing. Really, the series looks great on DVD. The series contains plenty of fan service and that means nudity … thus the TV MA rating.
AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The original Japanese voices are the best way to watch this series but, then again, the English dub does a great job with better dialogue. Plus Josh Grelle does a great job as Kouichi. On the music front, the score is decent but the opening theme is an acquired taste.
The first disc includes an audio commentary track for Episode 6 featuring ADR Director Caitlyn Glass, Alexis Tipton (who voices Emi) and Josh Grelle (who is the voice of Kouichi) that’s is actually fun to listen to thanks to their lively energy. The first disc also includes the music video for the song “Proud” while the second disc a promotional video, the original Japanese TV spot, the textless opening and closing songs and a few FUNimation trailers.
While the hero won’t win you over until the middle of Part 1, Linebarrels of Iron is still an intriguing and action-packed series with a good sense of humor. Sadly, the first four episodes doesn’t do the rest of the series justice but if you give this one a chance you will be pleasantly surprised. By the end, you will definitely find yourself looking forward to the next season.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment