SSBS – Medabots Episode 3: Running Scared

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Plot: Coach Mountain is bringing the hammer down hard on Ikki and the Screws. It seems like every time they accidentally get in his way, he makes them all run and exercise until they’re exhausted. Coach Mountain seemingly hates Medabots and is especially strict about having Medabots and robattles on school grounds. When Erika shows them video footage of Coach Mountain training a Medabot, they all become livid. Why is Coach Mountain training a Medabot and why is he acting so peculiar?

Medabot Debuts:

Megaphant: An ELF Medabot, Megaphant’s design is based on an elephant. It has an iron ball on a chain on its trunk, which it uses to flail its enemies, thick armor, and two strong shields for hands.

Digmole: A MOG Medabot, Digmole’s design is a combination of a bulldozer and a mole. Digmole’s only specialty is digging and doesn’t have much in the way of offensive capabilities.

Robattles:

Coach Mountain vs. Gangsters: Winner – Gangsters: Coach Mountain lost his right to buy the land.

Ikki vs. Gangsters: Winner – Ikki: Megaphant loses arm shield to Metabee and the gangster loses the right to buy the land.

Breakdown: The Screws are out training when they’re caught by Coach Mountain. He’s incredibly strict when it comes to robattles or Medabots on school grounds. If he catches you, he chastises you for wasting time with Medabots and forces you to exercise until you’re pouring sweat.

Ikki: “I mean, bringing their Medabots to school? How stupid can you get?” Nearly every character has been doing that since episode one, including you.

Metabee drops by, nearly getting Ikki the same workout treatment the Screws are getting.

Ikki: “And I heard he stopped an erupting volcano by plugging it with his butt!” The dialogue in this show is so stupid sometimes.

After discussing the legendary harshness of Coach Mountain with Metabee, Ikki tells him to never come back to school again, which Metabee begrudgingly agrees.

The next day at school, Ikki is doomed to Coach Mountain’s exercise regimen after he, along with the Screws, got less than a 30 on their latest tests.

After a rigorous exercise stint, the Screws spot Coach Mountain talking to some shady guys about cash that Coach Mountain seemingly owes them.

Throughout the week, Coach Mountain continuously rides Ikki and the Screws for a bunch of honest mistakes, running them ragged until they’re unable to walk anymore…..I’m really surprised no one’s cited Coach Mountain yet. Making kids run laps because they do something bad, fine, but he’s making them so exhausted they can barely stand or keep their eyes open – and this is all because of accidents and mistakes.

This time, Ikki and Metabee spot Coach Mountain doing something suspicious. He’s dressed in dark clothing with a big wad of cash muttering that the money he has currently isn’t enough.

Ikki and the Screws try to hide out at the store to get some rest. I actually like when the Screws and Ikki hang out with each other. It’s an interesting dynamic.

Erika shows up to give them the latest scoop – a video of Coach Mountain training a Medabot. Everyone’s shocked, but they believe this is the missing piece to the puzzle of Coach Mountain’s harsh behavior. The shady characters, the wad of cash, the Medabot – the only logical conclusion, apparently, is….Coach Mountain is using his Medabot to collect their sweat and sell it to mad scientists.

…..*sigh* Okay, not only is that really dumb, but if the Medabot was the one collecting the sweat, wouldn’t they have seen it by now?

In order to get back at Coach Mountain for all of the exercising (And to get a great news story, on Erika’s end) Ikki, the Screws and Erika join forces to expose Coach Mountain.

That night, they start following Coach Mountain around town, eventually leading them to a very seedy part of the city that Sam claims is haunted. I have no way to prove this, but given that Sam is blushing here and the part of town they’re in, I’ll assume she’s actually talking about something more….adult….than ghosts.

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My concerns are basically validated in the next couple of scenes because they’re then lead into a alleyway where….I assume a prostitute tells them they have to be 21 to get into…wherever this is, then they run into some grabby drunk guys who try to invite them to karaoke. Those obstacles are pretty realistic, but then they come across a guy who won’t let them pass on the street unless they solve some ridiculous math riddle.

Through the commotion, Ikki and Erika are separated from the Screws, but they stumble upon a backalley robattle. Coach Mountain is battling some shady characters. I’d give their names, but even the show doesn’t bother. Even in the Medabot Index screen, Megaphant’s owner is just ‘Gangster.’…..Unless….that’s his name. In which case, your mom screwed your future over big time.

Even though they’re not, at least as far as I can see, Megaphant’s hands look so terrible that I could swear they’re digitally painted over.

He’s defeated pretty handily by Megaphant and tells the kids to run away. The gangsters state that Coach Mountain is a terrible robattler since his Medabot is garbage and he doesn’t even know how to use it properly. They also reveal that the reason he keeps robattling them is because he has a dream to turn this area into a park for the local children.

The little children from the area run to Coach Mountain’s aid, and I guess we’re meant to assume that they’ve been there the whole time but are only just now running to him because the park thing as revealed?

Little Girl: “We don’t need a park, we can play in the alley.” And *cough cough* little Timmy doesn’t need his medicine this month. *cough cough* He can hold on until you pay the mortgage on the shed we live in. *cough cough* What? If they’re going to be melodramatic, I can.

Little Boy 1: “We live around here, but there’s no park. So whenever we play outside, we get road rash.”….You…You get road rash? Is someone throwing you out of a moving vehicle during play time? What?

Little Boy 2: “And then this angel man fell from the heavens and said he’d build us a park.” PbbbbbbbbbbtttttttttttHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! This dialogue is killing me.

Anyway, the gangsters want the land and this robattle is to determine once and for all who gets the right to buy it. This doesn’t really add up with the earlier dialogue between Coach Mountain and these guys about not having the money and them demanding money, but whatever. Also, apparently Coach Mountain has been saving up so fiercely for this park that he wasn’t able to buy good Medabot parts and has even been starving himself.

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Okay, calm the drama down, guys. Pretty soon he’s going to say he’s been selling his blood and crawling on the streets for loose change. And if he’s so dedicated to this cause, why has he been wasting so much time dicking around with Ikki and the Screws, being a complete hypocrite about Medabot usage, when he could’ve been out earning more money with a second job, training with his Medabot or even asking for donations?

Erika: “Wow…that’s the sappiest story I’ve ever heard.” At least they’re self-aware, but the fact remains that this is the truth, so mocking it in-story is kinda mean. It’d be different if they were obviously hamming up a lie.

Digmole obviously loses.

Coach Mountain: “A pink hippo slide….little horsies on springs….A swing made out of an old tractor tire….My dream is slipping away!” I honestly can’t tell if you’re trying to be funny or are going way overboard with the sympathy angle that you don’t get how corny this dialogue sounds. Either way, this is just goofy.

Angered at the gangsters for stealing Coach Mountain’s dream, Ikki and Metabee step up to challenge them instead…..Although….I don’t really get what the gangsters get should they win, besides a piece of Metabee.

Why wasn’t Mr. Referee already here for Coach Mountain’s robattle?

Also, the gangster’s voice is just terrible. I mean, pretty much all of the voices in this show are terrible, but this guy is something else. He’s just chewing up the gangster angle so much I’m surprised he’s not going ‘Nyah, see?!’

Metabee tries shooting up Megaphant, but his shields keep blocking his tracks, his only weak spot, and he has thick armor everywhere else. No only that, but they’re on very sandy terrain, which is great for Megaphant but terrible for Metabee. Ikki commands him to run over the back of a nearby gravel mound. Flying off of the mound to attack Metabee, Megaphant’s tracks are finally exposed from underneath, giving Metabee a chance to attack. He destroys his tracks and bombards him with missiles. The victor is Metabee.

The gangster falls in defeat and Ikki and Coach Mountain have an awkwardly pseudo-romantic tearful embrace.

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The next day, Coach Mountain is back to being a dickwad. He’s punishing the kids for something they did outside of school, which is ‘playing outside at night.’ So you don’t give a shit that they saved your precious park? Nice.

Metabee: “I’d help, but Medabots don’t sweat.” Shut up, Metabee.

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This episode is bad, but for different reasons than the previous two episodes. For starters, Ikki and the Screws are actually in the right this time. The Screws were only in the wrong for practicing their robattling on school grounds. Everything else was an accident, yet they kept getting run ragged Coach Mountain of Shit.

I was especially angry that Ikki saved his park for him and he STILL acts like an unfair twat and punishes them all again.

Not to mention his utter hypocrisy for seemingly hating all Medabots yet secretly having one of his own. I wouldn’t be SO bothered, if not for the fact that he was chastising the Screws for training their Medabots, too, when, again, he was doing the same. We don’t even get an explanation as to where he got this Medabot or why he doesn’t hate this one when he seemingly hates all others.

The first half is really repetitive, boring and irritating, while the second half is just confusing. I get that this is supposed to be some redemption for the guy, but the tone is really screwed up. They acknowledge that this park stuff is cheesy, but we’re supposed to be taking it seriously. They ham up the sob story dialogue like crazy, but the stakes for Ikki’s robattle are supposed to be high.

It’s hard to take any of this seriously anyway with such a cartoonish over-the-top 1950’s-esque gangster character, who doesn’t even have a name, being the enemy. His Medabot is pretty cool and powerful, but that’s about it.

The only thing I liked about this episode was Ikki teaming up with the Screws, just because I find that to be a neat dynamic. Everything else was terrible.

Next episode, Ikki and Erika investigate rumors of a Legendary Medafighter at the local private school.

…..Previous Episode

SSBS – Zoids (Chaotic Century) Episode 1: The Boy from Planet Zi

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Plot: Van is young boy who wants nothing more than a Zoid of his own to pilot, just like his late father. After being chased down by some crooked Zoid pilots, a Guysak pilot in particular named Bull, Van becomes trapped in some old war ruins.

He finds a secret passage that leads him to two pods, and he accidentally opens one of them, revealing a baby raptor-like Zoid that he names Zeke. Bull returns to finish him off, and Zeke tries to protect him to no avail.

Zeke takes Van and flies them out of the ruins, leading them to an old ruined Shield Liger. Zeke amazingly fuses with the Shield Liger, bringing it back to full form, and Van manages to scare off the enemy.

After the battle concludes, Zeke leads them back to the ruins where he prompts Van to open the second pod. Thinking it’s another Zoid, Van excitedly agrees only to find that the pod contains a strange girl.

Breakdown: Zoids was a show that I definitely followed when I was younger. Here’s the thing though, outside of the bare basics, I remember nothing of the story. I remember Zoids, I remember fighting, I remember Van, Fiona and Zeek, that’s about it. I don’t know if that says something about the quality of the show. Hopefully it’s just my crappy-ass memory.

As for this first episode, it’s pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. They establish basically what Zoids are without going into expositiony detail. They introduce Van quite well, and he’s a really likable character so far. You click with him near the end when you see how excited he is to win his first Zoid battle. His relationship with Zeke also starts out pretty strong.

The enemies…..are….the biggest weak point of the episode. The other two, who pilot Command Wolves, are just blah, which is not at all helped by their completely bored voice acting.

Bull, however, is just nearing ridiculously evil. He whines about not getting one of the cool Command Wolves from whoever his bosses are, so he takes command of a stray Guysak, a scorpion-like Zoid, and tries to prove its worth by killing Van….Yeah I’m sure you’ll look so impressive killing a small boy with a 20 ton battle robot. He justifies it by saying he witnessed something or other, but it’s pretty flimsy.

The other weak spot of this episode would probably be the scene with Van’s sister at their father’s grave. It’s just a big fat exposition dump.

The art is usually pretty good, and even the CGI Zoids look pretty nice and don’t clash too much with the traditional animation. However, there are a bunch of scenes with silly and odd facial expressions. Nearly every shot of Bull is a screenshot for the books, and even Van gets some laughable faces.

The music is pretty good, and the ED has stuck with me throughout the years. Something interesting about this series is that, unlike a ton of English dubbed shows, this one keeps the next episode previews, which I greatly appreciate even if they have a habit of spoiling episodes every now and then.

The voice acting, English, is a mixed bag so far. Van’s VA is pretty good and Bull’s is alright, but the silver haired Command Wolf Pilot was just horrible. He could not sound more bored. Van’s sister’s VA also isn’t a very good actress.

All in all, a pretty good first episode that leaves a nice cliffhanger-ish ending to have you chomping at the bit a little to see what’s up with both Zeke and the girl, Fiona.

Rating: 8/10

Next episode, we learn more about the mysterious girl from the pod, Fiona.

Episode One-Derland (Cartoons) BattleTech

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Plot: The inner sphere is a federation of numerous planets. While they lived in peace for many years, the planets within their borders have waged centuries of war against each other. During the midst of the wars, the entire federation was attacked by a new enemy who call themselves the clans. Adam Steiner, a man of royalty and high military ranking from the planet Somerset, seeks to wage battle against the clans after they take over his home planet.

Breakdown: The first episode does a meh job of introducing you to the world in which this show takes place. We’re thrown in the middle of the invasion with no idea who anyone is or what’s going on until about four minutes into the show where we get our plot breakdown via the always helpful pre-opening song narration.

After that, it still doesn’t do a great job of introducing us to the main characters. The most prominent ones I remember are Adam, who apparently maybe got a free ride in the military due to his vague royal status on a low ranking planet. He’s seemingly a noble guy who merely wants to save his home planet and he’s a responsible soldier as he still refuses to pass one of his friends in a mech piloting test or give her a second shot at the test since she showed she didn’t have the right frame of mind to pilot them.

Kylie is the student who was failed, and she’s headstrong and a little bitchy. She blames Adam for not passing her or giving her another chance even though she stupidly failed the simulation and got herself virtually killed because she wanted to be a show off. She seems to stay on the Somerset liberation team as a Banshee (plane) pilot…..However, I don’t quite get why she’s good at that but not mech battles. The same mistake she made in that test could easily apply to battle planes.

Then there’s a red headed guy named Ciro who’s just a complete asshole, a guy who is hella into his job as an officer named Hawk, another asshole who was a smuggler turned ally named Sakamoto, some chick with goggles who’s basically there to spout out information and plot developments and that’s about it.

We get no information on the bad guys outside of the fact that they have weird green tattoos on their faces, glowing red eyes sometimes and are evil.

The cast I’ve seen so far is actually incredibly diverse. While some depictions of certain races can be seen as a bit racist, mostly what are meant to be Japanese people, this show is really diverse……Then again, you have to keep in mind that no matter how diverse the cast is, the main character is still a pretty white guy.

The story itself is pretty generic. War with evil invaders and whatnot. We get some mechs which are nice and some cool action scenes given the environment that they live in. They’re really trying to stake their own claim in this genre, but there’s just not enough differentiation as far as I’ve seen.

Art and Animation: I will start by saying this show was a pioneer in combining CGI with traditional animation, and I commend them for that. However, that doesn’t mean that either animation style has stood the test of time. The traditional art is merely passable looking like it belongs more in the mid 80’s than the mid 90’s, and it really didn’t age well. The animation is filled with coloring errors, odd shifts in body parts while talking and is just not very nice to look at. The CGI has not aged well at all. It’s on par with Reboot’s art and animation, which makes sense because Reboot came out right around when this was made. It’s not so much melded with the traditional art and animation, the scene shifts from traditional scenes to scenes made entirely in CGI.

Voices: Half and half. Much of it is pretty good, actually. Others are just flat or kinda stereotype-y, though I can’t fault the actors too much for that since it was the dialogue and direction that made it that way.

Music: Completely forgettable.

Bottomline: I can see how someone would like this and have nostalgia for it, but I don’t see a point in continuing this series. It’s pretty short at 13 episodes, but I believe it’s too predictable and cliché to clinch my attention for further episodes.

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Recommended Audience: Some violence, implications of death but nothing outside of that. 5+

Episode One-Derland: Bt’X

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Plot: Uhhhhhh……well…..there’s a guy named Teppei who has a weird powerful gauntlet thing called the Messiah Fist….he has a brother named Kotaro who is a prodigy in robotics and is announcing his discovery in the concept of a human brain for robots. There’s a robot empire who kidnaps him for some reason, and Teppei tries to save him.

Breakdown: It really amazes me when I find a show that is equal parts ridiculous and cliché at the same time.

First and foremost, this episode absolutely fails at being an introduction to the series. I feel like I know really no more about this series coming out than I did going in.

Kotaro and Teppei are close brothers. Kotaro’s a genius and well respected professor and Teppei’s a loud brute. Because of his announcement on the findings of this human brain for robots thing, a member of the robot empire, and yes that’s the name of the evil group in this series, named Aramis decides to kill everyone who listened to the speech and kidnap Kotaro when it would’ve been easier to just prevent the speech from happening but whatever.

There’s no reason ever given as to why Kotaro was kidnapped. He just discovered what the robot empire already has in the namesake of the series, the B’t (pronounced ‘beat’) robots, robots with brains that don’t follow human command and have free thought and run on human blood.

Teppei, using the power of his seemingly-does-everything gauntlet called, fittingly enough, the Messiah Fist, beats down robots and tracks down Kotaro only to fight with a cyborg named Metal Face and again, yes, that’s his real name. Want a better one? He rides a dragon robot thing named….wait for it…

Madonna.

Yes, Metal Face and Madonna. These names were greenlit.

We get no explanation as to what the Messiah Fist is outside of something that can punch through metal. No idea where it came from even though it seems to be well known by Metal Face. No idea of how many things it can really do. It’s just a power, okay?

Teppei and Metal Face seem to have a past, but don’t worry we won’t bore you by giving out actually plot development here. We’ll just have them repeat over and over that they know each other.

Teppei is about to get killed by Madonna (I knew this would happen some day) but the blood from his wounds resurrects the legendary B’tX, a big dragon pegasus robot thing that supposedly was destroyed five years ago. And then the episode just ends.

Even for the early 90’s this is a really cliché story so far. One superhuman-esque guy is fighting a bunch of evil robots to save someone precious to him? They don’t add anything really special to make it stand out. The Messiah Fist is the only thing that even tries to make a name for itself and even that’s not horribly memorable. It’s just shoots wires, has a tracker and allows him to punch through metal, though I imagine it does all sorts of ungodly convenient things later on.

The B’t robots are kinda an interesting idea, but it feels like this is something that would be introduced way later in a series because we never really see why it’s such a big deal for robots to have human brains. If these robots already have their own empire and freely kill humans without anyone’s direction but their own, then don’t they do things of their own volition anyway?

These robots also don’t even look good. It’s hard to tell what they’re trying to be most of the time, and the two I saw were just animal-like robots made of nothing but white metal.

The characters were okay, but nothing really made them special either. Teppei is a very typical male lead – brutish, loud, dresses like a punk including torn jean vest and red bandanna but really has a heart of gold. Kotaro is seemingly perfect. He’s been a genius his whole life, he’s handsome, he has a great relationship with his brother, he’s very kind, and he speaks like a philosopher as a child. All the baddies are super evil assholes.

In the art and animation department, being an admitted lover of the old styles of the 80’s and 90’s…..eugh. The eyes are too big for their design and they’re never lined up correctly or spaced properly. When closed, the eyelashes look like giant caterpillars on their faces. The overall designs are uninspired, lacking detail and forgettable. And the animation doesn’t fare any better. It’s not downright terrible, but it is very rough.

Finally, the music is just okay. Nothing stood out to me there, either, which I supposed rounds out this premiere episode.

Final Verdict:

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I have no real urge to continue this at all, and this is coming from someone who adores silly dated action shows. It just seems to have no identity and no spark. I guarantee most people who seek this out are really only wondering what the name is about, and trust me the explanation is nothing special. It doesn’t even really make sense.

B’t just stands for the four B’s that describe the B’t robots – brains, blood, bravery and battler. They have human-like brains, they power up and run when exposed to human blood…..uh, they’re brave and they fight stuff. Of course, that really only explains what the B part is. No real explanation as to why the T is there nor why the B and T have to be separated by an apostrophe. The X is merely the name of the legendary B’t robot that was thought to be dead yet was revived by Teppei. There, now I’ve ruined your curiosity.

Episode One-Derland: Plawres Sanshirou

Plot: The incredibly popular sport of plawrestling is sweeping the nation. People called modelers create and control small robots called Plawrestlers in battles/wrestling matches. A boy named Sanshirou and his plawrestler, Juohmaru, strive to be a great plawrestling team.

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I think I inadvertently found Angelic Layer’s 80’s shounen predecessor.

Seriously, barring the target audience, they’re pretty much the same show in regards to the game. The modelers are deuses, the plawrestlers are dolls and the plawrestlers battle each other in an arena from the modeler’s computer commands. Angelic Layer is just more high-tech and shoujo.

That aside, this does seem like a really fun classic shounen gaming anime. In a time where the market was being completely flooded with giant mech anime, this small robot anime is a big breath of fresh air. The game is really cool, and this is yet another instance where I wish the game existed. It seems like the robots don’t use special weapons and abilities really, either. They have stuff that helps them maneuver and special features but seemingly no special attacks like swords or lasers like Angelic Layer would have.

The matches are interesting, exciting and very fun, and it definitely has a feeling like a shounen gaming anime.

A bit too much.

In our first episode, we’re introduced to our main character, Sanshirou, who is a very typical lead in these shows in that he loves the game and is basically a prodigy at it. He’s loud, he’s incredibly confident to the point of obnoxiousness but still retains likability.

That being said, if he suffers from the messiah trope, I can see this becoming a chore to watch.

The extended cast is really only touched upon, which is fine as I imagine we’ll explore them more later. I think we got enough to realize that they’re really good friends. The girl is obviously the love interest and the fat guy is kinda irritating. The stand out character in this regard is Shota, who acts like he’s a really brash adult when he’s really about seven years old. The first time you see him, he’s ‘smoking’ a chocolate cigarette.

The main plot of this episode is what made me dread the messiah trope in the future as, in this episode, Sanshirou is challenging the repeat champion to a battle and wins….Yeah, he’s going into episode two with a win against a champion under his belt. This might get annoying.

However, despite my worries for the future, this was still a really fun anime that made me want to pick up Angelic Layer again.

The art and animation are of course dated, and the backgrounds get really trippy for some reason sometimes.

The music is alright with my particular favor going to the ED. While Sanshirou’s voice got a little annoying when he yells, the Japanese voice acting was also fairly good, albeit with that classic 80’s cheese.

I’m ready for more plawrestling!

Final Verdict: