A while back I did reviews for two of Marvel’s anime titles, “Blade and X-Men,” stating they were the better of the four. I’ve recently gotten a chance to rewatch all four anime, and I still stand by my statement, but I’ve gotten to appreciate the first two titles a little more. With “Iron Man 3” just hitting theatres and “The Wolverine” on the way, I thought now would be the perfect time to do reviews of the “Iron Man” and “Wolverine” animes.
Like the other two shows Madhouse took the reins for this endeavor, Marvel gave them a decent amount of freedom to interpret things as they saw fit, and so for “Iron Man” we get some influence from the feature films, some classic comic nods, and also some pretty interesting re-imaginings. Based on a story written by Warren Ellis, and directed by Yuzo Sato, “Iron Man” takes place in Japan with Tony Stark (voiced convincingly by “Heroes’” own “Nathan Petrelli,” Adrian Pasdar) arriving to oversee the construction of a new Arc Reactor to provide Japan with limitless energy. He’s also there to unveil his new Iron Man Dio armor for the Japanese Defense Force.
This is a true fish out of water story, with Tony’s usual brash and eccentric nature falling flat and getting him into a lot of trouble. While all this is going on, an unknown terrorist group named Zodiac is using giant robots to try and destroy both Iron Man and Japan’s defenses. This has Tony fighting Zodiac, and trying to defend his actions and clear his name as he’s dragged deeper and deeper into the conspiracy.
I don’t want to take away from some of the twists here, but it definitely had some. This very original story was actually one of the better ones, and it was the animation that actually set it back. The 2D stuff looks superb, but the cgi armors sometimes look and move clunky. After seeing “Rise of the Technovore” I wish they had taken a little more time with the look of the armor, but it still looks decent and the action is still very well done. Oh and Wolverine even shows up for an episode.
The “Wolverine” anime, much like the upcoming “The Wolverine” movie is a loose adaptation of the classic Frank Miller story. I say loose because there are major characters from the story and it is set partly in Japan but the similarities end there.
The first half of the story takes place in Japan, while the second half takes place on the crime overrun island nation of Madripoor. Logan, or “Pretty Boy Logan” (voiced by “Heroes’” other “Petrelli” brother Milo Ventimiglia) as I refer to this version (which also pops up in Iron Man as I mentioned above, and “Blade” as I mentioned in my other Marvel Anime review) has lost his true love Mariko Yashida, taken back to Japan by her father, crimelord Shingen Yashida. Mariko has been betrothed to Kurohagi, another crime lord. As Logan tracks her down he meets Yukio, a femme fatale with her own path of vengeance, and runs afoul of Omega Red and a Japanese mutant with powers similar to his own named Kikyo Mikage (created for this anime alone, but a character I would love to see in the comics, and at least he pops up again in “Blade”).
The character design and voice of this version of Wolverine turned a lot of people off, and it was only the story that kept me watching to the end the first time. But on the second watch it really didn’t bother me. I was slightly disappointed with this as I was with “Blade” as this should’ve been the chance to get the ultra-violent animated Marvel goodness we’ve waited for, the kind of crazy stuff anime is known for. Alas they missed the boat on that.
As a whole I found the Marvel Anime initiative a fun and innovative way to watch heroes I was already familiar and enjoy new adventures with. I was slightly saddened they didn’t take a cue from the Marvel Mangaverse comics they put out a few years back where everything was re-imagined as if they were created in Japan. I mean can you imagine a giant Mecha Iron Man in the vein of say Gundam or something? Hell even the “House of M” storyline did that. Ah well, if you like anime, Marvel, or are anticipating “The Wolverine” or need more Iron Man after “IM3” then run on out and pick up these animes.