Superhero movies and shows are the big thing now, you can’t escape them they are everywhere and it’s not weird that given its popularity, some of it could pour over the Anime world. This season we got a show created by Stan Lee and directed by the creator of Mushishi, it is something, to say the least. But this was not the first time the cameo himself wanted to break into anime and manga, seven years ago he tried with an original show on hands with Studio Bones and it was called Heroman. Let’s travel to the most generic American city you can imagine and see if Heroman is the hero show we deserve.
About the show
Heroman (ヒーローマン) is an adaptation of manga of the same name. The adaptation was announced on February 2010, the show aired during the 2010 Spring season. Consisting of twenty-six episode of 24 minutes each. The manga consisted of five volumes.
Joey is an orphan kid living with his grandmother in Central City, west coast of America. Joey is a noble person working part-time to sustain himself and his grandmother, but this also means he is not the most popular or rich kid on school so he is bullied by others. After seeing a toy commercial of a new robot, he wishes to have one so he can be strong and protect those who he loves. A stroke of luck falls on Joey when one of his bullies gets one of those robots and trow it to thrash after it gets run over a car. Feeling pity, he takes the robot and repairs it but he could not make it work properly. However, when it gets struck by a bolt of strange lightning, it transforms into a giant robot, just in time to save his friend Lina from impending danger. Now, Joey and Heroman are Earth’s only defense against the evil insectoid Skrugg aliens, unknowingly summoned to Earth by Joey’s science teacher.
One of the reasons superhero movies and shows got this amount of popularity among almost all audiences it’s because their stories are supposedly to be universal corny tales of justice and liberty packed with action and thrill. Anime can convey these characteristics without getting stale like most of the current superhero media. Heroman came in a time where superhero movies were taking a hold on the market and tried to be a stepping stone for this kind of shows. The story of Heroman feels like a re-imagination of a classic tale of a young man acquiring superpowers in a time where the world needs a hero. It does accomplish the basics of a decent story of this genre but takes advantage of the media to expand the universe beyond the initial setting.
Some of my previous criticisms of other shows have been about not being to go beyond a couple of scenarios even if the story allows it, Heroman is not one of those shows. Even if I joke about being a generic American city, the show uses all its scenarios for the fights, development of characters and portray the mood and state of the world at the moment. As you may imagine by the quick synopsis, there is an alien invasion, the aftermath of it we are shown how the city has been destroyed but not the population who still have hope to rebuild once again their homes. There’s a general topic of hope in this show, hope in your friends, in yourself and even hoping for the best in a chaotic situation. Something you don’t see now in Western superhero stories.
Sadly Heroman has a ton of flaws and watching it again for this review made them more obvious than before. The biggest sin of the show is that after a first great arc of the story, the show loses its way and became a fugitive tale with government conspiracies and in the process ditch some o the characters we were presented during the first episodes. When this arc ends, there’s another abrupt shift on tone, we introduce more characters without fleshing out the others and we are now in a slice of life with a giant robot but there’s more about those government conspiracies and the show ends with a redux of the first arc tying up all the loose ends in the last two episodes. I blame this on the length of the show, twenty-six episodes were too much for the simple premise the show had. At the end of the show we are left with cliffhanger that more danger is in sight and the world will still need Heroman, but why? Even if they were teasing a second season or the manga, the villain they show us disappear from the show from the last eight episodes and when he was the spotlight of the second arc, it was a weak element.
Another thing that Heroman has against being a good show is the voice acting. I usually don’t talk about this unless it stands out and gives the show a point of difference among others (see Konosuba), but in the case of Heroman is a detriment. All the characters sound sterile and plain, there’s no emotion involved nor energy when it comes to the fight scenes. We are not conveyed what the characters feel, and there’s a dissonance between what see in the image and the voice. Aside from low budget CGI anime, this is probably first time I see this lack of enthusiasm in a show.
Maybe I had some tight nostalgia glasses when it came to this show, my memories of them were more happy before this rewatch. Although I can also blame that it was a show that gained some “meme” status on imageboards so the discussions were lively during that time. I really cannot recommend watching Heroman. There are better superhero Anime shows out there and there ones that are airing right now. Go watch those instead. Anime is available where anime is.