InfoTitle: The Big O
Genre: Noir Drama/Mecha
Licensee: Bandai Visual
Years Produced: 1999-2003
Number of Episodes: 26
Available Online: No
SRP: $39.98 (For each 13 episode season)
Online Price: $32.98 (lowest price for in stock found)
Paradigm City is a place with no past. A city without a story, everyone lost their memories roughly 40 years before the series' opening. Roger Smith provides an invaluable service to the people of Paradigm City... he's a negotiator. A former cop turned mediator, he's a skilled man willing to work for almost any case. Though, the adventures are decidedly more like detective stories, as his clients are often obsessed with memories, the world before hand, or lost technologies. At these times, Roger Smith relies on his own mysterious past... The Big O. A monstrously powerful machine, Roger pilots the curious robot to combat the dangerous elements of the world.
DiscussionDon't let the trailers fool you, this show is much more than just a stylish mech show. While it has its fair share of robot battling, the city is really the star. With its obsession with memories it divides everyone into people who are...
- Slaves to our memories, and need to validate our current existence by gaining them
- Against regaining memories, and attempt to poison any attempt to sabotage the cosmic "reset" everyone received.
- People who want to exploit the technology of the past, despite acknowledging the role it played in disaster.
Roger Smith. The "negotiator," straddling the line of neutrality, he acts only to defend the innocents around him. He is often the cause of incredible collateral damage, and as "the Big O" is a menace to the people. With its strong film noir feeling, and episodic, detective style stories, the series felt like a throwback to the instant classic, Batman: The animated series. Though it, temporally speaking, probably took in many of the Cowboy Bebop fans, as both series aired on Cartoon Network, stared Wendee Lee/ Steve Blum, and featured a similar detached story telling mechanic (at least initially.)
Influences/History:Bandai Visual, Sunrise, and Cartoon Network itself, they got the team back together to work on a second season.
Though, the second season didn't see near the same response. The visual quality had a different feel to it, and the story was much more about an overarching plot, than the jazzy stand alones of the previous work. Apparently, Cartoon Network retained an option to force the writer to work on a 26 episode season 3, though they decided to abstain. Poor reception and low DVD sales spelled death for this complex series about memories.
Things you might like:
- A highly composed soundtrack with occasional Jazz and Classical elements thrown in
- Philosophical discussions about how/if memories define character.
- The mostly realistic mech design (though the fights are still seemingly random elements in the story)
- Highly Noir direction/tone.
Recommend this to your friends who enjoyed:Cowboy Bebop
Batman: The Animated Series
ConclusionTrust me, Big O is flawed. In fact, I would have flatly preferred the series without "The Big O," since the fights tend to be the most random parts, but the work as a whole is noteworthy. The second season took it in a very "different" plot direction, but that's excusable. Plus, if you're the type that enjoys reading critical analysis post-watching, you'll have plenty of meat here. I may not like "how" they decided to end the show, but I respect it. Plus, you have to just love a series with a terrible OP like this...