Anime Vice News

Anime that Doesn't Suck: Big O



Title: The Big O
Genre: Noir Drama/Mecha  
Studio: Sunrise
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.





Don'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...
  1. Slaves to our memories, and need to validate our current existence by gaining them
  2. Against regaining memories, and attempt to poison any attempt to sabotage the cosmic "reset" everyone received.
  3. People who want to exploit the technology of the past, despite acknowledging the role it played in disaster.
The major exception is, of course, 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.)


Trivia time. Anyone who has seen the series will notice a stark (like, day and night) difference between season 1 and season 2. Upset at a shorter than expected season, the team at sunrise ended the highly episodic series on a cliffhanger ended, hoping it would get renewed but decided to end the series on a cliffhanger. This gambit proved successful, but not in the normal ways. The show was a snooze in Japan, but its US debut, two years later, made it huge success. In a partnership with 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 
Ergo Proxy
Batman: The Animated Series
Outlaw Star


Trust 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...

John_Martoneon April 14, 2010 at 1:17 p.m.
Apparently I overlooked the obvious connection between this opening and Flash Gordon's main theme.
Thanks MagicalEmi
Krison April 14, 2010 at 1:36 p.m.
Annnnd, I'll finally have to disagree with one of these.  I did not like Big O at all.  I thought it was totally lame.  :(
That Flash Gordan thing was pretty amusing though.
_Judge_on April 14, 2010 at 1:54 p.m.

I love the show. The jazzy-noir kind of world it presented was always fascinating. The art was sharp and edgy, almost crisp to a point, and the story was mesmerizing. I can see where people call it "boring," since there is a looooooot of talking. But the Schwarzwald character brings a whole new perspective on the series.  
If you're a newcomer to anime and if you want a good place to start, be in a listening mood and watch this show!

The_Desert_Tigeron April 14, 2010 at 2:14 p.m.

I've never actually seen Big O, but i've heard good things about it, and it does seem pretty cool.  I should probably check it out at some point.
Valdoron April 14, 2010 at 3:04 p.m.
I loved this show so much.  Many fond memories.
As for the crap ending of season 2, it was because the studio was asked by the network to leave it open and ambiguous so they could pick up a third season.  They never did.

JJOR64on April 14, 2010 at 5:08 p.m.
I watched this back in the day on Adult Swim and I couldn't get into it for some reason.  Maybe I will give it a second chance some day.
KiraIsLon April 14, 2010 at 5:47 p.m.
@John_Martone:  Wow.
I agree with Kris when I saw it, I didn't like it too much. Don't know why though. :S 
I agree with its ways and its principles but we never got along on a viewer/anime relationship.
Karkarovon April 14, 2010 at 5:50 p.m.
Nice Flash vid link there hahaha.  Seriously I understand why there are naysayers for this particular show but Big O is definitely an anime that deserves respect.  It has a very distinct style, extremely high quality art and music direction, and a story that somehow maintains a pulp noir feel and giant mecha at the same time.  You don't see shows that have a feel like this one very often and while it can be boring sometimes I think the story and the action that is there more than pays out and makes up the difference.  
My opinion?  Great pick John.
SilverGalfordon April 14, 2010 at 6:25 p.m.
what do you mean with "that doesn't suck"?
constanzadellarosaon April 14, 2010 at 6:25 p.m.
Superb. Looks super dapper. I'm looking for it right now.
@John_Martone: My jaw ended on the floor while watching this AMV. I love Queen!
Charagonon April 14, 2010 at 7:48 p.m.
Big O was great. I love it!
sickVisionz moderator on April 14, 2010 at 7:57 p.m.
Good to see some Big O love.  This was one of the titles that got me into anime.  I could have gone without the last episode but a great show nonetheless.   It's like some awesome alternate DC universe where Bruce Wayne builds a mech instead of the Batmobile.
GodLen staff on April 14, 2010 at 9:53 p.m.
I love anime Batman!
DocHauson April 14, 2010 at 10:58 p.m.
I was really pissed off at how both seasons ended on cliffhangers, but I also think it did have a rather...interesting story, left up to interpretation. I do think that the giant mech element was kinda random considering the rest of the show was more about not-Bruce Wayne trying to help people with their problems and their memories.
However, it had Steve Blum voicing the main character in the English dub, so that was cool.
00Raiseron April 15, 2010 at 12:40 a.m.
One of the Best Animes ever. Its up there with Ghost in the Shell SAC, Samurai Champloo, Gundam, and FLCL. Amazing animation and the English Dub was well preformed. Oh cant forget the story. I mean talk about a mind bender.
John_Martoneon April 15, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.
@Kris: Hey, that still leaves me a very high success rate. Can't win them all!
I agree. The ending was weird, the robot battles were random, but it left a really enjoyable taste in my mouth.
buhssuhton April 20, 2010 at 6:03 p.m.
there was something about season 2 that i didnt like
Kidd777on April 27, 2010 at 2:42 a.m.

I Loved watching Big O, I still occasionally watch it today. There is so much mystery to the show and it's intriguing. I was captivated after watching the first episode till the last. Even now, I have so many question’s left unanswered. Such as What is Big O?, and Who is Big Ear? and so on... All I can do is petion for season 3 and keep talking. No matter if season 2 is the end I'll always have the show in my heart. " Now and forever. "

Dig Deeper into Big O

A giant robot called a Megadeus. It is piloted by Roger Smith.

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