I’m kind of surprised that people didn’t like Heroman when it first came out. Ignoring the fact that it came out during a pretty packed season, what’s with all these people saying it’s unambitious and kiddy back when it first came out, and even now? If anything, this was the Bones mecha series that should have been popular. It’s fun. It’s campy. It makes interesting stuff happen rather than cocktease the interesting stuff for more than half the series’ length and not deliver in the end. And it’s AMERICA as all hell.
Proof that anime fans suck right here man. But this isn’t a judgment of them. This is a judgment of Heroman. And there are three main reasons for why it’s so cool.
The Retro Setting:
I know that people complain about how Captain Earth’s characters are too simplistic and it’s true that the characters in Heroman aren’t much better in theory, but the reason I give Heroman a pass is because of its retro campy tone. When a show has an underlying sense of humor or style to its cliches, I can forgive them easier. And you can’t tell me that the show isn’t purposefully trying to be retro. It has a main kid character named Joey Jones. His love interest is a blonde cheerleader. His best friend has a fro. The robot has the red, white, and blue all over him. And Bones’ animation style looks like a commercial (in a good way). It’s doing all these American cliches on purpose to the point that it creates its own world of weird logic that you just have to run with in the same vein as Scott Pilgrim and Bakemonogatari. I love that sort of thing as long as the world is capitalized on – something Scott Pilgrim did whilst Bakemonogatari didn’t.
And believe me, Heroman capitalizes on its setting very well. It never gets to do it in an AWESOME manner equivalent to Eureka Seven’s Beam Arc or anything, but it does it with a good amount of consistency.
The show is basically comprised of three or so arcs with each arc tributing a different aspect of comic book history. I’m not that much of a comic book fan, so I can’t really go into detail about them, but basically the first arc is a traditional sort of story, the second is a more edgy story, and the last is more of a grand story along with whatever you describe the type of story that characters like Venom from Spiderman populate. Each arc has its own setup, conflict, and payoff with about two or so episodes of downtime in between them – rather than the 7-20 episodes that makes up those other anime that I’m not going to list on this blog. Said arcs deliver well in terms of delivering the basics of what makes those comic books it’s tributing good, especially with its reveals, its fights, its characterization, and what it means to be a hero. Could really use some of that pacing in Stardust Crusaders right now.
The Relationship Between A Boy And His Robot:
And what makes said hero story good itself, apart from accomplishing all the basics, is the relationship between Joey and Heroman. Say what you will about how everything else is too kiddy, but this kid show gets the relationship between a boy and his robot better than most other popular “adult” mecha shows.
I’m not kidding when I say that this relationship mirrors Giant Robo’s in terms of how much a boy and his robot complement each other – and Giant Robo is the best classic mecha anime of all-time, so that’s a huge compliment. Joey is a weak kid who can’t do much on his own without Heroman. But on the other hand, Heroman can’t do anything unless Joey allows him to. They both depend on each other to get things done, and they both come to appreciate the other for it. It’s a classic old-school relationship that’s nothing too special, but it’s still pretty damn charming when it’s done well. And yeah, Stan Lee knows how to do old-school well. The rest of the relationships are cool too in an old-school fashion – I like Joey’s relationship with Lina and Psy and even Will (hey, a bully character that doesn’t suck) – but it’s the one he has with Heroman that at the end of the day, makes this show for me.
Joey’s superpowers come from a toy arm given to him by a bolt of lightning. How is that not awesome?