Episode Reviews

Choudenshi Bioman: Episode 1 – FOR THE MAN!

[謎の巨大ロボ出現] Nazo no Kyodai Robo Shutsugen

The Mysterious Giant Robo Arrives!

Writer: Hirohisa Soda

For my first series of episode reviews, I decided to take on the newly subbed show from 1984, Choudenshi Bioman. The first thing that I had seen of Bioman was the movie a couple of years ago. Even though it was a RAW file, for some reason I was intrigued by what I saw. Hopefully more of the show gets subtitled so I can continue with the show. But, for now lets check out the first episode of Bioman!

Well, this show starts out menacing enough. We get a glimpse at the New Gear Empire in their base, Neo-Cloud. I guess a common theme in the 80s was to have evil scientists as your main antagonist for a show or movie, and Bioman sticks to the trend. Doctor Man is the main baddie this season, and he wants to prove to the world that he is the most intelligent scientist in the world. So, of course, he decides to attack the planet to prove that point. Why not just aim for the Nobel Prize or something? That seems like it would take much less resources to accomplish. Anyway, he sends down a monster and some droids, which awakens a giant robot from his slumber.

The giant robot, known as Bio Robo, seeks out the humans who posses the powers to become the team Bioman and picks them up one by one. The alien robot, Pebo, explains this to them and gives them their Techno Braces, which they can use to transform into powerful warriors. Before Pebo can explain any further, New Gear Empire shows up and attacks the team, summoned by Doctor Man who was shocked that a technology greater than his, meaning Bio Robo, existed on Earth.

Pebo tells them to use their Techno Braces and they manage to transform into Choudenshi Bioman. They fend off the goons and enter Bio Robo to fight the giant Kabuto Kans. Using the computerized manuals inside of their helmets, they figure out how to pilot the mech after a rocky start and manage to defeat the monster. Back on the ground, Pebo welcomes all of them to the team, except for Yellow Four, who refuses to stay with the team and leaves them behind.

I think this was a solid start to a series. It established the main threat straight away, as well as showing how the heroes were assembled. You may have noticed that I haven’t really mentioned any of the names of our main heroes. Well, that’s because we don’t know them at this point. I guess the purpose of doing this was to establish the mysterious nature to which all of the characters were gathered together. And, to be honest, I didn’t really notice this fact until my second viewing of the episode. That does say a lot to the pacing of the show, that it never slowed down long enough for me to wonder who the hell I was watching on screen. As of the first episode, all we know are the professions of each member. Red One is a pilot of Japan’s first space shuttle (though it’s not clear as of yet, since all we see is him jumping out of a plane with a parachute and being hit by a ray), Green Two is a race car driver, Blue Three does water sports, Yellow Four is a photographer, and Pink Five is a musician.

As far as the suits go, for the most part they are okay. I like helmets quite a bit. They have a sleek techno theme to it, with what appear to be stylized headphones around their ears. The suits try to reflect the scientific feel of the show, with bits of circuitry around the chest. My only gripe is with the white bands around their arms and legs. It makes the suit feel too segmented and more like a weird one-piece swimsuit rather than body armor. But, what can I say, they’re wearing spandex, it’s gonna look like that either way.

So far, the weapons seem pretty standard. They have a sidearm which is their laser gun, as well as their swords. They can combine their swords and emit what is called a Miracle Wave, which critically damages their enemies. The only other special attack shown was Red One’s Fire Sword. What I like about this attack is that the sword is ACTUALLY ON FIRE. I love the use of this practical effect, especially in an era where blue lightsaber SFX were standard for toku shows. It may look dinky at times, but I really like the authenticity it brings to the attack and the weapon itself.

What bugged me were the shots where the “Biomen” did an attack, maybe a punch, a sword slash, or a gun, and it was obviously a shot in a studio with a fake background. I guess it was to cut corners or for cover shots. And I know it was used frequently back then, but its still jarring to see a scene shot outdoors in a quarry, then a still shot in front of a backdrop. Other than that, I thought the action was great. Lots of interesting wire-work was used and a great intro into the abilities of the warriors.

Overall, I’d say it was a decent start to a show. It wasn’t my favorite first episode of a Sentai series, since the bad guys didn’t seem any more threatening than in other shows. And, since we don’t know to much about the main characters, there isn’t much to invest in outside of the suit action. Hopefully the next episode delves more into their personalities, as well as the reason why Yellow Four decided to leave the team after one fight.

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