The Big O II – Acts 14 to 20

January 11, 2005 on 6:49 pm | In The Big O | Comments Off on The Big O II – Acts 14 to 20

Acts 14 to 20, you say? The Big O II continues the numbering from the first series, because what The Big O is a 26 episode program that just so happened to take a three year break in production. The Big O II was made due to American fan demand, co-produced by Cartoon Network. This is one of the best actions that fandom has had on the industry, because this series really did not do well enough in Japan to justify SUNRISE making a continuation.
Some have accused the involvement of American companies as being a blight on the anime industry, an attempt to make anime more homogenised and evil! Some people just love to listen to the sound of their own complaints.

The Big O II is such a continuation of the The Big O that it picks up exactly where its predecessor left off. Concessions are made to the gap of three years, like an increase in flashes to past episodes. This is because the mystery of Paradigm City and the lost Memories are beginning to come together and all clues are alluded to once more.
This series is more of the same, but is also different in a way (and not in an “Americans have ruined anime!” way). This is due to the infusion of more money, the desire to reveal more secrets and also the need to bring back Beck and cause pain to viewers.

The 14th act of The Big O II sets a precedent for the series: the first episode to include “psycho-drama”, the sort that seems to happen only in a character’s mind. Roger’s look into the pre-amnesia time of his psyche is interesting, not just because it features Mister Beck but because it also has creative cinematography. The use of a theatre is admittedly not original material, but it comes across well – as is presenting all of the characters in silhouette, at least facially.
The use of symbolism has also increased, and one has to wonder what the red balloon means. This sort of writing and presentation is delicious.

This series is following some of the examples set by the first, with Norman’s concern for the state of dinner being well recognised. The butler also gets to come into his own, driving a motorbike that shoots missiles from the sidecar and a memorable use of a kitchen cupboard.
Angel, the character who was infuriatingly mysterious in the first series, is given a real opportunity to reveal herself. The scenes between her and Roger are among the best and most romantic. The moment of realisation at the beach is one of the best dramatic moments produced for either series. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the relationship of Roger and Dorothy, who get precious little shared screen time. Dorothy appears to want to act independently, which is good for her but takes away one of the more enjoyable dynamics of the series.

The rest of these episodes take a distinctly religious stance, such as in the case of people singing in church for comfort, and the coming of an angel down to Paradigm City. There are excellent episodes on human and robot equality, a subject that always makes the characters wonder how the two got along before amnesia. Whatever it was that hit Paradigm City got the androids, placing everyone on equal footing.

The only exception to the enjoyability is the totally random episode 18, which features a Japanese company. The Japanese businessmen are represented as short, bucktoothed and camera-happy. This sends a very mixed message. The whole episode is out of line with the rest of the series, using a bizarre mix of American and Japanese animated humour techniques. The episode begins with Roger’s narration, then a “bouncy” effect to reveal that he is actually still in bed (the implication being that he is a lazy sod). Later on, Dorothy makes a joke in bad taste. This causes Roger to fall down! One wonders, what is going on here, exactly. It’s capped off by a sentai fight – a parody of sixties designed robots (ie Big O) versus the seventies designed combining robots. This part is actually pretty funny, but this is not like an episode of The Big O. The fact that Japanese tradition continues in an American city (one of their banks is “Your Financial Institution, Anytown USA”) boggles the mind entirely.

The Big O II‘s score is excellent; powerful, moving and dramatic. Whatever the occasion, the music matches the scene perfectly. This is particularly noticeable a lot of the time. The action sequences are excellently choreographed, and there is a lot of creative camera techniques involved. A dialogue between Norman and a guard told largely by their hands is fascinating to watch.

More money seems to have allowed The Big O II to have more colour than its predecessor, and this is really its only flaw; it is too bright. By 2002, most anime productions had moved into a completely digital world, and occasionally this series suffers from soft-focus as a result. It could be sharper, but overall this is still an attractive series – and somehow Dorothy looks cuter, so it’s all good.

The Big O II is a worthy successor to The Big O, with its enlarging of themes and creation of themes anew. Apparently it gets deeper and more confusing here on out. Somehow, it all feels worth it.

No Comments yet

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress with Pool theme design by Borja Fernandez.
Entries and comments feeds. Valid XHTML and CSS. ^Top^