Batman, Art Deco Robots and Anime History: This is The Big O

“It’s weird to watch a show that so clearly feels like a “lost Toonami anime,” from my perspective of never having seen it before.” — Wrong Every Time


In my 25-year-long, on and off again affair with anime, some shows never really disappear. Shows like Evangelion or Cowboy Beebop or Dragonball Z seem to persist despite the passage of time or whatever other shows come out.

A combination of the right time, the right quality and the right audience froze them in the cultural zeitgeist.

They are both wholly of their time and timeless.

The Big O is one of those shows.

When I decided to resurrect this blog, someone recommended I check out Wrong Every Time. I was pleasantly surprised to see a post about The Big O.

This is a show that is wholly of it’s time. The Keiichi Sato character designs evoke Kevin Nowlan’s artwork for Batman the Animated Series. As the Anime News Network points out, it’s not a surprise that the show mirrors Batman aesthetically, since Sunrise had a hand in both shows. Even Sato brings it up in an interview in a 2004 issue of Anime Play.

What is suprising is that it mirrors Batman in tone as well. This is a show with some dark themes and storylines, but it’s never hopeless. It’s a show where the main character is a louse, but he’s not mean-spirited. This show is Batman: the Animated Series with big robots, a sassy sidekick, and a jazzy soundtrack.

And it was the perfect show for geeks like me and my friends. See we were all teens when Batman was on TV. We were primed for an art deco robot punching things.

It also benefited from a lack of competition. There simply wasn’t a lot of anime out there. So if you wanted to watch or buy something, your choices were pretty slim. So The Big O found it’s way into a lot of homes.

What this show means to me is a bit more difficult to suss out. The Big O is a show with a lot of questions. Why did everyone lose their memories? Who was Roger Smith before this? Who built Megadeus and why? Is there really anything beyond Paradigm City and have they lost their memories as well?

None of those questions have satisfactory answers.

On the other hand, it’s a show that is unique in a lot of ways. It has art deco robots that move like giant robots should.

It’s a show with a lot of style and a lot of heart with hints at a wizard behind the curtain, but never a reveal.

That said, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched the story of Roger Smith and Dorothy R. Waynewright and the Megadeus. So without further adieu — “It’s showtime!”

(Note: I’m planning on writing a few different posts exploring some of the themes in the show. Right now I have ideas for three, maybe four. I have one scheduled for next week.)

5 thoughts on “Batman, Art Deco Robots and Anime History: This is The Big O

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