It’s time to review a relatively modern action show that is similar to Megaman. In the future, instead of netnavi’s, we have LBX robots. Beyond that, it’s essentially the Megaman series and you can bet that this is a good thing! I can’t say that I’ve seen many anime which had big fight scenes quite as often as this one. The plot may not have been the best, but it got the job done I suppose. Also, plot is always secondary to characters and their action scenes.
Interestingly enough, I got to watch parts of this show in Japanese and in English. One episode I saw in both versions to really see how different they were. As such, I may swap some English and Japanese names now and then, but I’ll mostly be using the original versions. I saw most of it subbed as I only watched 3-5 episodes of the English version. It was definitely fun and both versions certainly have their positives.
The plot revolved around a kid named Ban. He is into the cool new thing on the block which is the LBX fad. These mini robots are able to fight in mini arenas against each other. You can continue to customize your mech until he is the strongest in the biz. The interesting part about this is that the whole world basically runs on the assumption that people won’t use these toys for evil. The toys are actually powered with real guns and weapons. They can also operate in the real world with no limitations. With Megaman, the navis couldn’t run amok in the real world without new tech so it made a little more sense. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief quite a bit right off the bat.
Again though, such things aren’t really too important. It’s all right that this plot development isn’t the greatest one out there. Ban’s father was presumed dead in a plane crash, but the heroes quickly find out that he is being held by a villainous organization. At the helm of this organization is a man named Kaido. Ban will have to team up with his school friends and the government (Or at least, a small faction within the organization) to stop them. It will involve winning many tournaments as there is a secret program within Ban’s LBX, which was made from his father, that is the key to this whole puzzle. The plot takes a lot of breaks for the tournaments, which I was glad about since the tournaments were definitely the best parts of the show. The action was great!
At 44 episodes, the show is decently long running without being as long as popular titles like Naruto and Bleach. There’s enough time for the show to introduce a lot of characters and for the heroes to get a lot of battles. Again, my only real complaint with the show would be the plot at times. I felt like the plot would actually slow the show down as I enjoyed the fillerish parts better than the main story. For example, you could say that a lot of the random fights in the tournament was filler for the real plot of stopping Mr. Kaido. Well, those were the best parts and the episodes where the heroes planned on how to stop Kaido and how to stop the world from being blown up were usually a lot more slow paced. At one point, we got about 3 episodes without any real fights as the heroes made plans after plans.
The heroes prevented an assassination and fought off an enraged employee, but those episodes were typically light on action. They were still good episodes (Well, maybe not the latter) and I like strategic episodes as much as the next guy, but I certainly enjoy the hard hitting battles from the tournaments a lot more. I’m not going to go out there and say that the plot was downright bad. After all, the tournaments are technically still part of the plot right? Still, it wasn’t quite as good as rival shows like Megaman or Cardfight.
I was a little iffy on the animation at first. Most of the show is your standard animation which was a good thing. All of the characters were drawn well and while I wouldn’t call it exceptional, I’d definitely call it solid. It would essentially be a perfect 7, the definition of good animation. For the robots, they were basically in CGI ish looking forms so they weren’t quite as smooth as possible. In that sense, I feel like the animation could have been better and it really stuck out for me a lot at first. As the battles went on, I grew used to the style. Hand drawn would have been much better, but the show really pushed the CGI to its limit. We still got a whole lot of explosions and cool looking beams. The fights were also decently long at times, which certainly helped.
I usually don’t need to really mention this as it will occur in just about every show to an extent, but it was much more blatant than usual here. There is a lot of plot hax and power level inconsistencies riddled throughout the show. It is especially evident towards the climax of the anime as Ban goes from being one shotted and crushed along with all of his friends by the Sephiroth inspired LBX to just randomly surpassing him in the end. He was getting creamed by Kaido’s LBX, but quickly took him out with a single move when he realized the stakes. Jin was getting owned by Kaido and lost an arm (His robot lost an arm to be exact) but started to win because apparently having your speed cut in half and wobbling makes it impossible for a robot to guess your next target. While visually interesting, none of the final fights made any sense on a thematic level. Even Jin’s new super form, which came out of nowhere was more than a little dubious. It’s definitely something that will make you shake your head a little. That being said, plot hax never lower the score on a show, they’re just something to make a note of.
As for the soundtrack, I naturally heard two different versions of it. I got to hear the DUB music from the first episodes as well as the Subbed themes later on. For the dub, it is interesting to note that it essentially has the same soundtrack as Megaman NT Warrior. The waves of nostalgia hit me right to the core and I certainly won’t forget those anytime soon. That being said, the subbed themes had some really good battle themes. In particular, I really liked one theme that was typically used for tension or when something big was about to happen. For example, it played when the heroes decided to go behind the government’s back and storm the villain’s base. It was definitely an epic moment.
Okay, now’s a good time to talk about the characters. No show can be truly excellent with a bad cast right? Luckily, the cast of character is good, perhaps not great as some of the main characters are lacking a little, but most of them are interesting and fun to root for. Let’s start off with good ole Ban. Ban’s essentially your average main character. He’s a little generic, but mostly just in good ways and you definitely wouldn’t call him a bad character. He wants to help his friends and be one of the best LBX players out there. One thing that separates him from other leads is his big commitment to saving his father at any cost. He defies the government and attacks the villain’s base on several occasions. It typically does not pay off, but I always appreciated the attempt. Ban also takes the loss of one of his comrades particularly hard, which sidelines him for a few episodes. Lan had a similar experience involving Megaman, but that was more personal. I don’t think he would have taken this quite as hard.
Ban stands up for heroic ideals whenever he is on screen and he’s certainly committed to that path. He never gets tempted to join the dark side or anything like that. Seeing him continue to improve and level up during his fights is always nice. I would have liked for him to have been a little more competitive or rage induced for some of the matches as he can be a little too laid back. Still, Ban’s definitely a good main character and a likable guy to root for.
Ami’s the main heroine in the show and unlike a lot of her counterparts, she can fight and isn’t forgotten in the latter parts of the show. At around the halfway mark, she gets a major power up in the form of the robot Pandora, which actually kept her above Kazu for the rest of the show. Sure, she’ll never be as strong as Ban or Jin, but that’s just the way things go. She was a likable character and I’m glad that she was always ready for a fight.
Kazu was a lot more conservative and never picked a fight unless he thought there was a chance of victory. While Ami’s robots specialized in close range combat, he was a sniper. This was a little bad for him as being a sniper meant that his physical capabilities were always rather limited. I wasn’t a huge fan of him and he doubted Ban a whole lot, but he was still a decent main character. At least he could fight and he got a big confidence boost whenever he would win a match. The show could have done more with his character, but being a likable character with minimal development is better than being an unlikable one with a lot of screen time.
Jin is Ban’s rival and at first I wasn’t sure if I could take him seriously. His entrance was decently cool though and it was almost entirely ripped/borrowed from Chaud’s. Like Chaud, he would beat his opponent in seconds and even had a similar design. By the end, Jin continued to make the best choices possible. His sideplot was typically good and his personality made him a much more likable character than Ban by the end. I certainly liked his confidence and as I constantly mention, I love to see characters to really put their focus on speed. His speedy LBX was just the ticket that he needed. He may not have been quite as cool as some of the other rivals that I’ve seen, but he would certainly rank pretty high up in the rankings by the end. Jin was easily the best character in the series and likewise, the franchise. I really don’t see any character matching up to him and things will only continue to look up for him from here now that he is an established character who will likely continue to get hype along with Ban. After all, the final battles were exclusively used for Ban and Jin battles. None of the other characters could keep up, but I suspect that Jin will always be relevant.
Mr. Kaido was the main villain for almost the entire series. He was one of the reasons why I didn’t really care for the plot. He’s just not very interesting and is about as generic as you can get. I respect his LBX skills and he is certainly very powerful. That being said, he could have been more interesting. He was always talking about his big goals and feigning ignorance for all of his evil deeds, but it got old after a while. Of course, there is a twist about his personality and it will certainly make you look a little closer at one of the episodes. Back to his LBX, it was cool to see it copy the heroes’ abilities and its raw specs were already impressive on its own. Kaido is certainly not someone to take lightly. I’ll take power over personality in this case, but there’s no reason why we couldn’t have both.
Gouda was Ban’s first big opponent and his LBX was tough to get by. It was a sturdy close range combatant whose overwhelming power made up for his lackluster speed. Gouda was designed in a way that made him look very similar to Kamina from Gurren Lagann. That was always interesting and I’d say that he was a fairly good character. He felt a little outmatched towards the end because while his LBX got some upgrades, his robot never got any faster. That’s definitely dicey for him. Still, Gouda’s automatically one of the best supporting characters in the show.
Daiki’s also another good character who started out as a bit of an antagonist, but eventually became one of the main heroes. He always loved to look at his tarot cards before a match. Despite his calm demeanor, he definitely gets into the heat of battle and is very confident of his skills. Why not, considering that he is easily one of the strongest heroes. At one point, he effectively caught up to Jin and nearly surpassed him. While Jin and Ban inevitably surpassed him once again, Daiki would be in third amongst the heroes and his LBX is incredibly fast. I always like a good speed character and Daiki definitely fit the bill. Mix in his illusions and this guy was definitely very powerful.
Takuya was the main government liason who helped the main characters a lot. I actually ended up liking him much more than I had expected. He’s not the stuffy official that you would expect and he actually engages in fisticuffs on multiple occasions. It is regrettable that he has no LBX to fight with since you would expect him to have some way to fight, but he prefers to do things the old fashioned way. Sadly, it seems like he won’t be participating in the field that much anymore now that he got promoted to a higher position, but he had a good run while he lasted. Yuusuke was also involved with the government, but preferred to keep a low profile. He had a pretty powerful LBX, but he ended up giving it to Ami, which put him at a competitive disadvantage. Yuusuke’s role was decently big as a supporting character and he was decently likable. For the most part, he was just around, but that’ll do.
Lex is known as the strongest player in the world and he definitely lives up to his hype. He didn’t really do anything for a very large part of the series so I was worried about whether or not he would end up fighting at all. There is a fairly big twist involving the character in the end. We never really got to know the guy so you’re not really sure what to feel when it all goes down. I ended up thinking of him as a good character. He made some random decisions at the end though and seemed to have broken down a bit. I felt like all of his efforts were very half hearted and Lex was a very indecisive character in general. Nevertheless, his LBX was very cool and had a great design. He was a superb LBX and was great at close quarters combat. The final episodes really had a lot of epic battles with high stakes and the tournament battles were a lot of fun as well.
Mika is a character that the writers clearly had no idea how to handle. She was portrayed as the mysterious girl who was probably an expert fighter for a while, but after the first 20 episodes passed, I knew that something was up. Turns out that all of the hype was fake and she just spends her time crushing on one of Ban’s rivals. I’d give the anime points for tricking me…if this wasn’t such a downright terrible twist. She’s a really bad character and I’m still irritated at just how bad she was. Ryuu’s even worse as he’s the average bully type character who likes the main heroine and likes to pretend that he’s really tough. Turns out, he’s actually very weak and Dex from Megaman NT Warrior is much more likable.
Kousuke is one of the final bosses in the show and easily one of the most powerful characters in the series. How good is he? Well, since I’d say that he’s still much stronger than Ban and Jin, his only competition would be Lex. Both of them seem to consider themselves to be the best LBX player on the planet and both of them have super forms. For now, I’m going to say that Lex is possibly a little stronger, but it’s very close and I definitely liked Kousuke a lot. He got quite a lot of hype when he debuted and his entrance was very well done. He also wasn’t afraid of the other villains and I wish that he could have fought some more. Either way, he was definitely an epic character and I hope to see him appear more in the future.
Yagami is a villain who defected to the hero side after realizing the truth about Mr. Kaido. It’s still a little iffy with how he worked for the villain for so long without realizing anything, but better late than never right? His LBX was always surprisingly weak considering his high position in the organization. He came in handy a little in the end, but Yagami never managed to make himself stand out amidst the other characters in the show.
Overall, It took me about a year, but I finally finished the classic LBX show. The characters were solid, the animation was nice to look at, and the soundtrack was quite good. While the plot could have used a little work at times, I’m satisfied with how the show turned out. I would certainly call it a great one and highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good action show. This show has a lot of fight scenes and we get a lot of unique fighters even if the power levels are verrrry wonky. We’re talking Xros Wars levels here folks. I look forward to seeing how the sequels stack up. I have high expectations from them and am expecting another 8 or higher from the sequel. I’ll see you then and until that time, I should have begun wrapping up some manga titles to fill the void.