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AKA: ヒートガイジェイ
Genre: Science fiction noir
Length: Television series, 26 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently licensed in North America by FUNimation; formerly licensed by Pioneer / Geneon
Content Rating: 16+ (fan service, suggestive themes, violence)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Armitage III: Poly-Matrix, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell
Notes:
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars
 

Heat Guy J

Synopsis

The city-state of Judoh owes its existence to an advanced technology (which its citizens do not themselves control), but is plagued by the same social problems that afflict all cities, namely poverty and crime. To prevent crimes before they occur, a special unit exists, consisting of Daisuke Aurora; "office lady" Kyoko (who manages the accounts, and rations Daisuke's bullets); and finally J, a super-powerful android and the only legal robot in Judoh. They all report to the head of the Public Safety office, who happens to be Daisuke's older brother. Our story here begins with the ascension of Clair Leonelli, a 19-year old with a fondness for explosives, to the head of the Leonelli crime family. Clair presents quite a challenge to Daisuke, but even more powerful enemies might be waiting in the wings.


Review

I guess the first thing that one notices about this series is how gorgeous the city of Judoh and some of the character designs are. The CG is quite good too, especially for a series that dates to 2002. I will confess that I hated the heavy metal opening song, though.

I initially had some reservations about Daisuke himself. A blond "pretty boy" character usually dressed in a white suit, I initially agreed with the assessment of his brother Shun: Daisuke seems rather lazy and carefree, without the kind of dedication his position demands. He did grow on me after a time, however, as his personal issues are revealed.

The character development in this show is in fact its real strength. Characters here are not usually retired after a single episode, but are brought back and integrated into the ongoing storyline, and given ample opportunity to grow. (And you'd be amazed at some of the people who DO experience personal growth here.) Daisuke eventually accumulates a pretty mixed bag of loyal supporters, some of whom are originally his opponents. Among the cast, some of my favorites include Kyoko herself, who initially comes off as rather humorless, yet serves as comic relief twice: once when she is trying to get noticed by an anonymous photographer putting pictures of beautiful women on cards; and later when she attempts to rescue Daisuke from Clair's clutches. In the latter rather inept attempt, she dons a remarkably improbable outfit (though sadly of a kind one often really does see on females in action animes), and trust me, you haven't seen anything until you’ve seen her advance through a building in her "action hero" mode. She has a priceless line where she warns a bad guy that her shooting is not good enough to permit her to deliberately miss.

Another character I really liked was Monica, a child who operates her business out of a wagon, taking photos of people to sell to them. We're shown that her "innocent waif" sales manner is rather studied, but it's only partly an act- she really IS saddled with supporting an addicted dependent.

And then there's J himself and his inventor, a woman named Antonia, who has an obvious Pygmalion complex about him. J does have an annoying habit of quoting aphorisms about what a "man" should do, which must be meant as irony, since he's certainly not human under the skin (as emphasized when he occasionally loses that skin in the course of events); but even the other cast members find this tiring after a while. I suppose the "heat guy" thing mainly comes from J's habit, during and after fights, of quite literally letting off steam (a couple of concealed pipes emerge to do this).

I did appreciate the occasional glimpses the series presents of the "big picture" of its world. Judoh is supposed to be one of seven cities in the world that apparently survived some unnamed, apparently human-induced catastrophe (economic, environmental, war, it’s never really specified, though petroleum is also among the banned things in this world). We do get to see that there are other inhabited places, and actually visit one where not only is technology eschewed, but self-reliance is emphasized to a rather extreme degree. (A clue: Ayn Rand would have loved it there.) As for Judoh, it's built on a technology that its own citizens are not permitted to learn (because of the bad things that people did with it); instead, it's actually run by a group of people called the Celestials, who have to return periodically to do maintenance on it. We get to meet some of them, and they have an interesting connection to the Aurora brothers as well.

My main complaints about the show - other than the opening song - are that the show does drag a bit here and there; I had a little difficulty following the plot from time to time (though everything was usually clarified by the end of the particular episode); there is an occasional bit of silliness; and the ending seemed to me a bit of a fizzle. But the show has vivid, interesting characters, spectacular background art, and some wicked plot twists, and is certainly worth a watch.Allen Moody

Recommended Audience: Mild fan service. I don’t know if Daisuke's three "groupies" are prostitutes or not- if you saw them on an actual street, you'd certainly conclude that, but one must remember that this is anime, where women seem to often dress that way. But there’s quite a bit of violence, including bloodshed and bullet holes, and I believe some dismemberment here and there. Not recommended for children.



Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, bilingual
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Heat Guy J © 2002 Kazuki Akane / Satelight
 
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