Ban Midou and Ginji Amano are the "Get Backers", who will recover whatever you have had taken from you, tangible or abstract, for a fee. The problem is, they're just not adept at making any real money from this.
There's a dictum that writing a short story encourages more discipline than writing a novel. For in a short story every word, every sentence, every paragraph must be laser-targeted on the point you're conveying, while a novel's length allows the narrative to meander, often to the detriment of whatever point you were getting at. Clearly this is true for Get Backers, though it's not the only problem here. I had a lot of trouble staying awake for this show's more lengthy multipart sagas, always a bad sign. On the other hand, two of the single-episode stories here were pretty wonderful. One of them featured a now-homeless man who asks Ban and Ginji to bring his wayward daughter back to him; the other featured an amnesiac who wanted the duo to help recover his memories, over the objections of his own girlfriend. Both of these episodes were crisply told, had clear points to make, and were really rather moving, and both showed the compassionate side of Ban Midou, which he usually tries to hide.
So let's go ahead and meet our cast. This is one of those sorts of shonen shows where the leading mens' hair is drawn as a nest of spikes, and Ban Midou's spikes are much more randomly oriented than most. Ban's supposedly motivated only by profit (though the episodes cited above prove that's largely pretense.) Nearly every male character in this show has either a superpower, or mastery of some gimmick that effectively serves as a superpower. Ban's include a ninja-like ability to disappear and reappear, and a striking move he calls "Snakebite", but his most useful weapon is his own gaze; he can, by looking into the eyes of an opponent, induce that opponent to have an utterly convincing hallucination of Ban's choice. Called the Jagan, this only lasts for a minute or so, and there are limits on how many times he can employ it in a day, etc. Ban has a bit of a temper, and is the "straight man" of our dynamic duo.
Ginji is a bit different. His main power is the ability to discharge electricity. His personality seems like a puppy's- sweet, innocent, eager to please. He's soft-hearted, very deferential to Ban, not especially bright, and easily gets lost or confused. We find out, though, that he grew up in a place called the Limitless Fortress- a kind of experimental city (in more than one way) that's now more a giant slum- and was the head of a gang there called (naturally) VOLTS. His personality, by all accounts, was very different in those days. Did I say almost all the males in this show either have a superpower or an equivalent gimmick? Well, as the show progresses we'll meet some other former VOLTS members who've quit the Limitless Fortress, and we'll meet more in situ in the first of two LONG forays into that place (15 episodes, the first time.) These guys will get a very sizable chunk of the show, for once free of VOLTS they become hired guns, and end up competing with Ban and Ginji for the jobs arranged by Hevn (yes, pronounced "heaven" and this show's "jiggle queen".) Trouble is, I didn't think any of these guys were that interesting as characters in their own right. Briefly, the major ones are:
Shido Fuyuki- Called "The Beastmaster". Can command animals, and can assume the attributes of any particular one. Becomes the "kept" man of a blind (and apparently wealthy) violinist named Madoka, who seems a bit too young for him.
Kazuki Fuchouin- Called "Threadmaster". Basically uses strings as a weapon; he says he's master of the "Fuchouin School Thread Technique", which I guess means he's especially well versed in String Theory. (No, I won't apologize for that.) He's frequently mistaken for female.
At this point, I gotta mention how much of the show- and especially the encounters in the Limitless Fortress- is done, using Kazuki as an example. Kazuki runs into an old possibly-more-than-friend named Juubei Kakei, who (at this point) had elected to stay in the Limitless Fortress, under its new leader, a megalomaniac kid named Makubex. This is the kind of show where former friends (again, maybe more than friends here) can, due to current circumstances, be completely dedicated to killing each other, but if they don't QUITE manage it, they can just go back to being friends again. (Apparently just an earnest effort suffices.) Juubei's particular gimmick is "Flying Needles", and so they go at each other in probably one of the sillier fights in the show, filled with lines like, "But it looks like I won't be able to beat you without using my ultimate technique!". If some of the fights were less drawn out, they might be pretty hilarious- these segments really needed more of a Kung Fu Hustle approach, since they're too over-the-top to be taken seriously anyway.
That would certainly have improved the humor. Aside from having a yaoi thing with Kazuki (when not trying to kill him), Juubei's main trait (and this is actually emphasized) is his inability to tell a joke. Another former VOLTS member we meet in the Limitless Fortress is Haruki Emishi, who has a thing for whips, and who despite his nickname of "Joker", also can't really tell a joke. In fact, I've seldom run into a show that makes so MANY attempts at humor that fall SO flat. Ban and Ginji frequently get rendered SD when their dialogue is supposed to be funny, but this often gets inserted into the middle of scenes that are supposed to be intense, and that mainly seems to just break the mood. An episode set in a hospital was supposed to be funny, but just seemed embarrassing because the antics were so overdone (and a bit repetitive too.)
Maybe the show's best joke involved a non-member of VOLTS. Kuroudo Akabane presents an appearance and manner more commonly seen in vampire anime: black slouch hat and long black coat (like The Shadow liked to wear); speaks very slowly, voice dripping with amused sarcasm. He's a "transporter" (person who delivers items) whose own power is an ability to erupt knives from within his own body. (Where the knives ultimately come from, and how he's able to do this without slicing his own flesh to ribbons, are not considered, of course.) He's not necessarily evil per se, just a total mercenary who is often hired by Ban and Ginji's opposition. And the thing he really wants is a duel to the death with either of the Get Backers. In any case, he turns out to actually have one fan, and that fan was so completely appropriate for him that I had to laugh. OK, ONE for you, show.
I might as well also mention Himiko Kudou. She's called "Lady Poison", and her particular gimmick is her "Seven Poison Perfumes", not all of which ARE poisons, nor am I sure what all seven are. All of them MAY have been mentioned, but I can't say for sure. (There are six accounted for in my notes, but as I said, I dozed off from time to time and might have missed one.) Himiko, her brother, and Ban used to hang out together, and steal stuff together, and she hates Ban because she thinks he killed her brother (could be), but she's still also attracted to him. I would have preferred more of Ban and Himiko, and a bit less of the INTERMINABLE Ginji backstory, but the show has different ideas; instead, it takes another long (7 episodes) draught of water from the Limitless Fortress/Makubex well, and frankly I didn't think that water tasted that good to start with.
The character I liked best in the show was the least pretentious one of the lot. Her name is Natsumi, and she's a high school student who Ban and Ginji early on recover a trinket for, and who goes to work at the coffee shop (called the "Honky Tonk") that Ban and Ginji use as their base of operations (and to whose owner, named Paul, they are always thousands of yen in debt.) The one episode featuring her shows her as earnest, eager, and (in this particular episode) more dedicated than our leads. She plays a mean game of ping pong, too.
It's not that I couldn't take this show lying down; it's that I couldn't STAY AWAKE watching it in that position. Let's just say that pacing was a major problem, followed by inadequate character development (the VOLTS gang never felt fully fleshed out, for all their screen time), followed by its usually painful attempts at comedy. The Recommendation is a shonen show with a more futuristic setting but better pacing and more consistently interesting stories. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: People get pierced a lot, but I don't remember much blood. I seem to remember that there was a lunatic character performing experiments on captive women. We'll say 14+. Insomnia a plus.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (49/49)
Get Backers © 2005 Studio DEEN.
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