In the early 21st century, a scientist discovers the secrets of unlocking the dormant potential of introns in the human genome producing so-called “Generators” that have superhuman powers. This discovery sets in motion a deadly chain of events. Two scientists and a powerful generator named Gawl travel from the 22nd century back in time with the desire to attempt to change history. Unfortunately, there are other sinister forces who want history to stay on the track and will send their own agents to oppose the would be revisionists.
Some series dazzle the viewer with their excellence. Some series pain the viewer with their sheer awfulness. Then there are series like Generator Gawl that tend to just kind of vaguely tug at the viewer with their sheer mediocrity. They aren’t bad enough to really mock, but nor are they good enough to really go out and truly recommend either.
The idea of traveling back in time to prevent a future holocaust has become more than a little cliché in science fiction settings. I will give credit to this show since they do make an effort to address some of the philosophical questions that naturally arise whenever time travel is invoked as a plot device. Ultimately though, what we are left with is a somewhat convoluted plot that has a few holes here and there. Though convoluted, the plot is somewhat interesting overall and they do manage to surprise you with a few twists and turns, but some of those twists felt a bit forced at times. I suppose some of the plot questions are somewhat incidental since the main core of this series involves Gawl “generating” into this armored form that looks like a cross between beings from the Predator and Alien franchises. His opponents generate into a wide variety of forms and many battles occur.
The artwork is pretty average as well. The character designs tend toward the simple and the animation tends to be only serviceable. I’ve seen a lot worse, but I’ve also seen a lot better. I must make special note of the character designs for several of the young female characters though. They have some of the worst hair design work I’ve seen recently. One character, who I assume was supposed to come off as a cute pink haired school girl, instead looks like someone stuck a big lump of cotton candy on her head. It got kind of distracting at times. I’m the last person who says you have to make all your character designs attractive, but when you are /trying/ for a cute look, you need to put a little more effort into the whole endeavor. The animation tends to be okay, but many of the fights are a bit bland for a show that has battling monster forms as such a key element.
I do want to give them credit though when it comes to types of shot usage and the like. They do a good job of framing shots appropriately for mood by using a variety of angles, color work, and general background settings. Most of the music in the show was fairly average, but they were quite effective in knowing when not to use background music to heighten the mood of a scene. I only wish they had put as much effort into the actual art work as they did these other technical elements.
One element where this show rises above mediocrity is in characterization. While at first brush the three main male leads and the two female leads all seem to be a bit on the stereotypical side, as the show progresses everyone gets steady character development so they end up seeming fairly three-dimensional. I was particularly pleased with Gawl who I first thought was just going to be another gutsy stubborn sassy mouthed youth, but ends with a bit more texture than that. I’m not claiming here that the character development reaches truly stunning levels or anything, but it does seem a bit better than you normally would expect of a series of this type and you do begin to care somewhat about the characters.
Not bad, not good, just thoroughly average. It has a decent enough plot with at least somewhat engaging characters. If you don’t like science fiction stories (particularly if time travel as a plot device annoys you), go ahead and subtract a star. If you really just like seeing humanoid monsters beat on each other, feel free to add a star. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: Most of the series is pretty tame, but the Generator fights can get kind of intense. There is a scene in a public bath house where you see some brief rear male nudity. Besides the standard bit of blood spilling here and there, many of these fights rely on the “core” being torn out of a generator. While not as gory as some, this is still appropriate more for teens and above.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Partial (9/12)
Generator Gawl © 1998 Tatsunoko Pro / JVC
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