Metal Fighter Miku
In the future, wrestling has evolved into a power armor-assisted slugfest that allows even small girls to become seemingly dangerous warriors. Into this dangerous and competitive world, the Pretty Four, a wrestling/singing group lead by young Miku are about to begin their climb to the top of the Woman's Neo-Pro Wrestling world all the while challenged by the vicious Team Sapphire. The final prize: the chance to face off against the ultimate fighter in the Woman's Neo-Pro Wrestling World, Miku's personal hero, Aquamarine.
Let me state first off by noting I'm pretty ambivalent about professional wrestling in general. I've had a number of friends and roommates who were obsessed with it though, so I have developed a decent enough knowledge of certain conventions related to the professional wrestling world both in the East and the West to assist me in this review.
You would think this would be a pretty solid and easy to work with formula to please your basic fanboy. Heck, I'm not your basic fanboy but I am still pretty easy to please. You have power armor, you have four pretty girls (they are even called the Pretty Four), and you have fierce action in the ring! Unfortunately, despite those ingredients to work with, this show ends up falling flat.
I didn't object to the standard "underdogs who rise to the top" formula, as it is a tried and true formula that has been shown to be effective in both anime and live action. The problem is that typically you are supposed to care about the underdogs and their challenges. The character development in this show is pretty shallow, so I had a hard time empathizing with any of the characters. A cornerstone of this type of show is the growth and change the characters go through as they work toward their goal. The growth here seemed to be a bit too slow, though that might be attributed to another factor. You see, all the main characters are complete idiots. Oh, some aren't idiots; they are just abusive alcoholics who are SUPPOSED to be inspiring. Oh look! He's all tough love!
Well, back to the others. Like I said they are idiots. Every single nefarious scheme plotted out by their enemies to confuse them seem to work beyond reasonable explanation. When the main characters are so foolish and petty that you begin to find yourself rooting for the villains, that does present a bit of a problem.
Oh yeah, the villains; I almost forgot about them. While one of the antagonists is vaguely interesting, a lot of that is overshadowed by the general "we must destroy the Pretty Four, for I really don't like their manager" motivation of this jerk zaibatsu leader. The leads lacked depth. The antagonists lacked depth. There was a vaguely interesting character in the form of Aquamarine, the current reigning champ. Though honestly saying she had depth is like saying the kiddy pool in the back of your neighbor's yard is deep compared to the puddle on the sidewalk.
So, the characters are uninteresting, well perhaps this show could be salvaged by its action, right? You have all that power armor and professional wrestling, it seems like a perfect chance to really bust out some cool fights. Unfortunately, they totally botch it. The fights tend to be very uninteresting, poorly animated, and lean heavily on stock footage. Personally, I found the animation in this title rather lacking even adjusting for the time period in which it was made.
Stock footage doesn't, in of itself, necessarily bug me, but you have to use it sparingly. The transformation sequence for when the girls put on their armor gets used all the time and it doesn't even seem to adjust for whatever location they are currently at. I mean if you are jumping into the ring at the TokyoDome or whatever, I expect to see the same thing, but what if you are in the middle of the street or the middle of some ruins? Blah. Ah, and get used to seeing the same darn special attacks all the time. Too bad none of them are remotely cool.
Perhaps if they played this show off as a bit more pure fun, it would have been fine, but as we close in at the end, we get all this melodrama (hard to care about drama when you don't care about the characters) and this attempt to make some sort of deep meaningful statement about the nature of the true athletic spirit. Unfortunately, they didn't really pull it off.
For a show about cute girls who wrestle in power armor, it was awfully boring. Add a star if you really like professional wrestling, as the show does have a lot of elements that might amuse wrestling fans. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: For all the fighting and such in this show, most of it is pretty bloodless and the power armor provides an excuse for people to get whacked on for minutes and minutes with only minimal apparent surface injury. Though some of the fighters are pretty mean at times and there is one brief episode involving some mercenary that gets a bit more violent than usual and there is a fighter who ends up somewhat crippled. Considering this is a show with about four young women called the "Pretty Four" it is surprisingly light on fan service. Overall, probably best for teens and up.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Metal Fighter Miku © 1994 JC Staff / TV Tokyo
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