Heat Guy J
Complete Series 1 Box Set

Starring (voice): Takayuki Sugo, Saeko Chiba, Shinichiro Miki and Keiji Fujiwara
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 21 August 2006

The future has gone awry, as it has a habit of doing. In a future where robotic technology has been banned new Mafia organisations have sprung up to exploit the prohibition. Governments can no longer contain the situation so they create their own legal android Heat Guy J. Together with his human partner, Daisuke Aurora, they do what they can to turn back the tide of crime...

The box set contains twenty six episodes spread across six discs in three volumes. It represents great value and is easily the best way to buy the show, if you like it. As I have previously reviewed Volume Two, I don't propose to repeat myself here, just follow the link and you shall be rewarded, other than that, off we go with volume one.

Episode one, Guy, and the show opens on a Mafia funeral. The city is initially shown as pristine and wealthy, but as the camera swings around we can see that the city also contains deprivation, a breeding ground for crime. This being the first one, we can all join in a rousing chorus of 'getting to know you' and in this it does its job adequately.

Episode two, War, and with the power vacuum left following the death of the old don, the heads of the families must work out who is going to become the new Mafia chief. Bound by an oath of blood the families swear fealty to Claire (it's a guy, honest).

Episode three, Bomb, is a two parter, whilst Daisuke is off tracking down purveyors of girly pictures, Edmundo, meanwhile, is off doing something a little more important, tracking down a random bomber (obviously the bombs are random and not the nutter). The episode has some nice nuances, we already know that Dai's father was killed by an android - in fact their ability to be programmed to kill is the reason that they are banned from the city, so the makers have nicely highlighted Dai's initial ambivalence towards J's well being.

Episode four, Chaos, and were bizarrely into werewolf territory, one who is looking for his sister. Claire recruits Boma, the forlorn werewolf, to wipe out J which he has a good go at, but then this is only the fourth episode so we kinda know that it's not going to work

Episode five, Doll, is another Bladerunner type story, with Dai and Kyoko, his backroom support, being concerned that J isn't functioning correctly, it looks like the a shutdown for the big fella until he acquits himself well against an android that Dai is tracking.

Episode six, Money, and Claire has decided to make some easy money by fixing the price of Tomato's and getting Dai to take the fall for it (wasn't that the plot of Trading Places?). Well, as nefarious plots go, it's a little tame and of course our hero can see straight though it.

Episode seven, Circulation, and Dai is attacked by one of the beastmen who have appeared in a previous episode and he looses the lucky bullet pendant that his father gave him. In order to retrieve it he journeys to the underground city where Boma saves the boys. Could this be the start of a beautiful friendship?

Episode eight, Brother, Dai and his brother Shun get into an argument, as Shun doesn't think that Dai is taking his job seriously enough. The rift between the brothers is healed after Dai meets Kia, the suicidal son of a musician who hates his father, only the intervention of Kia's brother stops him from killing himself. This allows (in a heavy handed way) Dai to re-examine his relationship with his own brother.

So quickly skipping over volume two, which has previously been reviewed, we find ourselves delving into the last disc in the set which contains episodes eighteen to twenty-six.

So, we rejoin the story with episode eighteen, Independence, Daisuki is out of a job and J is inactive. The knowledge that he gained about his father doesn't seem to be getting him anywhere, in fact Shun fires him. To make matters worse Claire is still missing and the heads of the families want him back, well not all of him, just his eye as it holds the key to releasing his families' wealth.

Now here's a nice addition to the series as episode nineteen, Truth, was apparently never show as part of the original run in the States. Boma is finally offered a job at the Special Unit, but life is never that easy.

Episode twenty, Fake, and Antonia isn't having a good day either. SECT, the company which created J, is closed due to lack of finance, well they did only make one robot, so not the greatest product line that you can think of. Problem is there is another android that looks just like J bumping off Mafia bosses; can Edmundo and Diasuki find the loopy bot and clear their friends' name?

Episode twenty one, Tears, and the show continues to plunge the depths of darkness. Romeo, Edmundo's partner, is killed whilst on a case, problem is the department views his death as an accident as he was killed doing surveillance which was not officially sanctioned Edmundo ad Dai set off to clear their friends name and discover what he was working on.

Episode twenty two, Fortress, and the guys get a chance to get outside of Judoh when a strange red eyed woman appear out of the sea and starts attacking people with a spear. The team take to the sea to discover if the woman is real or an urban myth.

Twenty three and not content with making everyone else lives a misery, in Play, poor Monica, a ten year old photographer and reoccurring character, has her shop burnt to the ground by the mob. Tomato scams and picking on little girls are not good for your street cred I wouldn't have thought. The episode decides to hit the twilight zone at this point with Monica firstly deciding to turn to crime until Diasuki offers her a job at the Special Forces headquarters. It's not very believable at the best of times, but as a bit of fluffy nonsense it's ok.

Episode twenty four and we're into the final few stories. Alteration and it's starting to hit the fan in a big way. There's a big plot reveal to do with Shun, but I won't spoil it for you.

So the penultimate episode, Revolution, and the fate of Judoh is in the balance. Tanks have taken to the streets and Claire and Diasuke join forces to try and save both J and the city.

So we come to the end of this excellent series with the ultimate episode Guys. A coup is in full swing in the city and it looks like only Daisuki can save J, Shun and the city.

The discs come with a comprehensive set of audio options; you get the show in English/Japanese stereo, 5.1 and DTS with optional English subtitles. There's not much to choose from the Japanese or dubbed version, with each set of vocal actors providing some solid character work. The picture cannot be faulted and special mention should be made of the consistent high level of animation. There is some excellent work on display here, both cell animation and CGI, a real treat for the eyes.

Each of the discs comes with a rather nice booklet which as well as giving a little synopsis of each episode also has character information and what looks to be test drawings.

Overall this is an intelligent and well written series, which collected together in the box set, is a steal at this price. My only reservation is the total lack of any extras apart for some trailers on volume three.

Charles Packer

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