Astral Animations

Welcome to Astral Animations, where we'll examine the imports of Japanese animation currently available in the United States.

W A R N I N G !

This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the movie.

That said, on to the review!

Now Showing: The Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman
Broadcast Dates: 1998
Format: Video cassette

Note: sorry about the quality of the images and how long it takes to load up, but I'm still learning how to use a digital camera and how to make thumbnails. Anime Works owns the rights to the anime, naturally, but I'm the one that took the pictures, so if you'd like to use them, please ask me for permission first. I'll grant it, most likely, but it's still nice to ask first.--XS

Hiroya Matsumoto's your average young up-and-coming business executive employed at Right Trading Company in the Sales Division. He goes out on sales calls, chats with friends and acquaintances in the halls, and does all he can to be a good representative of the company to its clients. When the day's over, he returns home to his younger brother, Yota, whom he loves very much and will do anything and everything in his power to keep happy and safe.

That's what he day.

By night he is the field leader of the Special Duty Combat Unit division of Right Trading, wearing the red pro-suit specially designed for him. He and his four companions--Ryoichi Hayami (Moss Green), Shojo Yamadera (Gray), Shotaro Ono (Sepia), and Riko Hidaka (Salmon Pink)--are the Shinesman team, under the direction of Kyoko Sakakibara of Human Resources and the support of Hitomi Kasahara and Tsukasa Nakamura. Their sworn mission is to defend the Right Trading Company and the world from the invaders from Planet Voice, who are bent on conquering the Earth.

Prince Sasaki, sent to Earth to conquer it, is furious with the interference of the Shinesman team in his efforts. To make matters worse, his cousin, Princess Shina, is visiting with a plan to destroy their enemies. She sets her scheme in motion with plans to force the Shinesman team into appearing at G-Park, a new facility connected, coincidentally, with Right Trading. What neither she nor Hiroya--at the park to meet with clients (Sasaki and his right-hand man, Sekito, in disguise as ordinary human beings)--expect is to fall in like when they unexpectedly meet. What effect will it have on Shina's plan when she discovers her crush is for the leader of the Shinesman team, her sworn enemies? How will this new acquaintance affect Hiroya's performance in battle?

Shinesman is a 60-minute anime with a strange but appreciable premise: business executives moonlighting as specially armed and armored corporate defenders. Perhaps it isn't so strange, given America's comic book superhero industry. On the other hand, seeing the invaders trying to conquer the world through corporate supremacy is an interesting twist, especially since the invaders' second-in-command has thoroughly embraced the corporate lifestyle...which thoroughly confuses and irks the Prince to no end. The contrast between Sekito and Sasaki is truly enjoyable to watch, especially when we see how human the two actually are (Sasaki worrying about Shina driving without a permit and Sekito commenting on the prince's own failure to pass his driving test). Also amusing is the way Sekito constantly places financial considerations first, then casually throwing in references to the invasion effort almost as an afterthought.

Hiroya's the main character--naturally--and I think he's the perfect one to be the center of attention. He's more or less the new recruit, but it's his quick thinking that saves the day. I also like him because he of the way he cares so deeply about his brother (I wish I had an older brother that cared like that). There are a number of scenes that highlight how much he loves Yota and draws the courage and determination to fight on from him. It helps that Yota is a big fan of the Greatmen action-adventure series--possibly the inspiration for the Shinesman--and the red leader in particular, which is the role Hiroya himself fulfills on his own team.

I admit that I first had my doubts about buying and watching this anime, but I'm glad I did. Some cynics might find Hiroya's love and devotion to his brother sappy and ridiculous, but I found it very refreshing when compared to stark reality where siblings rarely seem to get along so well. Also, there's just something endearing about the way the animators drew the characters and the actors personified them. The ones really worth caring about--Hiroya and, surprisingly enough, Sekito--have what I call "soulful" eyes: large, bright eyes with large, slightly watery pupils. It's very endearing and gets you to like them. A friend of mine calls Hiroya and Sekito "totemo kawaii," a compliment she rarely bestows on anime villains.

There isn't much to say except that, if you watch this, be ready to laugh. It's an action-adventure anime, certainly, but there are all sorts of inuendos and stereotypes to tickle your funny bone, including the conflict of staying up all night on the job and reporting to work bright and early the next morning. It's really a pity that there is only the one OAV available, but apparently the series wasn't so popular in Japan. Definitely a pity, because I'd really like to see more. I purchased the English dubbed version--only one I could find--and enjoyed it, and I think you will, too, especially if you like heroes with a truly down-to-earth human side. 04/16/99: I've seen the subtitled version as well by now, and it is as good as the dubbed version.--XS

You can purchase The Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman on videotape at any video store that sells Japanese anime. You can also order it at the Anime Works website.

Visit the Shinesman Gallery to see more pictures from the anime!

Interested in buying this video? You can! Just follow the link to order the English subtitled or English dubbed VHS versions, or the DVD version. You can also visit the Stellar Video Store for other titles.

Comments? Did you see the movie and disagree with what I think? Tell me your own thoughts on the movie. Just click here to send me e-mail.

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