#17 : Kaitō Kiramekiman

(26 episodes)

What’s it about ?

Okay, this is a weird one. In the 70s & 80s, Tatsunoko Productions produced a bunch of anime shows collectively known as “the Time Bokkan series” (named after the first of them) ; the most well-known is probably Yatterman, the second one, which is getting a modern remake this year for the 40th anniversary of the franchise, starting… today. (Serendipity !)

None of those shows seem to have much in common plot-wise, aside from having a trio of villains with similar character designs, and being a variation of sentai. This one, 8th in the series (and produced more than a decade after the 7th), goes for a sentai/gentleman thief mash-up.

Characters

Kaitō Kiramekiman are actually a team of two people :
– #1 is actually Lip, daughter of an unaware police chief, and looks like the one in charge
– #2 is Paf, the… manservant at her house ? It’s not clear, but he does stuff like driving her around and repairing the car. He’s the one handling the technical preparation of their heists, including their giant (and sentient) cat mecha.
From the best I can gather, they’re not really bad guys, they’re just looking for some magic stones, and the heists are a cover to appropriate them. If they got it wrong, they’ll just give the precious stones back to the police down the line (and offscreen).

But much of the screentime is devoted to a trio of inept cops, trying to catch the thieves to better their own reputation. Given that nobody takes them seriously and they’re bumbling fools, you can easily see why. They’re :
– a superficial blonde woman who bosses the other two around ;
– A dumb brute who provides the muscle ;
– A smart guy with a big nose who just won’t shut up… and seems to actually have some competence in store, given how he’s built their own giant dog mecha that does manage to capture Kiramekiman for a while until his efforts are thwarted by the ineptitude of his colleagues.

Now, it’s hard to see those three as villains ; at best, they’re antagonists, and they often feel like the true stars of the show. On the other hand, they’re in contact with a Mysterious Boss that doesn’t seem to be part of the police, so I have a strong suspicion they’ve infiltrated the police station to pursue their own agenda (getting their hands on the magic stones, maybe ?), in accordance with the overall throughline of the Time Bokkan shows. But there’s barely any evidence for that, and you often find yourself taking the side of those poor shlobs against the semi-sadistic and unstoppable thieves.

Production Values

Time capsule ! Which makes sense once you learn the show’s history. And hey, those very retro designs have their charm, mitigating the sparse animation where people don’t even walk down stairs properly.

The blond woman is a frequent source of (very mild because kids’ show) fanservice, because of course.

Overall Impression

This is a fascinating show, especially once I did my research. Which helps make sense of why the titular protagonists barely get any character development or backstory, and the trio steal the show ; we’re at the stage where the latter are the most recognizable element of the franchise. Since they’ve got fun chemistry, it’s a sensible choice.

On the other hand, this is clearly a series that relies a lot on Japanese references and puns that the fansubbers who translated the token episode didn’t bother with ; plenty of it flies right above my head. And I suspect the novelty value would wear off quickly, as this looks like a very repetitive show. So while I’ve enjoyed a decent chunk of this, and I’m grateful this project has exposed me to such an oddity, I’m not too broken up over the non-availability of the rest of it.

It does get me more interested in this year’s Yatterman revival, though.

Source: [In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000 – Page 4

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Jhiday

I've been kinda blogging about anime for years... but mostly on forums (such as RPG.net's Tangency) and other sites. This site is an archive for all that stuff, just in case.

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