New from Japan: Anime Film Reviews
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Generator Gawl is an unlikely teen comedy TV series directed by Seiji Mizushima. © A. D. Vision Films.

Generator Gawl. V.1, Human Heart, Metal Soul. V.2, Future Memory. V.3, Secrets and Lies. V.4, Out of Time.
TV series, 1998. Director: Seiji Mizushima. 3 episodes/75 minutes each. $19.98 dubbed VHS/$29.98 bilingual DVD. Distributor: A. D. Vision Films.

This is a good example of how the anime industry can turn anything into a teen comedy; in this case, The Terminator plot crossed with the insectile/arachnoid monsters from the John Carpenter version of The Thing. The first episode introduces three mysterious teen boys, Koji, Ryo and Gawl, who materialize in a university town in the near future (2007) while battling what looks like a giant mechanical bug. Gawl "generates" into a similar beetle/scorpion creature to defeat it. Cryptic dialogue establishes that they have come from a future in which humanity is oppressed by these tyrannical Generators, to find and stop the scientist who is about to discover the cytogenetic secret that will enable humans to transform into these super-powerful monsters. They get themselves enrolled into the university as students to search for the elusive Prof. Nekasa. Their search is comically hindered by Masami, an impulsive fellow student (and the daughter of their landlady) who gets a crush on handsome but aloof team leader Koji, but mistakes the spying Gawl for a pervert trying to ogle the girls. They are also dramatically hindered by enemy Generators; obviously the ruling tyranny in the future has its own agents at the university to make sure the Prof.'s research is not interrupted. The formula for the first half-dozen episodes is that Gawl and Masami humorously bedevil each other, partly deliberately by Gawl to distract her from Koji so he can conduct his spying; then another of the enemy's Generators attacks in giant bug form, and Gawl must battle it without any of the other students noticing. Ryo is crippled with guilt for having turned Gawl into a Generator, even though he agreed to it for their own defense. Gawl's carefree foolhardiness is partly a mask for his own despair at no longer being entirely human. Some plot depth, notably revealing who the villains really are and giving them a bit of motivation to make them more than just generic "bad guys," is saved for the unexpectedly serious climax. This is fortunately not too long in coming, since Generator Gawl was only a 12-episode TV serial (October 6 to December 23, 1998). Production studio Tatsunoko (Speed Racer and Battle of the Planets/G Force) pioneered the sci-fi sub-genre of teens who are reluctantly or involuntarily transformed into superhuman monsters to protect mankind with Casshan: Robot Hunter in 1973, and is still milking it today (although the most popular example in America remains Takaya Productions/MOVIC's 1987 Bio-Booster Guyver).

Fred Patten has written on anime for fan and professional magazines since the late 1970s.


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