Author Topic: Infini-T Force episode review: 01 'Isolated Flower'  (Read 136 times)

Offline GrumpyGhostOwl

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Infini-T Force episode review: 01 'Isolated Flower'
« on: January 16, 2018, 16:58:50 CST »
I've decided I'm going to have a go at reviewing the 12 Infini-T Force episodes. It will probably take me some time since my reviews are pretty detailed, but I'm going to give it a go. I'll have to post the reviews in pieces, and you'll have to be patient with me as I go, but doing it this way gives me the impetus to keep going.

Okay, so, what's the deal with Infini-T Force? It's a crossover show, with some classic Tatsunoko characters making a return to our screens to celebrate 45 years of anime. Infini-T Force has been described as anime's answer to The Avengers and it's not a bad comparison, only it's not quite as funny and Stan Lee doesn't make a cameo. Nonetheless, the series brings together Gatchaman (Ken Washio), Hurricane Polymar (Takeshi Yoroi), Tekkaman: the Space Knight (Joji Minami) and Casshan (Tetsuya Azuma and his robot dog Friender) in a crossover featuring a multiverse, an all-powerful MacGuffin, some new villains, a lot of nods to the classics and a heroine who… well, she kinda grows on you.

So, let's roll the video!

The first glimpse we get of the Infini-T Force world is a pale blue sky full of fluffy cumulus clouds, then the sound of a piston engine grows louder and a small aircraft enters the frame. It's moving fast. Like most light aircraft, it sports white livery, but no go-faster stripes or even a registration that I can see. It has a low-wing configuration, but unlike most light aircraft, it features fully retractable gear, a canard wing, twin tailfins and a push prop. It's beautifully rendered in 3D CGI, and I'm thinking, okay, this is pretty.

I'm reserving judgement about the animation at this stage, since I've seen more than one anime which featured lovingly rendered CGI vehicles and then overlaid the CGI mastery with flat, 2D animation for the characters. Possibly one of the worst offenders to my way of thinking was The Sky Crawlers where the human characters were rendered in such a way that they really did look flat - the faces in particular featured little to no shading, and in light of the story, I can see that could have been an artistic statement, but it did detract from the visual feel.

Still, let's get back to this plane.

The plane is leaving contrails behind the winglets at the tips: long lithe trails of vapour in the vortices that form off the trailing edges. The pilot in me is saying, "Niiiiiiiiice," to the aerodynamics while at the same time wondering what the hell is going on with the design of the kite. I wonder if this is supposed to be the G-1 in its civilian form?

That question is soon answered, and it's a yes to that one, because we get to listen in on some radio chatter, which goes, "This is G-1." Yes!

There's a quick scene cut to the interior of the cabin, and here's the latest iteration of Ken!

Now, I know some fans aren't happy about the changes to the character design. There's almost nothing recognisable about the Chicken Boy we all know and love here, apart from the aviator-style sunglasses that Ken used to wear in the original series from time to time, but the designer was clearly working to a brief that basically said, "Update him and make him hot!"

I have to say they've done a pretty good job there.

Apart from the designer stubble, that is. I just… yeah, no.

Anyway, Ken's looking all grim and business-like. Gone is the soft, boyish face of 1970s Ken. This Ken is lean and mean, and he's clearly been to the barber's lately, which I'm pretty sure 1970s Ken never did. That long mane of dark chocolate hair is nowhere to be seen, replaced instead with short black hair that has had a bit of a layered cut and a colour job with the top layer dyed grey and styled in a tousled, gelled kind of 'do.'

It's not a bad look.

Really.

All he needs to do now is start singing in Korean.

There are no numbered t-shirts anywhere in the vicinity, which is kind of a relief. I mean, the numbered t-shirts in Gatchaman were bad enough. The numbered t-shirts in Gatchaman II weren't an improvement, and Ken's shirt in Gatchaman Fighter spent the entire season flipping everyone the bird. 2017 Ken is wearing a black turtleneck with some kind of red tie knotted in a very loose half-windsor, possibly held on with clips, and a blue jacket that has the sleeves rolled up to reveal the white lining.

Well, except for the black turtleneck, they've kept his colour scheme of white, blue and red. Intentional? Maybe.

ISO HQ is on the radio channel, with a female Comm Op acknowledging Ken's call. Ken announces that "We have bull's-eye." I notice that they aren't observing international standard radio protocols, but they're being concise so I'll give them a pass.

Ken flicks a few switches and a male voice breaks in on the channel saying, "Excellent. Coordinates?"

Ken gives the coordinates as the camera drops to sea level and zooms in on some kind of warship with some smaller escort vessels. "This is it," he exposits for the benefit of the audience. "The nuclear aircraft carrier hijacked by Galactor."

Oooooooooooooooh! Galactor have hijacked a nuclear aircraft carrier. Bad Galactor! No cookie!

"I'll be there, pronto," says the male voice on the radio channel, which makes me wonder if the voice belongs to G-5. "Increase altitude, then stand by."

That's got to be Ryu. Will we get to see the dear old aerodynamically-unlikely docking manoeuvre with the GodPhoenix? Will we get to see the GodPhoenix? Oh, please, oh, please, oh, please, can we see the GodPhoenix?

Pleeeeeeeeaaaaaase?

Sadly, we do not get to see the GodPhoenix or Ryu. The pilot in me is sorely disappointed. I mean, Ken was always the hotshot glamour-boy fighter pilot, but as any real-life pilot will tell you, flying a heavy like the GodPhoenix, with the skill Ryu showed in the way he flew her, especially since the classic console provided no control feedback, is a lot harder than flinging a little fighter around the sky. You may remember Ryu as the big dumb guy who drove the bus, but anyone who has ever strapped an aircraft to their arse knows that Ryu is made of awesome. Awesome, I tell ya! I am going to believe in my heart of hearts that the other person on the channel was Ryu and that he was flying the GodPhoenix because I refuse to accept the existence of the LegoSpartan or the Fricken' Chicken. Especially the LegoSpartan. That was so wrong on so many levels, the least of which involved the most basic principles of flight. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope!

"Roger," Ken says, and puts the G-1 into a climb.

This turns out to be a pretty good move because all of a sudden, Ken's console lights up with a whole bunch of returns and it looks like whatever they are, they've got weapons lock.

Why is this a good move, I hear you ask? Mostly it's because if someone gets lock on you at sea level, dear reader, you are probably going to die. At least if you've grabbed a few fistfuls of sky you have some room to manoeuvre.

Ken responds to danger by removing his sunglasses.

Okay.

Not sure how that helps, but, okay.

Oh, wow, he's got hazel eyes. Pretty!

I know there are some fans who are upset that Ken no longer has those big baby blues, but you know what? I'm not complaining.

The enemy fighters that are hunting Ken (presumably they were appropriated from the carrier) launch missiles.

Ken breaks right and executes a beautiful barrel roll (from this I surmise that he's right-handed - right-handed pilots will nearly always evade to the right. If you want to increase your chances of survival in a dog-fight, break left because there's a seventy-five percent chance that your opponent is instinctively going to break right and will be expecting you to do likewise. See? This review is educational.) He manages to dodge two rockets.

For all Ken's skill, however, there's a third rocket incoming. He evades, but there's a fourth one locked on!

 

The camera closes in on Ken's face, and for an instant, he looks very young and very vulnerable.

Then KABOOM! The G-1 is destroyed!

Well, shit.

There are bits of plane falling out of the smoke cloud.

But there's something else as well - yes, it's Ken! And he's in one piece! He's also seriously ticked.

Right, now, let's talk explosions for a sec'.

I'm sorry, Infini-T Force writers, but it is not possible to survive an explosion at that range. Even if Ken had bailed at the last minute, the shockwave would have pulverised his lungs and the radiant heat would have finished the job. It would have been a case of crispy fried Eagle. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is.

Mind you, we're talking about Tatsunoko Productions, the same studio that gave us the aerodynamics-defying individual vehicles of the LegoSpartan and salad-spinner neurosurgery, so I guess Ken must have had a note from Dr Nambu excusing him from physics today.

Dear, oh, dear, oh, dear.

Never mind. Ken's alive (yay!) and you just know what's going to happen next, don't you?

Yep.

"BIRD GO!"

 

Squee!

I am delighted that the animators kept that rainbow light effect from the original series. That's a nice touch. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And… whoa.

The birdstyle just got dialled up to 11 on the badass scale.

No, really, the old birdstyle was basically tights with a helmet and a cape. The new birdstyle is clearly armoured and designed for going into combat rather than attending an aerobics class.

Let's face it, the visuals overall in this production are STUNNING. There's no other word for it. Stunning.

 

The imagery is instantly recognisable as a call-back to the old Gatchaman title card.

So far, my only nitpicks are the unsurvivable explosion and the fact that Ken's flying a plane with a canard wing and a push-prop. I mean, come on, a push-prop? On a military aircraft? Seriously? If anybody opens fire on you (and odds are, they're going to be shooting from behind you in time-honoured fashion) you only need one bullet to nick one propeller blade and your engine will proceed to shake itself apart in a very ugly manner. The push-prop might be pretty, but it's completely impractical. There's a reason why military prop planes have pullers. Geez, you guys…

Mind you, it's a moot point now. The G-1 has fallen down, gone, "Boom!"

Ken's in free-fall now and the Galactor pilots open fire. His cape does this parachute thing, unlike the original where the capes would unfurl and act like wings, the cape just billows and acts like an air brake. I guess maybe the writers couldn't figure out how a birdstyle cape would unfurl and act like a rigid wing in the air while still being a fluid, fabric cape. Fair enough. It was one of the things that always bugged me about the original series when I was a kid. I figure it could be nanotechnology made of Applied Phlebotinum but anyway, there's another point of difference.

Ken folds his arms and spins out of the path of the tracer fire, which goes, "Rat-a-tat-tat!"

Now I've got another nitpick.

I know, I just keep doing this…

Modern fighter aircraft don't have guns that go, "Rat-a-tat-tat." That's so 1970s. Modern fighter aircraft (since the 1980s) have guns that go, "Ziiiiiiip!" That's how fast they fire. They sound like the world's most dangerous piece of Velcro being pulled apart, and this has given rise to some of the slang among those military personnel who use guns with this kind of rate of fire: "Zip 'em up."

Also, where are the shell casings? Shell casings are ejected when bullets are fired. You can actually injure people on the ground, not just by hitting them with your bullets, but by dropping your discarded shell casings on them. Never mind. Weapons designers in the Gatchaverse are clearly enjoying a bit of a retro phase.

And if you believe that, would you be interested in purchasing the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

We can chalk this - and the unsurvivable explosion - up to Critical Research Failure.

But it's pretty, so we'll give Ken a pass and return to our regular programme.

Ken turns in midair, with a handful of birdrangs held like shuriken between the fingers of his right hand and calls his attack: "Bird run!"

Well, that's different, too. Now Ken has not just the one birdrang, but a whole collection of them. Furthermore, they come ready-equipped with party poppers, because they pierce the armour plating of the fighter jets (let's not get into the properties of metals here, I don't have all night, after all) and the little red blinking lights presage the inevitable,

KABOOM!

Ken gets his own back for the destruction of the G-1 and he's now blowing up Galactor's fighters. Which were the ISO's fighters before Galactor nicked them, so I hope they weren't counting on getting them back, because, y'know, they're going to be doomed to disappointment there.

Ken calling his attacks hasn't changed. It's another callback to the original. I'm going to postulate that the 'rangs are voice activated and when Ken yells out, "Bird run!" the little red light comes on and things are going to get explodey. That's my theory, anyway. Got a better one? Put it in the comments.

There was a fanfic once, many years ago, I think it was written by Lori McDonald, where Joe and Katse are talking about Ken, and Katse's like, what's Ken's deal with yelling about what he's going to do before he does it? Katse goes on to speculate that when Ken goes to the can, he yells, "Bird shit!" I remember laughing out loud at that one. (Mostly because I deal with a lot of bird shit in everyday life.)

1970s Ken just took himself so very seriously. But we loved him anyway. I want to love 2017 Ken just as much, even if he does look like his civilian cover job is being a member of a K-pop band.

Anyway, Ken avoids being shot and he's getting pretty close to the deck, now - literally as well as figuratively. (Among pilots, the 'deck' is ground or sea level - the bit where you really don't want to take your plane unless you really mean it.) He throws one of the birdrangs ahead of him and prepares to touch down on the hijacked carrier.

He lands, turns and skids along the deck. Spikes deploy from his boot-soles (okay, you wouldn't want those to malfunction). That 'rang that he so casually sent on ahead of himself hits an incoming fighter and blows it to smithereens.

Against the fireball of the fighter jet, Ken straightens up and squares his shoulders.

Okay, we are dealing with a seriously badass Eagle here.

We are going to ignore the fact that the explosion behind Ken should be smearing him across the deck. He's badass, so he gets a pass. Even though he's not walking, this is Ken's 'slow walk in front of an explosion' scene. It's a time-honoured trope which tells the audience that the person doing the slow walk is so damned badass that shock waves get out of their way.


Stay tuned for more of Infini-T-Force.



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They make up everything.

Offline cwwriter

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Re: Infini-T Force episode review: 01 'Isolated Flower'
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2018, 14:45:13 CST »
I'm one of the people that really would have liked to see him look at least a little like his old self. However, I'm won over with the fact that he's still attractive to me (I'm selfish) and that I really loved how they handled his character. :)

Loving this review so far! That opening scene made me so happy, and I thought that sliding landing on the deck was so cool. :) Not to mention that the slide seemed to be slightly better physics than coming in at an angle and just landing neatly in place. (But yes, he's still got a pass on physics. I imagine when those spikes deploy it would be a big jar to his ankles/legs.)