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Cyberteam in Akihabara #1: Cyber Genesis PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Monday, 08 February 2010 00:00
Cyberteam in AkihabaraTake the hardsuits of Bubblegum Crisis, add the magical girl sensibilities of Sailor Moon, and add some cutesy mascots that could be straight out of Pretty Cure, and you have Cyberteam in Akihabara - and if that sounds like an unholy chimera of a show, you wouldn't be too far from the truth. Time for a trip to the anime basement...

1 - Diva
Hibari Hanakoganei sees herself as a typical 12-year-old girl. She's just about to begin high school, and she's looking forward to the changes that high-school life will bring to her. To mark the occasion, her parents have offered to buy her a gift, and what she wants is a Pata-Pi - robotic, trainable toys that are all the rage at the moment. They're also banned by her school, but she's not about to let that small detail bother her. Conveniently, she doesn't even have to wait for her parents to get it - following a word of advice from an old man who'd been peeking up her skirt, Hibari heads for the top of a local hill, where a winged Pata-Pi falls into her waiting hands. No prizes for guessing, then, that this is no ordinary Pata-Pi...

Susume and HibariDark Pigeon

2 - Black Shooting Star
All for the sake of Metatron - somebody's been keeping a close watch on Hibari, and seeing Densuke transform also sees them note that the first Anima Mundi and first Diva have awakened - and that they should prepare for the next. As for what all this means? Your guess is as good as mine, but you can bet that it won't be long before Hibari finds out. She's trying to carry on with normal life, despite knowing that there's something very unsual about her Peta-Pi - but when someone steals all the uniforms from the girls' locker room, it's time for Hibari and Densuke to put things right...

Black FalconSweatdrop

3 - Homunculus
Tsugumi's a girl with dreams of becoming a pop idol - and a mother who's a professional wrestler. It makes for a curious home life, whenever her mother deigns to visit home for a while, anyway. Tsugumi also has a decent fighting streak in her, though, and is learning martial arts with her Peta-Pi, Tetsu. Those fighting skills look likely to come in handy, as guess who's just caught the attention of Shooting Star...

DivaTsugumi

4 - Death Crow
It's fair to say that Tsugumi and Suzume really don't get on well together, and now they're fighting over which one of them will get to be the leader of their new group - which was Tsugumi's idea in the first place. Hibari really doesn't care which one wins, as long as they stop fighting. When Tsugumi wins the deciding round of rock-paper-scissors, though, Hibari won't take defeat lying down, leaving Hibari to wonder if there's anything she can do to make the two girls get along. Black Falcon, meanwhile, is planning her next move - but this time, the job of stealing their girls' Pata-Pi has been handed to her rival, Death Crow...

CorneredArgument

5 - Cockatrice
Where Death Crow and Black Falcon have failed, Shooting Star is hoping Dark Pigeon will succeed. When it comes to picking sensible names, they've all failed, but never mind. As ever, her aim is to retrieve the Pata-Pi of the newly-named Cyber Team, and while she's busy plotting how to do that, the Cyber Team are plotting how to win the Beautiful Girl and Pata-Pi competition - and in their usual spirit of co-operation, they're each entering on their own. In secret. This can only be a recipe for disaster...

Dark PigeonOverheating

First, a confession: I was warned before deciding to review this series that it was one of the worst series out there. But hey, I'm nothing if not adventurous. I also firmly believe that it's good to watch the rubbish every so often, as it helps you appreciate the good that much more; and that writing a review that puts the boot into a series can be a rather cathartic experience. So I went into watching this volume, fully expecting to hate it - and in a way, I was a little disappointed.

But let's talk about the setup, first. In most magical girl shows, it's the mascot characters who act as the source of information while the girls do the transforming and the fighting. To its credit, Cyberteam doesn't follow that - here, it's the mascots (the Pata-Pi toys) that do the transforming, becoming huge warriors (or 'Divas') under the urging of their owners. That seems to be about as original as the series gets, though: the rest of the setup follows the magical girl numbers.

Something unusual happens to each girl to push them into revealing their powers; the bad guys provide a challenge-of-the-week that must be dealt with. Each episode has one-half slice-of-life and one-half action, and as yet the villains, headed by the mask-wearing Shooting Star, have yet to reveal their true motives, beyond a desire to get their hands on the girls' Peta-Pi toys. The series dates from 1998 and has the visual design and feel of comedy shows from around that time (think Slayers and you wouldn't be too far off the mark), and has a healthy reliance on visual cues such as sweatdrops and whatnot that give you a big pointer that the series is meant to be a comedy.

If it's meant to be a comedy, though, it failed. I didn't laugh, once. Instead, I was finding myself getting more and more annoyed as the volume went on. The human characters are more annoying than the Pata-Pi, which I think is probably a first for a magical girl show; Hibari, Susume and Tsugumi seem to have little in common and little connection between them, not so surprising in Tsugumi's case as she's the 'outsider' of the three, but Hibari and Susume are presented as best friends without ever showing us much to believe why that should be the case. Susume's style of speaking is also very grating - she's the ojousama type, spuriously adding an affectation (rendered in the subtitles as "That I do say") to the end of almost every sentence. Hell, Hibari herself comments on how annoying her friends excessive formality is, and now we get to experience it as well. Yay.

The lead 'bad guys' are also nonsensical. Head honcho Shooting Star makes several appearances across the disc, and does nothing but talk incomprehensible nonsense each time. There seems to be some sort of connection between him and the principal of the girls' school but since the principal seems to have a vocabulary that's limited to just one sentence it's hard to tell. As a rare saving grace, the lesser villains are probably the most interesting characters in the series so far, due in no small measure to the way they seem to be cribbing from their equivalent characters in Sailor Moon Sailor Stars, which had aired in Japan a little more than a year before Cyberteam. Nice as the homage is, intended or not, it's far from being enough to give the series any lasting appeal.

Past experience does tell me to sound a note of caution: on the surface, a lot of the criticisms here could have been equally levelled at the first five episodes of Sailor Moon, and look how that eventually turned out. The adventures of Usagi and her friends, though, had a certain underlying charm that Cyberteam seems to be trying to emulate, though, and it completely misses its target in doing so. There's nothing here that gives me hope of much improvement, either - but I'm nothing if not a glutton for punishment, so we'll soon find out. For now, though, one for the 'avoid' pile.

Rating - **

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