My least favorite of Marvel’s anime spin-offs, Marvel Anime: Iron Man – The Complete Series collects all 12-episodes of the animated series in one 2-disc DVD set just in time to catch The Avengers fever about to hit theaters. It originally aired on the G4 channel back in 2010 as part of Marvel’s ambitious plan to bring anime’s distinct style to many of their iconic franchises under the careful guidance of acclaimed comic maestro Warren Ellis, with production duties handled by the legendary Madhouse (Barefoot Gen, Millennium Actress). But for all its problems, this adaptation of Tony Stark and his metallic alter-ego still has plenty of repulsor blasts and clichéd mech monsters to keep fans of the iconic superhero entertained as he fights to save Japan and the world.
I remember how excited I was to learn about Marvel and anime studio Madhouse teaming up to make a few series based off some of the greatest superheroes of all time, with the first being Iron Man. In this two disc, twelve-episode series, Tony Stark is trying to make the world a better place by providing the world with clean, free energy by placing Arc reactors around the world that’s based off the one he uses to stay alive and power his Iron Man armor. He’s also creating Iron Man Dio units, which are automated versions of his armor to help protect people so he can retire from the superhero business. While visiting Japan to begin the two projects there, an evil organization called Zodiac begins targeting them for destruction, forcing Tony to become Iron Man and stop them for destroying Japan and the world.
While I did enjoy the series, it’s definitely my least favorite of all the Marvel anime attempts. There’s just too much gratuitous talking / filler moments and not enough Iron Man action going on, as the show goes into a lot of the business and political ramifications of Tony’s goals in Japan. Though to be fair, when the action does start up, it does keep you glued to the screen. There’s even a cameo appearance from Wolverine (who also has an anime series) thrown in for good measure to keep fans happy as well.
Still, for a DVD release, the video looks surprisingly sharp and clean as small details like dents and scratches on Tony’s armor show up quite nicely. While the 5.1 Japanese (optional English subtitles are included of course) and English audio tracks make sure every Unibeam and piece of dialogue is heard with clarity.
The special features presented here will keep viewers entertained long after the series ends. “Re-Imagining Iron Man” goes into the details of turning Iron Man into an anime series, as “21st Century Hero: The Technology of Iron Man” gives viewers an inside look into some of the tech that Tony Stark created in the show. “Special Cross Talk Session: Marvel Anime’s Iron Man and Wolverine” is a nice roundtable discussion with the shows creators as they give their thoughts on both series (hopefully Wolverine will be released soon), while the last extra “Voicing Tony Stark” features a fun interview with Keiji Fujiwara, the Japanese voice actor for Tony Stark that talks about such things like preparing for the role and what it was like to become the famous character.
While it might be riddled with clichéd mech monsters and other genre tropes, Marvel Anime: Iron Man – The Complete Series will probably still keep fans of Marvel’s iconic Avenger entertained while showcasing some amazing action scenes and animation from Madhouse. All 12-episodes of the series are collected in this 2-disc DVD set, with a great video transfer that looks sharp with high-quality voice-acting (from both the Japanese and English casts). It may not the best of Marvel’s anime attempts, those who enjoy animated action may get a kick out of this, but if you’re an Iron Man fan and also happen to enjoy anime, then chances are pretty good that you’ll get a kick out of this series – just not as much as from the other Marvel anime shows out there.
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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment