The first two Marvel anime shows, Iron Man and Wolverine, premiered on G4 on Friday, July 29th. I think my disappointment with them began when I went to set my DVR to record them and I realized that neither of them were the X-Men anime that I had thought would be premiering that night. Iron Man and Wolverine are OK, but I've been looking forward to the X-Men one since I saw the character art for Cyclops. What I ended up seeing instead was two shows that I didn't really have any prior interest in, and didn't really know what to make of them. I've watched two episodes of each now, and I'm left thinking that maybe I just don't get it.
Iron Man was on first, and it was definitely the odder of the two. Tony Stark has gone to Japan to kick off his arc light reactor program thing. They're building a plant or something. I apparently didn't find it important enough to put it in my notes. It's really just an excuse to get him to Japan and have him care what the general public thinks of him. (They mostly think he's an arrogant jerk, which he does little to disprove in the first two episodes.) The much more important issue is that Tony has hung up the Iron Man armor, and is auditioning candidates to pilot his new Dio armor. (I'm not sure on the spelling. I think it is "Dio," but maybe I just wanted it to be.) Naturally, by the end of the first episode, events force him to become Iron Man again. These events involve being attacked by monsters with Zodiac themed names, like Scorpio. Frankly, I am not all that familiar with Iron Man villains and have no idea if I should know them or not. Scorpio looked like a big bug/dragon that wanted to hump Iron Man.
I liked the second episode much better than the first, but as the story gets more complicated with the introduction of more characters (now there are mysterious Japanese government officials who are after Iron Man too), I found it harder to follow. I think the problem was that I kept getting distracted by little things, like Tony Stark's hair. There's too much of it and it is oddly colored. Also, he's a jerk, like I mentioned before. For example, he makes a lot of noise about not wanting to be Iron Man anymore, but then he does the public demonstration of the Dio armor himself. Sometimes I just don't understand what his deal is though. There was a scene in the first episode with him and a female reporter in a car that just baffled me. Speaking of female reporter, whose name I forgot to write down, I think she's...I don't know...the love interest? Tony keeps flirting with her, which makes sense because he's Tony, and she keeps acting outraged by it, but then acts like she likes him. It's annoying. She also seems to be forced into the plot in pretty ridiculous ways. There's this whole mix up with a camera case and a nuclear weapon case that was just goofy, even if it did lead to a really fun chase scene. On the other hand, her boss is totally the Japanese J. Jonah Jameson, which is pretty cool.
Wolverine was probably the more solid of the two shows, though I think I found it less entertaining overall, possibly because it was less weird. The story itself is classic Wolverine. Logan is lured to Japan by government operatives in order to save his love, Mariko, from the arraigned marriage her father is forcing on her. Then there's battles of honor, assassins, berserker rages - the usual. If you are familiar with Logan's romance with Mariko from the comics, you know what to expect. The odd part, for me, is that here A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) is also involved in the whole thing. They aren't villains I would expect in a Wolverine series. I didn't even recognize them as A.I.M., since they look nothing like their comic book counterparts (who, admittedly, don't have the coolest look with their bee keeper outfits, but I love them). This is also a version of Wolverine that heals instantaneously from seemingly anything, which I have never been a fan of, but is currently the norm. On the bright side, the assassin Yukio has already made an appearance, with her own little origin exposition, and she promises to be fun.
My biggest problem with the Wolverine anime was Wolverine himself. Aside from the his hair and his claws, he just doesn't seem like Logan to me - too lean, too tall, and while he shouldn't look as old as he is, too young. The voice casting doesn't help either. While Adrian Pasdar is naturally suited to voice a sleazy Tony Stark, Milo Ventimiglia just can't muster the necessary gravitas for Logan. Again, there's no sense that this is a character who is many decades old. He just sounds like he's a bit hoarse, probably from all the screaming and grunting.
All that said, I still wouldn't say that I have a solid opinion on either show. Neither is bad, but neither really grabs me either. I just can't figure out why. Maybe it's the characters (though I actively disliked Iron Man when the movie came out, and still loved that), or maybe anime just isn't for me. I've never really watched it before. I haven't added the shows to my DVR season pass list yet though, so the ultimate test will be whether I do remember to record them every week. Iron Man and Wolverine air on G4 Friday nights at 11:00 and 11:30 PM. If you have watched them, let me know what you think. I would really like to know.