Muteking the Dancing Hero – Episode 1

By: Vrai Kaiser October 3, 20210 Comments
DJ and Muteki on the cover of a muteking comic book

What’s it about? Muteki’s very first day in the city is an eventful one, between the DJ named DJ who won’t stop following him around, the cute diner girl who only serves floats, and everyone melting into goo at the hot new idol concert. Fortunately, it turns out DJ can help him unlock the power of Muteking, a roller-blading hero of justice, to save the day.

Drink that summary in, people. This is the sort of show people describe as “out there,” one that requires a certain tolerance for wacky hijinks and an appreciation of creators gleefully stacking concepts on top of one another because…well, why not? Have you ever seen a show about rollerblading DJ tokusatsu heroes before? Well, there you are.

I’d also advise a high threshold for eye strain. While the CG visuals evoke the eclectic busyness and neon-bright cheer of the PS2 era (think Parappa the Rapper, Viewtiful Joe, or early Dance Dance Revolution), folks with photosensitivity might find it a bit much.

Didja get all that?

As an on-the-record lover of Weird Shit, I’m completely onboard with this show for 10-year-olds. As is the case with a lot of tokusatsu-adjacent anime these days, it’s a reboot of a popular old franchise, in this case one that ran back in 1980. Fortunately, it’s completely newcomer-friendly. The direction knows how to make the limits of its CG animation work for it, it’s frenetic but never exhausting or meanspirited, the character designs so far have embraced a spectrum of body shape and racial diversity, and it made me laugh beyond the sheer audacity of its concept slurry.

The tiny glints of plot on display are strident anti-authority by way of boombox (wielded by the wonderful DJ, who may or may not be boning Muteki’s grandma; I love you, Muteking). Its villain is Theo, a totally-not-Apple techbro out to brainwash people with his amassed wealth and alarmingly colored fast food chain. It has never heard of subtlety, and I’m perfectly fine with that given the amount of billionaire apologia I see on the daily. The fact that the titular Muteking has a little song and dance number that wouldn’t be out of place in SARAZANMAI really sold me for at least two more episodes.

not steve jobs throwign a cassette player into a recycling machine because it's too old
The joy of Muteking can truly only be explained in motion

The challenge from here will, of course, be establishing some characters who are likable once the gawking factor wears off. There’s potential, though, given that there are at least half a dozen cameos in this premiere that I’d be happy to spend more time with, from the alien-hunting journalist lady to Muteki’s fashionable club-hopping grandma.

I doubt it’ll be a particularly deep ride, but if you want a feel-good “fight the power” story you could watch with your kids, this seems like it’s shaping up to be a good choice.

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