Bored with her dull everyday existence and isolated at her empty home, Emi finds her thrills by chasing death, playing chicken on her motorcycle in a Shibuya intersection. But one day, a near-collision finds her caught up in a strange conflict crossing countless worlds. The mysterious, malevolent Z plots to destroy these worlds, but he’s opposed by a motley crew of heroes drawn from across the multiverse. From Gatchaman to Casshan and more, these classic heroes will not stand idly by and let Z ruin their homes. And with Emi holding the power of the mysterious Case, they just might be able to fight back.
Source: Anime News Network
Imagine you’re watching The Avengers. You are vaguely aware of the superhero genre, but you’ve never seen any of the previous Marvel movies or read their comics. And while you try to watch the movie, Joss Whedon is sitting there beside you. He smells of smugness, and beard balm. He is constantly elbowing you in the ribs, asking you if you got it.
No, Infini-T Force. I don’t.
I suspect there will be an inevitable gap with this anime, a Kingdom Hearts-style crossover in which a bunch of heroes from Shows You Know come together to fight the forces of evil and whatnot. Except the heroes are from the likes of Gatchaman and Casshan, series from the 1970s that I know basically nothing about—and I’m a fan of more than a few older series. These aren’t shows I know. And after 50 years, I’m not sure it’s too much to ask for a bit of a primer, especially when three of the four hero costumes all look extremely similar in color scheme and design (because of course they do).
Infini-T Force does give us a broad sketch of two of its heroes, Takeshi and Casshern—the latter is mostly by virtue of broody monologue, but the former actually gets a nice, character-building scene with one of the series’ ambiguous villains. Beyond that, though, the writing rests a lot on the fanfic-esque appeal of throwing familiar characters from different series into a blender and seeing what happens. That’s a fine joy, if you go in with all the prerequisite knowledge. For the rest of us, it’s as obvious a deterrent as bolting the door shut.
If the insider baseball weren’t troublesome enough, there’s also the lousy pacing. The tense, ambiguous friendship Takeshi has with the ambiguous villain lasts all of one episode before getting imploded in favor of a fight scene (which the anime has a lot of), and they trot out a familial relation twist before the second episode is up too. Don’t save anything up to surprise us with or anything, Infini-T Force. Just keep throwing in more fight scenes.
The new protagonist isn’t much of an inroad either. Emi is a teenager depressed to the point of daily suicide attempts, but it’s hard to empathize with her when her brushes with death involve darting out in traffic and potentially dragging many other people down with her, and her mopey internal monologue involves shallow quoting of Hamlet. No doubt the thrust of the show will be about her coming to bond with her four superpowered protectors, given that she’s in possession of the interdimensional MacGuffin, but despite this double-length premiere, I was left cold on the character. She doesn’t care about anyone or anything, and there’s not enough there for me to want to watch her come around.
The show’s only other female character is part of the villain team and her establishing line is about how eagerly she’s hoping to get the evil mastermind’s cum and bear strong genetics. After hearing this, I stopped the recording for a few minutes to go and scrub myself. The show also posits that the world-destroying MacGuffin is responsible for Japan’s low birthrate (or rather, specifically women’s ability to get pregnant).
But don’t worry, the show has a line where the out-of-touch old man tells Emi to cook and the other guys tell him that’s outdated thinking, so they officially Did A Feminism. (I’ll be honest, folks: shows that pay lip service to concepts they completely fail to bear out in their characters and themes annoy me 10000 times more than exploitation garbage without a thought in its head.)
The icing on the unappetizing cake is the CGI animation, which is about as detailed and nuanced as a cut scene from 2008. Hair moves as a collective unit, fingers stick together if the character is even mid-distance from the camera, vehicles have that shiny, unfinished matte look. It looks fine for the fight scenes though. And there are a lot of those. Shame it’s all so dull.