Madhouse’s Iron Man: Ep.1 Review

Here it is, the promised review of the first episode of Madhouse’s new Marvel spinoff. And yes, It’s late. Whatchagonna do?

Tony Stark, CEO of a large weapons manufacturer, physicist, engineer, and brilliant inventor, is wounded by shrapnel from one of his own weapons. While held captive by terrorists, he develops the Iron Man Suit and escapes. From that day on, he vows not to waste his second chance at life and to change the world for the better. For that purpose, he comes to Japan.

In Lab 23 in Japan, great strides have been taken to develop, and build, a unique power station which does not run on fossil fuels, the Arc Station. Stark intends to join this project, and, for that, he is ready to announce his retirement as Iron Man. At the same time, he will also announce the Mass-produced Iron Men, to which he will pass on his duties. However, during the ceremonies, Stark is suddenly attacked by combat mecha belonging to an organization known as Zodiac.

Now well into it’s 8th episode, Madhouse’s 12 part Iron Man anime has passed under the radar for a while now, overshadowed by recent hits like Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt and Milky Holmes. Overall, the show offers a great premise, and should be a great hit for anyone who is looking for a bit more action than other offerings this season.

After a distinctively instrumental intro highlighting the large amounts of robots and explosions in the show, Tony Stark touches down in Japan in his private, after nearly colliding with a jumbo jet, of course. Apparently if you’re rich enough, you can just give an up yours to air traffic control. Not bad for a first impression, eh?

Iron Man has lots of lovely sharp visuals to feast on, Like Tony's smirking face.

Stark hasn’t come to Japan just for sightseeing and to scare the locals however, he has come to oversee the creation of a new Arc reactor, a major plot point from the two recent Iron Man movies, in order to provide free energy to power hungry Japanese folk.

In fact, there seems to be a lot of thing in this series that was lifted straight from the hollywood flicks- the Iron Man suit itself is exactly the same as the Mark 3, featured in both films. It could be safe to say that rather than belonging in the regular Marvel comics universe, Madhouse has deliberately decided to keep this in the universe of the films- A wise choice, as many Japanese wouldn’t know anything about the Marvel universe at all.

Anyway, Where was I? Oh yes, I remember. So, Stark is building a Arc reactor in Japan, making all Japanese people happy and live happily ever after right? Wrong. One area where Madhouse has performed spectacularly is in capturing the current state of the Japanese media, and transferring it to the world of Tony Stark. For those who can’t remember, Tony’s late papa was a genius who developed a lot of weapons in WW2, so it’s natural that Japanese media is scared stiff of Tony, and his talent for making things go boom.

Stereotypes Ahoy! Madhouse pulls no punches when it comes to the Japanese media.

It’s also interesting to see how the normally cocksure and arrogant Tony Stark reacts with Japanese culture, which prides itself on subtly and politeness. (Spoiler: He gets a nice firm slap across the face from a female journalist.)

As much as I’d like to see a more politically focused Iron Man show, this is but a sidestory, taking a backseat to the explosions and pretty robot suits. The main star of this episode is Stark’s production version of the Iron Man suit, codenamed ‘Dio’. This looks like a much more rounded version of the Mark 4 suit, from the more recent Iron Man flick, along with a nice Blue/Silver finish to differentiate it from Tony’s personal collection.

The aim of this little project is to train and arm the next generation of Iron Man pilots: it seems that Tony has become bored of super-heroism and wishes to resume his career of gambling and sleeping with exotic women. This plan goes sour quickly however, as during a public performance where Tony shows off his new toy to the public (because the Japanese love robots) the machine malfunctions and Tony crashes to the earth.

Back at his lab, Tony and his team begin running tests on the suit, when the pilot in the suit loses control and kills the other pilots, before flying off. IT is here that Tony decides to once again don the Iron Man suit, and takes up pursuit.

Pwnt. Poor sap never stood a chance...

After a quick scuffle, Tony easily overpowers the new machine, embedding it in the Japanese countryside. Just as he is checking up on the pilot however, Tony as attacked by a vicious mech calling itself ‘Scorpio’, a warrior of a unknown organisation called the Zodiac. Stark quickly defeats him as well, and is left pondering what exactly just happened…

Overall, Iron Man is a very solid anime, that perfectly blends the action and intensity of the movies with all the Shonen elements expected in any action anime. The visuals are a treat, with lovely 3D rendered battles with lots of nice little details. The sound is nice and solid, hitting all the right dramatic notes. However, the OP and ED were very lackluster, and unforgettable.

Madhouse has done a great job with the franchise, looking to take it to a more unfamiliar direction than what would be norm in the regular Marvel universe. I recommend it to anyone interested in Marvel, or who is looking for something with lots of pretty explosions to look at through the long and cold winter nights.

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