May 072011

I ended up lagging behind on Iron Man and Wolverine. Not because I thought they sucked or anything. They just got lost in the shuffle like a lot of series I watch end up doing. But this past weekend I intentionally blew through the remaining episodes I hadn’t seen.

The short of it: I liked both, but Wolverine was a good bit better than Iron Man.

Also, I’m totally reusing the pic from the last post I made about these two series. Go-Go Slacker Pic Reuse!

The main thing that threw off Iron Man was the way the middle of the series kinda floundered. It fell into the “monster of the week” formula, which is a formula I actually like, but the series didn’t quite pull it off since said monsters were either generic robots that didn’t really add much tension to the series (The space spider robot was kinda neat, but that was about it.), or the “monsters” were one-off peeps loosely related to the Zodiac plot (Really? Did they need to insert in a little school girl? And her reason for being in the series was idiotic. She so should have died to spare us from the sappiness.). So Iron Man’s MotWness didn’t pan out all that well.

When it finally came back around to the main plot, things picked back up. What’s weird is that the finale ended up playing out like a remake of Gasaraki. Gasaraki’s one of the better post-Evangelion mecha series. It had two main plots running concurrently, one of which was your typical post-Eva mysticism and the other (the one that Iron Man mirrors) dealt with pro-Imperial Japanese radicals attempting a coup d’etat.

Their plot is relatively neat. They wanna frame Tony Stark for all of the Zodiac nonsense, and once he’s taken the fall they would launch their hostile takeover of Japan. not unlike Gasaraki’s plot that involved turning the US into an enemy by waging economic warfare, Iron Man also goes down the “screw over the US to rekindle a militaristic Japan” route. Kinda interesting that an anime intended for US audiences boils down to the main villain wanting to wage war on the US. Make of that what you will.

It all cumulates in a fairly decent final battle that ends with a few somewhat shocking deaths. Stark’s Japanese counterpart bites it while facing off with the head of Zodiac. That wasn’t too shocking, since he fulfilled the required noble death these sorts of series need to add levity to the situation. What was a bit more shocking was the death of the woman running Stark’s Japanese Arc system. She was also his would-be lover, and that’s probably what did her in. Stark obviously had some feelings for her, so if she lived she’d be a potential romantic thorn in Stark’s side for potential (re: very unlikely) sequel. They can’t have that sort of baggage laying about, especially when it’d ruin Stark’s sexual tension with Pepper and the like. So yeah, she died because she made Stark’s love life far too normal and complete.

Given how comic books have a tendency to screw over female characters, that’s pretty damn appropriate. Pretty damn sexist, but thematically appropriate.

Wolverine was a hell of a lot more consistent. While Iron Man floundered about in the middle, Wolverine took after its namesake and barreled ahead regardless of logic or reason. Every episode literally pushed Wolverine closer to his goal: rescuing Mariko. It was like your classic fairy tale or Super Mario game, right down to the “princess” being held in a castle-like skyscraper awaiting a forced wedding with the major villain. For that single-minded dedication to the plot (what little of it was there), I gotta give Wolverine props.

The main thing that pissed me off about the series is that we never got to see Sabretooth. They found a way to wedge in Omega Red, a character created after the man who wrote the original Mariko storyline left X-Men, so why couldn’t they toss in Sabretooth after they teased us with him in the end credits? But that’s the only thing I didn’t like about the series.

(Fun Fact: Omega Red debuted in X-Men #4 (That being the second X-Men series that started up in the early 90′s, not Uncanny X-Men, which has been around since the 60′s.). The dude that wrote the Mariko storyline for Wolverine’s original miniseries (And the dude that had written X-Men since the mid-70′s.) left the series with X-Men #3. So he’s literally the first thing to come along after the era that this series harkens back to.)

And despite the alterations made to the overall storyline (Madripoor had nothing to do with the original story, AIM wasn’t there, etc etc.), it all managed to keep the spirit of Wolverine intact. If anything, the ending managed to be more Wolverinish than much of what’s happened to him since. Rather than dragging out the storyline and having Mariko take on the mantle of her father, she gets the prerequisite tragic death. Wolverine is able to whisk her away from her imposed betrothed (Topped off with a scene straight out of The Gradutae, just replace Hoffman with Logan.), only to have her die when her betrothed attempts one final parting shot.

Couple this with several other deaths (tragic or otherwise) that cap off the series and you get your required level of pathos needed for an X-Men related story. X-Men is the original super powered soap opera, and ending the series with Wolverine shouting to the heavens as Mariko dies in his arms is about as X-Menish as you get. And since we’ll likely never get a sequel considering the reception these Marvel anime series have received, we won’t get a sequel that’ll allow them to get all Jean Grey on her and bring her back from the dead.

So yeah, I really dug Wolverine for it’s focused single-mindedness. It’s all about trying to save that princess while slicing up anyone that gets in the way.

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