When East and West Collide
What do you get when you combine the core elements of Japanese anime and American comic books? The answer is a new series called Heroman. Written by none other than famous comic book writer Stan Lee and produced by Bones animation studio, Heroman is just a small glimpse into what’s to come. Marvel, in collaboration with Madhouse, are also expected to release the Iron Man and Wolverine anime in Japan sometime in the next year or two.
I can’t say anything for the Iron Man and Wolverine anime since they haven’t been released yet, but I have gotten a chance to see Heroman and it doesn’t look too bad. The anime revolves around a high school boy named Joey Jones living on the American west coast. One day he picks up a broken toy robot and attempts to fix it, but then it transforms into giant robot after being struck by lightning. Joey gives the robot the name Heroman, and shortly afterwards learns of the robot’s abilities when they go to rescue Joey’s love interest from a nearby car accident.
Some of the things I found reminiscent of comic books was the sudden acquisition of a special power, and the damsel in distress. It reminded me a lot of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. Heroman also has the colours of the American flag painted on him, just think of Captain America as a giant robot, but instead of being mostly blue, he’s mostly white. Joey Jones is also portrayed as a poor nerdy-type character who is also orphaned, once again along the same lines as Peter Parker.
Even with the injection of elements normally found in American comic books, Heroman still manages to keep the feel of an anime. While most superheroes are relatively manly, Joey appears to be a skinny kid with girlish looks, and anyone who watches anime regularly know how many of those there are. Joey also does not actually have powers himself, instead relying on something he controls (think Pokemon, Digimon, etc.) Some of the side characters are also typical of what you would find in anime. Joey’s teacher is an eccentric extraterrestrial otaku, while his grandma can be seen jamming to some tunes every now and then. The overall feel of the anime is very friendly (even with the bullies), whereas I find comic books to be a bit darker, but that might be more of a cultural thing rather than a difference between anime and comic books.
It’s obvious that Heroman is trying to appeal to a larger audience by combining two different types of media, but it’s questionable how well that will work. Some people are drawn to comic books because of their badass superheroes, while others are drawn to anime because of its cute characters. Personally, I think Heroman chose the best aspects of anime and comic books and should turn out pretty well.