I watched the pilot of Heroman and promptly fell in love. I fell in love the way the comic books of my youth made me fall in love with the whole idea of saving and protecting others using super powers. The show made me feel like I was 8 again, and for a 24 minute show, that’s shaving over one year per minute from my life.
This is priceless to me. I was going through pilot episodes of the spring season and finding no luck in enjoying myself with both Angel Beats and then Arakawa Under the Bridge, I was getting worried about becoming too jaded about anime (a concern that visits me at the beginning of each new season).
I never really think that each new season is bad, only that I acknowledge that finding shows for me to truly get into is a challenge. Heroman kept it simple. I liked super hero stories as a kid, why not make me remember love?
This isn’t the kind of remembering love that I usually talk about. Aside from the trademark Stan Lee cameo that exists in every Marvel licensed feature film over the past decade, there aren’t many overt references, at least in the pilot episode.
If anything, it’s the feel of the show. The old tropes (geeky kid being bullied, sympathetic rich daughter cheerleader, bully older brother of the said cheerleader, COCKROACH ALIEN, heroic robot toy coming alive from discarded toy parts – I’m almost certain there are related tropes for each of these) that feel current, not old-fashioned. I really like this.
It all comes to a head in the lovely ED sequence, where the slice of life moments of the characters are delivered in comic book panels and pages (Western, and not manga). The whole sequence really feels like an issue of Spider-Man, maybe with a dash of Archie comics for the lightheartedness.
Another thing I like about this show is that weirdly enough, it reminds me of why I loved America as a kid. There was no cooler country. Mind you, this was before a liberal arts education, a nationalist anti-colonialist streak, and a would-be career as a post-colonial literary scholar. I am nostalgic for that naivite. I’d rather believe in heroes rather than cast them as villains.
This is a really big topic for a first impressions post on Heroman to take on. Growing up here in the Philippines, the American Dream was omnipresent. Whether you dreamed it or not, you had an opinion on it. The cultural hegemony of the United States on us was spectacular. Even today it persists, despite all the trashy television and news that gets shown on local cable TV.
This is one of the reasons why I love this show I think. I’m programmed to like it. Combined with the anime tradition of super robots, I really don’t stand a chance do I?. I willfully ignore (at least for now) any political reflection or issues with myself that arise from this experience.
I’m having too much fun remembering how I’d rent issues of The Incredible Hulk at my classmate’s house on the way home from school back in 1986 for Php 1.00. I suppose I wanted to be American too. I was 9. What did I know?
But I know this much now: An naive and unselfish kid who wants to be a hero is very easy to love. Why shouldn’t he get to control the Heroman robot. Why shouldn’t I?
A very comprehensive Heroman first impression post on taikutsu remedy, where many visual references (to GAINAX robot shows) are pointed out.
A former Kim Possible fan really likes Heroman in a charming post (Shockerz 04/06/2010)
Someone got the idea of the ridiculous ‘American’ setting right and why it’s awesome to put a superhero origin story in it (Landon 04/04/2010)
The Giant Robo reference isn’t lost on me too (Schneider 04/04/2010)
Over at the UK, there is only mild expectation (Hanners 04/02/2010)
A self-professed Stan Lee fangirl weighs in with her expectations (Janette 04/02/2010)