We discovered the first episode of Madhouse Studios' Iron Man anime series on Youtube. While the premiere isn't groundbreaking, it's not a disaster. What happens? Tony Stark heads to Japan, acts like a horndog, and wrangles a scorpion mecha.
It's hard to fault the first episode of Iron Man for lollygagging a little bit — the episode establishes that we're dealing with the movie incarnation of Tony Stark. Indeed, there's no mention of the Avengers or other Marvel heroes. Pepper Potts does cameo, but that's it. This is the Robert Downey Jr. take on Tony Stark, right down to the arrogance, ARC reactors, and unabashed mimboness. We meet two comely female characters (Dr. Tanaka and clumsy reporter Nanami), and Tony-san strikes out with both of them. He also get slapped once. Oh Tony, you salacious card.
Also, a lot of the dialog focuses on Tony's concern about his public image in Japan. He's self-conscious about his reputation as a brash gaijin playboy but doesn't do anything to dissuade his critics. Indeed, Tony accidentally wipes out a good chunk of highway when his Iron Man suit malfunctions at an impromptu air show. Is Tony contrite? Naaah.
Stark's visiting Japan to oversee the production of an arc reactor and test a new non-military Iron Man armor, Iron Man Dio. Of course, Dio malfunctions and goes on a rampage. Tony dispatches Dio and is next attacked by a mecha version of Scorpio from the Zodiac, Marvel's premiere astrology-inspired supervillain squad (they've historically looked like this). After dispatching Scorpio, Tony tables his retirement plans — the show will have 12 episodes, so I'm betting we see one foe an episode. C'mon, Sagittarius!
All in all, Iron Man isn't bad — there are some handsome sequences and the armor looks quite regal as anime — but overall the script feels clunky. Warren Ellis has mentioned that his outlines for the show were rewritten, but I was holding out for a least a smidge of gonzo science pop. In a medium dominated by robots fighting, Iron Manime needs something to stand out. Sadly, the show never really evinces what makes the man in the tin can so special.
Iron Man will debut on G4 in 2011. It's presently airing on Animax in Japan.