DVD Review: Linebarrel of Iron – The Complete Collection

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What does Linebarrel of Iron have to offer that other mecha-styled series don’t? Well we take a closer look in our DVD Review of Linebarrel of Iron – The Complete Collection

Synopsis:

Kouichi dreams of being a hero, but in reality he’s a punching bag for every bully on the block. His life flatlines when the mysteriously naked Emi crashlands on his pitiful existence, thrusting Kouichi into the middle of an intergalactic showdown between rival races of self-regenerating Machinas.

Through his death-bed partnership with the Linebarrel mecha, Kouichi gains the strength to stand up to his tormentors and crush the alien invasion force that’s determined to conquer Earth. There’s just one problem. All this newfound power and special attention from nearly naked babes is turning Kouichi into a jerk. His friends can’t stand him, he makes his dream girl sick, and those aliens want to kill him extra dead! Kouichi may have the mechanized muscle to save the world, but he has much to learn about being a true “Hero of Justice.”

Our View:

Linebarrels of Iron is an anime that will offer viewers mixed opinions throughout, as not only does it feature intense (and pretty awesome) mecha battles that replicate experiences seen within the Gundam franchise, but it also offers an erotic ecchi styled comedy that (from first glance) you would not expect to see. While both are part of the series, they never appear on screen at the same time, so it feels like you are watching two different anime series at the same time, despite trying to tell the same story.

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The story itself revolves around Kouichi Hayas, a typical 14 year-old student who is constantly bullied by other students at school, however one day while on an errand for the bullies a mysterious object falls out of the sky and crash lands on-top of him. Upon regaining consciousness he finds a naked girl next to him and Kouichi decides to help her out.  It later turns out that the ‘mysterious’ girl is known as Emi Kizaki and the object that crash landed on him is none other than a Machina (giant robot) known as Linebarrel. Kouichi is currently the only person that can pilot the machina since a bond known as ‘factor’ was formed between him and it. And so, for the first few episodes at least, a journey of self-discovery commences with Kouichi attempting to be “an ally of justice” by defeating anything evil within the city limits, whether it be school bullies or giant armas (robots) that are attacking the city.

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During this ‘Self-discovery’ phase Kouichi becomes a ‘jerk’ to his fellow school friends and inevitably gets into trouble as well as gets the attention of both the JUDA Corporation, who want to protect the world, and the Katou Organization, a group who want to destroy the world, with both sides attempting to get the Linebarrel recruited onto their side. During these attempts at recruitment Kouichi ends up attacking both sides, destroying parts of the city in the process as well as getting people he cares injured. Kouichi is eventually defeated by a skilled JUDA Corporation Machina Pilot and the current (complicated) situation is explained to him, from here Kouichi agrees to join the JUDA Corporation and help put a stop to Katou’s evil plans. From here out all battles with Katou Armas and Machina commence with secrets and truths surrounding the organizations revealed, much to the shock of Kouichi.

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One of these secrets is that Emi Kizaki, the Machina’s and the head of the Katou Organization are all from an ‘alternate’ dimension of earth and are considered aliens. So to see if Emi Kizaki is different to normal humans he tries to spy on her in the girls locker room, unfortunately for him – the girls notice. This is just one of the ‘ecchi’ styled scenes that viewers can expect from the series. It’s not just all about Machina and Arma battles though, each of which are presented via CGI robots like in Samurai 7, but the series has plenty of ecchi moments that drastically change the style of the series, such as the infamous beach episode which sees a giant squid (octopus) attacking the mostly female cast of the series, with yet again Emi Kizaki getting naked in front of Kouichi. Other ‘random’ instances include the Christmas episode(s) which see the female casting wearing short skirt santa outfits as well as the episode which see’s the president of JUDA give Kouichi a secret video recording of Emi Kizaki getting changed. All of these ‘antics’ aren’t really that entertaining, instead they slow-down the series and distract from the main objective, which (other than defeating Katou Organisation) is mostly shrouded in mystery – just like the rest of the series.

This Collection includes both the complete series (which spans over 24 episodes) and 2 OVA Episodes, and while the series focuses on the story of Kouichi and his daily activities and JUDA Corporation the bonus OVA Episodes follow a slightly different path, with the first OVA episode showcasing how Rachel became a member of JUDA, while the final episode looks at the team relaxing after the mission has been completed. Both different, but both entertaining to round out the series.

Extras:

While the series is enjoyable to watch (during the machine battles at least) the amount of extras included is astouding , with a variety of content being included across all five DVD Discs.

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Extras include the traditional text less songs and English Cast Episode commentaries, but also included is Original Japanese Promo Videos, TV Sports, Magazine Artwork and trailers for other MVM Entertainment released anime series, namely Is This a Zombie, Waiting in the Summer and Shangri-La.

Disc 1:

  • Episode 6 Commentary

Disc 2:

  • Music Video Promo
  • Japanese Promo Video
  • Original Japanese TV Spots
  • Text less opening
  • Text less closing

Disc 5:

  • Magazine Illustration Art Gallery
  • Text less opening
  • Text less closing
  • Trailers (Is This a Zombie, Shangri-La, Waiting in the Summer,

As you can see most of the content is located on Disc 2 and Disc 5 and even though its not listed, Disc 4 does have the text less opening and closing songs of the series. The amount and variety is nice to see, as it’s not often that you get so much extras on a DVD release of a series, especially one as unknown as this one.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time:  2:24:36 (Disc 1), 2:23:04 (Disc 2), 2:17:18 (Disc 3),  2:17:02 (Disc 4) 45:32 (Disc 5)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448Kbps (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

The story itself revolves around Kouichi Hayas, a typical 14 year-old student who after acqurring the Machina known as Linebarrel gets recruited by the JUDA Corporation so that he can help in the fight against the Katou Organization, a mysterious group that want to destroy the world. Throughout the series secrets and truths surrounding both organizations and founding members are revealed, while in the meantime Kouichi’s own personal motives and ideals change, with even a love triangle blooming between his school friend Risako Niiyama and the mysterious girl he rescued Emi Kizaki, all of which combines create an action-packed series.

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The series is a whole is enjoyable to watch but it isn’t very ‘consistent’ for instance at the end of Episode 1 Emi informs Kouichi that he is dead, but as far as I can tell it’s not fully explained how he is alive now, I can only assume it’s because he agreed to become a ‘factor’ – which (presumably) is a specialist human that can operate machine, but even this isn’t cearly explained at the start of the series. Another annoyance I found with the series is the amount of Ecchi randomness that is included, some of which just appears out of nowhere and feels out of context, especially the beach episode. It would have been interesting If the series were split into two, with the main story being 1 series and the ecchi being a spin-off series, similar to what Full Metal Panic did, that way at least viewers would know what they were getting themselves into.

In regards to the release itself we have 24 Episodes and 2 Bonus OVA Episodes spread out across 5 DVD Discs, with the first four DVD Discs have 6 Episodes per disc, while the final DVD Disc is reserved for the two OVA Episodes. All of the episodes have the same consistent picture quality and if it wasn’t for the FUNimation Actors (and impressive 5.1 English Surround Sound) it would feel like I was watching Gundam Seed, but this is down to the fact Character Designer for Gundam Seed did the characters for Linebarrel of Iron. The amount of extra features also is worth praise, as yet again these could have easily been stripped out – but instead they remain included and provide a useful insight into the English Dubbing (Commentary) and promotion (promo videos) of the series.

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As a whole Linebarrel of Iron Is an ‘enjoyable’ series, however that is only for the developing story and machina battles, as the ecchi scenes and love-story that appear at random and can become quite annoying – espiecally if you are here just for the impressive battles. If you enjoyed Code Geass and Gundam Seed then you’ll enjoy Linebarrels of Iron, but be warned it does contain a large does of Ecchi scenes (such as Sekrei) that deters from the main objective of the series.

Score: review-stars-4

Linebarrel of Iron – The Complete Collection will be available on DVD from the 14th October 2013.

About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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