Watching Heat Guy J hit me in a lot more areas then I thought it would. At first, I was only watching it because I remembered it had vague cyberpunk elements to it. A human detective with a robot/android assistant is a pretty classic set up for a cyberpunk series. Honestly, it only had trace elements of one, but I was never disappointed by it. What I got instead was a journey into adulthood of a young adult character who wasn’t there yet, a tale of that same character bonding with an android father while taking down bad guys across the city, and a city that continually fought for it’ own identity. What I wanted was something that gave a good analysis on what it means to be human, but what I got was a human story about a young adult, his robot buddy, and some other strange people. It was surprisingly heart touching and I welcomed it.
All you people that read my “reviews” know that I have a certain pattern that I use. I’m breaking that pattern on this post because I am going to talk about English voice actors first. Heat Guy J is a show from the early 2000’s, which considering that is around the time I started watching anime, is very nostalgic toward me. There is nothing more nostalgic then a lot of these English dub voice actors that appeared in this show. Steve Staley, who plays the main character Daisuke Aurora in this series, is still working. Infact, he’s the English voice of my main character that I use for this blog, Banagher Links. Bob Papenbrook was the voice actor for the android J and sadly passed away in 2006. There is also Lex Lang, Wendy Lee, Steve Blum, Johnny Yong Bosch, Edward Villard, Kari Walgreen, and so many other good voice actors that don’t voice with each other that often anymore. Seriously, Johnny Yong Bosch showed off his insane laughter here before he ever did it in Code Geass. This was before they became as famous as they are now and was so amazing to me. Not only are these people good voice actors, they are voice actors that I associate with my childhood as well. You had no idea how surprised I was that this all-star voice cast was here in a series that not many people have heard about or talk about very often. I never listened to the subbed version to get a comparison because I didn’t feel like I had to. Hearing these voices all together again was such a treat for me.
So now that is out of the way, maybe you want to hear what Heat Guy J is about. Well, the story set up is interesting enough. Twenty-one-year-old Daisuke Aurora and android J work for the special city department designated to prevent crimes across the city of Judo. A city that is tightly controlled from the government that has very tight control on its citizens, because it doesn’t allow androids besides J to operate in the city, doesn’t allow citizens to enter or leave the city unless they have a permit of some kind, and no guns are allowed at all. It’s up to this duo (and the police sometimes) to stop all illegal activity in the city. Unfortunately, the special unit that the Daisuke and J are a part is underfunded, which means Daisuki only is allowed a small handful of bullets to fight crime with each time there is an incident. The first half of the series is very episodic and is centered around Daisuke and J fighting crime which allows us as an audience to learn more and more about the city. There is also the infamous Leonelli crime family that has been recently taken over by the insane, young Clair Leonelli that is continuously causing more and more incidents of crime throughout Judo. So yes, the two clash at some point. Still, that is all in the first half. The second half goes in a different direction that isn’t as strong.
Heat Guy J has a large amount of well-defined and interesting side characters. There is Kyoko the special unit secretary, Edmundo the cop, Antonia who is in charge of J’s maintenance, Boma the lone werewolf assassin, Monica the young side street city picture taker, Shogun who is Daisuke’s mentor, and Clair Leonelli the young crime boss. Despite being side characters, each one of these character’s personalities is well defined and have well developed back stories. They are explored in the episodic portions of Heat Guy J because Daisuke and J interact with each one of them on their way to solving crimes across the city. Believe me, this isn’t all of them either. Judo is that defines itself well through use of a large amount of side characters that all play important roles at the end of series. If it wasn’t for Daisuke and J,we would have never met any of these unique characters.
I keep building up to these two, so here they are, Daisuke Aurora and J. Daisuke is an intelligent twenty-year-old detective who is also incredibly lazy. He never completes his reports on time, despite Kyoko’s urgings. Daisuke also lost both of his parent’s years ago. His mother left his family years ago and his father was killed by an android, which was why he was trained by Shogun encase he ever had to fight one. Though he and J have a father and son kind of relationship, Daisuke’s backstory does put some heat into their relationship. J is an android whose design and speech patterns were developed to be like Antonia’s father, which is why she is always worried about him. He frequently gives Daisuke advice of how a man should act and feel, which is what the title of this post is a reference too. These two characters are the heart and soul of Heat Guy J and the city of Judo. It’s always fun watching these two interact with each other and all the awesome fight scenes they are involved in.
Heat Guy J was produced by Studio Satelight in the early 2000’s. It was most likely one of their first work because the production valleys were a little low in the beginning and used a lot of cg. They were used more for placement shots of the city, inhuman objects like bullets and machines, and J’s android form when his outer skin is torn off in some way. I can’t say that its worse cg that we’ve seen in anime today because cg in anime doesn’t look like it’s changed a lot in the past fifteen years ago. It’s still low budget and is just used more often today. Still, the standard animation is pretty good. The fight scenes are well animated and well-choreographed. This series was a strong start that shows why the studio is kicking and make anime today (like Suka Suka this season). The character designs should be instantly recognizable by anime who has seen Vision of Escaflowne, because these two series share the same character designer as well as a director, so the series feels incredibly mid-90’s, which makes it feel more nostalgic for me. I am in love with the mid 90’s style of anime, because I started with it. It feels like home to me and I can be extremely relaxed around it.
I may be too blinded by nostalgia to give this a completely fair report, but in general, I liked Heat Guy J a lot. If I was to review only the first half of this series, it would be somewhere along my inner circles of favorite series on my personal dart board. Unfortunately, the series takes a big left turn around the second half because the villain becomes almost nonexistent. Clair Leonelli and his mafia gang had a lot of character and personality behind them, so when they are suddenly gone, the show takes a little bit of a nose dive. The second half is held up by Daisuke Aurora and the side characters, but without a well characterized villain, it feels like an average MCU film. Good, but nothing extraordinary. Heat Guy J does pick up at the end when the villain is finally revealed and has some chemistry with Daisuke to make it interesting. The fact that every single side character from the series got involved makes it even better. So in the end, it was completely worth it. High recommended for someone looking for something a little older and unique. Take a trip to Judo, hopefully with a passport so you aren’t illegal, and see what it’s like.
This was a series that I feel like I needed to watch. While I love a lot of the series that are airing this season, I needed something that didn’t feel the same. Something different, something that stood away from standard festival and beach episodes. Each series is different, but they feel kind of the same from time to time because they all seem to have these attributes to them at one point or another. Heat Guy J stars a character that ignored the festival that was going on in the city in one episode and episode that had a beach in it was more plot focused than anything else with a small glimpse of the most beautiful character in the series in a bikini. This older series was something that brought me back into the game and I feel ready to continue with everything that I already with another wind. It has that mixture of nostalgia and newness that I needed for a while.
Thank you all for reading this. If you have watched this series before, what is your opinion of it? If you haven’t, does this series feel interesting to you? Please let me know in the comments below.