Geobreeders Anime Review
ジオブリーダーズ - 魍魎遊撃隊 [File-X] 「ちびねこ奪還」
Geobreeders - Mouryou Yuugekitai [File-X] "Chibi Neko Dakkan"
Geobreeders Anti-Spirit Commando Unit [File-X] "Rescue the Kitty"
US Release By
3 30-minute episodes
1998-05-21 - 1998-10-21
Say hello to Kagura Total Security, a well-equipped freelance company that specializes in trapping phantom cats. Don't laugh--they may look like cute little kitties, but due to the fact that they're data-phantoms, those furballs are liable to take over any computer controlled piece of hardware in sight. Add a serious attitude problem and near-invincible human form to that, and you've got a recipe for trouble.
Problem: From their lethargic driver, to their trigger-happy, white-suited, "mystery" shrouded weapons expert, to poor, abused salaryman Taba, the misfits of Kagura aren't exactly the ideal people for the job. But, they've got the hardware and they're crazy enough to do whatever it takes to stay ahead of the professionals--The Hounds, a government paramilitary anti-cat squad--on any job that pays well enough.
When the cats start trying to smuggle serious military hardware into the country and kidnap Kagura Total Security's very own cute phantom cat, will even everything they've got be enough? (And even if they succeed, will there be anything left of the city when they're done?)
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The randomly-named Geobreeders is, like the manga it's based on, an odd little nugget of over-the-top action. It distinguishes itself for having oddly young-looking character designs and a sub-plot so mysterious and convoluted that neither the viewer nor the characters have any idea what's going on with it. But, there is really one and only one reason to watch Geobreeders: Crazy, extreme-with-a-capital-X action. The quality animation makes it look good, the meticulous mechanical design gives it enough of an air of realism that the missile riding and falling-off-buildings work, and the light slapstick does enough to fill the gaps in between.
Basically one of those series where you take a bunch of cute girls, give them homicidal tendencies, a penchant for collateral damage and some oversized weapons, then throw them at a menace of one sort or another, Geobreeders adds up to an enjoyable waste of time for fans of truly extreme and slightly silly action.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
The randomly-named Geobreeders (it has nothing to do with geology, geometry, or breeding of any sort) is an odd little nugget of over-the-top action just like the odd little manga series it's based on.
You might mistake Geobreeders for Poké-spawn based on the kiddy-style art and title, but it's nothing of the sort. Entirely unintelligible plot aside, it's basically one of those series where you take a bunch of cute girls, give them homicidal tendencies, a penchant for collateral damage, and some oversized weapons, then throw them at a menace of one sort or another. It adds up to an enjoyable waste of time, plus there are (decidedly un-cute) catboys.
Geobreeders is, for the most part, a lighthearted and fairly silly series. There's enough of an air of realism (and true-to-life hardware) to make the action concrete and enjoyable, but it's mostly a cartoon. The humor is plentiful, but not creative--standard light-action stuff--and also fairly clean compared to the rest of it. The characters are about the same--fun, but essentially empty, with the small exception of a bit of sweetness between the beleaguered Taba (who, despite not even making the front of the box, is really the main character) and his catgirl.
The "story" is a conundrum, somehow managing to simultaneously be nonexistent while hinting that there's something dark, involved, and hugely important going on. Backstory and character setup are conspicuously absent; normally the blame for this abrupt start might fall on over-pruning from the manga original, but in this case the source material is just as bad. Admittedly, the whole thing is so light and obvious that no introduction is really necessary, but the large cast could've used at least a quick overview.
The actual plot, like the introduction, is MIA... sort of. Irie, a cheerful, nerdy-looking government agent, appears periodically to advance some sort of political side/sub plot that is so convoluted and vague it is completely indecipherable. It seems to be sinister (Irie's casual, grinning machinating is decidedly creepy), it seems to be important, but it makes no sense whatsoever to the viewer. (If you're thinking the manga explains in more detail, you're wrong--it's even more vague and sinister, if that's even possible.) In any case, the main characters are the only people more clueless than the viewer, and that's fine--less plot equals more fun in the end, plus their obliviousness is rather amusing.
And, as far as Geobreeders goes, action = fun. There's a nasty case of "I can't hit anything living, at point blank range, with a fully automatic weapon" going around, but the action is plentiful, fast, varied, nicely animated, and adeptly choreographed. The first and final segments are particularly spectacular; I have a serious weakness for outrageously over-the-top action (falling off buildings, riding missiles, that sort of thing), and Geobreeders has the good stuff on tap. Better still, since it always maintains just enough of a grip on reality to keep the action out of cartoon territory, the gunfights and building-leaping and missile-riding (all happen at least once) work in spite of the generally silly demeanor.
Speaking of realism, the mechanical design deserves praise. From the guns (right down to clips and piles of shell casings), to the cars, to the computers (look for uncommonly accurate computer displays), there is a great deal of attention paid to making the hardware look real. In truth, it feels a little odd since the characters look so... well, not realistic in contrast, but I thought the detailed props gave the whole thing the air of maturity it needed.
As for the rest of the visuals, the character designs stick out; true to the manga, they're varied, but look weirdly childlike (villains and grizzled military veterans excepted). Once it gets going, it's obvious that they're not kids--they're a buxom lot and act at least as mature as your average anime 20-something--but they are baby-faced and built close to the ground. The contrast with the otherwise realistic visuals takes some getting used to, but after a while it stopped bothering me. Other than that oddity, the art is bright, colorful, and nicely drawn.
USM hyped the animation director as the fellow responsible for Macross Plus, and given that the manga is at least 80% action by page-count, you'd expect something pretty impressive from the team-up. It's not Macross Plus by any stretch, but it is darned good. The snazzy (and voluminous) action is the centerpiece, and the character animation is on par--each of the primary characters has a distinct style.
The acting, at least in Japanese, gets the job done. There is a commendable variety of voices in the group of women, running the gamut from the cute and spunky president to the dry, sleepy Yu. Unfortunately, the sound effects are a tad underpowered--for all the realistic guns, things are a little too quiet.
The music is standard fare for light anime; fully orchestrated and generally over-dramatic with a few fun, oddball tunes thrown in. The opening theme is an unremarkable classic J-rock piece, but the end theme--a peppy, nonsensical mambo with matching sketches--earned points with me.
In all, Geobreeders is yet another silly lunatic-girls-with-guns hunting gun-running-ghost-cats series. It's funny on a very basic level, loaded up with crazy action, visually appealing, and features an underlying plot so obtuse that X-Files seem clear by comparison. While short of spectacular, it's successful on the level it's aiming for, and makes for a fun diversion, especially for fans of over-the-top action.
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If you like this, the sequel, Geobreeders: Breakthrough, is a must-see. The feel and look is a bit similar to Wild Cardz, but in all it's a lot more like a less serious Gunsmith Cats. Project A-ko is another reasonably good match for comic action (the director of Geobreeders was also involved with all four A-ko movies). The story is somewhat similar to Silent Mobius, but they're otherwise entirely different.
Notes and Trivia
Based on an action-heavy manga series by Akihiro Ito, formerly available in English from CPM Manga.
Even in Japan the series is usually just called Geobreeders, but the full subtitle means something like "Commando Unit for All Types of Ghosts and Goblins." This animated version was also known as File.X, probably to distinguish it from the manga continuity (which it more or less retells with some minor changes). It is also AKA (in Japan) Geobreeders The Movie, though it isn't, and Geobreeders [File-X] "Get Back the Kitty". File-X might also be an X-Files reference, but my guess is otherwise.
There's an odd little commercial for cat food between episodes 2 and 3 on the DVD; it's probably not an actual ad, although "Neko-genki" cat food (written slightly differently) was and is an actual product produced by Unicharm (the other brand, Lulu, is what Maya is always eating). The other two Mayas are from other anime series, one rather well-known. (For those wondering, it certainly could have been a real ad--Japanese commercials are often that short and nonsensical.)
As mentioned in the review, the writer/artist of the manga, Akihiro Ito, has a thing for super-realistic weapons and computer hardware, and that carries through into the anime version. Being something of a geek, I personally noted a Logitec QuickCam on top of the computer setup at the restaurant, and the two OSes that show up are the real thing (the good guys use a Mac). One minor error for the geek with a sharp eye: when their connection gets broken halfway through the cat-girl's transmission, the computer shows a "Type -192" error. Any old-time Mac tech will tell you that's a "Resource not found" error, more likely caused by a glitch or running out of memory. So, of course, my first instinct when that flashed on the screen was "Their computer crashed!" not that the transmission had been cut. Ah, the difficulty of suspension of disbelief that plagues tech-heads...
US DVD Review
The DVD was pretty good by USM standards of the time. It has a nice video transfer, good audio (Japanese and English Stereo), and an English subtitle track. Special features are slim unless you use a computer, though; a funky little application on the disc (a crusty OS9 one for Mac users) lets you access scripts, a passable gallery of images, and the storyboards for two scenes. One positive note is that this disc actually includes the main cast members in both English and Japanese on the disc jacket (as USM started doing at some point, the info is printed on the inside of the cover, and the case is transparent). Plus, they left in the Japanese credits, so you'll find a complete translation here. The disc was also available in a 2-pack with the sequel, Breakthrough.
Has a fair amount of non-erotic nudity early on and is generally violent, though not particularly serious about it. USM's 13-up is about right, though much of it doesn't even feel quite that serious.
Violence: 2 - They do a lot of violence to a lot of cat-people, but it's not graphic and I'm not even sure they're technically getting killed.
Nudity: 3 - Again a fair chunk early on.
Sex/Mature Themes: 0 - Essentially nothing.
Language: 1 - Nothing strong.
Staff & Cast
Original Japanese Cast
(All names in Japanese order, family name first)
Taba: Miki Shinichiro
Kikujima: Kourogi Satomi
Umezaki Maki: Hisakawa Aya
Sakuragi Takami: Yajima Akiko
Randou Eiko: Imai Yuka
Himehagi Yuu: Hidaka Narumi
Irie: Yamadera Kouichi
Maya: Iizuka Mayumi
Captain Yajima: Ohtsuka Akio
Narusawa: Nagasawa Miki
Squad Commander: Oukawa Touru
Black Cat: Hori Katsunosuke
Additional Voices: Yamazou(?) Kaori, Nakajima [?], Kurayama [?], Kase Yasuyuki(?), Yuda Seiji
Descartes: Nakata Jouji
Mataba: Irie Takashi
Phantom Cat: Matono(?) Mitsuaki
Squadmember Sears: Ogata Masahiro
Squad Commander: Oukawa Toru
Descartes: Nakata Jouji
Vice Cat: [?]
Cat Captains: [?] Takashi, Okita [?], Hamada Kenji
Black Cat: Hori Katsunosuke
English Dub Cast
Kikujima: Angora Deb
Sakuragi: Rachael Lillis
Himehagi/Newscaster: Mina Sands
Rando: Tara Jayne
Taba: Scott Cargle
Narisawa: Wendy Walker
Phantom Cat A/Squad Commander: Tristan Goddard
Irie: Alvaro Gonzalez
Cat: Carol Tiers
Descartes/Policeman/General/Mataba/Narrator/Hound B: Crispin Freeman
Additional Voices: Christopher Sippel, Arlen
Opening Theme "Rising Soul"
Lyrics: Masaaki Taniguchi
Composer: Motoyoshi Iwasaki
Arrangement: Motoyoshi Iwasaki
Performed by: Sara Aoki
End Theme "Dynamite Mambo"
Lyrics: Takeshi Yokoyama
Composer: Motoyoshi Iwasaki
Arrangement: Motoyoshi Iwasaki
Performed by: Kagura General Security (Kourogi Satomi, Hisakawa Aya, Yajima Akiko, Imai Yuka, Hidaka Narumi)
Formerly available in North America on bilingual DVD from the late US Manga Corps, both as a budget-priced single-disc version of all three episodes and in a combo pack with the sequel, Breakthrough. Was also available on a single subtitled or dubbed VHS volume.