Geobreeders: Breakthrough Anime Review
ジオブリーダーズ2 - 魍魎遊撃隊 File-XX "乱戦突破"
Geobreeders 2 - Mouryou Yuugekitai [File-XX] "Ransen Toppa"
Anti-Spirit Commando Unit [File-XX] "Melee Breakthrough"
US Release By
4 30-minute episodes
2000-07-26 - 2001-03-23
Kagura is just getting the mess caused by their recent Phantom Cat hunting escapades cleaned up when a new job comes in. Their assignment: They're not really sure, but it takes them onto the unfriendly freeways, into the untamed wilds of Japan's pastoral countryside, and up to their necks in hot springs and "hot water." Meanwhile, the Hounds are busy testing some fancy--and rather mysterious--new gear in their own efforts to stop the Phantom Cats' latest nefarious plan. Oh, and there's a sniper out to get Shooting Star... but who is she?
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Geobreeders: Breakthrough serves up another helping of the odd mix that made the first series memorable. It takes a nice chunk of quirky humor in the middle episodes, sandwiches it between two big, juicy slices of over-the-top action on the ends, and seasons liberally with cryptic plot throughout. The funky child-like character designs are back, as is everything (and everyone) else that made the first series an empty but enjoyable time-waster.
Fans of fun, extreme action will find plenty to love, fans of the manga will find another faithful animated adaptation, and everybody else will find a chaotic thrill ride with attention deficit issues.
Full ReviewSwitch to Quick Review
Geobreeders: Breakthrough is exactly what you'd hope for in a sequel to the original: More of the same. Taking up exactly where the first series ended (they're still cleaning up the mess, in fact), Breakthrough has all the cheerfully over-the-top action and sinister but completely unintelligible plot of the original with an added dose of quirky downtime humor wedged in the middle for good measure. If you liked the original, seconds are served.
Even though Breakthrough is a direct sequel you don't need to have seen the first series to enjoy it. The plot segments (they're again segregated completely from everything else) are so completely opaque that you won't be any more lost than returning viewers, and the characters were devoid of backstory to begin with. That said, the two series are so similar that there's no benefit to skipping the first half, so you might as well watch them in order.
As with its predecessor, the most distinctive feature of Breakthrough is its combination of unrestrained action and utterly unintelligible background plot. The machinations do come a little closer to making sense this time around--Irie drops enough cheerfully creepy hints about his conspiracy to hazard some guesses as to what it actually is, and we find out enough about the Cats' plan to almost guess what they're up to. Irie also demonstrates just how scary a perpetually smiling guy in a business suit can be. There's an additional side story about a hunted Phantom Cat refugee that eventually intersects with the main thread, but again we never get enough information to do more than hypothesize what's up.
Of course, as usual, Kagura Security is hilariously clueless about all of these mysterious machinations. The villains seem to assume Kagura knows something, but for the most part someone better informed than them (or dumb luck) leads them to the wrong place at the right time and they're too busy trying to survive to wonder what's driving the chaos. The Kagura team also gets stranded out in Japan's "wilderness" for the two middle episodes, leading to some decidedly more mellow but properly fun escapades. Hot springs aside, they attempt to cope with a luckless sniper and surviving the "wrath" of nature on a sunny spring day in the mountains. The sense of quirky comedic timing in this section is memorable, and is a nice break from the chaos that usually follows the team, even if it does drag just a bit.
The comedy is simple but funny enough, and the plot is interesting in a sort of masochistic way (or funny for the same reason), but the real draw of Geobreeders: Breakthrough are the spectacular action sequences that frame the series on either end. Ratcheted up a notch from the original (yes, it's more extreme), these extended scenes are a freeway-speed ballet of chaos that spiral farther out of control every time you think the climax is in sight. It's wild, it's extreme, and while it's totally unrealistic, it has just enough of a grip on physics and believability to make for an excellent ride.
As in the first series, the production values are up to the challenge of adapting a nearly-all-action manga series. Sufficiently fluid and well-choreographed animation is backed by unusually realistic hardware and a variety of moderately attractive background art. The character designs, again true to the manga, stand out for the cartoonish, strangely child-like look of the main cast (busty women and salarymen alike). The exceptions are a scattering of weathered older men and a few crazed Phantom Cats.
The Japanese version (I can't comment on the dub) brings back the varied and capable cast of the original. The sound effects are better suited to the action this time, and there's also a funny bit of in-story background music to go with the opening sequence. Elsewhere the music is playful (some particularly good musical cues complement the humor), but it's the end theme that I've still got stuck in my head--a silly, catchy little ditty by a Japanese comedian with lyrics adapted for the series.
Geobreeders: Breakthrough is a sequel that serves up more of the odd mix that made the first series memorable. The cryptic plot makes marginally more sense this time, and the action is if anything even wilder, plus there's some quirky, well-timed humor in the two lower-key middle episodes. Fans of light-hearted but extreme action will find plenty to love, fans of the manga will find another faithful animated adaptation, and everybody else will find a chaotic thrill ride with attention deficit issues.
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The original Geobreeders is more of the same, and Wild Cardz deserves a nod for totally nonsensical nonstop action. Kite might also be worth looking up; it's the exact opposite in terms of plot and maturity level, but the extreme action is similar.
Notes and Trivia
The full title is, even in Japan, almost never used; the DVD packages just say (in English) Geobreeders [File-XX] "Breakthrough". Leaving out the commando part, that's pretty much an exact translation of the Japanese version. Like the previous series, it's also sometimes referred to as Geobreeders: The Movie even though it's not.
The end theme isn't as random as it seems: that quirky song is a trademark of popular singer-comedian Maki Shinji. It was a big hit way back in the '60s, and keeps coming back with various adapted lyrics, in the case of Geobreeders specific to the trials of a Phantom Cat Fightin' Salaryman.
US DVD Review
USM's DVD covers all the basics; hybrid stereo audio and perfectly acceptable video aside, there is an interview with scriptwriter Yuji Moriyama (who also directed the first series), trailers, storyboards, and an art gallery. Pop it in a computer and you can also get your hands on the English script, some comics, sketches, and a few other bits of art and info.
Some nudity and a whole lot of occasionally bloody violence make USM's 13-up rating a good call.
Violence: 3 - Mostly exaggerated fun, but there are a couple of more graphic, more serious scenes.
Nudity: 2 - Time spent in hot springs.
Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - There are some serious themes, but nothing sexual at all.
Language: 2 - Some swearing.