The city of Judoh is not an easy place to live in- organised crime runs rampant, no one can leave the city without permission and the only reason people can live there in the first place is by the grace of the advanced technology of the so-called ‘Celestials’. Even so, there are those who are committed to maintaining order in the city, such as Daisuke Aurora, leader of the small yet dedicated ‘special unit’ of the Bureau of Urban Safety. Together with his android partner J and a whole network of friends and allies, Daisuke dedicates himself to fighting crime and keeping his mafia rivals in check.
I have to admit that when I started watching Heat Guy J, I was none too impressed; it was like a series that was trying to be retro but was too timid to go all the way- the men weren’t dripping with testosterone, the women weren’t screaming for help, and the dystopian future wasn’t all that bad for the most part. Not that I have a particular love for such retro cheese, but in the case of Heat Guy J, it just seemed to hang suspended in the middle of mediocrity, unsure of what it wanted to be, and ultimately offering nothing but a collection of episodic stories so unimpressionable that by the time you reached the end, you forgot what it was all about.
Nonetheless, as sometimes happen, persistence was rewarded, and after five or six episodes of nothing much, Heat Guy J began to offer something more. The stories were still highly episodic, and would remain so until the final arc, but now they were actually enjoyable. With an increased focus on character development (something that arguably should have taken place earlier on), hints of a main plot and more coherent stories, the series was never destined to become anything special, but now it was at least entertaining.
As far as characters go, Heat Guy J has a fairly standard cast; the optimistic lead, his stoic robot companion, the secretary, the beautiful female scientist, the borderline psychotic mafia leader and so forth- all well-defined and memorable enough in their own way, but hardly the most complex of personalities. Nothing they do is ever unexpected, since even their ‘secrets’ are plainly given away by furtive looks or suspicious actions.
Visually, Heat Guy J has many aesthetically pleasing character designs for both male and female characters, albeit with some less attractive but just as technically competent ones for J and the older males. The basic city settings and backdrops are well done, but as often happens, the CG elements let the side down, especially the ones which seem to be included more for the sake of having CG than because they were needed. Background music is varied but oddly catchy, covering everything from addictive electronic themes to strong bagpipe pieces (worthy even if you generally dislike bagpipes).
Although no series should really take a while just to become good at episodic storytelling, if you forgive its inexplicably slow start, then Heat Guy J actually builds into quite an enjoyable series. It will never stand out from the crowd, but overall it offers a solid and entertaining experience.
Extra: If you live in the