|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Appare Ranman is set in the late 19th century where the eccentric Japanese mechanic Appare Sorano and swordsman Kosame Isshiki find themselves in America after the former made a small steamship he intended to use to go on a journey, before Kosame's meddling led them both to be stranded in the ocean before being saved by a large American steamship. Seeking money to return to Japan, the two enter a race crossing the country from Los Angeles to New York City, with Appare converting the steamship he made into a steam-powered car to compete in it.
From the looks of things, Appare Ranman appeared to be going more for spectacle than any kind of depth with exploring the Trans-America Wild Race that Appare, Kosame, and several other racers wind up participating in. All the characters have their standard character types they follow with a sprinkling of backstory to have reason for them participating in the race, which the first several episodes are focused on dabbling into before the start of the race. Plus, the series seemed to have plenty of anachronisms in accurately depicting the supposed late-19th century setting it has with a number of the cars in the race having more modern designs from the 1920s to 1940s, mention of the Panama Canal which wasn't completed until 1914, the American flag having 50 stars when much of the Western part of the country were still regarded as territories, and one of the racers appearing to listen to modern rap music in his car radio in spite of said radio not coming around until the 1950s.
While it may seem like I'm criticizing these points of the series, the spectacle that Appare Ranman has to offer actually works pretty well to its strengths in spite of its obvious hiccups with depth. Appare's eccentric character is an entertaining one to see with the heavy devotion he has toward building things with his mechanical aptitude and the character chemistry that unfolds between the racers can be entertaining to see at points such as Kosame playing "straight man" to Appare's behavior and some of the antics that unfold during the show's breather episode later in the series. Plus being animated by PA Works, the artwork for Appare-Ranman is nice to see in action with some pretty elaborate character designs with some of the racers and fluid animation coming from the racing and action scenes within the series.
While I could be forgiving toward the anime's lack of depth as it wasn't Appare-Ranman's intended focus, I did take issue with the show's abrupt addition of an antagonist toward the final four episodes of the series. While the show did foreshadow his presence in earlier episodes, said antagonist only exists to add in a needless conflict into the series that gets in the way of the Trans-Atlantic Wild Race due to his presence in the series and is pretty flat as a character compared to the other colorful personalities seen with the racers.
In short, Appare-Ranman largely gets by with the spectacle it offers up with its race with its disregard for historical accuracy and its colorful cast of characters. While I'll admit I was engaged to its racing premise in spite of its issues with depth, the addition of a needless conflict with an antagonist in its final episodes did derail some of the enjoyment I was getting out of the series. As long as you don't question the particulars of things with Appare-Ranman that it blatantly disregards, it still makes for decent entertainment due to it embracing its spectacle and colorful characters.
Last updated Friday, September 25 2020. Created Friday, September 25 2020.
(Two episodes watched):|
I had noticed that this show was pretty popular and therefore expected a lot of it--whatever it was about, it would surely be both clever and outrageously funny. But the bizarre race that the episode began with--it reminded me of an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon--was about the last thing I was expecting. Appare is a highly eccentric inventor in Japan in a strange time period that consists of elements of the years between 1870 to 1920. He's fascinated by imported steam engine technology and has apparently invented one which works even if you don't bother to generate any steam. Most people probably won't worry about whether the technology and the dates make sense as much as I do. Appare and his 'caretaker' Samurai Kosuke are forced to flee from the country and wind up in Los Angeles. I am wary of shows with lots of fanciful gadgets and flamboyantly dressed characters; it has been my experience that those are often signs of a lack of depth within the actual characters and the plot. I suspect Appare may not be nearly as colorful as the outfit and makeup he wears. He strikes me as kind of obnoxious--I don't sense any excuses for his trouble-making attitude. If he was being harassed unfairly, just for being unusual, that would be one thing, but he doesn't seem to give a damn about anyone but himself. As a result I sympathized with Kosuke rather than Appare. I supposed the sheer strangeness of the premise would oblige me to watch episode two, but also decided that this show would need to provide some sort of engaging conflict in order to keep me interested.
In episode two the story moves steadily along--Appare and Kosuke need money to return to Japan, they learn about the cross-continent race with a million dollar prize that is planned, and they meet a couple of equally flamboyant characters who will no doubt also be competing. But the story didn't 'grab' me any more than it did in episode one. There are too many unlikely circumstances and coincidences; and the scenes in the OP sequence where swords are more effective than guns did not convince me that this story was going to be particularly plausible (and Appare completely repairs a damaged race car overnight?). While the visuals are very good, in general it seems pretty shallow; completely good guys versus completely bad ones. It almost feels like a children's show. If I don't really care whether Appare and Kosuke win this race and make it back to Japan (and I don't), there's not much point in watching any more.
Last updated Monday, July 06 2020. Created Saturday, April 25 2020.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site||http://appareranman.com/|