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Ultraman + Acid = "Dokkoida?!"

by on February 28, 2005

Dokkoida!? is one of those series you watch without thinking. Plot and character development are secondary to gags. And in an anime comedy, that means lots of sexual innuendo and puns. Now, there’s been a ton of anime comedies that sometimes spoof superheroes, but an entertaining 100% superhero spoof is a relative rarity. Is this the one to watch, or should we keep waiting?

Episodes on this disc:
Episode #1: “Enter Dokkoida!”
Episode #2: “Purple Hair, How Hip Can Ya Get!”
Episode #3: “Dokkoida Versus Edelweiss”
Episode #4: “The Strange Neighbor, Sayuri”

Suzuo Sakurazaki is a young farm boy who has come to the city in order to attend college. However, he’s going to need a job before he can even think about studying! Unfortunately, the recession has collapsed any potential job offerings for Suzuo. Then, out of nowhere, a giant mechanical spider, driven by the mad Dr. Marronflower, arrives and starts destroying the city. A young girl named Tanpopo also arrives and gives Suzuo a special belt from the Toys of the World company. Contrary to Suzuo’s expectations, though, the plaything transforms him into the Galaxy Police’s premiere superhero, Dokkoida! With nowhere else to go, Suzuo decides to accept the position full time, so he and his new “little sister,” Kosuzu Sakurazaki (Tanpopo’s alias) move into the Cosmos House. Asaka Nogiku (a.k.a. Neruloid Girl, Dokkoida’s archrival from Emerald World) and Kurisaburo Kurinohana (Dr. Marronflower) move into that same apartment building. Later on, evil child villainess Edelweiss (disguised as young Ruri Umeki) and dominatrix-by-profession Hyacinth (disguised as Sayuri Yurine) also rent a room. However, none of these tenants know each others’ alter-egos! And if they find out, the test to see which hero is best suited for the Galaxy Police will fail! So why put them all together? To save money, of course!

This is what happens when you give an otaku way too much free time and way too many transforming-hero shows to watch. The main character, Dokkoida, is obviously based on iconic Japanese hero Ultraman, while Neruloid Girl is basically a hi-tech anime version of Wonder Woman, though a bit friendlier than the Justice League version. Dr. Marronflower is your typical brilliant yet childish and perverted scientist, while Edelweiss seems to be an evil version of Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura (except that she uses clay instead of cards). Hyacinth is pretty much what you come to expect from an anime dominatrix. If you’ve seen Puni Puni Poemy, you know what to expect from her.

In fact, Dokkoida reminds me very much of Puni Puni Poemy‘s predecessor, Excel Saga. In the first episode the “hero” runs for his life from the giant robot even after transforming, Tanpopo desperately tries to convince Dokkoida to fight, and eventually she’s forced to use Dokkoida’s ultimate special attack: BGM. A hypnotic tune plays inside the helmet, forcing Dokkoida to perform super-complicated attacks while showing off cool poses at dramatic camera angles. Unfortunately, there aren’t quite as many superhero cliché jokes as I would’ve liked, as they tend to focus on the villains’ eccentricities instead. Pierre, Hyacinth’s slave, transforms into a random space zoo animal when “punished” enough (I’ll let you form your own conclusions about that). Although this is usually a saber-tooth tiger or something equally ferocious, sometimes the slave transforms into more inocuous creatures like koala bears or sea lions. Meanwhile, little Ruri is trying desperately to master the art of apple carving, eventually turning to Suzuo as a coach. Of course, she and Sayuri (as well as Asaka, though she’s not as open about it) instantly fall in love with our hero, giving us the typical harem jokes we’ve seen over and over.

Which brings me to Dokkoida‘s biggest problem: there are way too many tired jokes. Dr. Marronflower is an old man who is obsessed with cute young, feminine girls, whether real or artificial. Gee, we haven’t seen that before in thousands of other anime, have we? Ruri has a troubled childhood and has been alone her entire life. Been there, done that. Hyacinth is mildly amusing, but her dominating gets old real quick, unless you’re really into fanservice. Now, having stereotypes and clichés in a comedy is expected, but the show doesn’t do much with them to sets itself apart from the crowd. Master Roshi from Dragonball is a much funnier dirty old man than Dr. Marronflower is, and Edelweiss’s past isn’t comedic at all, nor does it factor into any jokes. Hyacinth is so tired and clichéd it’s hard to come up with something original to say about her. To top it all off, these first four episodes decide to focus on these stereotypical villains instead of the heroes, which is a shame. Asaka barely gets any screen time at all (and even less with Suzuo), while Suzuo himself is often only present to give the villains a way to express themselves. Tanpopo could have been hilarious, but her only jokes are to whack Suzuo with a paper fan and cook really badly.

That said, the comedy relies much more on slapstick than wit. Now, slapstick by itself can be funny when done right, but all too often directors just go for whatever seems wackiest and do that. As a result, we get a lot of unneeded exaggerated poses and overblown injuries that are little more than annoying. The dialogue is cookie-cutter for the most part. Aside from a few jabs at transforming superheroes, there aren’t many actual good jokes. The dub tries to add some of their own to liven it up, but this only comes off as forced. Other series such as Azumanga Daioh, FLCL, and even Excel Saga manage to blend wackiness with wit, but this series fails more often than not.

As an OVA, Dokkoida?! features animation that is a step above most other series. Character movements are fluid, and the lighting effects (especially in Episode 3) are very nicely done. Bright colors are standard for digital animation, and at times Dokkoida?! even seems a bit too bright. There’s a lot of pale blues, bright yellows, and bright reds, with light gray and brown colors as backgrounds.

Dubbing is done by Ocean Group, with several of the regulars. Brad Swalie (Amuro Ray, Mobile Suit Gundam; Mousse, Ranma 1/2) stars as Suzuo. If you like his other comedic roles, you’ll like him here. Nicole Bouma (Sweet, Zoids Fuzors) is Tanpopo. Though the voice works for the most part, she doesn’t sound quite young enough for the role. Nicole Oliver (Queen Marlena/Sorceress in the 2003 He-Man) voices Hyacinth and does a decent job, despite the fact that the dub scraps several of the funnier sexual jokes. Paul Dobson (Happosai in Ranma 1/2) makes a fine Dr. Marronflower, and Tabita St. Germain (Flay, Gundam SEED) does well in the role of Ruri/Edelweiss. Sharon Alexander (Erica Simmons in Gundam SEED) is Asaka and makes her sound like a chain smoker, which gets really annoying. For some reason, this part of the voice disappears once Asaka becomes Neruloid Girl. The dub is decent at best and I personally prefer the Japanese cast.

Extras are rather limp. We have your standard clean opening, clean closing, and trailers, in addition to a Japanese promotional clip. The insert includes a pin-up poster, while the reversible cover includes two short comics. Both are pretty funny, even without viewing the actual series. I would have preferred some featurettes or commentaries, especially since this is a three-disc release, but it seems we’re not getting that. Oh well.

If you enjoyed Excel Saga or Puni Puni Poemy, you might enjoy Dokkoida!? It’s not the greatest anime comedy ever, but if you’re bored and want something fun to watch, this will at least prove a decent distraction.

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