THE SPECIAL DUTY COMBAT UNIT SHINESMAN
Watched via DVD
Since both of us are together over the holidays, we’re doing a different format that’s more of a back-and-forth chat format instead of the standard format. Tell us what you think!
The Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman follows a group of businessmen who work for a trading company but secretly are superheroes! The Shinesmans?! Shinesman team? Anyway, this show’s a giant parody of super sentai shows, and it’s hilarious.
The Shinesman sentai are a group designated to protect the earth in very loose terms from a hoard of aliens bent on … taking over the earth through enterprise. Ironically the Shinesman and aliens all work for the same company and don’t seem to get anywhere in either regard.
They do not work for the same company at all! They work for, uh, companies that are working together to put on a Greatman show? And open G-Park, which is, uh, a theme park. That’s somehow really awesome. What’s the G stand for? Great?
This park seems to feature Science and Technology. Aside from the park the plot seems to just follow the bizarre attempts of newly transferred alien, Shina, who is a Greatman otaku and obsessed with the destruction of the Shinesman.
I really like Shina as a character because she’s totally batshit crazy. The dub does a lot to make her even more hilarious (watch this dubbed, or with dub and subtitles at the same time—it’s wonderful~) and to play up the ridiculousness of her, like her criteria that anyone who sees her naked skin should either die or marry her. What a way to find a boyfriend!
As in true antagonist fashion, the villains set up circumstances that end up thwarting their own efforts leaving very little real work to the Shinesman sentai. Unfortunately the OVAs only show two episodes and end just when Shina is reconsidering switching teams. We are also left with the underwhelming subplot of finding out that right hand man Seki is actually brainwashed. Oh noes!
Since this is a two-episode OVA from ’96, it’s pretty unreasonable for it to be able to wrap up all of the plot threads it brings up. I guess it’s a commercial for the manga it’s based on, which we can’t read over here. Oh, well. I think it’s successful because it has so many ridiculous, cliché elements and constantly makes fun of itself. It doesn’t all have to make sense, so long as it’s a good time to watch.
What makes Shinesman so amazing is how ridiculous of a set up the show is. The characters are all businessmen whose themed colors come from suit colors. Their weapons even highlight their work environment with attacks like “business card cutter,” “cuff beam,” and “tie clip bomb.”
I really enjoy how far Shinesman goes with the setting, from having Sakakibara, who’s in charge of the Shinesman, also be in charge of Human Resources. When the Shinesman have to fight, they say they’re going on a business call. It’s all totally absurd, but it also points out how silly all of these devices are in normal super sentai shows. The shenanigans, but with businessmen! Gah!
Speaking of completely absurd, the characters are completely over the top, which is taken to a whole new level of awesome with the dub. Red sentai Matsumoto has a serious little brother complex, even going to the extremes of guarding his little brother from the affection of other well meaning adults.
I want him for my little brother! *gets attacked by Matsumoto* Noooooooo~
The antics of the other characters are all equally crazy with Salmon Pink sentai, Hidaka constantly crushing things, and Gray sentai, Yamadera practically declaring his love for his SUV at any spare moment.
My favorite is Shinesman Sepia, Ono, who constantly thinks about his daughter and how he needs to shower her with stuffed animals. What makes this OVA work, though, is how short it is. If it were any longer, it’d have to work on developing the characters, which would probably be impossible. As it is, they can just be really entertaining parodies of characters that we’ve all watched and make me bust a gut laughing.
I think above all else I enjoyed the antagonists the most. In addition to Shina we have Prince Sasaki and right hand man Seki who are in charge of taking over Earth through corporate espionage (by literally destroying buildings). These two are constantly bickering with each other and treating Shina like a child who needs to go back into time out.
Another part of what makes this show so entertaining are the character designs, which look just right: they’ve got ‘90s nostalgia along with purposefully-awful colors and huge horns and shoulder pads for the villains. Shina’s a great example of how Shinesman combines a bunch of colors that don’t really work along with preposterous costuming to make a hilarious character that you can’t take seriously.
The first thing I noticed about the character designs were the lovely nostalgic proportions of people being 11-15 heads tall (7.5 is normal). All of the men have the typical triangle torsos and females are just a slightly modified version. In fact the designs scream of Clamp and other shoujo stereotypes from that era. The animation is rather typical for the time it was made, back when OVAs came out by the dozens. These two episodes are somewhere above your typical anime episode, yet drastically below movie quality.
These OVAs are animated by Production I.G, which I at first found surprising. During our rewatch, though, I noticed that the OVAs look really good for their time, without any of the animation shortcuts or characters going off-model that I remember so fondly from Cardcaptor Sakura. It’s definitely not a movie, but as far as mid-‘90s animation goes, it’s a very good example of what it looks like when there’s a good-sized budget involved.
Overall Shinesman is not a show to take seriously, however you will get some great milage out of this show. Every time I have a get together with other anime friends I always plug in Shinesman. The dub is wonderfully hilarious and is great for inside jokes. I first found out about Shinesman back in middle school from the trailers on my Magic Knight Rayearth VHS. The trailer is to die for and after watching it I just know you’ll want to go out and find your own copy. If you act now, you can buy it from Rightstuf.com for just under $12! What a great stocking stuffer!
Shinesman is, indeed, a super-excellent-amazing-wonderful stocking stuffer! Get it for the anime lover in your life now! It’s probably the funniest anime I’ve ever watched, especially because it doesn’t overstay its welcome or wear out its jokes like most long-running anime comedies. I’m so glad Whitney decided to buy it on a whim a few years back~ <3 So, if you want to watch a really funny anime, or if you want to watch something good but short, OR if you’re nostalgic for ‘90s character designs, watch Shinesman! You totally won’t regret it! Now go watch that trailer and buy this from Rightstuf ASAP!
FINAL SCORE: (9/10)
FINAL SCORE: (8/10)