Kikou Senki Dragonar ( [email protected] Sunrise/Nagoya TV/Bandai Visual, 1987-1988 U.S. Distributor Pending. Directed by the late Takeyuki Kanda (Round Vernian VIFAM, Gundam: The 08th MS Team). Not Rated (Suggested 13+). Contains violence and mature situations. A.D. 2087 - the United Lunar Empire Giganos wages war on the Earth Federation Military to take control of the planet and establish a "rebirth" of the human race. During an invasion of a colony by Giganos' forces, three civilian men - Ken, Light and Tap - stumble upon a trio of top-secret Metal Armor units called "Dragonars" and pilot them to combat the enemy forces. Story: B+ From the first episode, your first reaction will probably be "another Gundam wannabe title." Yes, it starts with some mass-destruction (in Australia. Again.) and the invasion of a space colony, but the difference is that we get not one, but three main heroes of the story. Unlike Gundam, none of these guys are wimps like Amuro Ray. What makes Dragonar more unique is Tap - the first (and only) Black-American lead character in a mecha anime. Despite having a similar beginning to Gundam, Dragonar looks a lot more promising than Gundam SEED. Animation: A- What kind of budget did Sunrise put on the opening animation? Every time I watch the sequence (which alone gets an A+), I keep thinking these are the exact same animators that did Gundam 0083. Kenichi Onuki (Garzey's Wing, Earthian) did some excellent character designs that are on par with Hiroyuki Kitazume's (Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack, Bastard!!) works. Bash Kunio Okawara (Mobile Suit Gundam, King of Braves GaoGaiGar) all you want, but you gotta admit that Dragonar has some of his better designs. Soundtrack: B The opening theme is pretty catchy (if you don't mind '80s) and the BGM is okay. I just need to watch further episodes for more of the music. Cast Metal Armor Dragonar features Masami Kikuchi (Tenchi Muyo!, Keiichi in Ah! My Goddess) as Ken, Kenyuu Horiuchi (Daley in Bubblegum Crisis, Hans in Psycho Armor Govarian) as Light, Yoshitaka Ohtsuka (Beck in The Big O, Chibodee in Mobile Fighter G-Gundam) as Tap, Bin Shimada (Stick Bernard in Genesis Climber Mospeada, Scirocco in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam) as Jean, Akiko Hiramatsu (Miyuki in You're Under Arrest, Yukari-chan in Azumanga Daioh) as Rose, Masako Katsuki (Deunan in Appleseed, Sailor Neptune in Sailor Moon S) as Diane, Saeko Shimazu (Four Murasame in Zeta Gundam, Yuri in The Dirty Pair) as Min, Hiroshi Takemura (Crusher Joe, God Ginrai in Transformers: Masterforce) as Welner, Shinya Otaki (Nakato in Gundam 0083) as Douglas, Jurota Kosugi (Dryden in Escaflowne, Zagato in Magic Knight Rayearth) as Mayo, Kayoko Fujii as Linda, and Unshou Ishizuka (Guld in Macross Plus, Jet Black in Cowboy Bebop) as the narrator. The Bottom Line Forget Gundam SEED. Watch Metal Armor Dragonar instead. Old school mecha anime still rules.