Betterman, Volume 6: Finality

Matt Brown (Editor in Chief) — August 21st, 2003
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Betterman can be characterized overall as a how-to lesson in bad direction. Director Yoshitomo Kometani isn't the only one to blame for Betterman turning out as it did, but several problems could have been solved at his end. The writers could have been prompted for a more solid presentation and some amount of character development. The voice actors could have been used more effectively; they certainly have the talent. The character designer could have been told that some characters look too goofy and won't fit very well with the rest of the art style. And the rest of the artists could have been told to blend their colors better to achieve a more creepy look and fit the story more closely. In the end, the problem wasn't what they had to work with, but how it all came together.

The final volume of Betterman is, quite frankly, a disappointment. What ground the show had gained in the previous two volumes gets consumed under its feet in a fiery nuclear blast....along with Mode Warp headquarters, which apparently was sitting on top of a load of methane and thousands of dead fish. This raised my hopes that the final villain would indeed be a monkey wielding a fish, but alas, no dice.

Rewinding a bit, this all goes down as a result of one of the precious main characters getting kidnapped, and the Big Robot Club and Betterman resolving to save her! Or the world will die, somehow. I don't know how, because the show doesn't tell me. The final volume consists of the show attempting to tie up loose ends (which it does, somewhat), and the aforementioned final showdown of Evil vs. Dumb. I was honestly rooting for Evil, but the show let me down on THAT, too.

Akamatsu Industries celebrates the fact that the show is almost over. Yamajii did the show good, and should've been around from the start.

All in all, I am not a happy camper. The show did horrible things to the few characters I liked, and the outcome of the series only seemed to satisfy some quota of expectancy instead of actually being meaningful. Speaking of not being meaningful, the story of Keita and Hinoki ends exactly as it had started. Neither of the two change at all from start to finish, unlike Kaede and Shou.

Those two characters are something the show does right, along with a few other notables. Though Sakura isn't used to her full potential (which she has much more of than most of the other characters), Junko Iwao puts on a very respectable performance. The steady rhythm of her voice is hard to stomach at first, but the fact that she never breaks that rhythm is pretty impressive. Yamajii, the old man introduced later on (who is then revealed to be a monk) is also a good addition to the show, as well as the strange girl Chandy and her lizard (who shows up in the final volume, but for no apparent reason). As for the rest of the elements, your mileage may vary. My tolerance broke down very quickly, however.

In the extras department, volume six has more of the same production art and Mode Warp File notes. I should also mention that each volume has additional notes in accompanying case inserts, which are helpful as well. The case art is a bore on both sides, unfortunately, with the reverse side being slightly less so. The featured image is Betterman Lamia holding one of the seeds he uses to transform, with one of his other forms in the background.

All in all, Betterman really isn't worth owning. The fifth volume of the show is fairly enjoyable, so it might be worth a try at your local rental store. The only real certainty here is that the resources of Sunrise studios could have been put to better use. There is a Bettershow (TM) waiting to be made.

Video Quality: A
Audio Quality: A
Presentation: B-
Content: D
Overall: C-