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Aura Battler Dunbine Episode #01 – 05 Anime Review

5 min read

Aura Battler DunbineIt’s a trip back to the early 80’s with long time creator Tomino, back to a time when the stories simply kicked ass left and right.

What They Say:
One night, Show finds himself suddenly taken from the streets of the city into a completely new world. This is the world of Byston Well, in between the land and the sea, filled with castles, knights and faeries. When the overlord of the land, Drake, grants him the strange robot weapon Dunbine and welcomes him as a battler, a mysterious enemy appears before him!

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Aura Battler Dunbine was a show that when it was originally released by ADV Films here on DVD was something that I’d wanted to see for ages and ages. I remember fondly many, many years ago reading some of the early anime mags that were being put out how they talked about the various shows of this style. Dunbine, Xabungle, and other Sunrise shows were grouped together and the few animation shots had me drooling. I had seen snippets of the classics through this method, reading summaries and articles.

Now, thirty years after its initial broadcast, we’re able to watch one of Tomino’s other early masterpieces in streaming form for the first time. After getting through the first five episodes here, one quickly realizes that they really don’t make anime like this anymore. Tomino was very much on top of his game with Dunbine, utilizing the tricks and methods he’s done with many series from Gundam up through and past Brain Powered. A large cast combined with thrusting the viewer right into the plot can be jarring for viewers who are used to being spoonfed the simple plots and generic action we’ve become accustomed to.

Aura Battler Dunbine starts off its tale in the normal world where we follow Show Zama, something of a motorcycle driver who is famous as he leaves the track with his friends. This doesn’t last long though as all of a sudden, he’s basically whisked up into the air and swept down a multicolored tunnel, simply disappearing in front of his friends and teammates. Before he knows it, Show has landed in a quite strange world alongside a couple of other people.

Through the use of a water humanoid creature called a “silkie”, Show and two others have been brought from the Upper Earth. The people of Byston Wells, this particular province, have been bringing in people from Upper Earth at times to pilot their Battlers, machines that use the auras of people to manipulate. Those from Upper Earth are more in tune with them and make better pilots, though it does appear that those from Byston Wells are able to pilot them after much training.

Show and the others aren’t exactly prisoners, but they’re not free to do as they want. As time progresses and they all play with the Battlers and get used to working for the Duke who seems to have plans for conquest of Byston Wells due to security concerns, they start having differing opinions about the world they’re now in. The American, Todd, decides that this world is for him after a couple of battles and wants the attention that it gets him. Show, however, after encountering more varied people during his stay and learning that the Duke’s side may not be the right one. With the Duke’s own daughter being in love with the son of the next country to be invaded, she tries to convince Show that what he’s doing is wrong.

Show also starts getting more information when he ends up fighting against the enemy, only to realize that the female pilot is also from Earth and she tries to convince him that he’s on the wrong team as well. His internal conflicts start to grow, and this manifests in how he interacts with others on the side he’s serving with. Show tries to play the part of the good soldier so that he can eventually get home, but the more he learns the more it goes against him.

Dunbine is a richly filled show that has a hell of a lot of material covered in the first five episodes. A lot of competitive people are introduced right off the bat, from leaders of opposing countries to lovers, the small creatures that inhabit the world and the varied personalities of those from Upper Earth. Conflict is the name of the game right from the start, as initially, we follow Show, Todd and another as they travel towards Duke Loft’s place and all Todd can do is hurl racial slurs at Show. This is also thankfully preserved in the dub of the show instead of being watered down.

In watching these five episodes, I found myself to really get immersed in it all. The conceptualization of Byston Wells is really well done. There’s enough unique and unusual to this world to set it apart from the usual kind of SF worlds we get where there’s precious little different. The design of the world is an important part of the feel of the show, and with the designs of the Battlers combined with the mixed world, particularly in the Duke’s realm where he has an Upper Earth scientist who is creating all sorts of technologies. There is a rich layering to things here that is only slowly being revealed since these five episodes is only the opening salvo to this series.

In Summary:
Dunbine kept me enraptured for the five episodes here, watching the story change direction multiple times as the characters find their way. There is lots to enjoy here, from the character designs to the mechanical designs. The only thing that may bother some people is the animation itself, but this is the kind of show I’ve wanted to see more of for so long that it doesn’t phase me at all. There’s something refreshing about the designs and animation here after watching so many slick shows lately. Aura Battler Dunbine is a show that should not be passed up if you’re finding things to be a bit bland these days. This is the kind of show that reinvigorates me into watching more anime, reminding me just how great a lot of this medium can be.

Grade: A

Streamed By: Daisuki