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Review: The Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman (Hyb)

Media: OVA
Genre(s): Action, Humor, Parody, Tokusatsu
Director: Shinya Sadamitsu
Studio: Production I.G
Number of Episodes: 2
Licensed?Yes (Pioneer)

The evil alien planet Voice has declared war on the Earth! And to achieve their goal of the destruction of humanity, they will wage a war of big business against the companies of Earth. However, the Japanese business “Right Trading Company” has a secret weapon: The Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman, better known as the superhero team “The Shinesmen.” They dress in multicolored jumpsuits, and each of the five dons a different color, namely Red, Moss Green, Gray, Sepia, and Salmon Pink. When Hiroya Matsumoto joins the Right Trading Company, they choose him to join the Shinesmen as Shinesman Red, and he is given a “Prosuit” that allows him to don his high-tech superoutfit and save the world from the aliens!

If that sounded totally ridiculous to you, good. Shinesman is in no way meant to be a serious action show, as it was specifically written to be a blatant parody of the Power Rangers. Even at only two episodes long and without an official ending (it was cancelled), Shinesman has been a fan-favorite for years among hardcore otaku.

When you watch Shinesman, do not expect a deep plot, complex characters, or heart-pounding action. Shinesman is a straight-up comedy, and has been (not wrongfully) declared by some to be the funniest anime ever made. With tongue held firmly in cheek, let’s take a look at this classic anime.

While many will dismiss Shinesman outright for its low-quality art and animation, that’s not really where the focus is here. The anime was released in 1996, and so has predictably low-quality animation. The art is also of an old, forgettable style that doesn’t particularly stand out.

The writing in Shinesman, however, is where it absolutely shines. Not only are the lines well-written, they are gut-bustingly funny. With hilarious stabs at power rangers and anime culture at every turn, and weapons like “Business Card Cutters” and “Tie Clip Bombs,” Shinesman gets more laughs in two episodes than many comedies get in a whole series. The jokes are translated so well into English that reading them in subtitles just wouldn’t get the humor across, one of the reasons why the dub is preferrable.

And what a dub it is! Vaunted by many among the lists of the best dubs ever, Shinesman delivers with solid performances from every English voice actor. Their lines are delivered perfectly, and many times this makes all the difference when it comes to the fast-paced jokes. And when they need to act parodically serious, that too is done well, especially the work done for Matsumoto’s conversations with his little brother, and for Kyoko Sakakibara, the team’s commander. All in all, I did not find a single fault with the dub, except perhaps that the sound quality is not as high as in more recent anime. But still, I’m just grasping for anything to criticize in a perfect dubbing job.

As for music and sound, it’s nothing special. The background music is typical sentai stuff, while I will say that I enjoyed the OST. It is a parody of anime openers, and has some ridiculously overglorious lines in it about the Shinesmen and saving the world.

While Shinesman is far from technically perfect, the 2-episode OVA is an overlooked anime classic. What it lacks in technical quality it makes up tenfold with a brilliantly funny concept, translated and dubbed perfectly. Among the huge genre of anime parodies and action-comedies, Special Duty Combat Unit Shinesman shines above all the others as a must-see for all otaku. (Oh, come on. I’m reviewing a ridiculous show. Let me make some ridiculous puns)

Animation:   2.5   Average:

(3.4 stars)
Plot:   4.0
Voice Acting:   4.0
Sound:   3.0
Overall:   3.5
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