Friday, July 31, 2015

Bravoman: Super Unequaled Hero of Excellence (2013-2014) and Wonder Momo (2014)

A few years back, website Shiftylook was hired by games company Namco Bandai to produce webcomics for them for obscure characters, in the hopes of increasing their popularity, and leading to wider avenues for them, such as new games. The two most popular of these efforts are Bravoman, and Wonder Momo. Both are irreverent takes on their original games, which were brutally difficult, and barely remembered titles from the late 80's. Unfortunately, due to crappy business management, which led to a series of unwise decisions, Shiftylook has ceased to exist, even to the point where its website has shut down permanently, and its dozens of series and hundreds of comic strips are completely lost to the world for the foreseeable future (minus a couple of print volumes). Worse still, the Bravoman game the comic's popularity spawned was just a crappy mobile game apparently rife with bugs. How terrible! Shouldn't at least keeping up the website be a priority? Otherwise they spent their money and have literally nothing to show from it. Well, enough of that. Before Shiftylook's complete termination, the other project the webcomics produced were a bundle of webtoons, with two based on Bravoman and Wonder Momo, respectively, that I'll be looking at today...

Bravoman: Super Unequaled Hero of Excellence

Bravoman is a regular guy gifted with the powers of stretchiness and submarine transformation by Alphaman, an alien from the planet Alpha. Together, the two fight crime wherever it may be, from the maniacal threats of the evil Doctor Bomb, to robot clone armies, giant death robots, Capricorn sea serpents, zombie cowboys, as well as unwanted crushes from murderous ninja princesses. All n a day's work for Bravoman, Super Unequaled Hero of Excellence!...

This series doesn't get off to the best of starts with the first episode, which, while not bad, isn't particularly funny. Following then, however, things immediately pick up, with a series of highly entertaining five-minute shorts. The series is a goofy and self-aware take on superhero tropes, and it works.

There are plenty of fourth-wall breaking jokes, which can be hit or miss. They get creative at times, but they can also get a bit tiresome with their overuse. Thankfully they never feel really unwelcome, and even if they're not as successful, they never bomb.

The rest of the comedy in the show is pretty funny. Nothing hysterical, but it'll likely always bring a smile to your face. Especially funny is the one episode which is one big faux 'previously on' segment, full of totally absurd hijinks.

The characters are all over-the-top, all with their own unique characteristics, from the positive Bravoman, the wise and kinda-sarcastic 'true hero' sidekick Alphaman, English-challenged villain Doctor Bomb, psychotic yandere Waya Hime, the 'dark opposite vigilante' Anti-Bravoman, who never seems to get the better end of things, and others, some one-shot, others recurring, like Wonder Momo, and Bravo Woman, who's a gruff, take-no-nonsense badass.

The voice acting is all really good, with talented people like Rob Paulsen, Romi Dames, Jennifer Hale, and Dee Bradley Baker, who turn in great performances all-round.

Bravoman's animation is really good. It's always fluid, and has many really well-handled moments for a webseries. A professionally done webseries of course, but still nowhere near the budgetary levels of TV stuff. Budget, in fact, plays into quite a few jokes, such as glorious offscreen battles, or joining forces with a novel solution to defeating the villain.

Likewise, the score is great too! We've got really good music althroughout, particularly the ending theme, which is a rockin' tune! The opening theme, sung by Rob Paulsen himself, is an amusing little ditty, while the series as a whole ends on a really great song over genuine ending credits, which brings a sense of emotion. The lyrics of the song aren't exactly the greatest, but that chord that plays as the camera zooms out over the city and into the stars is a really lovely way to end the series, on a triumphant and happy-melancholy note.

It's a shame that there are so few episodes of Bravoman, and it's highly doubtful that we'll ever get more. At least we can be thankful that what we got was largely a highly entertaining superhero comedy fest well worth remembering!...

Wonder Momo

Momoko is a regular klutzy teenage girl in Japan, who is suddenly gifted mysterious powers by an alien to transform into Wonder Momo. With these newfound powers, she must fight the evil Warudemon aliens before they can successfully conquer Earth...

To start, Wonder Momo is incredibly funny! Not only does it parody multiple anime conventions very well, but it also delivers a perfectly genuine anime in its own right too!

The parodies are dead on, down to the battle music, generic disposable monster armies, those flowery-written opening tunes with somewhat mangled English, the ditzy lead, the fan-service, and more.

Unfortunately those glowing positives really only apply to the first episode. The rest suffer from a few problems. They're certainly not bad, but as the show is played so straight, despite its inherent sillinesss, there's not that much room for jokes.

Wonder Momo's main problem is that the show is played so straight that its running time holds it back! With Bravoman, the short length is acceptable as it's just a series of comedy shorts, whereas Wonder Momo tells an actual ongoing narrative, and so 5 minutes feels way too short. The episodes tend to end very abruptly, and they don't get across or develop nearly as much as they should. For example, it isn't until Episode 4 of 5 when we finally learn what's even going on. And then the series ends on a cliffhanger, basically at the 25 minute mark, way before it could even truly begin. The characters also get the short end of the stick, being very underdeveloped.

Given the whole upskirt aspect that made the original Wonder Momo game infamous in the first place, and that this is sort-of a comedy, you'd expect a load of fanservice to be on display here, but the show has a surprisingly small amount of it.

One big positive (to really only the first episode, once again) is that the show has an extremely positive body image message. Momoko is a swimsuit model, and it's a job she really enjoys, wanting to become famous for it. At no point is there any shaming for her being a skimpy model, and Momoko is always glad when people recognize her from those magazines rather than embarrassed or ashamed.

The animation is pretty good, although the faces can look a bit odd at times.

The score to Wonder Momo is decent, with a fun and 80's-tastic battle theme, and a nice opening and ending song. Unfortunately there's a new ending theme for each episode. Not only was the first one fine enough on its own, but the rest aren't as good, some being repetitive and rather dull.

I highly recommend Wonder Momo's first episode, but nothing more. It's sadly a complete failure. It was too short, and finished way too soon. They might as well have done absolutely nothing...


  1. That's too bad Wonder Momo ended too soon! It sounds like it might have been interesting stretched out.

  2. Absolutely. It could have been a really neat watch, and done so much.