So Much Potential Wasted By Odd Editing
ONENEO | Buffalo, NY | 03/30/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'll confess it: My love for robot-based anime has, on several occasions, resulted in my having purchased and endured countless substandard shows. I try to come on and review as many of the good ones as time permits but sometimes the not so goods deserve a bit of attention as well. Now don't get me wrong, everyone's tastes are different and one man's trash is often another man's treasure but the mecha series Jinki: Extend simply fails on so many levels that even the unique robots contained within can't salvage the muddled mess of a plot.
The simple summary of the show's entirely specious plot would look something like this: Based on a manga by Sirou Tunasima, Jinki Extend combines cute bubbly girls with giant robot elements. In 1988 Aoba Tsuzaki, a seemingly ordinary 13-year-old chick, who just so happens to spend her time building and painting robot models, is kidnapped by a cross dresser and taken into a war where giant robots, both new and ancient, engage in an ongoing struggle.
Fair enough so long as you don't stop to think too hard about the whole cross dresser element (which is used here merely as a gimmick) but in truth this represents the most logical portion of the prose.
Fascinated by the gigantic robot (Moribito-2), Aoba comes to know the machine's pilots, Ryohei Ogawa (the cross dresser who kidnapped her) and his father, Genta. In addition to loving robots all her life, it turns out that Aoba is a cognate, a human with special abilities to control such complex machines.
It's all downhill from there! The first sign of things unraveling is when the plot jumps to Japan in the year 1991 (without telling us this) where a branch of the Angel organization attempts to recruit a seemingly unrelated kid to pilot a Jinki (while another girl we haven't met yet) mysteriously looks on.
Suddenly our buddy Aoba (back in 1988) is torn between what she considers right and wrong when she starts to have feelings for a boy who happens to be the pilot of an enemy robot.
This may not sound too bad when written out like this, the truth is that whatever charm the first volume of the series introduced is almost immediately taken away by the start of the second disc. It would have helped tremendously if ADV Films would have had the presence of mind to toss a subtitle up whenever the story happens to alternates between events in 1988 Venezuela and 1991 Japan.
Instead the plot jumps between the two timeframe/ locations with alarming frequency, leaving the viewer with the daunting task of figuring out when and where they are. If the wacky editing made sense in the original Japanese release, it was definitely lost in translation!
The bigger problem then becomes the pacing of the plot. The fact that it bounces around so often never allows a full (or connected) story to take place. Instead the information is provided in small, meaningless fragments. Countless 1988 story threads fizzle out never to be touched upon again and several characters and events crop up in the 1991 timeline without explanation or congruity.
As frustrating as this is, there may be an even bigger flaw that takes away from the entertainment value of the show: The fact that many of the character models look identical! Especially when you factor in the physical aging that comes with treating 3 years time as if it were twenty seconds. Add names like Minami, Shizuka, and Shiva to the formula and good luck figuring out who is who in any given scene.
Jinki: Extend suffers continuously from a failed attempt to cram a huge (and confusing) cast of characters into a big clumsy story with only thirteen episodes to do it. Suffice to say, viewing the show in conditions other than those that allow for absolute dedication and concentration will result in confusion.
While I'm a fan of the logic that there's nothing inherently wrong with experimenting with narrative structure, Jinki:Extend's use of constant narrative cutoffs, flashbacks and unpredictable timeline jumps comes off as incredibly cheap. It feels like a half-hearted attempt to emulate more complex shows like Rahxephon and Neon Genesis Evangelion by "artistically" chopping everything into pieces. Worse still is that if you have the patience (and internet access to look things up) to finally make sense of the muddled plot line, it becomes alarmingly clear that what's actually there is thin and predictable.
About the only viewer who may enjoy Jinki: Extend despite its shortcomings would be those seeking attractive female models strapped into the cockpits of giant robots. There is no shortage of almost nude encounters (bath house scenes), puberty references, and giant robots blowing things up here in J:E. However, anything beyond the superficial begins to unravel quickly and completely nullifies the few interesting elements the show introduces initially."