The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Tentai Senshi Sunred

Title: Tentai Senshi Sunred aka Astro Fighter Sunred
Genre: Comedy
Company: AIC A.S.T.A.
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2008 – 28 Mar 2009

Synopsis: Near the Tama River in Kawasaki City, Kangawa, battles of no small significance are fought between legendary hero Sunred and the villainous Florsheim group, led by the dastardly Vamp. In between battles, Sunred curses out Vamp and his minions and mooches off his girlfriend, Kayoko, while Vamp and his crew of considerate creatures live simple lives and help out the community.

The Highlights
Vamp: I am this close to proposing to him.
Sunred: A thoroughly lovable bastard.
Absurdity: Mixed perfectly with the mundane for maximum hilarity.
Florsheim: The most adorable group of disgusting monsters ever.

Tentai Senshi Sunred is the last word on sentai parodies; it takes a premise that has been drilled into the ground in anime, flips it around and makes it hilarious once again. How? By making the show more of a bizarre sitcom than a full-blown riff on sentai shows. Sunred takes the ridiculous characters that make up these types of shows, places them in everyday scenarios… and it works beautifully.

Tentai Senshi Sunred succeeds as a comedy because it revels in both the absurd and the mundane. Premises like Vamp being invited to Kayoko and Sunred’s apartment to help clean up after a move become hilarious due to the undeniably bizarre circumstances surrounding them. The monsters around town are treated no differently than regular people – they hold jobs, date and even save children and are slapped on the front page of the local newspaper. For all intents and purposes, they are “real” people, but the audience can never forget the fact of their monstrous appearance, which lends the show its wonderful air of absurdity.

The character most representative of this is Vamp, who is not coincidentally the true highlight of the series. He is utterly serious about his conviction to kill Sunred and achieve world domination, but he is an otherwise good-hearted person. Vamp is a pillar of the community, a social wonder who is on good terms with everyone he meets. He’s an excellent cook and handy around the home. He is even friendly with Kayoko, who often invites Vamp over for dinner, much to Sunred’s chagrin.

Meanwhile, Sunred himself is not a particularly great person. He’s rude and swears constantly; he drinks, smokes and gambles almost all day; he leeches off Kayoko and lounges around their apartment without any hope of getting a real job; and on and on. Sunred’s existence as a villainous hero and Vamp’s as a heroic villain is such a simple switch, but it works because there are clear reasons why each inhabits the role they do, and the series never forgets that. That’s what keeps their interactions fresh and funny: Vamp’s total earnestness in his approach to evil, and the heart of gold Sunred hides (very) deep under his rough exterior.

The folks surrounding these titans of good and evil hold their own as well. Vamp has a large army of monsters under his command, all of whom have their own distinct personalities and social hang-ups that drive the amusing riffs on normal sitcom premises. (My favorite bit is where one monster is thrown into despair as Vamp unknowingly sweeps women off their feet during a group date.) The funniest parts are often the build-up in which the monsters’ stories are told, after which Sunred beats the crap out of them in mere seconds, and then the episodes go on as if the fight is a minor blip on the radar. Never gets old.

What also helps is the brevity of each episode. They’re only 13 minutes each and made up of several short segments, some lasting 30 seconds at most. Even the longest of stories will last maybe seven minutes (and those are rare). Whenever the battles or everyday lives of Vamp and Sunred threaten to get old, the series will simply switch to a different segment. Nothing is quite as good as Sunred and Vamp, of course, but they’re good for purposes of variety.

Tentai Senshi Sunred is a breath of fresh air on a stale concept – and it does it by being a classic sort of high-concept sitcom, no less. There’s a lot to be said for taking a strange premise and following it to its logical conclusion, which Sunred does in each episode, and with undoubtedly hilarious style.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Shinmaru

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