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October 05, 2000

Assemble Insert

Imagine if you will, a city not unlike your own, with all the familiar
trappings: freeways, Quickie-Marts, police stations, criminals in
oversized, powered-armor suits...

Okay, maybe not a lot like your city, but at least a lot like your
city seen through the eyes of Yuhki Masami.

In this city much like yours, Professor Kyozaburou Demon and his gang of
high-tech criminals, the Demon Seed Gang, wreak havoc with utter
impugnity. They have grown so confident that they announce each crime
well in advance. This way, the police can turn out fully equipped--the
better to be properly humiliated (depending on the weather--the Demon
Seed gang has been known to cancel a crime on account of rain).

So how to combat this menace? The city fathers have a plan--founding a
special task force, the Anti Demon Seed Section, will bring down the
Demon Seed Gang. The fact that the task force doesn't even have enough
of a budget to run their air conditioners doesn't phase Chief Hattori,
the leader of the task force, for he has a plan. A plan conceived with
great cunning one night while getting disgustingly drunk in a bar, true,
but having bragged out loud, he now has to implement his plan, or face
demotion.

Thus is launched the two-part OVA 'Assemble Insert', released in 1989
and 1990, and based on a long-running manga by Yuhki Masami, the
creator of Patlabor. This OVA sets out to parody many of the shows from
the preceding decade, including the Dynaman genre which Masami had
already parodied in Ultimate Superman R. Also targetted are the numerous
idol shows then common. The secret plan hatched by Hattori, to recruit
and train an Idol Singer with a secret superpower, and equip him or her
with a powered suit of their own, is an ideal vehicle for this.

Maron Namikaze is the 8th grader with superhuman strength who gets the
'part', and she is bound for success. Without giving away key plot
points (and really, can anyone be surprised at the direction of the plot
in a show like this?), suffice it to say that she gets her power-suited
man.

The show has many good lines, typically delivered with the sheer bravado
of the hopless underdog. In support of his plan, Chief Hattori explains:

"Think about it. Some filthy-looking middle-aged riot police running around, damaging the town, and letting the Demon Seed get away, or some cute girl like Maron. Sure she might spread the damage around, but she'll also inflict serious damage to the Demon Seed. Which would be welcomed better? It's obvious, right?"

The terminal losers of the Demon Seed Task Force want to give Maron a
shot at a normal life (normal for an Idol Singer, anyway), stating that
"She's more fit for happiness: gentle and cute, rather than going up
against dangerous armed robbers! Because Maron-chan is just a girl,
in spite of her superhuman power!"

One more quote, an exchange between several officers in the squad room
in response to Chief Hattori's insistence that Maron may have to give up
her shot at the Idol Singer Newcomer's Award Ceremony to fight crime:

3: What're you talking about! She only has one chance to win the Newcomer's Award! 1: The first step toward the domination of the entertainment world! 2: The Newcomer's Award in autumn...Ko-Haku at the end of the year. Next year, recording in America. An engagement with a big star by the year after next. Live TV broadcast of the reception party, and after having a child, she'll go into diaper commercials. The schedule is filled up completely!

Anyway this sort of thing always tickles my funnybone. However, as you
may have guessed by now, this isn't a predecessor of 'Project A-ko'.
While the action in that series is pretty much non-stop, and the humor
is almost agressive, 'Assemble Insert' generally moves at a slower pace,
delivering humor by lampooning the glorious rants of the madmen and
heroes who litter the anime landscape, with a straight face and upraised
fist.

So if you want your humor in killer doses, or leavened with a
powered-suit battles every five minutes, or sprinkled with liberal
helpings of fan service, move on. If on the other hand you want to
follow a cute, silly and fond parody of the shows of the '80s, you might
want to check this out. If I were rating it against a scale of five
magical girls, I'd give it a 3 1/2.

Posted by dpwakefield at October 5, 2000 11:10 AM