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Cybuster, Vol. 1: Tokyo 2040 (2004) – DVD Review

Cybuster, Vol. 1: Tokyo 2040 DVD


Original story by Denma Matsu
Directed by Hidehito Ueda
Music by Kazuo Nouta and Kenichi Sudo


  • Japanese & English staff credits

Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:

  • “Tough love” fathering
  • Irritating hookers
  • Interpersonal injustices
  • Corporate stooges and corruption

Released by: Geneon
Region: 1
Rating: 7+
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Post-apocalyptic fans will want to own this, but everyone should at least rent it.

[ad#longpost]Cybuster tells the story of Tokyo, post ecological collapse and a series of mysterious earthquakes. The city is in ruins, and Our Hero is Ken, whose dream is to become a member of the DC, an organization charged with protecting what is left of the environment and the city. At the same time, he helps his “worthless” father watch over his sickly sister, Sayuri. Unfortunately, Ken is not all that skilled at using his salvage robot and is cut from the team. When a giant monster attacks the city, Ken sees his chance to prove himself and commandeers a salvage robot mecha to fight. Luckily, his cleverness allows him to work his way into his cherished DC after all, and his spunkiness keeps him in it when forces conspire to betray him. To add to the mix, there are mysterious black boxes that cause all matter in their vicinity to vaporize, possibly to another world, and some mysterious deaths surrounding DC secrets.

The concept and plot are very absorbing and well-written. The city of Tokyo is even an interestingly developed character, along with Ken and his family and friends. The characters are excellent, such as the scapegoat Nanase, portraying the difficulty people face when their current job of cleaning up pollution and wreckage is forced to become more of a protective, disastrous job of defending against a giant robot that they don’t recognize or understand with less tech than they really need. None of them are perfect people (and Lyune is just plain irritating), but they are willing to do what it takes to make their city livable and beautiful again. On the other hand, Commander Saphine and others in the DC seem to be up to something that only Ken’s father is interested in researching.

The visuals are nicely done, with a realistic and sharp edge nicely suited to the dangerous world of near-future Japan. The wreck of Tokyo is hard to look at, given the vitality of the city and an understanding for how many souls must have perished in such a total catastrophe. The mecha designs are interesting; working robots meant to reconstruct and salvage the city, turned into mediocre fighting robots when the mysterious, wind-controlling attacker appears. The sound is well-done, with skillful voice-acting. The music is so-so, but at least well-recorded and digitalized. There are a few places where the artwork is a bit more retro than it should be aesthetically, but personal preference will determine the effectiveness of such design choices. The speaking elements are also a bit mediocre, as there seems to have been little effort to perfect the synchronism of the “lip flaps.”

The features list is pretty weak, however. We get only full credits for the Japanese and English staffs. This is a rare inclusion, and it’s always nice to learn the names of the voice actors, but interviews, commentaries, and schematics are always appreciated.

Cybuster can be recommended to anyone who likes post-apocalyptic fables or general science fiction. Solid characterization and an intriguing mystery or two make this something more than a run of the mill action/death fest. If you have any fondness for Tokyo, be aware that the devastation is quite severe; cherry trees and neon mean nothing to the people of Tokyo in 2040. More realistic and interesting characters than Gundam, with corporate wars and secrets redolent of many anime titles. It’s difficult to see how this series will proceed, but it could very well be something quite interesting.

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