When I read the official description of the new anime Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers, I couldn't help but laugh. After all, it was quite obvious that it is a series that blatantly mixes two things that are popular among Japanese kids: The Avengers and Pokémon.
While not the first Marvel superhero anime series, Disk Wars is the first one aimed at a younger audience. It stars Avengers Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, and Wasp. The five—along with a slew of other heroes and villains—are trapped in pocket dimension prison units (the titular “disks”) by Loki's machinations. These prison units, developed by Tony Stark and Peter Parker, are basically Pokéballs and only allow the heroes and villains to be released for a short amount of time—and only by certain people who have the proper biometric data. The rest of the time, the captured individuals appear as nothing more than mini-holograms projected by their disks.
Of course, this being a series for kids, the only ones able to unlock the disks are a group of random youths—as well as Loki and his minions. And when, as the result of an unforeseen accident, the disks containing the captured heroes and villains are scattered randomly across the world, it’s up to the kids to release the Avengers so they can battle the super villains that Loki's minions carry around as both sides race to collect the missing disks.
As a huge comics fan, I find the whole premise of the show more than a bit laughable—just imagine the arrogant, egotistical, and brilliant Tony Stark or the rage-filled Hulk beholden to a Japanese pre-teen and you'll see what I mean. Moreover, several of the characters have lost much of their core identities. This is most prevalent in the super villains who are all simply evil for evil’s sake—complete with maniacal laughing. Worse yet, two of the main heroes are drastically changed as well. Hulk is always transformed, never filled with rage, and always as in control as any hero. Moreover, the world universally views him as a beloved hero. Wasp on the other hand, while strong and competent, is not so much a character as she is the token female—and as such, is often exasperated by her male companions.
But surprisingly, there are times when the show really nails the characters. Captain America's speech to Loki (about how even if all the heroes are defeated, good people will rise up and eventually beat him) or a defeated Iron Man screwing with Loki (by using random ominous thunder to convince Loki his brother is standing behind him) are right on the mark and brought a smile to my face.
Other parts of the show are just plain cool. After all, who doesn't want to see the Avengers brawl with a myriad of villains episode after episode—or see Spider-Man bicycle kick Loki in the face. Come to think of it, watching Spider-Man kick people in the face is probably the show's strongest point.
So while I would never call Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers a great anime or even quality children's programming, it has easily surpassed my meager expectations. Heck, I'd even say I enjoy watching it each week. But more than that, the child in me can see why kids would love this show. After all, what kid (or adult for that matter) wouldn't want to hang out with the Avengers, become friends, and help save the world together?
Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers is currently airing on TV Tokyo in Japan. There is currently no word on a Western release.
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