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|Genre||Action, horror, mecha|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Yoshitomo Yonetani|
|Written by||Hiroshi Yamaguchi|
|Music by||Kohei Tanaka|
|Original network||TV Tokyo|
|Original run||1 April 1999 – 30 September 1999|
Betterman (Japanese: ベターマン, Hepburn: Betāman) is a Japanese anime television series animated by Sunrise's internal "Studio 7". It is a spinoff of the Super Robot series The King of Braves GaoGaiGar produced under the direction of Yoshitomo Yonetani and writer Hiroshi Yamaguchi. It aired on TV Tokyo from April 1, 1999 to September 30, 1999. A giant mecha series, Betterman uses heavily Jungian symbolism and themes, such as Animus, as well as elements of Lovecraftian horror.
Set roughly in the present day, a series of seemingly random terrorist attacks rock the globe. Dubbed Algernon, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the attacks - apparently normal people seem to just suddenly suffer psychotic breaks and begin murdering everyone around them - often in profoundly disturbing fashion. Even more surprisingly, the suspects in an Algernon attack routinely display intellectual or technical skills far beyond what they were known to have. In the wake of traditional law enforcement's failure to turn up any link between these incidents, a private contractor known as Akamatsu Industries is brought in to explore if Algernon is a disease, an unknown terrorist group, or even more exotic possibilities.
The series kicks off with an Algernon attack at a Japanese theme park. While most of the locals are fascinated by the prototype mecha (known as a "Neuronoid" or "Dive Suit") that Akamatsu Industries brings in to clear the site of hostiles, high school student Keita Aono is more interested in the pilot. Convinced she's a long-lost childhood friend, he sneaks into the theme park to confront her.
Keita's suspicions turn out to be correct - the pilot is Hinoki Sai, a crush he hasn't seen in years. As one of the rare "Dual Kind" (the only ones who can properly interface with the prototype Neuronoids), she was recruited despite her age. And she's not thrilled to see Keita there . . .
As the two argue over Keita's presence, the theme park robots notice them. Reprogrammed as part of the Algernon attack, the bloodstained animatronics advance on the two. Despite the discovery of Keita's own Dual Kind nature, and the subsequent power boost the mech receives, the robots proceed to overwhelm it.
On the brink of being butchered, a strange figure steps up. Introduced to the audience as "Lamia", he devours a strange fruit and transforms into a dragon-like kaiju. Lamia promptly crushes the robots, and disappears as mysteriously as he appeared.
In the wake of the amusement park attack, Akamatsu Industries recruits Keita to copilot a Dive Suit with Hinoki, and continue their research. Lamia is classified as something new, a "Betterman" who can use a hyper-accelerated version of the same process that builds coral reefs to transform.
Also in the aftermath, the formerly random Algernon incidents suddenly develop a pattern - targeting Keita, Hinoki, and (to a lesser extent) Akamatsu Industries itself. Lamia is forced to intervene again and again to save them from the seemingly endless stream of violent madmen, demonstrating several new kaiju forms . . .until a team from Mode Warp (Akamatsu Industries' parent corporation) disappears in India.
Intrigued (and under orders), Akamatsu Industries goes in search of the missing team. India is also where Hinoki's parents and brother disappeared years ago, a seeming coincidence that puts her on edge. Surviving an attack by a new kaiju (dubbed "Behemoth"), the Akamatsu team discovers the remains of the Mode Warp team, recover samples of the fruit that Lamia uses to transform . . . and find evidence implicating Biotechnology Provision Laboratories (BPL) in the Algernon attacks.
A corporate sibling of Mode Warp, BPL was organized to research new agricultural technologies - particularly whether Linker Gel (the exotic biochemical compound that powers Akamatsu's mecha) can boost crop output. The two have not been in communication for years, though, and instead of solving world hunger, BPL now seems to be focusing on creating highly predatory genetically modified organisms.
After several attacks by BPL monsters, the Akamatsu Industries team decides to raid their facility. They find the place virtually deserted, except for the head researcher, the improved "King Behemoth" kaiju he's created, and field after field of Animus Flowers, all growing from the corpses of Algernon sufferers. The same plant that Lamia uses to transform into a kaiju.
With Algernon confirmed as some form of disease, and the corrupted BPL destroyed, the Akamtsu Industries team faces a new threat. Turns out the Neuronoid mecha aren't quite as mechanical as they appear. The processing core of each mecha is actually a brain, transplanted into a robotic shell. Keita and Hinoki's Dive Suit uses a gorilla brain, but the earlier prototypes used human ones. And anything with a human brain can develop Algernon . . .
No sooner are the rogue mecha destroyed, but Akamatsu Industries is immediately attacked by the Superhuman Federation. Another corporate sibling of Mode Warp, the federation is a group of professional psychics that harness their gifts for profit. Obsessed with the potential of Linker Gel, Mugito Mamon (the head of the Superhuman Federation) is convinced that he can achieve a Betterman-like transformation. And with captured samples, a kidnapped Dual Kind pilot, and the support of the other psychics, he pulls off a ritual to become "Brahman". A mummy-like kaiju, Brahman's "bandages" function like tentacles, allowing him to fight Lamia to a standstill before escaping.
As the Akamatsu team hunts (and is hunted by) Mammon/Brahman, the older members reflect on how many things point back at the Next Environment Organization (NEO), the parent organization of Mode Warp, BPL, and the Superhuman Federation. How all three subsidiaries started making radical progress after a disastrous experiment with the Linker Gel. How so many of the survivors of that experiment (the "Dive Inspection") have disappeared, suffered Algernon, or died under suspicious circumstances. . .
A distress call comes from Mode Warp headquarters. Algernon has broken out in the compound, and Akamatsu Industries is recalled to rescue the survivors. Worse, the UN has been following the same clues as the Akamatsu Industries team, and blames NEO for Algernon. Unless there's a better answer in eight hours, all NEO facilities will be blown off the map - including the Akamatsu team.
As the remaining members are airlifted into the Mode Warp compound, and battle more rogue Neuronoids, Miyako Asami (the head of Algernon research) confronts the CEO of NEO. Looking decidedly inhuman himself, he declares that this is all a reaction to the Dive Inspection experiment. Inspired by transhumanism, NEO had attempted to create an immortal superhuman, using a mix of Linker Gel, cutting edge technology, and obscure occult practices on an elderly shaman rumored to be 120 years old. And they had succeeded!
He then shifts into a Socratic dialogue, asking the head researcher what the only immortal thing on the planet is. As she replies, "cancer", a shadowy kaiju rips out of the body of an elderly man in the compound. The same elderly man used in the Dive Inspection.
As Cancer (also referred to as "Kankel") proceeds to battle (and crush) Lamia, the CEO claims that this is all a natural reaction to the aftermath of the Dive Inspection. Living things are not meant to be perfect, but rather to continually improve. And the Earth's biosphere is actively rejecting anyone involved in the Dive Inspection, a process which manifests as . . . Algernon. Lamia and the other Bettermen are merely a moderating mechanism, to insure Algernon doesn't get too out of hand and threaten "healthy" life.
Drawing upon power from the other Bettermen, Lamia is finally able to achieve an even more powerful kaiju form, ultimately beating Cancer. Its too late to call off the bombing runs, though. All of the NEO facilities are destroyed, along with all of their wondrous/nightmarish technology. Much of the Akamtsu Industries team dies, too, with only scattered survivors remaining.
Betterman takes place in the same world as The King of Braves GaoGaiGar , as characters from both series make guest appearances in the story, though only a few minor links are visually made within the series itself (and only one minor character from GaoGaiGar appears on a semi-constant basis).
Distinctly recognizable by its massive forearms which serve as highly resilient guards against enemy attacks. Nebula's form grants Lamia aerial capabilities and allows him to fly at high-velocity speeds. The signature ability of Nebula, Psycho Voice, first allows Lamia to analyze his opponent’s complete physical structure and to retaliate with a high-pitched voice attack which uses the same wavelength as his enemy's composition, thus eliminating it. This is the most frequently used transformation by Lamia and has shown itself to be the most versatile.
This is an underwater form that can achieve a speed of 600 knots (1,100 km/h). In this form Betterman can inhale and analyze his opponent’s bodily liquids and attack with similar Psycho Fluid, breaking down the opponent's DNA structure.
This orange form of Betterman uses compressed air and razor sharp wind as weapons. Turba's capability is Psycho Calm. In this attack, wind and sound are compressed into a small spherical area. This makes attacks such as Psycho Voice ineffective. The same organs can be used for jet propulsion. It should be also noted that this is a form that Betterman Lamia does not use. Instead it was used by Bodiju (he specifically chose it to counter Nebula). faced with the truth
This bright yellow female form of Betterman uses electromagnetic radiation (electricity and various rays) as its weapons. Seeme transforms into this form by consuming pieces of the seed that came from Hinoki's mother.
This is the strongest type of body that Betterman can obtain with common seeds. In this form Betterman greatly increases in height. Forte's method of defeating an opponent involves seeing an opponent's "breaking point" and using the Sliding Saber on his head to strike in this location (referred to as Psycho Glory). Opponents are then reduced to ash. It is also notable that Forte-type Betterman should be used only by "a leader," but Betterman Lamia has broken this rule more than once.
This the final and ultimate form which Lamia adopts in the final episode. Like "Forte," Betterman grows in size and gains a dark brown color opposing the white "Nebula." Using the ultimate power of "Psycho Burst," Betterman can regenerate his cells indefinitely; even if thrown into molten lava. Lamia gains the power of Oltus when his Master, friend, and his companion give him three seeds, which combine into one. After this, Lamia confronts the final enemy, "Bestman."
Betterman is composed of 26 episodes, first aired on TV Tokyo from April 1, 1999 to September 30, 1999. It was licensed and released in the USA (on DVD) by Bandai Entertainment. The series was dubbed by Ocean Productions at their Blue Water studio in Calgary, Alberta. The dubbed English version from this DVD release has also aired on the US cable network G4TV (Known as TechTV at the time of its airing) during the "Anime Unleashed" rotation, premiering on December 30, 2002. Despite this exposure, it is still a fairly unknown series to American audiences. This is perhaps due to its plot, as it is generally considered quite difficult to understand. Also, many different terms are used that are never explained, but these terms are scientifically based and often require broader knowledge concerning biology and other sciences. Following the 2012 closure of Bandai Entertainment, Sunrise announced at Otakon 2013, that Sentai Filmworks has rescued Betterman, along with a handful of other former BEI titles.
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