In a lot of ways, Studio Bones’ five film feature Towanoquon is a better anime X-Men story than the actual X-Men anime, spending a lot more time on the themes that originally gave Marvel’s mutants their resonance. If you can look past the ending that devolves into one of those plots by the villain to give everyone powers for some reason, then on the whole Towanoquon, is a solid effort.
Much of the story is fixed on Quon, a seemingly immortal “Attractor,” one of the super powered young people of the series. Born over a thousand years ago in the countryside of Japan, he’s spent his very long life trying to protect others like him. Besides being able to recover from nearly any injury, he can also transform into a ferocious, clawed monster, whose design is of the Kamen Rider variety, giving what’s supposed to be an organic secondary form a costumed look.
Quon and the rest of the small band of attractors make their base at a domed amusement park, where they’re undetectable by members of the Order, the organization bent on rounding up the attractors who are, admittedly, a menace when they manifest. Their key weapon against the attractors is a group of cyborg soldiers whose emotions are slowly being programmed out of them. Among these is Epsilon, whose desire to remove the Attractor menace is balanced against an innate sensitivity and a mystery from his past.
The six 50-minute features here (they all had theatrical releases back in Japan) are all effectively episodic, introducing a new attractor for Quon and his friends to protect until the last two episodes really start kicking in with something like an overarching plot. Why does Kamishiro, the sinister Order representative who commands the Custos group and the cyborg soldiers start knocking down the dominoes as he does in the last two episodes? What is the relationship between the Attractors and the Order? Why is Quon the only one who seems to be immortal?
I suppose we’ll have to wait until another batch of features roll around.
For the time being, there’s sufficient drama and character interaction to support the 300 minutes of anime here. Quon is good hearted to a fault and as the series progresses, we’re allowed to see what makes him so selfless (and the true extent of his abilities). But it’s not exactly his story. In fact, the series feels more like an ensemble, touching on quite a few of the new Attractor inductees and giving them a chance to come to grips with their new lives while some of the veterans question Quon’s methods in protecting others like them at the expense of the current group’s safety.
With the exception of Quon, there aren’t too many standout character animations. The Kamen Rider-ness of the cyborgs comes from their sci-fi motorcyclist look, which is just all padding and armor. While there’s not a lot of get excited about on the design front, Towanoquon does break out of the constraints of its own animation style for sequences that go for a hand-drawn, rough-hewn look as Quon unleashes the full extent of his power. Likewise, fight scenes really allow Studio Bones to let loose, using Quon’s unpredictable center of gravity to allow him to perform impossible mid-air acrobatics. And par for the course for most bigger budget action titles lately, it’s pretty heavy on the gore, with plenty of bloodied, rent asunder bodies falling this way and that.
With the exception of the completely underdeveloped goal of the series’ villain (seriously, someone explain to me what he planned to accomplish), it’s got some good drama and action to it. Plus, those standout moments of animation keep it from being completely about poor suffering Quon (although his immortality does allow him to get messed up something bad).
Besides a handful of trailers for recent Section23 releases, there’s commentary on the sixth episode by the English voice cast. The series is presented in both English and Japanese in DTS 5.1 audio.
Towanoquon Complete Collection is available now on Blu-ray from Sentai Filmworks.