First Impression: Muteking the Dancing Hero

A pair of lovebirds gets doused in black goop and one of them melts away. But then something magical happens: the OP. Ladies and gents, I think we have this season’s best opening song and animation already settled!

But back to the episode. Country bumpkin Muteki arrives in Neo San Francisco, a not-too-distantly futuristic remake of 1980s SF. He bumbles about rescuing first a rat (that looks like a mouse) then an old lady (who flirts with him), all the while throwing shapes—to the amusement of the crowd. He then fails to eat a taco, fails to get a hamburger, and drinks a couple unwanted cream soda floats because the waitress who has mixed up his order (or rather, is incapable of serving anything other than cream soda floats) is cute. Then he goes to an outdoor concert and fails to hear the main act, Aurora.

Apart from the cream sodas, all these failures are actually the work of DJ, a colorful old-school boombox toting rapper-DJ (surprise surprise) who may just know a thing or two more than he’s letting on—about both Muteki and the evil, charismatic Steve Jobs-like CEO who apparently is pulling the world’s strings (through tech, tacos, and pop stars alike), and is likely in cahoots with the giant squid-like globby aliens that are related somehow to the black goop that melts people.

But it’s ok because when DJ plays a certain cassette tape (remember those?), a swarm of tiny cute pink octopuses appears and rushes into Muteki’s blood stream giving him incredible rhythm, a fancy mecha-like hero outfit and…drum roll please: roller skates. That’s right, the title of this show should really be Muteking the Roller-Dancing Hero! He swooshes around with a big grin singing a catchy song, defeats the alien, and the melted masses are reconstituted into sleepy idol fans. What a first day in the big city! Muteki escapes the concert stage, mildly confused as to what has just happened (just like us viewers), and finally makes it to his grandmother’s house after more perilous diversions than Red Riding Hood. And who should be there when he opens the door? I’ll leave that for you to find out!

I have one word for you: bonkers. Ok, two words: utterly bonkers! This episode was cray with a capital Z! The color design is not quite neon enough to be genuinely psychedelic, but it is blindingly trippy nonetheless. It screams 1980s! For the younger readers out there, this is really what the 80s were like, not the chic ‘reinterpretation’ that is dominating contemporary fashion these days. The 80s were bright, loud and completely mismatched. But also a lot of fun, which is exactly what this episode is. Kind of exhausting too though, if I’m honest, and I have a feeling that this is a show that you’ll need to be in the right mood to watch. Or perhaps if you can just make it as far as the OP, the show itself will compel the right mood to materialize in your blood stream (like the octopuses) and you’ll be carried away on this wacky bizarro adventure whether you want to be or not. There are tons of gags, and pretty good ones too, and the supporting characters seem like a hoot, especially Grandma. The dark (and alien?) take on the Apple-Google-Silicon-Valley conglomerate is amusing (as I type away on my Mac, using Google to check name spellings…) and SF is definitely recognizable as the setting. (I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten in that diner down by the pier, though I had root beer rather than cream soda and did manage to get my hamburger.) All in all, a harebrained humorous romp of a premiere. Will it be able to keep my interest once the nostalgia factor wears off? Maybe not. I’ll hang around for a few more episodes to see though!


Muteking the Dancing Hero can be streamed on Funimation.

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