Anime has some strengths. However Marvel Entertainment captured only a few with this version of Iron Man. They were more successful at capturing numerous drawbacks.
A season’s plot in a sentence: A slightly off version of Tony Stark visits Japan to give up being Iron Man, give away top-notch versions of his armor to doofuses, give obsessive attention to world peace, and give a loose collection of enemies under the supposed banner of Zodiac a halfhearted fight while interacting with a bunch of second-tier characters before they die, and smooching with a cold hearted scientist cyborg before she dies.
What is one strength of anime? Deep and complex plots. We are sad to say that Iron Man anime’s plot was shallow and obtuse. The whole zodiac plot could have been dropped in lieu of the two bad guys. The result would have been a little more clarity and a lot more satisfaction. Zodiac is supposed to be some sort of high-tech offshoot of A.I.M. We never see this organization. Their presence remains too amorphous to be menacing.
For a few episodes zodiac’s greatest contribution to the series seems to be sending in a few nonsensical robot enemies-of-the-week. Why were they doing it? What was the point? What about all those suits of armor stolen in the first episode? Do we even care anymore? For 12 episodes this series creates more questions than answers.
The top bad guy barely appears, however we do see runner-up bad guy, Yinsen, a little bit more. They tried but failed to give him coherent motivation. Certainly not enough to justify his inexplicable desire to destroy Japan when his problem seemed to be that Stark once made weapons.
Another strength of anime is mecha. Tony Stark’s classic-ish armor (the only shown aside from some space add-ons) looked good, and so did the blue versions he was giving away- if you were one of the first five people to buy his book! Anyway, the rest of the robots and enemies were not very inspired. The machines were computer-generated and the people 2d animation. Neither art direction really thrilled us.
The show took itself too seriously without any serious payoff. 12 episodes of somberness, struggle, frustration and death with little balance or upside. A better more satisfying Iron Man show that had a serious plot yet without taking itself this seriously was Iron Man Armored Adventures. (It also had better fight choreography.) It was somewhat surprising because the show starred teens, and probably appealed to a teen audience. Yet it still had a serious enough plot to carry adults.
The bad guy organization Zodiac was no Mandarin. Zodiac wasn’t even a presence. Supposedly they were the doofuses who sent random robots every episode. We are still not sure what Zodiac was, except to say it was a name thrown around that made people say, “Oh no” and “I’m scared”. We deserve better after watching 12 episodes, especially considering the body count.
If you like Iron Man, and you like anime, the show is worth checking out. But do not expect it to be a great mix like peanut butter and chocolate. To not even expect it to be a substantial mix like peanut butter and jelly. It’s more like dehydrated astronaut ice cream. All the calories of ice cream without the satisfaction. Iron Man anime had its fun moments, but was not a very satisfying 12 episode experience.