You know when you're in trouble when the background of an animated series is explained in text. This inglorious start signals that more bad things are to come, since any show that can't take the time to at least bring the audience into the story is usually unworthy of further comment. However, Compiler doesn't stop is hollow and false at so many points that when things finally do turn around somewhat, we're too insulted to care. Compiler does end better than it starts. However, in this case, that's like saying Spam is better warmed up than cold--it's still Spam, just closer to edible.

The opening text tells us that Assembler and Compiler were sent from the 2D world into the human world to help conquer it on behalf of the technological world. However, when they meet two cute guys, they decide instead to commit treason and stay as their guests. This is where the show actually starts, and it follows Compiler and Assembler while agents from the 2D world come over to attempt to kill them. There's also a romance angle--cute as a button Assembler is in love with the sweet but clueless Toshi, and the Harley biker chick Compiler cares for his playboy cad of a brother, Nachi, against her better judgment. Eventually, the girls will have to make an ultimate choice between the Earth and their boyfriends. (Some choice.)

I have never seen a show do such a recklessly poor job at getting its viewers involved. There are three episodes involved--two come on the first video, and the third is packaged separately as Compiler 2--and the first two are rubbish. The first one has some reasonable attempts at humor, but the biggest joke doesn't even make sense to an American audience whatsoever. (ADVFilms doesn't help by explaining the joke, in text, after the episode is over.) The second episode, which is almost solely about Nachi's bad behavior in ignoring Compiler and sleeping around, is just plain awful. Now the third episode has a little bit more meat to it because it starts to wrap up the relationships and bring a sense of closure, and it has a villain that's actually dangerous. I also kind of liked Toshi and Assembler, who made nice sweethearts. But we've seen something very similar done far far better in the conclusion of Oh My Goddess. Everything here has been done before.

The plot has holes galore, and they are the same ones that existed in other computerized worlds too like Buttobi CPU. Unlike Tron, which made the whole thing believable, there's absolutely no logic to how people travel back and forth from the computer world to ours. It also has other signs of being from a manga adapation--particularly, the habit of bringing in characters from nowhere. I had started to make a laundry list of problems, but there's no point. The show makes little to no sense whenever you look at what's been set up. The fan service factor is also notched up pretty high...likely an attempt to distract viewers from the lack of plot. It's not sexual and not offensive per se, but certainly gives meaning to the word gratuitous.

Compiler is one of those titles you can find in the Bargain Bin for $5 a video, making it seem like a real steal when you get the whole thing for $10. Despite the few laughs I got out of it, though, I wouldn't call it a deal even if it were free.

Compiler -- nudity, violence, adult themes -- D