I watched an hour-long advertisement today, and its name was Iczelion. For all intents and purposes, Iczelion is a trailer for what should have been a far more interesting show. However, Iczelion is by itself one of the worst anime I've seen in recent memory. Though it has some well-known brethren in Iczer 1 and Iczer 3, this show is pointless and meaningless. Although those are bad enough, the show has the added distinction of having a thoroughly unlikable main character, which destroys any possibility of a decent program.

Iczelion follows battle armor robot suits, called Iczers, who are sent to various planets throughout the universe to help the natives defend themselves against evil. Two main evil beings, Chaos and Cross, are intent on inflicting suffering and destruction throughout the known galaxy, and they've chosen Earth as their next target. To save the planet from destruction, an Iczer picks a young Japanese girl named Nagisa as its "pilot", meaning that through a complex nude transformation sequence, Nagisa is covered with the Iczer as armor and weaponry. Problem is, Nagisa has no intent to fight--though she strangely has plans to become a professional wrestler--and spends the vast majority of the time literally running away from Cross, who's picked her out personally for destruction. Thankfully for mankind, there are three other Iczers that have chosen women from around the world to act as defenders while Nagisa gets her act together. The audience watches in bemusement to find out if Nagisa will ever grow a spine by the end, and if the other Iczers will sacrifice themselves to help this happen.

Iczelion carries none of the import of the original Iczer 1 series, which is unfortunate considering that Iczelion is in some ways a retelling of the original story (at least in an alternate universe). Iczer 1 was not a fabulous anime, but for 1985, it was ahead of its time. It features the same lead character as Iczelion, Nagisa, who was still against being a part of the action but wasn't such a whiny, annoying, shrill prepubescent. In modern anime, most look at Shinji of Neon Genesis Evangelion as being the epitome of the unwilling participant in an epic struggle--but in comparison to Nagisa in Iczelion, he is a master of self-control and determination. Meanwhile, Iczer 1 also featured (for the time) good artistic designs, interesting mecha, and a truly warped plot, filled with tentacled nasties and as many horror bits as sci-fi bits. Iczer 1 had character. Iczelion does not.

What makes Iczelion far worse than its predecessor is that there is nothing captivating here. The bad guys are so overacted (and this is in the Japanese language version) that it's downright silly. The battles are poorly constructed, the plotting nonexistent. We have these other girls who meld with Iczers, but they have no real personalities and serve no real purpose other than to have quick battles and have nude sequences where they mesh with their body armor. The show abandons its horror roots completely, which takes away all heft from the antagonists' villainy. The show attempts to rely on humor, which it fails at miserably, and its attempts to be cute are completely at odds with the nature of the program's concept. Also, for a show that is admittedly filled with action sequences, it's mind-blowingly dull.

What's even more annoying is that the show takes all of its time getting us to the point where Nagisa will defend herself. As soon as that happens, the show is over, even though there are battles to be fought and wars to be won. There is no resolution to the show at all, which ends on a totally ambiguous note. Although I can handle ambiguity in anime--one has to in order to stay a fan for long--endings like this could ruin a new anime viewer for life. It's all setup and no payoff, and the setup isn't anything enjoyable anyway. To its credit, the show has decent artwork and some enjoyable character designs, particularly for the bad guys, but that's just about it.

The original Iczer 1 showed a lot of promise, and if reworked properly could actually be a thoroughly entertaining venture. But Iczelion is a missed opportunity, a show that could have been miles better than what it is. Although not bad enough to burn, it's one to actively avoid. Find a subtitled copy of Iczer 1 instead, if you can--it's rare, due to the predominance of the awful dubbed version released in the West several years back--and see what this could have been.

Iczelion -- violence, profanity, brief (but gratuitous) nudity -- D