Heat Guy J (2002-2004) – By Timothy Martinez

In the futuristic Judoh City – one of seven huge, self-contained nation-cities that float upon the ocean, the police forces are not always enough to stem the flow of crime. For that reason, the Special Forces Unit is created and tasked with the mission of investigating possible crimes and preventing them before they can take place. Although androids are illegal in Judoh City, there is one exception – the android known simply as J, who works in the Special Forces Unit and who is partnered with Daisuke Aurora. Daisuke is something of a loose cannon, but his keen instincts are what convinced the Chief of Judo’s Police force – who just happens to be Daisuke’s older brother Shun, to shuffle him off to the Special Forces Unit, which is seen as something of a joke. Understaffed and severely underbudgted; Daisuke along with J and bean counter Kyoko Milchan do their best to perform their jobs. This isn’t always easy, as a recent shake-up in Judoh’s criminal underworld has left a power vacuum and gang bosses are flexing their muscles in a bid to be top dog…or in this case, Vampire, the title for the head of Judoh’s organized crime.

There is plenty to keep the Special Forces Unit occupied. Such things as illegal androids, unauthorized immigrants from other cities, possible crooked behavior in the upper echelons of city government, escaped prisoners who have had their heads and faces surgically altered to resemble animals, and much more are all things with which Daisuke and J must contend. In addition, Daisuke must come to terms with his own feelings, as his father was murdered by a rogue android. And then there are the mysterious Celestials, who watch over all of the cities and whose enigmatic technology enables everything to run. Who are they and what plans do they have for the citizens of Judoh? In the end Daisuke must confront demons from his own past as well as what may be locked in his partner J’s memory when it seems his own brother is at the center of a massive conspiracy involving crime lords and corruption at the highest levels of Judoh’s administration.

This is the series that Robocop should have been. Though most episodes feature a self contained story (there are a couple of two parters, though), like many other anime series, there are a few subtle plot threads that are touched upon from time to time and carry over through the entire series. A few of the characters introduced in early installments, and who seem like throw-aways, return in later episodes to help flesh out the overall story. The main character of Daisuke Aurora is interesting in that he has a slight, almost effeminate build, yet his wit and determination allow him to take on the toughest opponents that he may cross paths with. His exchanges with J are fun, too with J being the ultimate straight man. J himself is different from other science fiction androids. While being sentient and offering up advise and lessons on how Daisuke can be a better man, J holds no illusions about his own destiny. He knows what he is, is happy with it and while adhering to his own advice, doesn’t long to be organic like other androids might do. That in itself is a refreshing change of pace.

The writing is top notch with excellent characterizations and character development. The weekly cases for Daisuke to solve are interesting, well constructed and usually involve a scifi spin on a more contemporary cases. All in all, this is a fun series. It builds slowly, but finishes off rather nicely. Check it out.

If you would like to see this series or learn more, check out the Geneon website at http://www.geneonanimation.com.