Infini-T Force is a 3DCG anime directed by Kiyotaka Suzuki and produced by Tatsunoko Production and Digital Frontier. The series is a crossover between characters from four anime series produced by Tatsunoko Production in the 1970’s (Gatchaman, Casshan, Hurricane Polymar, and Tekkaman: The Space Knight). The 12 episodes of the series aired in Japan from October 3-December 26, 2017. As of this writing, VIZ Media holds the North American rights for Infini-T Force.
When I went into Infini-T Force, the only property I had any familiarity with was Gatchaman. Because of this, I had a little more of a learning curve when it came to the other crossover characters.
The story begins with a high school student named Emi, an aloof girl living alone in Shibuya, Tokyo. One day, she comes into contact with a magical object that has been used to destroy other worlds. The destruction of worlds has brought Ken Washio (from Gatchaman), Joji Minami (from Tekkaman: The Space Knight), Takeshi Yoroi (from Hurricane Polymar), and Tetsuya Azuma (from Casshan) into Emi’s world. The object, known as the Case, has taken the form of a giant pencil, which reflects Emi’s desire to draw. The four heroes have dedicated themselves to protecting Emi and the Case, even though she doesn’t really seem to care about what’s going on.
There are villains interested in the Case, with the main antagonist being a man going by “Z.” During the series, his motivations are revealed, and it turns out he has a connection with Emi. There is also Damian Grey, a flamboyant man who wants the Case for himself to become the perfect evil. Belle Lynn is a woman from a dying race who is seeking strong genes to revive her people and has aligned herself with Z. Raja Kaan spends time with Z but becomes involved with Emi and the four heroes near the end of the series.
Infini-T Force is supposed to be the story of Emi and how she evolves from being aloof into finding her strength after everything she goes through in the series. Unfortunately, the writers portrayed Emi as being so aloof and uncaring that she really wasn’t a sympathetic character for most of the series. She doesn’t truly start getting her redemption until halfway through Episode Nine. But by that point, it was hard to become truly invested in the rapid character progression that Emi goes through during the last three-and-a-half episodes. And since her character progression hits so late in the series, it ends up feeling rushed and forced. Another thing that frustrated me when it came to Emi’s character development is the fact that we never learn what happened to her mother. We get a flashback of when her mother was pregnant with Emi, but we never find out in the series why she’s no longer in Emi’s life. I think that this was an important piece of information that was missing.
I know that our four heroes were wanting to give encouragement to Emi, but a lot of their dialogue that’s in this vein comes across as being “on the nose” and “hitting the audience over the head.” Even with some of the weak dialogue, I thought the Japanese voice acting was quite good. I can’t comment on the English dub, since I watched this series with the Japanese audio and English subtitles.
The CG used for Infini-T Force was passable for the backgrounds, objects, and the non-human characters. However, the human characters looked plastic and unnatural, which gives the anime an unnerving feel to it. There are supposed to be some emotional scenes in the series, but you lose the emotional impact because this 3DCG style just wasn’t capable to depicting some of those emotions. My 22-year-old son commented that the CG animation quality of this series looked like a cut scene from a PlayStation 2 game. He was stunned to learn that Infini-T Force came out in 2017, because the quality of the CG makes the series look like it should be about 10 years older than it actually is.
For an anime that was produced to celebrate the 55th anniversary of Tatsunoko Production, Infini-T Force turned out to be a letdown for me. Style-wise, a CG production might have worked better if they hadn’t insisted on going the 3DCG route. And while there was potential for the story that was being told, the writing and plot progression choices could have been much stronger. I’m not in any rush to watch Infini-T Force again, although at some point I should probably watch the Infini-T Force anime film that’s set after the series if I can track it down on a streaming service.
I can only truly recommend the series to anime fans who have an interest in the four Tatsunoko Production properties that are represented and are curious as to how they work together in a crossover series. If you don’t have any knowledge of any of the franchises, then you probably won’t find much to enjoy in this series.
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