In deep space, Iczer-One has hunted down all of the dread offspring of the villainess Big Gold and is locked in a titanic struggle with the last of them: the monstrous dragon-woman Neos Gold. But all their planet-busting combat has led to a stalemate, and Neos threatens a rematch on Earth, home of Iczer-One's beloved Nagisa Kanou.
To spite Iczer-One, Neos Gold has sent her minions to wipe out most of Earth's defense forces; Iczer-One has no choice but to send her inexperienced, diminutive little sister, Iczer-Three, to protect the Earth in her place. As the generals of Neos wreak havoc upon mankind, Iczer-Three arrives and starts demolishing the enemy as if it were child's play. But will inexperienced, naive Iczer-Three and Nagisa Kasumi, the original Nagisa's granddaughter, be able to protect the Earth long enough until Iczer-One can come back and save them all?
Part of the big problem with the initial iteration, Fight! Iczer-One, is that it takes a patently ludicrous set of circumstances and treats them with far too much seriousness, a campy sci-fi melodrama that long overstays its welcome and devolves into just plain horribleness.
While it seems Iczer Reborn is set to go the same road, we instead get the hilariously spunky attitude of Iczer-Three, who from the get-go pretty much doesn't give a crap that her "playmates" and the baddies (the Four Masters of Heaven, invariably and irreverently referred to as oba-chan "aunties") have just wasted the entire planetary self defense force of an entire spacefaring civilization (along with 40% of its population) and instead takes to the battlefield with a playfulness and cheekiness that is sorely missing from its predecessor series. And though admittedly jarring at times, the introduction of Iczer-Three injects a badly needed dose of fun into an otherwise dreary, violent, and overly dramatic franchise, and turns what had been a borderline unwatchable experience into a surprisingly entertaining little adventure. Way to go, Little Miss Badass!
What doesn't hurt is that they've toned down some of the more undesirable traits of distressed damsel (and apparently generational carbon-copy) Nagisa (namely her heretofore extreme whiny crybaby tendencies), though the whole (all-female) Iczer race's obsession with her remains in play, and it's never, ever properly explained just why Nagisa is the key behind humanity's survival. Anything for some gratuitous teenage girl-on-girl innuendo to please the fanboys, I guess -- at least we know this trope isn't something that just showed up last week on Crunchyroll.
It's clear, of course, that this isn't a Great Classic of Japanese Animation, but at least in this case, we can be thankful that the voice cast had some fun with this. In a commendable (nay, awesome) bit of stunt casting, plucky little Iczer-Three is voiced by real-life pro-wrestler Cutie Suzuki, and she does a frankly amazing job lending precisely the perfect amount of attitude the character (and this franchise) needs, while also being a pretty funny nod to the original Nagisa's misplaced desire to herself be a pro wrestler (a characterization point that never actually went anywhere in the original series despite the obvious potential for humor). Taking over as the Nagisa incarnation for this series is Yuri Shiratori, who would also continue as the final (to date) Nagisa in Iczelion, and is also known for roles such as Nanami Kiryu in Utena and Cherry in the b>Saber Marionette franchise. Yuriko Yamamoto reprises her role from the original as Iczer-One, taking a more motherly aspect compared to her previous title roles in series such as Hello Sandybell and Lady Georgie.
While the Iczer phenomenon often comes off as more than a bit exploitationist, what with the all-female Iczer race (often stripped to nothing in other titles of the franchise just because), this iteration tones that down a bit, not least because the main character looks like a ten year old, but also in other ways, such as the inclusion of a female ship captain (Candy Barts, played by Emi Shinohara - soon to hit it big as Sailor Jupiter) as the only human military officer of any note during the course of this series who is able to survive and resist against the forces of Neos. I openly wonder how much the creator Toshiki Hirano may have been nudged by his wife, Narumi Kakinouchi, when making this; in any case, the creative adjustments lead to wholesale improvement in this series. Still, when the time comes for Nagisa to serve as battery for the giant Iczer Robo -- off go the clothes! The camp factor certainly remains high with this franchise at all times, but here it comes off more as amusing than unpalatable (even notwithstanding the one particularly silly scene involving Iczer-Three communing with local wildlife just 'cause). And even when the creators resurrect (literally) the whole drama between Iczer-Two and Iczer-One from the previous series, it's just a warmup for the real climax and thankfully not dwelt upon too much.
Technically, Iczer Reborn definitely feels like a title with one foot still in the 80s - stylistically it's still lodged far into the previous decade, and the animation, while okay for its time, certainly feels dated, with some of the character art being occasionally simplistic in non-action scenes. However, it never looks outright bad, even with the triple takes and speed lines. The music is fairly par for the era -- unless you're a fan of late 80s-early 90s style Japanese pop ballads and anime themes, the soundtrack is going to feel pretty dated, though at least it never gets unlistenable.
Ultimately, every anime veteran knows how this will ultimately play out (especially since there's a sequel of sorts in Iczelion) but with some throwbacks to the original (that actually resolve some issues I had with that show) - Iczer Reborn is definitely predictable, but honestly, I've said far, far worse things about the other installments of this franchise, and if the entirety had been more like this, perhaps the Iczer series would be a classic, rather than a footnote in the annals of Japanese animation.
With a good balance of silliness and action, Iczer Reborn is entertaining, and while never achieving greatness, is still ultimately an enjoyable experience. This also features possibly the least annoying incarnation of Nagisa, which is something of a miracle in and of itself. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: Continuing from the theme of the original Iczer-One, there are some horror aspects to this title (namely, the grisly fate of those killed in the initial invasion of Earth), but these are quickly shelved for otherwise bloodless action. Nagisa is implied to be nude during the Iczer Robo segments, but is covered by strategic camera angles, which is the opposite of the other titles. While the alien races in this franchise are all-female, the fetishistic treatment of that subject in the original is thankfully not carried on to this series to any great extent. Teens and up.
Review Status: Full (6/6)
Iczer Reborn © 1990 AIC / Kubo Shoten /Artmic
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