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Anime's answer to James Bond

Tuesday 30th June 2015


Helen McCarthy is holding out for a hero

James Bond - SkyfallI got quite excited when I found the clip online. "James Bond, aka Bondo (agent 007), the suave superspy who…" Alas, my delight was premature. It was a fan animation starring a green-eyed, spiky-haired pretty boy who looked as likely to bed the villain as shoot him - a quantum of solace, undoubtedly, but no help on my mission: find anime's answer to Bond.

To get the right answer, ask the right question: what is the essence of Bond? Ian Fleming's novels and the movie mega-franchise have a common core. Style and elegance are important, but can be updated. More important even than the traditionalist take on class, intellect and sexuality is ruthlessness, the sheer brutal focus of Bond. Scruples are for priests and schoolgirls. Whatever happens, however hurt he may be inside or out, Bond gets the job done. He's the ultimate survivor. You can always die another day.

Lupin IIIThe most overtly Bond-inspired anime, Lupin III, inverts the Bond tropes, yet stays true to their essence. Monkey Punch's gentleman-thief, silly and soft-hearted, hides razor-sharp intelligence, focus and determination under that goofy grin and loud jacket. He looks like a spiv not a gentleman, he charms girls with humour not overt masculinity, he may hand back the loot or let the target go, but the villains won't outwit him. He gets the job done. And he's a survivor: witness, among many, the fabulous mummy sequence in Castle of Cagliostro, proof you don't only live twice.

Thanks to voluptuous bad-girl Fujiko Mine, Lupin III keeps one of Bond's unbreakable rules: a grown-up hero isn't interested in little girls. Forget Gunslinger Girls, Noir and Madlax. Bond, or Lupin, would beat the living Golgodaylights out of the villains and pack the child victims off to a proper girls' school for rehabilitation through midnight feasts and hockey.

Golgo 13 may seem to share many Bond characteristics, including the protagonist's rigidly macho personal code, but he misses one key characteristic. Bond isn't working for his bank account or personal survival. His licence to kill is given for a higher purpose. On Her Majesty's secret service, he's more than just a hired thug with superior firearms skills.

But good intentions alone don't earn a double-0 prefix. Spike Spiegel of Cowboy Bebop, sometimes touted as a postmodern Bond, falls short. His live-and-let-live attitude contrasts too strongly with Bond's live-and-let-die views. His tailoring and haircut would never get past the doorman at Casino Royale, even with Bond girl manqué Faye Valentine on his arm.

James BondIf Queen and country are Bond's driving force, are Jack and Rowe of L/R: Licensed by Royalty his anime avatars? They have many of the required qualifications: charm, daring, insouciant wit, stylish clothes, fighting skills. What's missing? Decent opposition. Bond takes down evil masterminds in impossible circumstances. Without a Dr. No, even a Man with the Golden Gun, Hofner and Rickenbacker can't claim 00 status.

Let's admit it: no leading man in the world of anime can out-Bond Bond. They're good, but nobody does it better.

MANGA UK GOSSIP

Pokemon Movie Collection - Limited Edition Steelbook

£22.49
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For the first time ever! Collect the first 3 three classic Pokéemon Movies movies in one amazing box set.

POKÉMON: THE FIRST MOVIE

The adventure explodes into action with the debut of Mewtwo, a bio-engineered Pokémon created from the DNA of Mew, one of the rarest Pokémon of all. After escaping from the lab where it was created, Mewtwo is determined to prove its own superiority. It lures a number of talented Trainers into a Pokémon battle like never before—and of course, Ash and his friends are happy to accept the challenge!

Ash’s excitement turns to fear and anger when Mewtwo reveals its plan for domination, creating powerful clones of our heroes’ Pokémon so it can even the “imbalance” between Pokémon and their Trainers. Despite Ash’s protests, Mewtwo refuses to believe that Pokémon and people can be friends. But faced with the determination and loyalty of a young Trainer, Mewtwo just might have to reconsider…especially when pitted against the power of the mysterious Mew!

POKÉMON THE MOVIE 2000

Just one person can make a difference…

In the Orange Islands far south of Kanto, a Trainer named Lawrence is on a sinister quest: catching the Legendary Pokémon Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres in an attempt to awaken Lugia, guardian of the sea! When Ash and friends arrive, the islanders ask him to gather three elemental orbs from different islands. As the weather across the world goes out of control, it becomes clear that the capture of the Legendary trio has thrown the environment out of balance! With Lugia’s help, can Ash find the orbs, restore the balance, and be the “chosen one” that everyone turns to?

POKÉMON 3: THE MOVIE

A crystal catastrophe is unleashed upon Greenfield, and Ash, Pikachu, and friends must figure out how to undo the damage to the once-beautiful town. But the unthinkable happens when Ash’s mother is kidnapped by the powerful Entei, a Pokémon thought to have existed only in legend. Now Ash must go to her rescue, uncertain of what he’ll uncover when he unlocks the real secret power behind the unbelievable turn of events: a young girl whose dream world is being turned into a nightmarish reality by the mysterious and unstoppable Unown!

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