The Special Duty Combat Unit SHINESMAN


You answer a stupid question…

He just wanted to earn a decent living and be a good guardian to his kid brother, Yota. There was no way for Hiroya Matsumoto to know his answer to a seemingly-innocuous question during a job interview would place him in the position of being a superhero. 

“What color do you think suits a superhero best?”

He answers red, after his brother’s favorite character on the Greatman (think Power Rangers) television show, and finds himself as the newest member of the Special Duty Combat Unit: SHINESMAN. Under the direct supervision of Human Resources Manager Kyoko Sakakibara, the five-member Shinesman team was formed to thwart opposing companies’ efforts to harm Right Trading Company. But even with their arsenal of unique weapons and smart-aleck remarks, can the top-secret Shinesman department win against its most difficult enemy yet?

Visitors from outer space, disguised as businessmen with a rival company, are at the heart of the mysterious happenings that have been keeping the Shinesman busy. Planet Voice’s useless and spoiled prince has been charged with the task of taking over the Earth. His right-hand man, and the brains of the operation, Sekito (“Mr. Seki”) has determined that the best way to do this is to succeed in the business world and eliminate the Shinesman. All is somewhat normal until the prince’s annoying cousin, Princess Shina, arrives with plans of her own — plans based on Greatman episodes Sekito taped off the cartoon channel. The two-episode OAV (original animated video) revolves around the highjinks set into motion by her visit.

Shinesman Red. . . Moss Green. . . Gray. . . Sepia. . . Salmon Pink!

The strange colors of their “prosuits” are just the first clue that this story isn’t about any “typical” super hero team. Their unusual weapons include the “business card cutter,” the “clip bomb” and the “cuff beam.” But their most distinctive feature is the strange assortment of personalities that comprise the team. Their supervisor, Sakakibara, wants to be a Shinesman herself (SCARY) and is preoccupied with the lousy colors of their prosuits. Matsumoto, theoretically the most normal of the group, is strangely possessive and protective of his younger brother. Ryoichi Hayami, Shinesman Moss Green, is a serial ladies’ man. Shinesman Gray, Shogu Yamadera, is prone to raving maniacally about his beloved truck. (“My Montage!”) Shotaro Ono, Shinesman Sepia, is a doting father whose attention to his family borders on the obsessive. Riko Hidaka, Shinesman Salmon Pink, is the only fighting girl on the team and takes a little too much pleasure in her job. And, last but not least, pretty Hitomi Kasahara, one of the team’s support members, has a surprising past.

“Shina, get into the vortex.”

What makes Shinesman special is the knowing and self-referential fun it pokes at the anime, sci-fi and workplace cultures. For this title, arguing sub versus dub is pointless: this is one of the best-written and entertaining dubs I have ever seen and heard. The translators/writers had fun with this one, incorporating such memorable one-liners as, “I’m gonna die in a Godzilla suit!” (And it makes sense within the overall context of the story!) The acting is exuberant and, at times, intentionally over-the-top. The way the voice actor for Shinesman Sepia announces his arrival is enough to crack me up every time. All in all, if you like anime and sci-fi and want a good laugh, Shinesman is a must-have.

More Info:

SPECIAL DUTY COMBAT UNIT: SHINESMAN Original Japanese version © 1996 Kaim Tachibana/ Gakushu Kenkyusha, Movic, Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. English language version © 1998 Media Blasters/ AnimeWorks. All rights reserved. Available as a bilingual DVD.