The Big O is a unique form of anime that borrows its theme from film noirs of the 1940s combined with the suspense of The Prisoner from the 1960s. The audience is no more knowledgeable of the mysteries surrounding the series than the main characters. Therefore, fans are pulled into the curious world and must piece together the clues throughout the 13 episodes until the surprising truth is revealed. Unlike similar programs, like Voltron, there was no American-censored version of The Big O and it is not meant for young audiences. Because of this, it ran after midnight on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. It ran from 1999 to 2003.
The show was created by Keiichi Sato and Kazuyoshi Katayama and takes place in Paradigm City 40 years after all citizens lost their memories and sense of belonging. It centers around the protagonist Roger Smith, a "negotiator" between professional parties -- a needed service in a world without memories. Roger is suave, debonair, wealthy, and a self-tailored ladies' man. He is joined by R. Dorothy Wayneright, a young female android, and his butler, Norman Burg. Police officer Dan Dastun, Roger's old boss and friend, challenges Roger's vigilante-way of doing things. As a negotiator, Roger becomes very deeply involved with his clients, which often results in Roger becoming a crime-fighter.
The setting, Paradigm City, is controlled by the Paradigm Corporation, resulting in a Police-State. The main antagonist in the series is Alex Rosewater, the CEO of Paradigm Corporation.
As Roger learns more about Paradigm City, he -- and the audience -- realize things are not as they seem. And underneath it all are the Megadeus -- gargantuan robots of ancient and unknow origin. The titular robot, The Big O, is the ultimate Megadeus. When other robots appear and there is no other option, Roger calls upon The Big O. However, possessing sentience, The Big O judges Roger's action before accepting Roger's commands. Indeed, there was one time The Big O denied Roger's intentions.
Fans of the series were treated to a surprise ending, but there will be no spoilers here. But it can be said that it has a Matrix/Blade Runner feel. Although the takeaway from the series varies from person to person, it can certainly be said that it forces you to examine your own sense of self.
Big Trivia for The Big O
The name "The Big O," while having a very different connotation in America, actually is rooted in theology -- Alpha to Omega. The name of the Greek letter "Omega" (O-Mega) literally means "Big O." When appreciating the show's underlying mystery, which is not revealed until the very end, the symbolism of "Beginning to End" becomes clear.
The Big O was being produced at the same time and by the same studio, as Batman, The Animated Series. This is why there are similarities between Bruce Wayne and Roger Smith, from being orphans to having a butler as an aide-de-camp.. Even Roger Smith's car, the Griffin, resembles Batman's iconic Batmobile.
From left to right: Roger Smith, Bruce Wayne, the Griffin, and the Batmobile.
Curator Desiree is responsible for our collection of memorabilia for The Big O. Unlike the other anime collections we pursue, there has not much produced for The Big O, especially in the American market. As always, however, we are on the lookout for new and wonderful items "from the dusty attic."
The Big O Mini Figures, Set A
Produced by Kotobukiya Co., 2003
From left to right: Dorothy 1, R. Dorothy Wayneright and Norman Burg, The Big O, the Griffin
The Big O Mini Figures, Set B
Produced by Kotobukiya Co., 2003
From left to right: Big Duo, Schwaltz Walt, Roger Smith, The Big O in Attack Mode
Both Kotobukiya Mini Figure Sets Displayed Together