King of Bandit Jing (2002)
Directed by Hiroshi Watanabe

Artistic Value: * * ½
Entertainment Value: * * *

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Synopsis & Analysis
Each of the thirteen episodes of Hiroshi Watanabe's animated television series King of Bandit Jing tells an independent story which has little or no relation to any other. Instead of becoming tiresome because of its lack of structure, however, the series, by including frequent bursts of action, copious quantities of slapstick humor, and a fair amount of sex appeal, is able to keep the viewer constantly engaged. Although I cannot honestly say that the program is ever more than mindless adolescent fun, it is always enjoyable.


Each of the stories told over the course of the series revolves around a young master-thief named Jing who wanders from place to place stealing various fabulous treasures. He is accompanied on his journeys by his goggle-eyed talking bird Kir, who not only lusts for every young human female he encounters but, when needed, can latch onto Jing's arm and fire blasts of deadly green energy from his mouth. Invariably, the strange object these two desire in a given story brings them into contact with a beautiful young woman and an outrageously villainous enemy. Suffice it to say, they are always able to help the girl and defeat the evil fiend.

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Admittedly, none of the stories told is particularly creative or memorable, but most are fun and exciting. Between the program's various odd conceits, its colorful, often weird images, its frequent action sequences, and its sexy female characters, King of Bandit Jing is never boring. The viewer may not be struck by the inventiveness of the series' imaginary world, the depth of its characters, or anything else about it, but he probably will enjoy watching it, especially if he happens to a male teenager.


The quality of the program's animation, like that of its stories, while invested with enough appeal so that it is pleasant to look at, is generally mediocre. Although it does include some imaginative elements and a number of attractive character designs, especially those used for its female characters, most of the animation is little better, either technically or creatively, than what can be found in many children's programs. In fact, the silly, exaggerated designs and bright, bold colors used give the series a look very much like that of such cartoons. Whatever its limitations, however, the program is so vibrant and quirky that it is always engaging. It may not be remarkable or beautiful, but it is both amusing and odd.


Even if it is never impressive, and almost always puerile, King of Bandit Jing is genuinely fun. The series is often exciting, frequently imbued with a real sense of humor, and peculiar enough that it always keeps the viewer's interest.


While it is unlikely that the viewer will be particularly impressed with King of Bandit Jing, if he is able forgive it its limitations, watching the series can be a pleasant diversion.

Review by Keith Allen

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