Length: 12 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Sci-fi, comedy, adventure
Year of release: 2019
Take a pair with solid chemistry, throw them into a good setting and give a reason for them to stick together despite their differences and you have a recipe for a solid buddy comedy. RobiHachi has all of these things; while it doesn’t offer more than the ticket price, RobiHachi is a darn good time.
Being a buddy comedy, the rapport between its leads isn’t just important, but the whole show balances upon the pair arguing being entertaining – and that it absolutely is. They don’t just hit it off, they downright hit each other. Robbi is the redhead, a carefree, serial monogamist desperate to make a quick buck – even if that ends up causing debts to pile on top of him. Hachi is a slick, non-nonsense debt collector that is swayed by Robbi’s discussion of freedom and his happy-go-lucky attitude. To clear his debt, Robbi decides to travel to the other side of the universe (to Iskander), a tourist destination where one can make great fortunes, and Hachi is pulled along for the ride as they use their giant robot to circumvent the various problems they’re served on the creative planets that line the route to their destination and try not to murder each other.
It’s at this part that the more well-versed might be picking up on the classic sci-fi references. The series is chock-full of them, though the humour doesn’t rely upon them. Whether the pair are flying around in a dodgy Hizakuriger super robot (recreated from an in-series anime from 50-odd-years ago) or hanging out with HG Wells-inspired aliens, RobiHachi is a series that creates its own lore from a hodgepodge of classic sci-fi references. With tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink love and affection, you can just feel the love of craft.
The pair tourist-style explore many extremely colourful and vibrant planets on the route to Iskander while dodging Mr Yang, the lender that Hachi was collecting the debt on behalf of. As each planet begins with extremely gimmicky designs, the jokes just pile atop each other to create offbeat finales to the episodics, that often result in them taking the fact exit they can get. Robbi’s oddly charismatic, bizarrely inspirational monologues strike into the hearts of the cast to talk themselves out of road blocks, but when that fails the pair even take up part-time jobs and get roped into festivals and wars. While the episodics situations range in memorability, with the Hizakuriger anime’s development being a highlight and the intoxicated Mr Yang at the festival being a lowlight, there’s a huge range of content that RobiHachi goes through and it generally has a good level of quality to it. The dramatic finale could have a bit more oomph, but the quality of fourth-wall breaking and unsuspecting jokes throughout the show, right up until the finale, more than make up for the few times it goes over or under board.
As I mentioned earlier, though, RobiHachi is a series that doesn’t offer more than you expect. Good jokes and a good time are nice ideas, but the series’ paltry length, colourful but only satisfactory audiovisuals and amusing, but not genre defining characters, means that the adventure concept can feel a little undeveloped. Considering how much its riffing on Galaxy Express 999, a show with north of 100 episodes, the little comments on the opening cards about the studio wanting to make more and more Robihachi are almost biting. RobiHachi is good – very good at times – but its brief runtime can feel like it doesn’t quite dig its teeth enough into becoming a true space-faring adventure, and the feeling it could have been more is a lingering aftertaste.