|Adult Swim Premiere||July 7, 2003|
The Big O is a Japanese anime series created by director Kazuyoshi Katayama and designer Keiichi Sato for Sunrise Studios. The writing staff was assembled by the series' head writer, Chiaki J. Konaka. The Big O premiered in Japan from October 13, 1999 to January 19, 2000 on WOWOW satellite television.
The Big O was originally created as the 26 episode series it is now but low viewership in Japan cut it down to only the first 13 episodes. However, positive fan response internationally stemming from its time on the Toonami block resulted in a second season co-produced by Cartoon Network, Sunrise, and Bandai Visual consisting of the remaining 13 episodes being released in 2003. The Big O: Season Two premiered from January 2, 2003 to March 27, 2003 on SUN-TV in Japan.
In the United States, in anticipation for the premiere of The Big O: Season Two, season one aired, completely uncut, on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block for the first time from July 7, 2003 to July 28, 2003, with reruns continuing until season two premiered on Adult Swim from August 3, 2003 to November 2, 2003. Interestingly, season two premiered on Sundays, typically the most comedy heavy night of the week. Reruns of both seasons continued to air sporadically on Adult Swim until 2008, when Adult Swim lost the broadcast rights to season one. However, since Cartoon Network co-produced season two Adult Swim owns the broadcast rights and have continued to air the show including more recently on the revived Toonami block.
The series is designed as a tribute to Japanese and Western shows from the 1960s and 1970s, it is done in the style of film noir and combines the feel of a detective show with the mecha genre of anime. The series follows Roger Smith, Paradigm City's top Negotiator. He provides this much needed service with the help of an android named R. Dorothy Wayneright and his butler Norman Burg. When the need arises, Roger calls upon Big O, a giant relic from the city's past.
Forty years prior to the events of the series, disaster struck. The world was turned into a vast desert wasteland and the survivors were left without memories. The story takes place in Paradigm City, a corporate police state run by the Paradigm Corporation. The town is recognized for its geodesic domes, giant structures that house the wealthier citizens and segregate the poor.
The Big O deals with the nature of memories. A memory is a record stored in the brain of an organism, but in Paradigm City memories can mean much more. "Memories" embody the lost knowledge of its residents, and can take the form of records from before the Event, forgotten artifacts from the previous era or manifest themselves as recollection, hallucinations and recurring dreams.
The first half of the series is episodic. Each Act revolves around different citizens of Paradigm dealing with the resurgence of lost Memories and how they manage to go on living without knowledge of what did or did not happen. The final episodes introduce elements that come into play during season two like the existence of people outside of Paradigm City, the nature of the Cataclysm that destroyed the world and the "Power of God wielded by the hand of man."
The second season takes an arc-based approach. Instead of self-contained stories like in season one, season two features a continuous storyline. The second season makes Alex Rosewater, CEO of the Paradigm Corporation, a direct antagonist to The Negotiator and introduces The Union, agents of a foreign power working within Paradigm.
The Big "O"ccident
On the night that the final episode of season two was set to premiere, October 26, 2003, the viewers were treated to a rerun of episode 20, "Stripes". This resulted in the Adult Swim message boards being flooded with complaints by fans. After an apology from Kim Manning, programming director for Adult Swim, the final episode of The Big O: Season Two was aired on Sunday, November 2nd at 11:00 PM.