Review by Frank Plowright
Circuit Breaker addresses the question of what happens to all those anime robots once the society they’ve fought to preserve is no longer threatened. The answer is that, much like the present day military, the public would prefer to ignore them and their problems. They now exist within the vast country that was formerly Japan, the country they rebuilt to welcome the world’s refugees unable to live elsewhere after a devastating war. A couple of generations on, this has been forgotten and the now marginalised robots are beginning to organise their own rebellion. Thankfully this was foreseen by one engineer, and he created Chiren, able to pass as his granddaughter, and equipped to dismantle rebellious robots.
Kevin McCarthy’s script is very much preaching to the converted, dropping anime terms all the while, which is off-putting and confusing for anyone not indoctrinated into the genre. It’s very much a homage, a game continued by artist Kyle Baker slipping all sorts of well known characters into the backgrounds, but Circuit Breaker never develops into anything beyond mimicking its influences with a light comedy veener. And because it’s not really very good, what’s meant to credit the influence Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy obviously had on McCarthy comes across as insulting.
Baker seems to have enjoyed the drawing, but for the homage it’s intended to be, his is entirely the wrong style. His figures are loose and fluid, whereas the manga inspiring the story is tight, so it further serves to distance from what’s intended.
The big emotional drama is whether or not Chiren should follow through on her programming or join the rebels, but it’s so trivialised as to be inconsequential. Circuit Breaker is well-intentioned, but falls well short of the mark.