Shall we play a Game?
Aside from some very atypical culture shock, the Routines adapt well to the patterns of life on Earth. The elder Igarashi brother, Nachi the incorrigible rogue, constantly tries to use Compiler's powers and moral-free attitude to support his wild schemes, including his dream to become Tokyo's top illegal highway racer. The younger brother, Toshi, just wants to keep a low profile and survive Assembler's adolescent fixation on him.
Complicating this simple family life are a stream of would-be assassins and nefarious schemers, including the hilarious not-very-ambiguously gay duo from the Electro-Dimension, Bios and Directory, and Compiler's production-line predecessor, White Compiler. Also notable are the supernaturally fearsome Igarashi parents and Toshi's childhood girlfriend, Megumi, who brings mega-corporate power to her romantic rivalry with Assembler. Acting as an occasional guide and ally to our heroes, Interpreter is a fellow Routine who harbors a dislike for the ruling Council of the Electro-Dimension and their flunkies.
Compiler has no ending as such. The wacky hijinks continue from a different perspective, as the title and main character change to Assembler.
(Assembler 0X) Continuing the adventures of two Routines in love and exile, this series is sort of "Compiler: The Next Generation". Taking a determined step out of adolescence and away from her past as the "Electric Angel", Assembler sheds her powers to become a human woman. Changing her body is only the first step, since she must learn to live on her own before she can live with her love, Toshi Igarashi, now a university student.
Finding a real job and learning to drive without benefit of computerized shortcuts become major challenges, in addition to the regular visits from the old destructive gang from "Compiler". Now she must face her rival for Toshi's hand, Megumi of the mega-corporation, on purely human terms. Struggling to achieve some semblance of a normal life for Toshi's sake, the former alien conqueror builds new friendships and an exciting new life that is anything but low-profile.
The Japanese manga Compiler and Assembler 0X were published serially in Afternoon Kodansha Comics before they were released in collected books, or tankoubon. There are three Compiler books and four Assembler books under the publisher's imprint, KC (Kodansha). Later ultra-digests packed in even more pages per book, with two small, thick Compiler books (I haven't seen a similar treatment for Assembler).
European publications of Compiler and Assembler are in progress, and I've found French and Italian versions referenced online, but no English, Spanish, or German as yet. In the U.S., Chinese versions of these stories can probably be found in the better Chinatowns, but no one as far as I've heard has claimed any North America publishing rights for the manga.
In animated form, there are three Compiler OAVs, two half-hour sketches and one hour-long movie, all of which portray scenes not found in the manga. The two shorts are packaged together commercially as "Compiler". They are much funnier if you're familiar with the principal characters from the first manga and if you read the on-screen liner notes that occur at the end of each chapter. Otherwise, there's a lot of puns and slapstick in addition to the rampant parady of shows like City Hunter and the old giant monster shows.
The movie, sold as "Compiler2" is good on its own, but great at providing an alternate take on the characters from both manga series. I was pretty impressed by the uncharacteristic depth of emotion demonstrated by my favorite couple, Compiler and Nachi, and the Assembler-Toshi-Megumi love triangle got its share of mature handling as well. The fight scenes were a little rushed, but there was still that melodramatic flair that comes straight from the classic good guy vs. bad guy stories.
Going even further, there are also a slew of CDs released for the Compiler-Assembler 0X series, mixing comedic drama tracks with songs for every mood. There's a 50/50 ratio of dialogue and songs, all in Japanese, but the seiyuu (voice actors) are very talented and "into it", so the humor of the situations bleeds out across the language barrier, while the songs fit the varying moods of the series.
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