A review of the Vividred Operation anime

Your enjoyment of Vividred Operation can be accurately measured by whether you prefix "bums" with "little girl" in the phrase "it's full of bums". Thankfully you don't need to wait long for an answer as it's a scant twenty seconds into the first episode before a sunrise from the top of the Tokyo Sky Tree is framed between the legs and crotch of the series' antagonist. You can switch off right there (advisable if your screen is in any way publicly visible) and be safe in the knowledge that the series doesn't get much better.

the smaller the girl, the bigger the hammer
As an entry into the "magical girl" genre it feels a lot like painting by numbers. Spunky and earnest protagonist that acts as the lynchpin of the group? Check. Antagonist who must be won over by the all-encompassing power of friendship? Check. Colour coded sentai team? Check. And yes, red is the leader. Everyone knows that.

Where Vividred deviates from the formula is largely where it stumbles. At only twelve episodes long, the first four are spent introducing the core members of the evil-smiting team - spoiled of course by the opening animation, natch - while the final three provide a flimsy spine for what the narrative has hinted at since the first scene. This leaves four episodes dangling in the wind and with such insipid and snooze inducing storylines to fill them you would be forgiven for watching in fast forward, or skipping the repeated delights of the "getting angry with your friend" episodes.

The aforementioned bums don't intrude overly much on the generic "friendship conquers all" plot, but is just the tip of the titillation iceberg with transformation sequences lovingly animating the girls in their underwear and in throes of what can only be assumed is cosplay passion. This is to say nothing of the worryingly sapphic combination sequences that match the battle cries, the likes of which include the charmingly titledĀ "Naked Collider". That an otherwise serviceable series is tainted by a niggling uncomfortableness at the exploitative direction and framing is disappointing and the series feels like it's only a step away from ending up on a bullet-pointed list of shows now deemed morally deviant in your country of origin.

The livery of the girls themselves can best be described as a marching-band from Tron. Signature weapons follow suit with an uninspired hammer (the smaller the girl, the bigger the hammer), sword and boomerang; the latter of which any Legend of Zelda player will tell you is a raw deal in the weapons stake. Yellow's autonomous computer controlled doodads are the high-point of the loadout but are underutilised in the anaemic battle sequences that, despite computer aided trickery, are startlingly rote.

Vividred Operation's failure then is not in its well worn Disney-channelĀ themes of friendship and tolerance but in its complete lack of ability to contribute to a genre which has seen so many phenomenal shows over its lifetime, many in the past few years alone. The story, what little there is of it, is unwavering in its adherence to tradition, deviating only with an 11th hour twist in the fate of the antagonist that goes against all the teary-eyed character development that has gone before it. Plot points are introduced then ignored: remember Akane's low test scores? No? That's great! Neither does the series. What's left then is the faintly disturbing fan-service (Strike Witches at least had a half-hearted attempt at explaining its trouser-less uniforms) and one episode's worth of content routinely stretched across three. A woeful series, and even more disheartening to think more could (and likely will) spring forth from it.

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