chaostangent

Posts with the “mecha” tag

A reckless disregard for punctuation

A review of the first season of Aldnoah Zero

Gen Urobuchi has stated unequivocally that he had nothing to do with the ending of Aldnoah Zero. Washed his hands of it. So done. Once you see it, it’s easy enough to see why: divisive, to the point where it overshadows the rest of the series that, when all’s said and done, is entertaining but shallow.

imprisoned by gunmetal grey military vessels and featureless wastelands

It treads in familiar footsteps with its concept: mankind divided, the Earth threatened, a war fomented. A force with vastly superior technology attacks an unprepared populace, oh the humanity. This isn’t anything that you haven’t already seen before in numerous other mecha shows and, depending on the breadth of your experience with that genre, done better.

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Oestrogen onslaught

An Infinite Stratos 2 review

One of the odder bits of history for me is that the original series of Infinite Stratos broke me out of a slump with anime that had, until then, lasted for several months. It was brain-dead entertainment with few, if any, redeeming features and I was happy to assign watching it as aberrant behaviour. After all the story just ends without conclusion or explanation which isn’t surprising when it is the epitome of the harem setup; but whatever the first anime series did half-heartedly, the second (with the oh-so confusing title, Infinite Stratos 2) does with ferociously awful gusto.

just a hostage situation in a maid cafe and invites to fun-times at an amusement park

Not content with five girls all chasing the sole male, Ichika, two more are added (sisters, natch) and join the queue for wooing the dunderheaded lead. After all, this isn’t the story of a boy being able to pilot a heavily armed mechanical exoskeleton when only girls have been able to do it before. This isn’t even the story of a secret shadowy organisation trying to do… something nefarious. It’s about five, then seven, sexually frustrated girls trying to impose their own vision of lusty romance onto a boy whose obliviousness to their overtures borders on the mentally deficient. All the pesky and sporadically engaging CG combat just gets in the way of cooking for him! Or celebrating his birthday! Or going on play dates with him! Or just outright chasing him!

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3 Episode Taste Test: Eureka Seven AO

Of all the franchises that crave another series - Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex, Stellvia of the Universe (well kind of), Moyashimon (wait...) - Eureka Seven was not one of them. The hugely influential original series was Studio Bones firing on all cylinders. A tour de force of storytelling, boundless imagination, confident execution, and most critically a satisfying and conclusive ending. Say what you will about the pacing (soccer episode anyone?), it still stands as one of the best anime series ever made.

Eureka Seven Astral Ocean has a lot to live up to and does itself no favours by starting very similarly to Xam'd of the Lost Memories - an idyllic island community is attacked with terrifying force by an alien aggressor while an aged doctor tries to help. It's certainly a lot more coherent than Xam'd and has echoes Eureka Seven's original opening with the humanoid robot Nirvash careening into the Thurston's garage roof.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Winter 2011

Spring 2012 is coming, attempting to wrap up Winter 2011.

Aquarion EVOL

This is not the Age of Aquarius. The first series of Aquarion was mediocre at best - surprising really given Yoko Kanno's duties on the soundtrack and the birth of what should have been a decent pop-star in the form of AKINO. EVOL comes after an ill-advised OVA and reboots the premise by retaining the giant robot consisting of separately piloted craft - think Getter Robo except with squeals of orgasmic delight from the female aviators - but amps up the ridiculous factor to eleven. The opening episodes are pleasing in how seriously the show doesn't take itself with a a male protagonist who floats on wings growing from his ankles when he has any naughty thoughts.

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3 Episode Taste Test: Star Driver

This is what happens when you cross effeminate young men with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. A frenzy of colour and Studio Bones' deft creative hand is juxtaposed against incongruously suggestive female outfits and canned animation sequences. This is not the same studio that brought out Eureka 7 and Sword of the Stranger, but one leaving the afterglow of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and on the downspin after the disappointing Darker than Black sequel and the no doubt expensive risk of Heroman. This is Five Star Story style robots, fighting in Gurren Lagann's alternate space with Code Geass's chutzpah. This is Star Driver.

Opening episodes are always a gamble: bedazzle now and risk a depleted budget later or hold back and aim for long-term, unwrinkled quality. The first three episodes here try and do both with a swift and incomprehensible collection of enigmatic snippets of dialogue followed by a kaleidoscopic mecha battle. The latter is then repeated, down to the vocal song and preceding animation snippet, for every subsequent episode. It's sloppy and lacks the finesse expected of a Studio Bones production.

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