Valvrave the Liberator

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You’d think Sunrise as a studio wouldn’t need to make any more robot series. After all they are the studio that makes all the Gundam shows. Still, despite a near monopoly on mecha, they eventually make other series in an effort to launch a new franchise. Though they may never be as enormous of a franchise as Gundam they are still entertaining in some extent as long as they have a draw that sets the series apart from others, memorable. The draw of this series: LOTS of blood.

Haruto Tokishima is a boy who is just trying to live an ordinary High School life and let his crush, Shoko, know how he feels. His world is thrown upside down when enemy forces from Dorssia attack the Module that he lives on and almost kill Shoko. Thinking she is dead, Haruto enters into the Valvrave, a mysterious red robot that allows him to fight off the Dorssia horde. After the battle is over, he is approached by the Dorssia spy L-Elf, who shoots Haruto repeatedly in the chest killing him. Haruto revives a few minutes later and sinks his teeth into L-Elf’s neck…which ends the first episode.

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This show starts out extreme and doesn’t slow down at all. It has something of a “Game of Thrones” feel to it, a series which has a reputation of killing of large portions of its cast dying in order to advance the story. Likewise, the anime doesn’t mind killing a few of its characters quite often to advance the plot (a lot more in the second season but that’s a review for another time). The new form that the Valvraves (yes there is more than one) gives to their pilots allows them to be hurt a lot but survive from it, which explains why Haruto is able to survive after being shot in the chest in the first episode. That aside, there are characters that won’t even make it out of the first five episodes.

The robots are very unique. Much like a series like Gundam Wing, each of the suits is a powerhouse on its own with its own special abilities that distinguishes it from others. Haruto’s own robot does an impressive energy attack that allows him to destroy an entire fleet of ships with a swing of his sword. They are also given an interesting weakness in even though they are self powered, if the robot gets too hot it will shut itself down. Very interesting way to cap very powerful machines.

The use of social networking is actively addressed in this show. From the students using it to gain support to Haruto’s phone being overrun with friend requests after its revealed he is the pilot of the giant robot, the anime does a nice job showcasing what would happen when a world with giant robots has something like Facebook. One of the other pilots, Saki, uses social media to help to restart her career as an idol once after she makes her transformation. The show uses social media to also point out how fast information can travel and how the world can be aware of what is going around at a moments notice.

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The show, especially its first season was an intense ride that had me going the entire time. I was watching this show as soon as it dropped on Crunchyroll. The show is action packed and has some very interesting Mecha designs. I do wonder though if the series has truly become noteworthy though. I mean the show ended back in January of 2014 and I haven’t really heard that many people scream their love of it since it ended. Was it just a flicker in the dark or are more people holding it close to their hearts then I know?

Rating: A-

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Full Metal Panic

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As I’ve said mixing genres can be very tricky. You would think just from the description that a “Comedy mecha series set in high school” would not be a good idea because it sounds ludicrous. Well it is ludicrous, and hilarious, thrilling, touching, memorable and a whole lot of fun. This is the series known as as Full Metal Panic, a show that truly is the full package.

Sousuke Saga is a member of an elite secret military organization known as Mithirl who works to defend the world from the shadows. TO protect a young girl who is believed to be the target of a terrorist organization, Sousuke enrolls in her high school. Unfortunately, Sousuke doesn’t exactly fit into Japanese High School life and becomes a major annoyance to the young girl named Kaname Chidori. Just as it seems as if Kaname can’t take any more of Souske’s behavior, the bad guys come for her and Sousuke it there, ready to jump into a giant robot to protect her. Who says there’s no good guys in the world anymore?

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The characters of this show really make it stand out. Sousuke is clueless but a very competent solider. Kaname is an easily angered tsundare (A ruff exterior, sweet on the side type), but the anger can sometimes can justified given that Souske’s first thought is usually to reach for his gun, even in school. Still, the fact that Sousuke is so impulsive and one to make things blow up on a regular basis is what what makes this show so entertaining. The supportive characters such as Kurtz Weber and Melissa Mao are also great and help add to the story. I even enjoyed Tessa Testarossa, despite the fact that I am well aware that she is a rather annoying character to some fans.

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The mecha of this series are very unique. The show seems to showcase that every country has its own designs and different suits. A suit from Japan would be different from one in Russia. Still, its the main guys themselves who get some of the more impressive suits. I still think that the Arbalest (pictured above) is a one of my favorite suits throughout history. Hmm, that’s a list I should probably put together one of these days.

I know that I would heavily criticized if I didn’t mention the relationship between Kaname and Sousuke. There really isn’t anything that I could say that hasn’t been said a million times before by bigger fans then myself. They are adorable together, Sousuke does her best to try to protect her, even though his best sometimes makes Kaname very annoyed at his actions. They are one of the most entertaining Anime couples out there. I like many would probably squeal with delight if they actually animated a scene of the two of them kissing. Someday maybe it will happen.

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Getting around to reviewing fumoffu (even without giant robots) and second raid. I’ll give it some time though and hopefully by the time I get done reviewing all three series they will finally get that newly announced Full Metal Panic: Another done. Come on people, don’t leave me hanging.

Rating: A

Dual! Parallel Trouble Adventure


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Mixing genres is not always a successful endeavor with anime. For every time they successfully mix action and comedy like with Slayers, we get show like a forgettable show like Pretty Sammy which tried to mix comedy with the Magical girl genre. So a mixture of genres like harem comedy and Giant Robots could go either way but thats the set up we are given in Dual!: Parallel Adventure. Whats the result of such a mixture?

Kazuki Yotsuga is a boy who keeps seeing visions of Giant Robots fighting intense battles that no one else can see. He is approached by his classmate, Mitsuki, the class princess who takes him to meet her father who finds Kazuki fascinating as he has been researching alternate universes. Subjecting him to an experiment Kazuki is transported to the other dimension and finds himself able to control the Giant Robots that he finds there. Now he fights to find a way home while becoming the most eligible bachelor in this new dimension.

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The characters respresent the standard troupes with harems from back then. Kazuki is the clueless guy who all the girls love, Mitsuki in the princess who denies she love him, D is the emotional awkward girl that tags around like a puppy, and Yayoi is the older woman who looks to him like the prince that saved her. Yes these characters are cliche now but back when I first watched it they were fun and made the series entertaining to watch. I also can’t help but enjoy the Moe, sweet girl that is Mitsuki Rara. She’s so adorable compared to the tsundare of the regular Mitsuki.

The giant robots to this series are the real weak point of their series. The main robots are mainly knock off s of the Evas from Neon Genesis Evangelion (complete with the type of weaponry they use) while the enemy machines look like your standard evil robots of death black, long armed, and hulking. The final robot that Kazuki pilots Zinv is impressive because of the fact is has laser blasts and has light hawk wings (making it have the connection tot he Tenchi Muyo universe that the director famously created). Still, I wouldn’t find myself created. I still wouldn’t find myself buying any of the model kits for this series anytime in the near figure.

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Dual succeeds in mixing his genre but sadly it just doesn’t have a huge fanbase. Sure it was run on Techtv/G4 TVs (whatever you want to call it) but fans didn’t add it to their essential anime list. Instead we watched i once and forgot about it. Don’t believe me? There hasn’t been another release of the series since its initial release by the now defunct Pioneer/Geneon company. So sad. Its not a bad show at all. Just forgotten thought the test of time, licensing, and sales. Maybe if we are lucky Funimation will pick it up and people can finally stream it when they get a chance.

Rating: B-

Captain Earth

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No it in no way is associated with Captain Planet. This is the latest series from studio bones who gave me two of my favorite mecha series, Rahxephon and Eureka Seven. Is this new title another must see new classic or does it fall plummeting through the atmosphere? Lets find out.

Daichi Manastu had weird memories of his childhood friend and a girl he met in a bubble. As a mysterious group of invaders known as he Kiltgang threaten to absorb all of earth, Daichi is given a strange gun known as a livilaster that allows him to channel immense power. Using this intense power he energizes the giant robot the Earth Engine to become Captain earth to save his childhood friend Teppei and the girl from the bubble known as Hana.

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The art and look to the show are Bones’ usual high quality. The mecha designs for the series are also very interesting but seem to lack a specific quality that makes them unforgettable. They don’t have the distinct look that say Gundam or Evangelion possesses. I also question why the Earth Engine robot has arm blades in the toy version but never seems to use them once in the show. Also, compared to later suits the Earth Engine falls short in terms weapons and over all performance.

The characters are interesting enough but are not exactly ground breaking. I mean the series is fun and has some pretty good character moments but it doesn’t take deep into your soul, make you rethink your philosophy on life, or make you want to idolize these characters. The relationship between Hana and Daichi is heartwarming and you are routing for them to make it as a couple but they only develop just enough to say that they had something of a character arc, not that they each had an overwhelming moment that touches you deep inside.  Basically a few good moments here and a few moments there with some repetitive robot combing scenes in between.
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The ending seemed a bit rushed once I reflected back on it. They took the time to gather all of the Kiltgang in an effort to take down the Earth (an objective that could have been accomplished by only one of their Mecha reaching the planet by the way) and when they finally are all together in a group, a new enemy appears so the gang doesn’t have the opportunity to overwhelm the heroes and finally absorb all of earth. I mean the enemy was there the entire time but the actual power he seemed to control rose greatly so the Kiltgang had not choice but to stop the larger opponent instead of focusing on absorbing all life on Earth. After all the episodes that were spend individually gathering the Kiltgang I really thought it would be a more intense battle between them and the Midsummers’ Knights in the end. Kind of a cop out but I won’t fault them too much for it.

In the end the series the only major crime against this show is that it is so forgettable. It is doomed to be another series pushed to the back of our queues because it doesn’t do anything as sadistic as kill a character every other episode or Master degree philosophy on what to has the characters talk about. To studio Bones I commend you on a good effort but sadly this one doesn’t make me wish I had a livlaster.

Rating: B-

Code Geass R2

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Man I remember when Code Geass ended. I almost threw my laptop out the window in frustration. Luckily I was able to occupy my time with other things (Cant remember what they were at the moment) until I finally got around to the sequel. Personally I have to say that it was worth the wait.

Code Geass left the the fans on a nail biting Mexican stand off. Its sequel picks up Lelouch enjoying a semi normal day at school. It appears as if he has no idea of being Zero or leading the Black Knights. Its soon revealed that he has been brainwashed and placed back into his previous life in an attempt to flush out C.C. Now Lelouch has no choice but to rebuild his plans and forces from the ground up. This becomes difficult thanks to a young man named Rollo who possesses an interesting Geass and claims to be Lelouch’s brother.

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With the reset back to square one that Lelouch undergoes, he has no choice but to think outside the box or in this case another country. His plans take his tam outside of Area 11 (Japan) to China and back to build the forces his needs to take down Britannia. This exploration of the different areas of the world of Code Geass really helps to give a sense of the far reach that the power of Britannia holds.

The series also increases the development of characters we already know while at the same time introducing a lot of characters that add to the story. We are introduced to the Knights of Round, the elite warriors of the Britannia empire and their custom Mechas. Each of them has a unique look and feel to it. Personally though I am particular to Gino Weinberg’s Tristan. Maybe its just that I love a mecha that can also transform, still it was a good robot overall.

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The series builds to on intensely to a conclusion that I insist everyone needs to see. It wraps up so nicely that I wonder I have revisit the new OVA series, Code Geass: Akito the Exiled. I haven’t heard anyone talking about it but it does look very entertaining. Maybe Ill get around to it eventually but after the intense and memorable ending that Code Geass R2 leave you with, there is very little reason to check out any other series. The creative team behind it really did stick the landing. Iv you liked the first series, then you need to see the sequel. Its that simple.

Rating: A-

Vision of Escaflowne

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Today’s series had an interesting premiere when it was shown on American television. In order to be eligible for broadcast enough content needed to be cut that several episodes were able to be merged into one, including the very first episode. If you can`t tell today’s series is the Vision of Escaflowne. I promise not to make any comments about the pointy noses.

High School girl Hitomi wants nothing more than to confess her love to her first crush and be the best track runner she can. Unfortunately for her this life is shattered when a young prince named Van appears before her. Soon she is whisked away to Gaia a fantasy world where people fight in giant robots called Guymelefs. As trouble grows, Van awakens the legendary Guymelef Escaflowne to help him as he works to fight against the evil empire of Zaibach.

Escaflowne was a series designed to appeal to both males and females. For the guys we have intense action and giant robots and for the gals we have romance and good looking men with long flowing hair. Other series try to incorporate this elements but some how forget to get the balance right usually forgetting that on top of just good action and intense romance their also needs to be some type of story to top it all off with. The story of Escaflowne though is deep, mystical, and has fans insisting even today that a sequel to the series should be made.escaflowne_versus

Id be in the wrong if I didn’t address Hitomi as a character. Yes she is a bit annoying and way too focused on the wrong guy in the series, focusing too much on Alan despite the fact that Van is the man she is obviously meant to be with. That and the fact that she actually bends fate to her will but for the totally wrong reasons result in large amounts of chaos to unfold. Other than that shes a perfectly lovely character.Vision-of-Escaflowne-Escaflowne

Basically Escaflowne is a classic that everyone needs to see. Sadly most people cant get over the crap job done with the American broadcast and others who insist the English dub is horrendous (personally I liked it. I don’t really see what all the complaining is about). Still, I highly recommend that everyone tracks this series down and watch it. Use the original Japanese if your not a fan of the dub

Rating: B+

Rahxephon

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In the wake of the genre changing anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, there were a lot of series that tried to copy the formula. Basically, the mecha series that tried copy Evangelion had a similar story where the giant robot of the series having aspirations to change the world. One of these series which I personally feel surpassed Evangelion itself is Rahxephon.

The young artist Kamina Ayato lives in Tokyo the last remaining city in the world. Soon his world is turned upside down when he is shown the truth that there is more to than just Tokyo in the world and Ayato`s connection to the mysterious giant robot Rahxephon. Does this powerful creation have the power to tune the world?

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One of the aspects that separates Rahxephon from Evangelion is the love story at the center between Ayato and Haruka. The attraction between the two of them is evident from the moment the two of them are on screen together. You really feel yourself wanting these two to get together and over come the odds that are thrown against them. Make no mistake these two have a lot to get through including she’s at least 12 years older then him, he’s a member of a mystical race, and Ayato catches Haruka kissing her ex-boyfriend. Still, even through the hardships you find yourself wanting them to hook up.

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A problem that the series seemed to suffer from is that it seems to lack staying power. I mean I love this anime and count it among one of my favorites but unfortunately not a lot of others feel the same way. If I can find a big fault in it the series’ characters other than Ayato and Haruka are a bit on the forgetful side. I mean they don’t have the recognition factor that say Rei or Asuka from Evangelion have. Of course maybe if there were hundreds of figures of Haruka then the series might have the popularity that Evangelion has. Still, its true that the supporting cast is more generic than that of Evangelion but at least Rahxephon works hard to answer all the plot points that it sets up and doesn’t try to twists its fan’s minds just to tell a story.

I really do recommend this series though profusely. If the series finds its way onto Netflix or Hulu (scratch that I looked it up while I was typing up this post. It is on Hulu. The entire series), I highloy recommend that you take some time and rewatch this series. The mecha battles are entertaining in a way that’s just as inventive as Evangelion and the tug on your heart strings love story will keep you going throughout the series. And if you find yourself enjoying it, recommend it to someone else so this series can stay a classic for all to enjoy. Fly me to the music…

Rating: A-