Tag Archives: mecha

Fall 2014: Sci-Fi & Mecha


Next up we have the Sci-Fi & Mecha genre. Surprisingly, this is a very small list for this season. Granted, there are two new Gundam shows [Gundam Build Fighters Try and Gundam: G no Reconguista] but these are continuations or variations of the original Gundam franchise and as such are ineligible for coverage here. Only one new mech series this season! True there are shows that I’ve listed in different categories, like World Trigger, that COULD be considered sci-fi but their premise, I find, is geared more to that other category than it is to sci-fi; your definition may differ from mine. In any case, let’s take a look at the two candidates.

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Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryu no Rinbu

(Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons)

Animation Studio: Sunrise
Origin:  Original Sunrise [Director – Yoshiharu Ashino]
Date of Premiere: October 4th

Summary
Sunrise returns to produce YET ANOTHER giant robot franchise. Enter Cross Ange, a world where magic exists (albeit in a pseudo-technological kind of way). Everyone is able to use this new “Mana” technology; except our main character – Angelize! She’s the heir to the Misurugi Empire but upon the discovery she is “out of mana” she is outcast from the kingdom. She then teams up with a gang of similarly discarded misfits who pilot giant robots fighting against inter-dimensional dragons – woo!

Initial Thoughts
Hmm, the premise is a little harsh, don’t you think? Mind you, why would you want a leader who is ‘inferior’ to the major population? Bold but harsh. What taints my expectations for this show is that the main cast of characters are all exploited in terms of fanservice. I’m all for an all-female team of mech pilots, but I don’t like the fact that their uniforms are pretty revealing; it cheapens their strength and the integrity of the story. I pray that the fanservice is otherwise kept to a minimum, I really do.

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: Medium (Medium Low if the fanservice gets out of hand)

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TERRAFORMARS

Animation Studio: Linden Films
Origin:  Manga [Sasuga/Tachibana]
Date of Premiere: September 26th

Summary
This one is quite straightforward. Mankind is ready to conquer Mars; but Mars isn’t ready for mankind. As such, humanity launches a five-hundred year mission using cockroaches and mould to terraform the Red Planet and make it less red. In 2577, a mission to Mars receives a grim reminder; the cockroaches they sent have evolved into super-roaches! After wiping that initial squad, another mission is sent to fight the roaches now armed with genetically enhanced soldiers. It’s time to take Mars!

Initial Thoughts
Oh man, this premise is pretty bonkers. It’s pure science fiction and something I really respect. The whole idea of science fiction is to excite and go insane; you have no tethers holding you back and do whatever you want and this is what is going on here! It looks like a real thriller with tons of action and violence; just be sure that you don’t mind seven foot tall bugs walking around!

Review Priority Rating [RPR]: Medium-High

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The sci-fi & mecha genre may be small this season but the titles are pretty ambitious in their approach! Tune in next time for comedy!

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Silver Will Argevollen REVIEW


War. Huh. What is it good for? Giant robot anime! Yes we’re back here again with two warring factions fighting over the land in their respective quests for total dominance. Each has their own feeling of entitlement and they both want it bad. The war itself is looking pretty conventional until you throw in a brand new and untested giant robot into the mix…right? No it’s still pretty conventional. Argevollen’s debut into the anime scene feels like a journey that we’ve made before. *coughgundamcough*

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The story focuses around an unnamed continent and two superpowers named Arandas and Ingelmia. The two nations have been sparring with each other for many years in the fight to conquer the land; at the time we join the fray, Ingelmia has begun its push into Arandas home territory and it looks like they have the upper hand. As the Arandas forces begin their retreat from their impenetrable Great Wall[!], one plucky rookie pilot named Tokimune is frustrated with his side’s desire to flee and instead chooses to fight. This all comes to a head when a civilian transport is trapped by Ingelmia forces and the young hothead goes in on his own to help. Jamie, the civilian in the transport, begins to open her cargo and within it is the test mech – Argevollen! It looks nothing like the stock mechs we’ve seen up to now [apart from the jumper mechs that Ingelmia used to breach the Great Wall]. Tokimune, being the only pilot nearby, gets in and manages to hold the enemy off. The rest of the story chronicles how Tokimune gets to grips with his mech, the Arandas army defending itself from the Ingelmia onslaught and the burgeoning relationship between Jamie and Tokimune. Hmm, have we been here before?

argevollen_6I feel like we’ve been here before. Argevollen doesn’t excite me for some reason and I think I know what it is. The show looks alright for the most part in terms of animation and there are some moments in the narrative where the unexpected does occur; but these moments are few, far between and fleeting. The whole notion of two large nations fighting using giant robots felt to me like it took some snippets from shows like Code Geass and a whole heap from the Gundam universe; Gundam 0080 in particular. It’s almost that the writers of this show sat down in a room for a few days and wrote down all the best stuff from more military-based giant robot series and carved out their iteration of the concept. There’s no problem with taking inspiration for an idea from past shows, but if you’re going to do that come up with something different to throw into the mix like a rarely seen plot twist or a critical flaw. That being said, I will say that Tokimune isn’t a natural at piloting; he acts like a normal rookie instead of being an unexplained prodigy. He gets sick, acts petulantly and doesn’t take orders well at the beginning. Adding that humanity to the main character is enough to keep me from switching off entirely but I was struggling to stay focused whilst watching this series. It’s not that I have a problem with repetition in anime; it’s just that there are so many familiar tropes in this show and they are played out in a very apathetic manner. The audience has to figure out who the characters are based on past archetypes instead of from the characters in the here and now and that’s lazy!

argevollen_4

The show looks OK though. There are some awkward compositions with the CGI robots and the cel-drawn backdrops and people, especially with frame rate [the robots glide too smoothly to mesh well with the rest of the scene]. The designs are derived from old Gundam shows plus Xebec’s back catalogue of mecha productions but they are pieced together decently with the exception of Arandas’ general robots which look boxes on legs; not exactly inspiring or battle-worthy. Xebec doesn’t push the boat out when it comes to general animation and character design, it usually does the bare minimum to get by but even here it feels cheap. Xebec had three productions this year [Maken-ki Tsu, Tokyo ESP and this] and it’s sort of obvious which show came off worst in terms of budget allocation. There are far too many scenes where characters are standing around and talking to each other for my liking. I understand that there’s a lot of back-room dealing and underhandedness being whispered by characters, but it doesn’t hide the fact that money was tight and it’s cheaper to have motionless conversation most of the time especially when you’re using CGI robots too! Still though, it’s not offensively bad but it is, again, lazy! This level of apathy is concerning. True, there are times when some characters get to shine and do something different for once, but it’s far too rare to be OK with. The only thing I feel they weren’t slacking over was the design of Argevollen. It’s a very cool looking mech and feels like it shouldn’t be in this universe; it’s far too sleek for this time period. It’s also a little too perfect; it seems to be a prototype but there are no instant flaws or abrupt slowdowns in performance, it works right out of the box. Hmmmm. At least the show got its pin-up right mostly.

argevollen_3

To me, Argevollen feels like it could’ve been a good show if it were given more attention by the production team. It doesn’t feel complete or unique; it’s like Xebec and Tatsuo Sato [the show’s director] were going by the numbers and pitching the notion – “What would 1970s robot shows look like today?” and made an effective carbon copy. It’s a remake essentially of the tried and tested model of more realistic mecha series. I’m disappointed in Sato, especially since he directed my favourite anime! This is the guy who headed Bodacious Space Pirates and Nadesico! I don’t feel much for this series, I’m pretty bored just by looking at it really. Let’s move along, shall we?

Silver WIll Argevollen is available to stream on Crunchyroll.

RATING: CANCEL [A derivative show which fails to engage save for a few glimmers of design.]

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Is This The Worst Anime Ever Made?


I was surfing the internet today looking for inspiration for an article and I came across a list of the worst anime ever made. In this list was an anime I had never heard of before, Tenkuu Danzato Skelter Heaven or just Skelter+Heaven. From the stills I could tell this was going to be a bad one. Then I looked at the credits and saw it was from the studio Idea Factory – remember my review of Mars of Destruction [Anime News Network’s worst rated anime]? Yep! Same studio. Oh boy, we’re going to have a stinker here!

skelterheaven_8

So what qualifies this show to be considered “the worst anime”? Is it offensive? Not really. Is it shocking? Not at all. Is it degrading or debauched? Nope. I propose this to be the “worst anime” ever simply because it’s a shoddy, sloppy and pointless mess. Unlike Mars of Destruction, Skelter+Heaven is a lot more ambitious in its execution. Sadly though that ambitious streak on the latter’s part leaves itself did not work at all and leaves the entire package open to criticism whereas the former was just simply bland.

skelterheaven_4

*SPOILER ALERT*

Skelter+Heaven is set on Earth where giant alien squid thingies are attacking…well not really. All they do is just float perfectly still until they’re attacked themselves. Hardly menacing tyrants from another world now are they? This is explained after a whole minute of nothing but annoying whoo-ing and heartbeats coupled with a slow camera pan over Earth. That’s it. A single shot. Our lead character, Otsuya, is the chief pilot and blank canvas in which we pin our hopes for humanity on as well as five other girls [who are naturally the main focus because they are girls and they are pretty…or at least they might be if the animation quality wasn’t so cheap and tacky.]. These girls are…umm…I forgot. Wait, wait! I think they are called Rin, Konomo, Ayaka, Misaki and Midori. Thank you, Google! Otsuya picks Rin to lead the assault against the stoic squid ahead of Misaki [the blond one] because he is so totally not into her!

skelterheaven_5

As the team start the assault, Otsuya watches on from his jetplane without moving once [Seriously, he doesn’t move in any cut to him during the battle]. As for Misaki? Don’t worry about her, she doesn’t figure in the actual battle; neither does Midori who dies with little fanfare despite the fact the quintet were close friends. Otsuya doesn’t seem to care, so we shouldn’t! Then when he gets hurled out of sight by the squid, Rin comes to save him and it’s then we are suddenly taken out of the battle and told that Rin is actually an android who doesn’t know how long she’ll live. It’s alluded that there’s a love between her and Otsuya but it’s so forced and so pathetic that it provokes this heart-warming reaction from the guy…

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The only shot used of Otsuya throughout his time in the cockpit.

Yeah. He does nothing, says nothing and his face does not move an inch. At this point I burst out laughing at the sheer absurdity of it all. It gets even more insane when Rin somehow gets inside the squid and kindly tells it to blow itself up and not harm anyone…even though it hadn’t really destroyed anything bar some infantry planes in self defense…so it just slowly moves off camera and becomes a blob of blood [see below]. As a result, Rin and Ayaka [why did SHE have to die?] are killed [I think?], Misaki is injured and Konomo…I don’t know what happened! It’s like the writers forgot about her! How do you even do that?! So only one person makes it out and Otsuya’s records are destroyed for his affections towards Rin, a classified android. Smart move, guys. Especially when the same squid returns to float another day a year later with some of his friends.

SquidDrop

End of story.

There’s no resolved conclusion. No means of defense, the world is left without anybody to defend it. Fantastic job, writers!

 

What makes Skelter+Heaven so terrible is that the voice acting is lacklustre [especially Otsuya], the animation is cheap and forgettable, the plot is incredibly derivative, the villain is stupid and totally not a threat, the commanding officers are jerks, Konomo [a MAIN character] is completely forgotten, incredibly sexist ‘training’ and APPALLING CGI. I can’t emphasise that last point enough. The mech and the pilot are drawn in two different styles. The textures for the robot are so muddy and unrefined and the characters look they’ve been photoshopped in instead of actually piloting the bloody thing! It’s the crowning turd in the waterpipe, so to speak. It’s the visual device which takes the show from being a lazy knockoff to ‘legendary’ status.

PS2_cover_Skelter

The only good thing about this show is that it’s only nineteen minutes long and a one-time affair. No series here. Just one coffee break’s worth. You won’t be wasting your time here and you’ll be giggling at how poor this show is. Is it the worst anime out there? According to MyAnimeList, it is! Do I think it is? In terms of an overall package, it’s certainly a strong candidate. It is a poor product which only exists because it came free with a game made for the Playstation 2 based on the franchise, just like Mars of Destruction. The game is like a normal dating sim wihere Otsuya acts as ‘the player’ and the girls are eligible to be selected by you for some extra training. Seriously, that gif was the ‘training’ portion of the OVA. Poor Misaki. Do I hate this show more than Baby Princess 3D Paradise or School Days? No. I found Skelter+Heaven hilariously bad which gives it character and didn’t make me feel horrible on the inside.

If you want to see for yourself the sheer hilarity of Tenkuu Danzatou Skelter Heaven, then here is the full OVA uploaded by AnimeNoodle. Enjoy!

What did you think of it? Leave a comment or cast your vote!

Gun X Sword


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What happens when you mix westerns with robots? You get GunXSword that’s what! A fun ride filled with gun-toting action on the back of giant mechs!

ADDITIONAL INFO:

Name
GunXSword

Created by
Goro Taniguchi

Animated by
AIC, ASTA

Published
2005

SPECIAL THANKS TO MY PATREON BACKERS!
Phyllida, David D, Darren180233, Luis V, James H, Dawn S, Alex W, Eric G, Vaati, Jack, Mahan, Brandon B, Griffin, Teitur, Eric W, Matthew D, Aeon, Charles G, Jayro Z, Tim M, Joshua R, Brandon W, Carson C, Benjamin M-D, Lightuke, Alesha F, Alex S, Jack D, D’Metrius S, Henry H, Anthony C Poe, Veronica B, Malcolm T, Furst, Alexander and Sean!

Dai-Guard REVIEW


[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/g9Jmg6vzUgA.x?p=1 width=”640″ height=”388″]

Support Anifile’s Patreon campaign to increase its reach and content: http://www.patreon.com/MasakoX

Masako prepares his giant robot for launch as he reviews the series Dai-Guard! A story about three average employees kicking giant monster ass in a cool looking mech! What’s not to like?!

ADDITIONAL INFO:

Name
Dai-Guard: Terrestrial Defence Corps.

Created by
Xebec/Seiji Mizushima

Animated by
Xebec

Published
1999

SPECIAL THANKS TO MY PATREON BACKERS!
Phyllida, David D, Darren180233, Luis V, James H, Dawn S, Alex W, Eric G, Vaati, Jack, Mahan, Brandon B, Griffin, Teitur, Eric W, Matthew D, Aeon, Charles G, Jayro Z, Tim M, Joshua R, Benjamin M-D, Lightuke, Alesha F, Alex S, Jack D, D’Metrius S, Henry H, Anthony C Poe, Veronica B, Malcolm T, Furst, Alexander and Sean!