There are a few robot (space robot) shows this season, and … well I’m not much of a mecha-person. To be quite honest, I find all the mechanical parts a bit too much. Anyway, I thought I would give them a watch to see what they were all about, and to see which – if any – would be a good series to follow through for the season.
A quick brief of the three mecha animes I’ve identified this season follows:
Suisei no Gargantia (aka Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet)
Summary: While fighting an intense inter-galactic war, a mecha pilot is accidentally warped into a space-time neither he nor the computer of his mecha can recognize. After waking up from a long hibernation, he finds himself trapped on a planet with human residents speaking an unknown language and using inferior technologies, and – most shocking to him – naturally breathable air.
Kakumeiki Valvrave (aka Valvrave the Liberator)
Summary: Thanks to the development of the Dyson Sphere, the majority of the human populace has moved to live in space. The Dorssia Military Federation and the Atlantic Rim United States exist as major military countries, while JOIR is a neutral principality; the story follows Haruto Tokishima as a normal boy going through high school in True Calendar (T.C.) Year 71. This all changes when Haruto encounters the humanoid weapon Valvrave.
Majestic Prince (aka Ginga Kikōtai Majestic Prince)
Summary: In the latter half of 21st century, humans leave the Earth and begin to live in space. In order to adapt to the environment in space, and deal with the hostile aliens in Jupiter, genetically engineered children called “Princes” are artificially raised and trained to be pilots of the armed robots “AHSMB” (Advanced High Standard Multipurpose Battle Device). This is a story about one of the teenage “Princes”, Hitachi Izuru, who studies in an academic city Grandzehle.
I’ve watched the first two episodes of both Suisei no Gargantia and Valvrave the Liberator; it took two attempts for me to get through the first episode of Majestic Prince, and I don’t think I’ll be continuing with this series. It’s not uninteresting, but it’s not interesting enough that I want to watch another episode. Plus the characters kind of bother me. But it was interesting that Team Rabbits – the lowest-ranking team of students – was sent into the heat of battle, and to me, it seemed like it might have been a battle they were not expected to come out of alive. I think it would be more interesting if they were chosen for that mission with a high possibility (if not expectation) that they would be killed in action. However, I think it’s more likely that the school and training they hail from is just that much better than the regular armed forces employed in the daily protection of its people and bases.
Valvrave the Liberator is only slightly better; at least none of the characters really bother me. (Actually, the protagonist irritates me. And that kid with the headband.) I find, when I’m watching this show, that I say to myself, ‘That doesn’t make sense.’ And they’re not necessarily big things either: one example is in the first episode, when the fake transfer students arrive, and the welcome team notes that there were only supposed to be two… well the only two who did anything to get them to their goal was L-Elf and the guy who hacked the system, so really, they could have showed up with just those two. Within that same scene, was it really necessary to kill the welcome team? Wouldn’t that have set off some sort of alarm? Wouldn’t the loading dock be an area that’s well surveyed? The whole Valvrave system doesn’t make any sense to me either, and that’s probably the hook to encourage people to continue watching; I’m sure it’ll get explained sooner or later: why Haruto is “no longer human”; what effects of becoming the pilot has on his physiology; why a neutral country has a weapon like the Valvrave but insufficient protection of it… If I can get over the Haruto x Shoko “romance”, I might keep watching this show, but it seems unlikely. Apparently the loss of a love is of greater power than the love itself. And more apparent is that Haruto’s emotional instability (which has gone from timid and non-confrontational to raging blindly in a mechanic weapon he’s never even seen, to weeping in an alley because he can’t confess his feelings) makes him an idiot of a protagonist.
Especially compared to Ledo of Suisei no Gargantia. Sure they were bred in different worlds for different purposes, but that’s no reason not to think a little before you act, and make decisions with your head screwed on a little tighter. But Ledo is not the most interesting factor to Suisei no Gargantia; for me, it’s the potential story of how the Earth came to be the way it did, when the population separated and how each group survived either on a frozen planet or in space. I want to know what happens to Ledo and Chamber; I want to know how they acclimate to life on the Gargantia, how they propose to get back into space to find their allies (although I’m not sure why it hasn’t occurred to Ledo to just fly up – even if only to get a more accurate reading on his current location), and what will happen if Ledo’s people do make their way back to an Earth entirely covered with water. (I have suspicions that “Land” exists, and with the help of advanced technologies that aren’t required to follow “galaxy currents”, they will be discovered.) Chamber is also my favourite of all the robots; he’s pretty fantastic.
I don’t think any of these three shows are outright bad, but they’re very different. Majestic Prince is more… laid back in a sense: more gimmicks, more jokes, less serious. There might be a good story behind it, and maybe one day I’ll find that out for myself, but right now, I don’t have time I want to spend on it. Valvrave the Liberator on the other hand, has its seriousness amped up. Not in a good way though – at least not for me. Valvrave is big and flashy, but it’s a bit too much and for no functional reason. There’s a rashness to Valvrave that irks me: recklessness in moments in need of some contemplation – which I’m sure is supposed to incite excitement. Plus there’s that romantic angst fueling Haruto’s emotional roller coaster.
Out of the three, Suisei no Gargantia is my personal pick to watch. The animation is beautiful and clean, there’s potential for a solid back story that will lead into a strong plot moving forward, and its main robot is awesome. In only a couple of episodes, a number of possibilities for story development have surfaced, and it’s not so predictable that watching any one of these possibilities come to fruition would be dull. I have my fingers crossed we won’t be disappointed!