Solty Rei is an easy to watch anime that combines some very typical Japanese gender roles and relationships and transports them to a futuristic world which is struggling to rebuild itself after a phenomenon called the “Blast Fall” leaves the society in ruins. Scores of people are missing, maimed, or killed and the city which served as the epicenter of the phenomenon is leveled. From these ashes emerges a human society full of haves and have-nots. With many of the have-nots being unregistered citizens who are not entitled to any governmental benefits or protection. Into this slowly healing society a nameless female character is introduced. Then through a seemingly chance encounter she latches onto a still mourning bounty hunter named Roy Revant who through a series of events haphazardly gives her the name Solty. From this point the series primarily revolves around the development of Solty’s character and her learning what it means to be human. With the secondary plot points being the revelation of Roy’s back-story, Roy’s missing daughter, and the events that lead to the “Blast Fall” phenomenon. All of this comes with the prerequisite twists, turns, and foreshadow and makes for a pretty solid story. That said, all of these great story elements really didn’t make the story standout as being original and as a result I merely gave the story a better than average mark as it was still well done.
Like most Gonzo productions Solty Rei illustrated an extremely high production value and at times gorgeous animation that artfully blends CGI within the work. In addition, there are quite a number of backgrounds that are visually stunning and in all cases backgrounds are done at a very high level of detail making them very realistic. On a whole, not a lot to complain about here as Solty Rei is another very skillfully animated work by Gonzo.
The technical production of the sound was artifact free and done very well. However, what earns Solty Rei high marks here is the way music and melodies are artfully woven into the plot. This is something that one rarely sees and to be honest something I totally ignored until it became totally obvious why they did things the way they did. Beyond that I found both the opening and closing themes to be very optimistic, upbeat, and hopeful all of which are common themes of the story. As a result, I gave the sound aspect of Solty Rei a very high grade as well.
Generally, I felt the characters were very well developed with ample time given to explain their back story and inherent motivations. However, I did have one major complaint which I did ding Solty Rei for which relates to how Gonzo went about explaining who Solty was. As I felt there wasn’t nearly enough foreshadow to at least hint at some of the dramatic elements that were revealed in the last few episodes. That said, beyond this possibly nit-picked (note it is entirely possible that I’m extremely obtuse and totally missed some things) remark I felt that Solty’s character evolution was done well and that the back story and premise around all the supporting characters was revealed in both an artful and appropriate manner. One other thing that should be mentioned is that the key to the character development in Solty Rei is that Solty is the primary motivator behind the development. While this is hardly unique in anime, what I found was done very well was the fact that all of the character development is done without becoming annoying or too heavy handed which is quite difficult when one considers that this has to be done using a child, Solty, as the key motivator. As a result, I definitely have to give a bit of extra credit for the deftness that was shown in this regard.
Solty Rei is an interesting anime that does a good job telling its story. The series is, for the most part, well written and well laid out and the characters are very easy to like and identify with. Moreover, the judge of any series is really did you enjoy watching it and I have to say that I definitely enjoyed this series and while I may have been overly critical on certain elements none of this meant to imply that I think it’s not worth watching. Instead it is probably more a comment on me watching a ton of anime recently and as a result, being much pickier about giving out 8’s and 9’s. Regardless though I would totally recommend Solty Rei to any casual anime fan as it is a solid work.
The series take place in a futuristic city that is recovering from a explosion that occured less than a decade ago. The story begins with a Bruce Willis lookalike named Roy Revant who works as a Bounty Hunter for a living. During the 1st episode, he comes across with an mysterious amnesiac green haired girl who ends up following him like a stalker only to end up living with the guy not long after it is revealed that she is an android. The 1st half is pretty much slice of lifeish where random stuff happens (coughSwimmingPoolEpisodecough), but it isn't until the halfway mark when things start to get actually interesting and more dark in tone.
Characters: Neutral to Positive
While the 1st half of the show dosen't really have much going for it storywise, the character cast do hold up for the most part, even if they aren't that deep of characters, but do make up in charm. There are three leads: Roy, Solty, and Rose:
Roy Revant is a gruff middle aged man (Yes an anime male lead that's not a bloody bland-looking highschooler) who initially comes off as an grumpy @$$hole who dosen't want anything to do with his newfound friend, but when your acquaintances guiltrips him to take the android in after authorites tried to take her away, can we really blame him XD. We would also over the course of the 1st half learn that he is a widower who lost his daughter Rita to the blast fall incident years ago, and is deep down still haven't gotten over Rita and believes that she is still out there.
Next Lead of Importance is the mysterious android, who early on is named Solty who Roy reluctantly adopts. Sadly we don't learn who she really is until towards the end of the show, which really bites and hurts the story quite a bit. But I will say that her relationship with Roy is pretty interesting to watch as they slowly becoming more close to each other in a father-daughter way which ends up being the biggest highlight of the show. Given her amnesia, she is also naive to her surrounding and we watch her experience and learn new things. She's also manages to be quite endearing without coming off as a vapid tard.
Then finally there's Rose Anderson who's introduced a few episodes in. She's a spoiled primadonna thief accompanied by her brothers, who initally comes off as an major annoyance but over the course is revealed that there's alot more to her than meets the eye, and ends up serving an important role as well.
Other characters include Roy's mission handler and sister in law Miranda, her bossy daughter Kasha (who ends up being the main focus of the OVAs set between episodes 9 & 10), Rose's protective brothers Larry and Andy. Yuuto, who is a nerd with a creepy unrequited crush on Solty, The professional yet sisterly RUC girls, the totally "not a villain" Ashley Lynx, and introduced halfway through the show is an elderly man named Joseph who also ties to past events.
For a GONZO production made in late 2005, it holds ups really well. In fact Solty Rei is probably one of GONZO's better looking shows they have made along with Gankutsuou and Last Exile from what I have seen. The designs of the background and characters are stylish and fitting for it's sci-fi setting without looking like a generic school comedy. And while it does have CGI that does stick out, there really isn't that much of it and dosen't look nowhere as ugly and stiff like say in Gantz for example. Actual animation itself is fine for what it is for your usual TV anime. There is also a bit of fanservice, but it is surprisingly rather tame and subtle despite a pool episode and some heart to heart chats in the bathtub. And the best part is that things are consistantly on-model, which really says something considering GONZO's notorious habit of off-modeling.
Music: Neutral to Good
Opening Theme "Clover" is upbeat and catchy, the ending theme is calm but kinda forgettable, background music, while nothing to write home about, serves it job well to set the mood. Probably the most outstanding track is "Return to Love", a rather lovely melancholic Jazz piece.
Voice: Positive For FUNImation English Dub, ? for Japanese
Licensed by the distributor company Funimation and Directed by voice actor Christopher R. Sabat (Half of DBZ's cast LOL) in his own recording studio Okratron 5000. Features a well named cast full of Funimation veterans such as Carrie Savage (Paranoia Agent's Maromi, Texhnolyze's Ran) as Solty, Colleen Clickenbeard (Fairy Tail's Erza Scarlet, FMA's Hawkeye) as Rose Anderson, and Sabat himself as Roy Revant as our leads. Noteworthy supporting castmembers also includes the likes of Eric Vale (Hetalia's America, DBZ's Trunks), Jason Liebrecht (DTB's Hei, Black Butler's Finnian), Stephanie Young (Claymore's Claire, One Piece's Nico Robin), Luci Christian (FMP's Kaname, Princess Tutu's Duck), Chris Patton (RahXephon's Ayato, FMP's Sosuke), Laura Bailey (Furuba's Tohru Honda, Soul Eater's Maka), Jamie Marchi (PASWG's Panty, Witchblade's Masane), Kara Edwards (DBZ's Goten and Videl), and Caitlin Glass (Xenoblade X's Elma, Ouran's Haruhi). Sabat not only proves he can carry a more well grounded performance that is a farcry from his Dragonball roles, but also proves himself capable of guiding a veteran cast with the direction they need for this rather oddly charming ensemble of characters. It also dosen't hurt that this show is set in a more westernish setting, meaning there's barely any corny japanese puns to awkwardly translate.
I haven't seen the japanese version tbh, though I do know for a fact that Roy in this version is portrayed by Jouji Nakata, best known for villains such as F/SN's Kirei Kotomine and Gankutsuou's Edmond Dantes. Which itself is a major case of breaking against type for Nakata since he is always casted as the villain, rarely does this man ever gets to play a good guy, let alone the main hero in this case. XD
Overall, while the story does fall flat in certain areas, it does make up with nice aesthetics, solid character chemistry, and a great english dub cast. It isn't groundbreaking, but if your looking for something that isn't your run of a mill high school softcore p**n, then this a series to check out.
It's another bounty hunter show, but this time with a softer more huggable side.
Story - 8/10
I was pleasantly surprised by the way Solty Rei turned out. At first it seemed like it was going to be a typical android/bounty hunter procedural, every episode just a stupid little task where Roy and Solty go out and catch a bad guy, maybe a weak plot strings everything together, but boy was I off.
They managed to create a very compelling story with great twist and turns that will keep you watching till the end. They also kept pretty true to the story and only had two episodes I can really think of that strayed off topic, which is sometimes nice to have as a way to break up the story and find interesting ways to shoehorn in information.
There were some plot holes and things mentioned that I would have liked them to fill in, and that would have raised their score a bit, but still the series proved to be a top notch show that found a way to continue to rise till the very end and not peak somewhere in the middle.
Animation - 9/10
I'm surprised more isn't said about the animation of this series. The art direction is amazing, creating a world that looks like a futuristic 1940's New York City, but still making it look fresh and original. Everywhere you look the colors pop while still blending in with the scene.
The characters are pretty standard, but still manage to be amazing, as again the colors used and the depth of that color are done to perfection.
The only downside, as with many anime products, was the use of CGI. It never looks good, and while it looked better than most here, it still stunk.
What makes the animation stand out the most is the fact any of it was done at all. Watching the show you'd think the animators spent all their time just trying to draw the female form, to the point they would just throw in useless shower scenes or bent over shots, and while I know they try to sell everything to the 13 year old boy in most of us, this series didn't really need it.
Sound - 7/10
From the look of the show you'd expect the music to be similar to some of our other great bounty hunter animus. But despite that classic pre-war look, all the jazzy music comes in short spurts here and there. For the most part the music is much more like that of a video game. To be specific it comes very close to matching a few tunes from Final Fantasy VII, such as the Costa Del Sol Song, Cait Sith's Theme and other upbeat circusy type songs, there's also a smidgen of Mario Bros' music tossed in here and there.
The opening a closing tunes are nothing special. The first being a somewhat catchy little pop number and the ending being your typical Anime piano ballad.
The voices and sound effects aren't going to jump out as groundbreaking, but for the most part they fit the show very well, never really hitting that sour note when you get an anime filled with younger characters with screechy voices.
Characters - 6/10
The writers seemed to focus on putting together a very good story, yet somehow keeping the characters pretty weak when it comes to development. Not to say they are bad characters, but what you find out about them tends to not fill many of the gaps created throughout the series.
Overall there aren't many characters for a series that lasted this long, Roy's family and friends, the undocumented criminal trio, five members of the government and one or two stray characters. When they did put work into building a character he was a one offer, in a time waster episode and never heard from again, though this experience does help Solty Grow.
The two episode companion OVA did more to help us learn about a few characters than the whole series did for the major ones.
As for originality with the characters, there really wasn't much. Tough guy loner, bratty girl, android who learns to be a human, heck there's a character that seems as if she's a complete copy of FLCL's Ninamori, hair color and all. The only little thing that really stuck out to me with characters were the bit of work they put into naming the four members of R.U.C., with each girl being named after a Japanese car.
Also out of all the characters I felt most interested in two of the R.U.C. girls, Celica and Accela, they were written as pretty normal girls, where as everyone else in the entire Anime world are over the top super heroes. These girls had super powers, thats how they became members of R.U.C. but they were still just normal twenty something year olds with simple lives and desires.
The score could have been helped if they just filled some of the plot holes they opened up for little to no reason, but guess we can't expect everything in only 22 episodes.
Overall - 9/10
I'm glad I took the time to watch Solty Rei despite it being hidden in categories that are packed with much more successful and touted shows. It's appearance may seem a bit kiddy at first, but the story is really worth your time, as it's very well thought out and is filled with twist and turns. One of the best parts of the show is it doesn't treat it's viewers like idiots, it makes you think and is filled with moments of real gut wrenching plot. It has it's few flaws with forgotten plot points and incomplete characters, but it's easily overlooked as the story and writing are very well done.
So while it may start out a bit slow, keep watching, because by episode seven or so you'll be eager to keep watching as many as you can in a night to see what surprise happens next.
Story - The storyline for Solty Rei is hardly original. An android girl appears out of nowhere to a group of protagonists, in this case the members of the Maverick Bounty Hunter Agency, and integrates into the group. Her past is slowly uncovered, revealing a (literally) galactic significance to her existence, linked to a dark secret in a seemingly innocent backdrop. Similar themes appear in Trigun, Trinity Blood, and Chobits, for example. However, I can't help but feel that GONZO have translated this into a feeling of security for viewers, not boredom. Given familiarity with similar storylines, there is more time to enjoy the character development, comic elements, and eventual dramatic conclusion.
Animation - Another masterpice from Range Murata akin to Last Exile. The female charcters have a natural charm, though the imbalance in the dark hues used for Roy Revant compared to other male characters was a little distracting.
Sound - Great mixing, very effective. Loved the opening theme, though the majority of English subs for this are a little lacking. Japanese lyrics don't always translate well.
Characters - The development of Roy Revant was superbly executed, but changes in the character of Solty were a little confusing. She had no memory to begin with, yet within a few episodes she was already cooking and laughing along with the crew. There were none of the existential questions of identity that one saw in, say, Chobits. (Granted this wasn't a large part of the plot.)
Overall - A fairly standard story, but very well animated and executed, another great piece of work from GONZO. Very easy to watch, would recommend to anyone looking for a nice one to watch.
Solty Rei is basically GONZO trying to make some bucks out of those who like robot girls. And as expected they fail miserably because they are incompetent. This show came out in an era other anime like Ghost in the Shell or Chobits were already classics and instead of trying to play around with the formula, it basically did nothing with it.
So let me get things straight. The setting is a futuristic city where many people have cybernetic implants and the protagonist is a bounty hunter looking for his daughter. He is battling all sorts of robotic criminals while trying to reunite with his family, which is a noble cause and a nice premise. So in one of his missions he finds this unconscious trump girl and out of the goodness of his heart he takes her to his home instead to public service of something. It was already far fetched in Chobits or Elfen Lied but an adult cop doing the same is beyond all belief. So he finds out she’s a super powerful robot and soon makes her his cop aid instead of selling her to some laboratory for analyzing her.
As always, GONZO goes completely juvenile in the project and before you know it the whole series ends up being just short irrelevant missions full of pretty chicks, badly done CGI, convenient events, forgettable soundtrack, and lukewarm battles. The story becomes absent for most of the show before it goes for a last moment revelation and conclusion in the end, which by then has no interest because the whole show was retarded storytelling with no clear direction. For the same reason the characters never manage to become appealing to you, since the very story is not letting them being anything more than a tired archetype and any attempt to develop them feels totally stupid. Solty is nothing but a cliché robochick with a voice you just want to strangle her for, while Rose’s turnaround makes no sense at all.
There is nothing wrong with having guilty pleasure series where the story and the characters are unimportant, like in this case. In case they make one they need to be very extreme and fan servishy; a thing SR is not. It plays out as a poorly presented sci-fi anime on one hand and as a lukewarm fan service show on the other, so in effect it leaves you with no real fondness of it.
Since I was paying attention to the scores of such shows for many years, I clearly remember how it had an 8+ score the first 2 years after it aired. That had fooled a lot of newbs to consider it a good anime. In reality it was just stupid hype from Last Exile fans who were seeing GONZO and voting 10 without thinking further. Something similar to what happens with SHAFT today. In reality a simple breakdown of all it elements easily proves how weak it is compared to other anime that have a similar trope.
- Mahoromatic was a lot funnier and sexier for a robot chick (Solty’s moving hair reminded me of Mahoro)
- Cowboy Bebop had far more interesting bounty hunters
- Ghost in the Shell was far more mature when in came to human-machine fusion
- Queen’s Blade was a heavy fan service show
In effect you get nothing out of this show other than yet another reassurance of how incompetent GONZO was, is, and forever will be. Not recommended.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 0/2 (bad CGI)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (typical)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 4/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (loose)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch)
Memorability 2/4 (it has good ideas but barely does anything with them)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 0/1 (bad CGI)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (feels generic)
Characters 2/4 (they are ok but hardly get the attension the deserved)