Zone of the Enders: Dolores

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DistMan's avatar By DistMan on Aug 27, 2004

Story
I thought this was going to be an all out serious show with lots of action and blood, fighting scenes etc. In the first episode we meet James who is a drunkard that wants to reconcile with his family, even though he chases other women. Then later on he discovers Dolores, who is pink and behaves like a confused, love struck woman. Not much action there. This made me a bit confused. It doesn't take long, however, until the action starts to unfold and soon the first mecha battle commences.

This is a great show which took me by surprise. Sure, it's not what I initially expected but that doesn't really matter. We've got a show with very good character development, nice smooth animation, very nicely animated battles, a good story and plotline with some twists and turns every here and there.

This is an anime which builds loosely on the Zone of the Ender games. It takes place roughly 5 years after ZOE 2167 Idolo and a short while after the first ZOE game. While it isn't neccessary to have much knowledge about the games it helps to broaden the understanding. There are parts of the show where references are being made back to both 2167 Idolo and the first game. I highly recommend that a potential viewer watch 2167 Idolo before this one. When it comes to grabbing information about the game or not I leave that up to the viewer. Being the researcher I am I watched a couple of game trailers and bugged a friend during a whole evening about what happened in the first game, as well as the second. The second game "Z.O.E 2:nd runner" takes place 1½ - 2 years after Dolores.

Due to it connecting to the 2nd gunner game there are some elements in Dolores which are not explained, they are minor however and not something to stress oneself about.
Animation
Not top of the line, but certainly not bad. Nice character designs which I found very likeable. They follow a mature style with lots of details and the eyes are more of the "slit" version than the big balloon version. The body proportions are also done well most of the times.

The fighting scenes are beautifully animated as well, are fluid, and you do not see any re-used animation. It's action from the beginning of a fight scene till the end with some neat camera angles here and there. The backgrounds and sceneries are also done very well. I dont have anything to complain about, really. The CG is used here and there and it blends in just fine.
Sound
The music was quite nice and fit the scenes well. Once again, nothing extraordinary, although they did have a very funky track with a nice funky baseline. I give the Opening theme 9/10 though. Good 'ol crunchy catchy Rock is NEVER wrong in my book. A small minus for overuse of some tracks.

I watched the sub of the show and the voice actors did a nice job on their parts, don't have anything to complain about.
Characters
The show does very well in this department. Most characters grow in a good and believable way. The dramatic moments are well depicted and it did not take long before I had an increased heartbeat rate and adrenaline flow during the dramatic moments, be it during some of the action scenes or the more emotionally confronting ones. I'd like to set a nine, but there are a couple of moments which takes away that 0.5 point. Some of the characters change too fast, it's simply not possible to change ones own personality in the blink of an eye in my book. That is, if they don't happen to have dual-personalities or something similar.
Overall
I had a hard time deciding whether I should give this an 8.5 or a 9, but I settled onr a 9. It took me four or five episodes before I really got into the series, but after that, I really enjoyed this show and I ended up watching the latter half in one go. They did a good job on keeping the story going throughout all 26 episodes.

As far as rewatchability, since the show is as eventful as it is I don't see why not. The only thing which might be a bit troublesome would be to find the time.

This is a show that anyone who enjoys sci-fi with action, drama and a bunch of other things mixed in between should give a try.

8.5/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
8.5/10 characters
9/10 overall
roriconfan's avatar By roriconfan on Sep 13, 2012

The ZOE videogames are a good bunch of action/mecha and for some reason when they decided to make an anime out of them they chose to create this weird semi-serious adventure. I for once gladly accept for the formulas to be messed with and every time they try to create something different I am more than willing to give it a try. So here we are with a mecha title which deconstructs various elements of the genre.

1) The protagonist is not an edgy teenager with ego big enough to take on the world but balls small enough to be afraid of a girl. He is a working middle-aged man, working as a low-tier space carrier pilot. A truck driver in space to put it simply. He has no great plans in life and he has already married, already got grown up children, and already became a widower. He is a far more realistic and down to Earth character than your average mecha protagonist and his main problems is not how to train to get stronger but how to make sure his little job can support himself and his crumbling family bonds. That I must say was very interesting.

2) The lead mecha is not a monument of phallocratic empowerment. In general, huge robots are perceived as muscular extensions of their pilots and for some unconscious reasons they are perceived as male when in need to address them with a genre. Well imagine the lead robot in the series to be a pink slim robot named Dolores, with the personality of a naive teenage girl. That was definitely a first but then again… um… weird? The story excuses it as a machine programmed to learn along the way and making it act like a little girl who doesn’t know basic stuff was indeed a nice touch. But aesthetically it’s plain YUCK! I will explain that later.

3) The show is not heavy on action. It is mostly a family drama or a simple adventure with hints of mystery and sci-fi overtones. The setting of the series is mostly decoration.

So here we are with a lovely deconstruction of the formula. It sure made the series special but on the other hand it alienated most of the viewers. Seriously, this title was practically forgotten by everyone quite fast. And the reasons are mostly aesthetically.

1) This show is NOT for the fans of the games. They will be greatly disappointed with how their cool action/shooter/adventure/dark mecha was adapted into a humorous family drama with some simple action scenes here and there.

2) It is not for fans of classic Super Robot shows. The action is much undermined for drama and the characters are not cool superficial posers.

3) It is not for fans of Real Robots either. The story is not serious enough and is fooling around too much. Why are they carrying around that poor kitten like that? Is the show in such need of a fluffy mascot? Let the poor thing go free.

4) It is not even for fans of dramas or comedies. It does not excel in any of those departments *points at Dolores sitting like a girl and pondering about the meaning of life while her cockpit is in your face*.

5) It is not for fans of plamo either. Who would want to buy a robot that acts like that? And who would show the miniature to his friends without 90% being laughed at for its extended cockpit. I mean, really, the term cockpit couldn’t be more fitting for this robot. It LITERALLY sprouts out between the legs of the robot. Some say it’s actually its stomach but it’s easy to fool most to be nothing but a huge penis. I mean just look at it flying; does it look like a cockpit or half that word? And on top of it you pilot it from there? The controls are in the “lower” head? And it definitely looks like a very weak spot for incoming fire to hit the pilot. Plus the robot acts like a girl. With that thing hanging in front of it, you think Dolores is a cross-dressed robot. And you ride her in that thing? BRRR! *shakes* It’s just too messed up to work.

6) It is not even for fans of great production values. The animation and the visuals are nice but don’t excel in atmosphere or slick action. The soundtrack may feel ok but eventually becomes easily forgettable. And seriously, its OP is hard rock and the ED is a silly POP? Come on; is this really going to work?

The most positive thing in this show is its cast, which have a wonderful chemistry. Most of the conflicts in the show is forgiving past mistakes and learning to trust and give a second chance to your family members. As for the actual story, meh, weaksause. Some organization wants to aquire Dolores for shady business and she has info on the lead’s dead wife and some mystery you probably won’t care about. The action scenes ain’t bad but they are there mostly for kicks; they don’t really contribute anything to the plot. Dolores pretty much owns most weapons in existence anyway.

So what are my impressions of it? Original, yes. Enjoyable, not for long. Do you believe it lasts 24 episodes? Does it even need that much duration with this sort of plot? Sorry, this is nothing compared to Planetes or Ghost in the Shell. It messed with the formula alright but made a rather lukewarm soup instead of a new flavour. Recommended only for the curious amongst you.

4/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
5.5/10 overall