Usual disclaimer - there may be a few minor plot/character points spoiled below, but I won't spoil anything substantial. I'm also assuming that any viewers are at least familiar with the basic synopsis of the series.
Freezing was a very hit and miss series for me. It has a lot of fanservice, some of which works and some just seemed a little too gratuitous and out of place. Clothes would often rip during fights where it didn't seem like there was any sharp object involved to tear it. So if you don't like fanservice, stay away from this one. What really made it "miss" for me, though, I'll outline under the story section
STORY - 5/10
The primary setting of the show is a school where young women with special abilities, called Pandora, are being trained to fight against an alien threat. I'm pretty new to anime still, and even I've seen this basic premise before. I don't hold that against a show, in general, as I'm a firm believer that in 2013, there's pretty much nothing that's truly original anymore. I will say that Freezing doesn't really bring anything new to the way it handles this story (thus far), but it is not poorly executed and the fight scenes against the aliens are interesting enough. So that aspect of the story is merely average.
As is typical in these series, the first 5 or 6 episodes are used primarly to introduce us to the cast and the paramaters of the world that the show is set in. So it's often difficult to judge a series' story fairly at such an early point (especially if it's based on other source material, as this series is). The story could really take off in Season 2. But the way that many of these introductions are made is what somewhat turned me off - the school heirarchy is quite rigid, where underclassmen are expected to behave a certain way, and fairly brutal fights ensue if any disrespect is even implied. And given that Satellizer is a cold character, such issues seem to follow her around.
My particular gripe was with the rampant humiliation that is exhibited on the characters. It isn't enough for an upperclassmen to initiate a fight over some perceived slight, but given their advanced skills, they seem intent on beating down the underclassmen so profoundly, and then using the ensuing vulnerable state to further humiliate. Many of these scenes are just uncomfortable to watch, and I'm not sure how much they're really adding to the plot or the characters. In particular, the scene on the rooftop in the 3rd episode, where Satellzier is defeated and then exposed made me cringe repeatedly. The stripping of characters for sexual humiliation is also frequent and uncomfortable.
ANIMATION - 9/10
The show looks spectacular. All of the character models are well-done, and the fight sequences are entertaining and strongly animated.
I don't want to waste too much time in these reviews talking about animation or sound unless there was something (good or bad) that really jumped out at me. Freezing is a visually pleasing show.
SOUND - 9/10
As with the visuals, the show sounds great, too. I always watch English dubs if they are available, and the voice acting was excellent. Satellizer, in particular, had excellet voice acting, with noticeable differences in her voice depending on her mood, which really spelled out the vulnerability of her character.
The music served its purpose, being good (though probably not great), and the opening and closing themes were fine.
CHARACTERS - 8.5/10
What saves Freezing is the depth of the two protagonists. Some of the minor characters (I'm not sure if Rana is minor or major) were very well-done, too, though some of them seem to exist solely to bestow humiliation on their inferiors.
Satellizer el Bridget had a difficult childhood, which is demonstrated in flashbacks halfway through the season - and is almost as difficult to watch as it likely was for her to live. To that point she is described as the "Untouchable Queen" and there's not much evidence given as to why - she's just a cold character. As we are given more and more insight into her character, all of her traits and motivations become clear, and she is a surprisingly deep character for what most people will write off as a dumb ecchi series. As Kazuya cracks through that icy exterior, we see that Satellizer is really a broken person who has a sensitive and vulnerable side that far exceeds her outer shell. The silly throwaway episode involving the Pandora Queen (the requisiste swimsuit episode for a series like this) actually went a long way into showing that vulnerability, and it had a very touching conclusion.
Kazuya isn't fleshed out quite as much as Satellizer, but he is still much deeper than the standard male lead in an ecchi series. He has big sister issues, and first mistakes Satellizer for his dead sister - which is kind of a weird dynamic, but the show really makes it work through Kazuya's tenderness and devotion to Satellizer. I also liked how there are scenes where Kazuya has to save Satellizer, and scenes where Satellizer has to save Kazuya, making them really equal in their relationship. And even when the show tosses Rana in, given the illusion that it's going to become some sort of harem, Kazuya is steadfast in his commitment to Satellizer, even though she is still somewhat rejecting him at that point. This relationship is what makes the series work - everything else around it is mediocre.
Some of the minor characters seem to have real potential (I was drawn to Elizabeth for some reason, and Arthur and Kaho were enjoyable sidekicks for Kazuya). So I'll be looking forward to how the show utilizes them in season 2.
OVERALL - 7.5/10
Freezing is about the relationship between two people, and how Kazuya's influence affects Satellizer and makes her a better person. It's a very honest, tender relationship, forged in moments of tremendous cruelty at the hands of their upperclassmen. It's a very solid core to build a series around, but what they've chosen to build around it isn't nearly as solid.
The plot leaves a little to be desired, but I'm willing to forgive it somewhat as it is only season 1 of a long-running manga. If season 2 doesn't pick up the pace a little, then I will be disappointed.
But what really knocks the score down a notch or two for me is the afore-mentioned humiliation scenes. I don't know if this is a big fetish in Korea/Japan, but it doesn't work for me at all. I tried to check out the manga a while back, and found that theme to be even more prevalent there, so at least they toned it down a little for the anime.
This review has no comments. Leave one now!