One my favorites animes of Summer 2011 is Mawaru penguindrum, so when I found out that the director of the latter worked on Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto I immediatly wanted to see it for myself. And boy it was so cool!
The base story of Star Driver is a mecha-driven plot. At first I was reticent to continue to watch it because of that reason, but I soon learned to see Star Driver for what it really is. For me the series is defined by a slice of life series parodying the mecha and magical girl sub-genres. It is deliberatly ingenous, creative and original. And I had no idea mecha could be as fun since Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann! The story evolves on two stages: the fist one is as I said the mecha sub-plot with the evil organisation and the second one, way more interesting, the school life of a teenager named Tsunashi Takuto. The story evolving around those two parts is balanced to give the viewer fun at every episode. At first, I was bored by the redundant pattern of episodes but as the show moved on, I came to appreciate what the show had to offer best: it's character study on none less than a dozen of characters.Still for me, the best part of the show was the evolving friendship between the three main characters. Takuto, Sugata and Wako.
Bones animated this original plot series with a love for detail and consistency in the animation. Everything was well-designed and beautifully well animated. Not only the fight sequences in which Takuto defeats a Glittering Crux member but the the character movements, the frame position and the bursting palette of colors. This show is truly eye candy on a rainbow seriously. It's colors can be even blinding in radiance (ho ho the pun). To say the flaws are in this show are really rare. Bones really put everything they had to make this series shine.
One thing that absolutely daws me is the extra care the creators put in the audio segment. Star Driver, in my opinion, has the best seiyuu cast I ever seen in anime. It features none less than 17 excellent and famously renowned japanese voice actors! IT IS AWESOME especially for a huge voice actor fetishist like old me. The series success point is that in it,s relatively short span it develops a unique cast of characters. Knowing that feature, the creators chose a unique way to ascertain that fact. they give almost every character on the show the seiyuu it deserves. As for me, almost all my favorites voice actors are in this series. Name him or her, I bet they are in Star Driver. Listing the entire cast would be extremely long so I will keep it short: Miyano Mamoru (as Tsunashi Takuto), Fukuyama Jun ( as Shindo Sugata) and it continues on.....and the cast is really huge.
Apart from giving the viewer one heck of a cast, the series also gives one splendid soundtrack. Every tune used fit the atmosphere and tension, or lighthearted moment. It is a behold to hear. And I haven't started yet on the gorgeous insert song by the shrine maidens of the show ( my favorite is the first one). The action music is epic and the slice of life music well slice of life-ish. Everything fits in almost perfect balance.
Opening section: First opening, Gravity by Aqua Timez, is a nice catchy song, but the visuals here are jsut splendidly artistic and inspired. I just loved it bottom to the end. The second one, though with it's cheesy J-Pop song is still good but a huge let down from the excellent first one.
Ending section: None of them were brilliant but they were enjoyable. I liked the second one more than the first one. With cheesy J-Pop songs.
One thing Star Driver was absolutely brilliant at was the various character study it provides us. Not only the main characters get analysed but the entire cast. The show took care to studu even the villain's minions. It is a point a give to Star Driver: it knows well how to be interesting. the main characters trio is also something really interesting to see. The creators did not put the old stereotype when they created it. The main guy, Takuto, is the basic type of shounen main lead but he does not have the urching personnality that every shounen main character seems to have these days. He is charming, natural and it is really fun to see him go even if he seems to be the last character the show intended to develop. he does not grow much but still he is really a likeable character that you can realte to. His counterpart, Sugata, have the same thought behind his creation. Even if he is the main lead some sort of rival, he does not act like these annoying ''Sasuke'' type of characters. As for me, I think he quickly became my favorite character. There is so much to like about him. He is (of course) powerful, but his qualities made him really a excellent character. He does not do much in battle but you know he is a really kind person who truly cares about his friends and is always there when they need him. He is also calm and composed in a good way and very natural. I would say he is the peaceful type of guy who just wants to have sincere fun with his beloved friends. At first, I did not like Wako much, but I soon appreciated a lot more. She is not the annoying stupid girl I thought she would be. As I said the cast is huge and it would be really tedious to describe each and every character so I will stop here.
Overall, Star Driver was really fun and enjoyable with so much to love in it, either be the over the top battles of the nice slice-of-life part. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who's looking for a fun original series.
Score: A nice 4/5 from me. And I hope Mawaru Penguin Drum would be even better than it's predecessor Star Driver.
A final note: Star Driver: Kagayuki no Takuto is now licensed by Bandai Entertainement. As of today, they did not provided a realease date for the DVD/ Blu-Ray series. I just hope that they will put extra effort to prepare an incredible limited edition ( like the Oreimo one would be fantastic). And I will inevitably take it for my own collection. I will then complete my review with the DVD presentation critic.
Bandai released one month ago (November 2011) the first volume of Star Driver. It is part 1 of 2 by the way. I will say I was greatly disapointed by the order itself, it took one month to get the actual item through Amazon ( Canada). So if you're Canadian and you want to buy it,well....good luck. I'll recommend going with an other dealer would be way better. In itself, I was greatly disapointed in the DVD itself. I expected one limited edition (as Bandai almost always offer one) and there was none, just the cheap edition. Luckily enough, it wasn't that expensive for a 13 episodes set. It comes with japanese dub and english subs only. I was expecting something from Bandai and let's say I was greatly disapointed in them this time. They always released excellent products with good value and appeal...but not this time.
Next! I will try to finish Ah!My Godess to review it and I will start Amatsuki