This series is way too reminiscent of Neon Genesis but unlike the aforementioned anime, this one is neither that great nor that focused on religious allusions and dementia. It is less grim and more centered around human interactions rather than apocalyptic events. Beyond this comparison, it is still a good series to watch, with more meaning and feeling than almost every fighting shonen and mecha there is.
- The graphics are dated and rather simple but they definitely don’t give the impression that they are one of the same. Shapes, colors and visual effects are nothing out of the ordinary but the several original ideas of HOW to use something (mecha compartment arrangement, mundane weapon usage) make up for it.
- Semi-realistic character figures. It is hard to decide if that is good or bad. They look appropriate for the atmosphere of such a series but there are plenty of times when you think that they look too cartoonish or inappropriately minimalistic with what is going on. The perky little girl and the edgy female pilot in particular are almost annoying to look at. Anyway, when the grim moments kick in you will pay little attention to how they look and you will focus on the events themselves.
- Several things in the series feel repetitive, just because they are mass-produced. Earth aircrafts and alien invaders have very little variety that they almost feel boring to look after a few episodes. But perhaps this was an intentional trick by the animators, in order to show that it is not the appearance that matters but the powers that someone possesses. This way you pay attention on the Earth pilots and the alien powers instead of on one-of-a-kind cool mechas or aliens. And if you think about it, military weaponry truly IS mass-produced. Customized and unique-looking machines are things we only encounter on tv-reality. And even the identical aliens are almost excused towards the ending when the major revelation takes place. So, things look as they do for a reason.
- Music Themes have a very sad feeling to them but are very atmospheric and nice to listen to the first 100 times without becoming annoying.
- Several wonderful dialogues around emotional depth, psychological torment, scientific explanations and political interests really make all the talking to be meaningful. What DOES sound annoying and ruins the perfect mark are the voices of the perky characters. Voice Acting is wonderful, centered around the sad or angered voices of the main characters. Still, the little girl’s voice is plain stupid! And the ironic comments of the female punk-like pilot are quite sappy. In their attempt to give variety to the voices heard, the producers allowed some really atmospere-killing voices to crawl amongst the otherwise interesting cast.
- Aliens attack Earth, military team of experts fights them. Nothing we haven’t seen a billion times already. Add a mysterious place the aliens want to go to and some sinister conspiracies in the background and you have a bad Neon Genesis clone. It is quite boring in the most part but gets really interesting when the origin of the aliens and their true purpose is revealed. Which is also the part where every relation to Neon Genesis ceases to exist and finally offers the series its individuality. I can almost say that it was the tension-building that led to that revelation than anything else that really mattered. Too bad we had to wait 20 episodes of lukewarm plot and unintentional plagiarism for it. It will make many viewers to give up on the series long before they get to the good part. But if and when they do, they will realize that the story is indeed wonderful.
- Although there are no fillers with the broader sense of the word, most episodes do feel pointless. Sure, the characters are colorized and the story does slowly reveal its big secrets. The thing is, the same things could be done in half the time. All those battles with aliens-of-the-weak didn’t manage to make the series more interesting. It gave a bad “dorky mecha series” to it and ruined its credibility for seriousness later on.
- The characters are the side stories. If the main theme is “beat the bad alien”, the secondary stories are “to get to know the characters”. Through their dialogues and several flashbacks, you get to see the big picture that led to all the mess in the series. And I can say their individual stories were very interesting. Still, there are 4 characters that do that and 40 others who don’t and are there simply as undeveloped stunts. You could remove most of the cast without affecting the story.
- Although all the mysteries are answered or explained, there are still several points where reason is out for lunch. How did that renegade scientist / spy move around like a ghost? Why do things turn as you expect them in the nick of time?
- Although not completely solid, the story feels quite fulfilling. You will not be left with the urge for a sequel or with any question marks hovering over your head. As I said, the last episodes are far more interesting that the rest of the series.
- Most of their merits have already been discussed in the above sections. Simple-looking, interesting dialogues and nice background stories for the main cast. What makes it even more appealing is that you don’t really know if someone is going to live or die. Several important-looking characters die quite fast and are seen again only in flashbacks. Others who are quite boring and secondary survive and plague us indefinitely.
- Still, there are only a few interesting characters (the avenging leading male, the cheery little girl, the friendly alien and the mysterious spy) who had the bad luck of being part of a larger, uninteresting cast in a mostly boring scenario development. That is why I deduct some points. If the producers could remove the unnecessary characters and the unimportant battles, these guys alone would make a great mini-series.
Successful mix of Mecha with Religion and Metaphysics series: Neon Genesis Evagelion, Ghost in the Shell, Zegapain, Ergo Proxy, Betterman, Soul Taker and Rahxephon.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (generic)
Character Figures 2/2 (semi-realistic)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/5 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 4/5 (very good and fitting with the feeling of the series)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 0/2 (mostly episodic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 1/2 (some)
Conclusion 2/2 (solid)
CHARACTER SECTION: 8/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 2/2 (a lot for the main ones)
Catharsis 2/2 (a lot for the main ones)
VALUE SECTION: 4/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 3/4 (after the revelation, it became great and rather worthwhile to be remembered)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 5/10
Art 0/1 (looks typical)
Sound 1/2 (good songs, mediocre voice acting)
Story 1/3 (lots of good stuff but those cover only a quarter of the whole show)
Characters 3/4 (they are ok)