Shingu is a show practically forgotten today, most likely because it was too laid back in its execution. It not by any means a bad series as far as directing goes, yet it sure feels unexciting in the eyes of the average anime viewer.
The basic genres of the anime are slice of life and mecha action, and indeed half the duration is just the silly lives of school kids while the other half is about an alien invasion that is fought back using giant robots and spaceships. Now if you just see what the fans of both these genres expect from these genres, you can easily tell why they would be more than unimpressed with this show.
- The slice of life for example is not so vivid with fuzzy/woolly/sweetie feelings to the point the viewers starts to cry like babies. It does not try to inflict you with emotions, no spicy romances, no sakura trees and an allegory around the ephemeral innocence of youth. It looks like an easy going children’s adventure, half the time of which they don’t even care about the alien threat or something. In fact, they barely show emotions. Not because they are emo or something, they simply DON’T CARE enough to worry or cheer about anything. Which passes as dull if you are accustomed to those hyper-energetic kids who want to be the best in the world or something like that. Or teenagers who get angry and yell at everything and everyone. It is very important to be made to care about the cast when it comes to such genres and in this case they are simply… plain.
- Then there is the mecha action of the show which is again laid back. When it comes to robots fighting, the average viewer expect blood boiling situations, where you scream and kick things around from excitement for watching awesome lasers levelling huge monstrosities who came to destroy your planet and enslave your kind. And again you don’t get that feeling as the aliens are simply not threatening and the lead robot is not cool-looking. In fact, the action part looks dull as the aliens barely cause any damage and there is always a force field surrounding their ships that vaporises them when they are destroyed without the tiniest shrapnel or debris damaging the surrounding area. That’s not exciting. Neither is the lead robot, which uses simplistic attacks, and it’s actually a little girl magically transforming to a thing that is closer to a golem rather a machine. Again, not exciting.
I guess the makers wanted to make the show to feel like a Ghibli film or something like that. And I don’t mean Nausicaa or Mononoke but “My Neighbour Totoro” or “Kiki’s delivery service” type of family-oriented feeling. I don’t know about you but my family would never sit down to watch a series about aliens and robots so I again don’t see how this was supposed to work.
What is making things even duller is the soundtrack, which is literally making you fall asleep. Man, this is a story about alien invasions and mysteries regarding ancient civilizations and we get a track of some dull room music that makes even the action to feel yawning. It is mostly piano and trumpet dammit; and not even a sad or artistic type of blend. BLEAH! Not even the production values are enough to make a difference, as they are full of generic character designs, and minimal motions. I can’t blame the colouring variety or the drawing consistency though, as the show was made in a time when 3D aid was not everpresent in tv shows yet. Otherwise they look dull again. I guess not even studio Madhouse was enough to save the show from what it is.
The characters are definitely good for their roles and you get to see how enriched they are as personalities if you get past the annoying dull presentation. Too bad that by the end of the series you won’t care to remember them for the same reason.
As uncommon as it is for a show that combines slice of life with mecha action, I don’t find much replay value in it. It is simply too easy going and its plot ain’t that complicating to bother revisiting. I personally didn’t enjoy it much either, since I prefer darker stories and more exciting situations. At the same time I must give thumbs up to director Satou Tatsuo, for making yet another unorthodox mecha show (his roster includes Martian Successor Nadesico, Gekiganger 3, Stellvia, and Lagrange). He may have not managed to create a masterpiece but at least it stands out.
I recommend checking out Betterman just to see how being made uncommon and with mediocre production values does not make it impossible to get a good show. Other than that, I don’t recommend this anime as more than a (too much for its own good) light watch.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 5/10
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Voice Acting 2/3, Music Themes 2/4, Sound Effects 2/3
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 0/2, Complexity 1/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 1/2
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 2/2, Backdrop 1/2, Development 1/2, Catharsis 1/2
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 1/4
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
Analysis: Art 0/1, Sound 0/2, Story 1/3, Characters 0/4