The most archetypical thing someone expects from a mecha show is at least a boy and at least a huge robot. I mean it’s so commonplace it became an expression: A boy and his robot. Well guess what; Xenoglossia decided to mess with the formula, which is a good thing; messing with the clichés keeps any genre fresh and even helps it evolve further. I am very in favour of subverting the formulas and I was very happy to see a mecha show doing that. But then my joy departed as soon as I saw how they changed it for worse…
Irrelevant info follows…
In this show it is not a boy and his robot; it’s actually a girl and her robot. Sure, there were already dozens of other mecha shows with female pilots in them; the older of which I remember was Mazinger Z. There were these two chicks and they were piloting these feminine-looking robots whose main weapon was boob missiles. How disgraceful was that for women… So after all these decades one would expect for the treatment towards female pilots to have somewhat improved. And it’s true that shows like Gundam were in favour of having good female pilots in non-girly looking mecha and fighting with something other than boob missiles. Yet even there the big shots were again all male with women having a rather secondary role to the most part. Even famous works like Gunbuster treated them as fan service material and the silly sexuality of mecha shapes never really left. Remember the Swedish Gundam in Gundam G? What kind of crap was that? At this point I must make clear that I am not a feminist. In fact, I hate feminists; the only thing they want is to be liberated from male oppressors just to become oppressors themselves. But what I never forgive is to use gender stereotypes as nothing but superficial entertainment.
And this is where Xenoglossia comes in…
So here I am watching the first episode. I see nothing but girls. Ok, I guess it is a mecha with a girls-only crew. Sure, why not? Let’s see how they handled the premise. And so for the first ten minutes I see nothing but cute girls doing cute things as if this is a K-On wannabe. After that some mechas appear who seem to be used for protecting the planet from incoming asteroids. Ok, I guess it will be about cute girls piloting mechas and destroying asteroids. And then the camera zooms on Haruka, one of the girls, who is your stereotypical clutz, naive loli with ribbons on her hair who still wears pantsu with penguins on them. We get these constant pantsu jokes, which are supposed to be funny but felt only distasteful to me, before a mecha drops in front of her and immediately takes her inside it… after another pantsu joke.
This was the first episode and for some reason it felt very familiar with another show I had watched in the past. Let’s see now, we have a secret organization, an apparently living sentient robot, a meek protagonist, a woman with long hair and a penguin… HOLLY CRAP, THIS IS NEON GENESIS WITH LOLIS! No, seriously, it is. The control room looks like NERV, the robot tries to protect Haruka like EVA-01 did, and Kisaragi, the woman with the long hair, is a Misato look-alike. As for the penguin, ok, in this version he is not a hot-spring animal but a pantsu decoration. What is this, are they really trying to retell the Neon Genesis story with lolis and pantsu penguins? So far it feels completely retarded. Ok, let’s see how they handle it later.
The second thing I noticed is how the opening and ending videos all have to do with moe-moe girls and Haruka being naked. I don’t care how some love this crap; I say it is nothing but shallow otaku bait. I like lolis myself but only in *hem* adult manga. Using them as superficial attraction is nothing but hot air and they better evolve them further if they want me to care. Neon Genesis had stereotypical characters and its females were also treated erotically but by the end of the show they had being given so much colorization and (in theory) development that you really cared about them. Let’s see what they did with these girls.
… Yup, as I feared this is a heavy on fan service show. It never shows or blurs boobs and pantsu but it’s not like you can’t imagine what is going on; they just keep it out of screen. And look at that, there isn’t a single episode where the girls ain’t naked, having a bath, checking their underwear, measuring their boobs and whatever. Well what a sweet way to use gender roles… Not. You know what? This is still a male-oriented show despite having an almost female-only cast. It’s just that instead of the target audience being hot-blooded teenagers, it is moe-fans. And as long as that is all you want, you will indeed get lots of it.
Sexualization of underaged girls aside, the show does a fine job at fleshing them out. They remain moe-moe bait all the way but they also do develop into more mature characters along the way and you do get to like them more. But surely, the fan service is killing most of your appreciation for them. One short ero scene per episode is enough to spice things but they overdone it by throwing in as much as possible; usually unneeded too. It is all indirect and off-screen, you can still imagine easily what is going on and I still find it distasteful.
But say, what is going on with the story again? Well, it has to do with preventing asteroids from dropping on Earth by using huge robots named iDOLs. Now you may ask why the robots are piloted by little girls only. You see, the robots are sentient and must love their pilot in order to allow someone to control them. Plus, they are not purely Earth-made so humans have no complete control over them. So the school of all the pilots is just a front for a secret organization dedicated to protect the planet from outside dangers. Yes that’s right, a lot more things the show took identically from Neon Genesis. And sure, it excuses why you only see little girls in that base; it’s because the robots are lolicons… err, I mean because they like the innocence found in little human females. And the girls usually return the favour back by being open to them… in more ways than an occasional washing and waxing. They talk to them, pet them, reveal their secrets to them, cosplay for them … even undressing before them in order to show… more of themselves. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are playing doctor as well … out of screen of course. But it’s true that at times it feels very creepy how they treat these robots like otaku boyfriends because they are huge, hard, and become one with them when things get rough and shaky.
So what else is there in this show besides creepy romantic relationships between moe girls and their stud robots? Ah, yes, the Neon Genesis rip offs… err, I mean tributes. They are there to help the story become more mysterious and interesting. But naaaah, there isn’t much plot going on in this anime. Things move too slowly and most of it is moe-moe and getting to know the girls; the whole fuss about the asteroids is nothing but a vague backdrop decoration. Hell, the mecha action is also background decoration. Not only there is very little of it but it is also simplistic and short in duration. There is even a conspiracy by some other secret organization in order to dominate the globe or something but it all plays out in a very dull way; I didn’t even care about what is going on most of the time. It felt like a bad End of Evangelion imitation to begin with. Even the whole sexy/moe aspect started becoming repetitive and boring very fast.
Down to it this show tried to combine moeness with mecha action and failed badly. The mecha part is completely boring and way too obviously a Neon Genesis ri… tribute, while the moe feeling got watered down completely by a lot of irrelevant stuff around fighting other robots. Meaning that the blend did not make the anime better but worse.
The only thing I really give credit to the show are the production values. They are darn good for their time; the mecha look great and the girls lively and super moe. The OST is also very well made with sad and cheery pop pieces. Not that I liked the songs or find the budget to be able to save the show from utter mediocrity but does boost the score somewhat. It is otherwise nothing but a superficially made show around sexualized lolis and otaku robots.
… Plus, Penpen is a lot cooler than some penguin pantsu.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks nice)
Character Figures 2/2 (cool mecha, moe lolis)
Backgrounds 2/2 (basic but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 6/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 2/4 (average)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 1/2 (typical)
Pacing 0/2 (very loose)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 2/2 (cool or moe)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too little plot)
Memorability 2/4 (a kind of interesting combo of mecha with lolis but that is all)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 0/3 (totally generic)
Characters 2/4 (they are somewhat interesting but nothing much in overall)