Chrome Shelled Regios - Reviews

Alt title: Koukaku no Regios

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ThePatches's avatar
Jul 16, 2009

Story

Every so often, you come across a show that's truly mediocre. You know, those anime that aren't great enough to rave about but aren't bad enough to drop. In the strange interim after the end of Toradora! and before the start of an exciting Spring 2009 season, Chrome Shelled Regios (CSR) filled a space in my viewing schedule and proved just interesting enough to keep me watching through the end of its first season. CSR has an interesting setting, nifty superpowers, and some awesome baddies--all elements that go into any respectable sci-fi action anime--but where real innovation would make the show stand out, it falls on its face, pulled to the ground by its bloated plot. CSR's creative failings hobble the show more than cripple it, and this season manages to reach its conclusion having entertained when it must and being sufficiently pretty and intriguing to string the viewer along.

On the surface, CSR's premise reminds me a lot of Ergo Proxy. Ergo Proxy also tells the tale of humanity trapped in domed cities designed to protect the remaining population from a hostile environment of its own making. Instead of exploring this already cool premise, Ergo Proxy decides to waste a huge amount of time exploring the nature of humanity as it relates to personal agency and free will (or so I gather, I was in it for the setting the entire time). Seemingly the creative team for CSR uses Ergo Proxy as a starting point, removes all the boring bits and then fills the gaps with things they know will test well with the 12 - 18 crowd (add a high school, a tsundere character, DBZ-like fighting, and giant monsters). The result turns out less than stellar because, along the way, someone decided to needlessly muddle the plot.

Set on a post-apocalyptic Earth (the series so far is actually unclear on the issue, but the Engrish-language portions strongly point to Earth as the setting), CSR tells the tale of humanity struggling against a hostile desert environment and its insect-like inhabitants while riding on the backs of mobile cities. As intriguing as its premise could be, CSR suffers in its adaption from multiple light novels. The large-scale epic struggle of humanity against the legacy left to them in this post-apocalyptic world gets lost under the weight of accumulated minor plot points; for example, the Salinvan Mercenary Gang gets involved with Zulleni to help with the fight against the Filth Monsters, but much of the sub-plot actually focuses on Haia's need to challenge Layfon to duels. Meanwhile the actual machinery of the main narrative turns in the background through vignettes covering Leerin and Queen Alsheyra instead of remaining front-and-center where it belongs.

The large cast also drags down the narrative. CSR gives every character some cursory development and relates him or her to Layfon before moving the plot forward. Consequently, the significant events crammed into the final few episodes give the series' end a rushed feel.

In spite of the weak execution, I am a sucker for these post-apocalyptic eco-fables. The series' end is a little hurried and confusing, but I remain optimistic. With all of the introductions over and done with and the scenery sufficiently painted, the main conflict might get the majority of the focus in season two and actually improve CSR's storytelling.


Animation

It's a crime how decent CSR looks, because there certainly wasn't a lot done with all that pretty artwork. CSR has a clean, 21st-century look and well-integrated CGI, which for the most part enhances the person-to-person combat by providing the "kei" effects for attacks and movement. The color palate is varied and the character animation is generally smooth with an occasional perspective hiccup (sometimes, Layfon's face looks strange when drawn straight on). Similarly, the background artwork manages to give different flavors to each locale.

Of course, CSR's, fundamental problem of unoriginality surfaces again here. While the uniforms for the Military Arts students are attractive, nearly everyone wears them and the characters generally accessorize less than students in many other high school anime. The combat uniforms, which feature more prominently as the story progresses, are even more drab and offer even less opportunity for differentiating the characters from each other--only one Zulleni combat platoon shows any variation in the combat attire and it's merely a difference in color. The animators instead squander their limited inventiveness on the costumes for the Heaven's Blade Receivers who get very little screen time in comparison to the combat-suited Zulleni Platoon members.

CSR tries to make up for its sartorial homogeneity by providing its combatants with a variety of weapons (called "dite" in the series). However, CSR fails to sufficiently differentiate its army of warriors from each other and only the Heaven's Blade Receivers manage to fight in an interesting manner (you could argue that it makes sense from a world-building standpoint, but that explanation seems like an excuse). Regrettably, the lion's share of the screen time focuses on less interesting fights rather than showcasing the talents of the more skilled combatants. In the end, the fight scenes between people pale in comparison to the battles Layfon and others have with the Filth Monsters. Pulled right out of the Warhammer 40K Tyranid source book (not the Zerg, you tool, get your source material right!), these creatures are a delightful mix of insect and reptile: all pincers, teeth, carapace and wings. The few adult specimens that we see during the first season are formidable-looking, viscerally creepy, and terrifying in combat. The image of one tiny, combat-suited Layfon against an army of these behemoths forms the basis for some of the more exciting sequences in the series so far.


Sound

The show sports a well-suited if unmemorable soundtrack. CSR's standout voice acting comes from Nakahara Mai (Nola? Really?) who manages to invest Felli's controlled, dour whisper with delicious hints of emotion and Koyasu Takehito's Karian Loss who oozes an equal measure of sleaze and gravitas--a difficult feat. Koshimizu Ami (Horo? Really?) also provides an entertaining turn as Shante, but her character is tragically underused. CSR's music shares the same passable level of quality as the rest of the show. The first season's OP, "Brave Your Truth", an acceptable J-Pop tune, contains too much poorly executed Engrish for my taste. The ED's use a clever gimmick of individually featuring the female cast harmonizing with Layfon's seiyuu, but both the first ED theme and the second are a little on the sappy side for what becomes an increasingly action-oriented show as the season progresses. By the end of the season, I found myself regularly skipping through both the OP and ED songs.


Characters

There are too many characters here with too little realization. While the narrative requires at least three groups of characters for its main plot lines, few of these characters are particularly unique. Layfon is a typical reluctant badass hero, Sharnid the ladies' man, and the gear head Harley Sutton form the majority of Zulleni's Military Arts Platoon Seventeen, around which most of the Zulleni plot segments focus. Felli, the squad's psychic is extremely entertaining to watch as she punctuates her emotional growth with withering glances and spectacular shin kicks, but her development suffers in the second half of the season as the expanding cast dramatically cuts down her screen time. Nina Antauk likewise offers an interesting character dimension--she is a leader driven by her own inferiority complex--but midway through the season, the plot uses this particular trait to hijack all of her agency, and relieves her completely of opportunity for character development and growth.

The rest of the massive cast is full of the typical stock characters you can expect in an action anime: Haia and Gorneo harbor grudges against Layfon for his past (pre-Zulleni) actions, Savaris Luckens, the Heaven's Blade Receiver that follows Leerin around, wishes only to fulfill the wishes of his queen; Mifi Rotten thinks only of the Academy's newspaper, and so on. While the sweep of the narrative certainly requires a cast this large, the fact that few of these characters are multidimensional or receive any but the most cursory development makes it hard to view them as anything other than puzzle pieces--useful for their roles in the plot and little else.


Overall

This show takes no risks and therefore reaps no rewards. If the first season offers any promise, it's that the mildly interesting story will pan out into something marginally epic in scope. However, planting all of the necessary seeds in the first season definitely causes the series to suffer from inadequate character development and nearly drives the narrative into disarray. What is particularly disappointing here is that a slower examination of the existing material might have proved more rewarding: the tension between the inter-squad rivalry and the inter-city matches by itself would have provided a suitably fertile ground for an entire season, as would have an examination of the relationship between academy cities like Zulleni and the regular cities like Lance-Shelled Grendan. Instead, CSR barrels forward with its complicated narrative, painting the required players with well-known brushes as quickly as possible in a mad rush to get all of the pieces on the board before the second season can unravel the mystery. Fortunately the story remained somewhat engaging, otherwise this would have quickly fallen into my "skip" pile as a "been there, done that" anime.

Given the interesting premise set up by the first season, CSR could improve if the subsequent episodes answer all of the outstanding questions in style. Hopefully, the raised stakes will place more focus on the potentially exciting Heaven's Blade Receivers and sideline the less interesting citizens of Zulleni. CSR, while not a waste of time, only manages to be an acceptable mediocre action series to this point, engaging enough to bridge the gap from Winter 08 to Spring 09, but of little real merit. Maybe, just maybe, this show will surprise us in its second season.

7/10 story
6/10 animation
5.5/10 sound
4/10 characters
6/10 overall
ryan264a's avatar
Aug 4, 2013

chrome shelled regios is an all around entertaining anime, the only real issue i found is in the short parts where it for some reason switches to english for a cut scene, and the english is unbelievably horrible. it sounds kind of like microsoft sam with down syndrome. all parts other than that have pretty good voice acting and story, the animation is very good aswell.

a sequel or prequel to this could be very interesting as not much detail is given to the prior of the movie other than basics in training and a single incident and nothing is said of what happens after the final episode.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Apr 28, 2012

Oh, such joy and wonder, I found myself an anime that has all I ever like in fiction. Monsters, action, some romance, some mystery, some smart scenario ideas. So I sit down ready to watch what I like most. Ten minutes later … WHAT IS THIS SHIT?

Boy, talk about fail squared. Anime usually aim to have some good initial episodes before reverting back to whatever mediocrity they were meant to be. Regios managed to be uninteresting since the very beginning. I guess that is a talent too.

Let’s get down to business. Regios is animated by studio Zexcs, which has never produced a high-budget show, or even an above average one. It has mostly made shitty fan service anime and a few mediocrities everybody forgot in a few months. Just to make you understand how bad they are, their best production was the completely mediocre Legend of Legendary Heroes.

The premise of the story is very interesting and offers a complicating post-apocalyptic setting full of mobile cities in a grim future, fighting amongst them for survival, while repelling invasions by super powerful insects. But to no surprise they did very little with all that and soon the plot was nothing more than a guy and his harem. The premise reminded me a lot of Blue Gender, a good dark science fiction anime of the 90’s whose greatest flaw was the dull plot. While Regios fixes this by having a lot more action and variety, at the same time it failed completely to build atmosphere and immersion with the story and the characters. It did a very poor job at fleshing them out. Here is a list.

1) The action scenes are completely random and chaotic. There was no way to feel a battle was done properly as magic gizmos were pretty much running the show as the directors wanted. Anything could happen, any way the they wanted it, as fast or as dramatic, successful or failed. You could see a rain of rabbits followed by a rock shaped as Lincoln for all it matters and the outcome of such spells would be whatever the plot required. And forget about proper transition from one scene to another. There is NO TRANSITION. No choreography exists to make the action appealing and thus I hated it.

2) There is very little actual animation. For a semi-action series, the characters were terribly frozen. Too much still panels going around to feel anything good about it.

3) Unappealing character figures. What kind of random accessories was everybody wearing during battles? And what’s with the weird facial structure? Totally hilarious to the point I wasn’t even looking at the constant cleavages.

4) The background music is horrible. The main battle them is making your ears bleed with its terrible tune and most other BGMs are way too loud and noisy. To get an idea, just try to imagine this tune playing in all the battles -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhwmwxnBU_k
AM I SUPPOSED TO FEEL EXCITEMENT WHEN THIS SHIT IS PLAYING? As for the opening and ending songs, they are completely average pop trash I have forgotten completely.

5) The setting remains unexplained. What is going on with the world and why are things like that? You are given no info regarding the backdrop story of the world and thus the whole setting remains nothing but an intriguing background scenery.

6) The directing has absolutely no uniformity. One moment they are fighting for the survival of the human race, the immediate next they are taking part in a typical romantic school comedy trip. You get futuristic cities full of weird machinery, next to nobles clothed as if it’s still the 18th century, next to a cosplay party called the main characters. Consistency is nice! And maybe it would make sense if they had fleshed out the setting but since they didn’t this is all random nonsense.

7) The cast remains terribly generic. What is going on with them? You hardly get to know most of them. The lead is the typical harem dork, with a broken power, hoarding all the girls to himself, and does nothing with them. Most girls are defined by their sexual frustration syndromes. Most males are defined by their ridiculous costumes and signature moves. Everybody is a stereotype 101. And nobody is memorable for any given reason.

8 ) Engrish! Jesus Christ, when will they ever hire real Americans to do the English lines? And it’s not like they even needed to have English speakers in the first place; all the scenes regarding them are completely useless to the plot.

9) The ending is not an ending. Major bummer. Expected when they try to adapt a series of light novels which are still on-going.

So from all the above reasons, you can easily tell how Regios uses a mediocre action superpower formula, mixed with a mediocre romantic school comedy formula, with random ideas such as mobile cities and fairies and bugs in the background. It hardly makes good use of any of its elements and ends up being a completely average work.

Before you dismiss my harsh judgment because of the nature of the setting, please consider this. Mixing teenagers fighting huge monsters before going to school and getting to all sorts of sexual frustrations can be as bad as Gunparade March or as good as Neon Genesis. And Regios is no Neon Genesis. In fact, it doesn’t even know what it is; there are no connecting points between the genres it tries unsuccessfully to blend. Think how many stuff Escaflowne mixed in the same bowl and how uniformed they felt. This was a random hill of irrelevant ideas with lifeless animation and poor storytelling.

Sorry, I prefer Blue Gender and Neon Genesis over this one. I don’t even consider it a worthy watch. In fact, I don’t consider it as anything other as a good example of a badly made anime.

4/10 story
5/10 animation
4/10 sound
4/10 characters
3/10 overall
Azorn's avatar
Mar 5, 2015

Great action and charater development, not to much romance but enough to keep it interesting. Main character is not overpowerd and has good flaws. Music is not the best I have heard but fits the anime well. The animation is beautiful and makes you want to keep watching. 

8/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
9/10 overall
RyanS1555's avatar
Jan 2, 2014

I just recently finish watching this anime and I must say this was a really great anime , the plot was amazing , the music i wished that they changed the opening theme song not just the ending theme. I really couldnt stop watching this anime it was that good , i had to be told to stop to eat something lol . I just wish that they made more , did FonFon ever go back to his home city , what happen to the guy who left his heaven blade, or what happen to the queens daughter . So many questions left unanswers. But over all it was really good 

10/10 story
10/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
10/10 characters
9.5/10 overall