You have probably noticed how anime after mid 2000 turned a lot to a 12 episode format. The reasons can vary, but watching a series like Cluster Edge, I almost excuse the industry. THIS SHOW IS SO SLOW.
Most people usually don’t notice a thing called pacing but this show is so bad at it, even the majority figured it out. The producers just had to fill a full season with a story that easily fits in half the time. And there was so little going on, they even had to throw in lots of recap episodes at random intervals, repeat things a hundred times, reuse footage in flashbacks and make people talk a lot about things that are not very interesting to begin with.
All that is a real shame as the actual story was interesting. It has war drama, racial discrimination, mystery, super powers, aerial fighting and some more. If all that were zipped down to half the airtime it would definitely make the show far more enjoyable. But still, the story would again feel bad at points for other reasons.
The ending is weak. So simple for all that was going on; one would be made to expect a lot more to happen. And the characters ain’t really special in any way. They are two-dimensional to the most part, easily separated to angsty teens and sadistic adults. As for the girls … there are no girls; only dudes with some background decorations of women just to not make us think people in this world are hermaphrodites. I understand it has to do with war, which in the setting of the story is purely a man’s turf, but come on. Even macho dudes have a sweetheart to wait for them back home or some local enemy peasant girl to ra… err, interact with. Yet all we see is a sea of men, mostly drawn too pretty or almost like girls.
Which is another issue. To whom is this show oriented to with so many guys on board? Typical males will definitely get gay vibes with so many pretty boys talking so nicely to each other with those cute or perky voices of theirs. Typical females will most likely find all this phalocratic militarism too violent and uninteresting without some deep romance going on. Even fujoshis won’t like it because nobody openly admits being gay and in a forbidden relationship with another. So what does this leave us with; is this show for homosexuals?
Many compared the characters and the setting to Gundam series and yes I can see how the same archetypes and themes exist here as well. The thing is, Gundams had far more action and a lot more epic showdowns… Plus they were Gundams; who cares how bad they were; they are hits just for their name. Cluster Edge doesn’t have all that, plus those dog fights or sword duels aren’t that interesting to begin with.
Yet another issue; the action. It’s so damn boring and random; you see a dozen people firing machineguns on some hero and he stands still for several seconds without being hit. Yet when he goes to the offence, they drop like flies. So what if most main warriors are artificial supermen? Then don’t stop bullets with their mind and explosions don’t get repelled by their auras. Also the main hero has a really broken power that allows him to perform miracles; effectively he can win all the time no matter how dangerous the situation may be. That is so cheap and boring after awhile.
The only good part of the show is the background artwork. Not the males; they are all too girly and alienating. The setting is a blend of early 20th century, with many machinery being given a far more futuristic look. Still, the actual animation is very bad as most of the times the characters will be standing frozen and flashes or speed lines will be used as cheap visual effects to replace movement. The soundtrack has a few beaty tunes but nothing memorable, while voice acting is just nice (albeit deliberately girly for some).
Bottom line? If you watch Gundam shows you have no reason to pay attention to this afterwards. Wasted potential and bad directing around a premise found in other shows in a far more interesting way.