Infinite Ryvius

Alt title: Mugen no Ryvius

TV (26 eps)
1999 - 2000
Fall 1999
3.575 out of 5 from 2,155 votes
Rank #4,815

In 2137 AD, the sun released a massive flare across the solar system, creating the Geduld, a dense field of plasma and debris. In the midst of a routine descent into the Geduld's upper layers, the training ship Liebe Delta is crippled by a terrorist attack, killing the trainers and command crew - and exposing the vessel’s military secrets, which may hold the survivors’ only hope. With nowhere to hide from their darkest fears, the young trainees must work together to navigate the ravages of a solar system filled with mysterious, powerful foes. Yet, as the ship is forced into greater isolation and its inhabitants become increasingly desperate, they must struggle to survive against not only the forces that pursue them relentlessly... but also each other.

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StoryInfinite Ryvius is a series that's quite in a league of its own, both for the time it was produced and also for featuring one of the largest views on a group of characters I had ever watched in an anime series to date.  Focusing on a group of students who find themselves stranded in space after a tragic accident, Infinite Ryvius chronicles their attempts to journey home while facing incredible odds: from external forces believing them to be a part of an enemy fleet to internal unrest among the temporary leading crew and the workers who struggle under their rule.Taking on a cast (400+ students trapped in a war ship called the Ryvius) of this magnitude is no easy task, and being able to showcase raw emotion in the face of adversity is far from simplistic, particularly in a work of media.  Yet, this series does both in considering its main cast, a group of 8-12 students who are often the main focus of the series and repeatedly showcased in their trials and tribulations, as well as the larger cast and crew whom are caught in the crosshairs and feel at a loss as to whether they will return home.Granted, Infinite Ryvius is not a perfect series, but I would argue it really touched my heart in a way very few contemporary series have done.  The key factor to really enjoying this is not focusing on or seeking its perfection, but rather it's imperfections, and it's chock full of them. It might sound contradictory, but follow this scenario and you might see it a little more.You have a large group of teens and kids trapped on a ship with no adults, a limited supply of food and water, and an actively pursuing fleet bent on destroying the ship as a part of a major governmental cover-up.  Add to that a cast that have their own insecurities that ultimately bubble and overflow in the face of adversity, and the move from an open environment to a caste-filled system where the elite are rewarded and the lower ranks of students are brutally punished.  It's a web of deception and confusion that uniquely intertwined with multiple layers.This series is very much character driven, and the characters themselves are far from perfection, even unlikable at times.  For example, Kouji Aiba is a young teen who very much resembles Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion:  indecisive, a bit hard on himself, and afraid to take the next step forward.  The way he transforms from this weak-willed, worrisome teen to actually one of the stronger, most sane characters at the end of the series is quite potent, as are the rather contrasting portraits of characters that seem strong at the beginning of the series, but dwindle down to almost the breaking point when met with external and internal pressures.I'd argue that it doesn't truly make the jump into its gripping storyline until about halfway, but to be fair, the series chooses to illustrate these characters to allow you to see their imperfections, ambitions, and really come to know them in the heart of the Ryvius.   I would also argue that this development is needed to ease into more jarring events the latter part of the series has to offer. I wouldn't say you could love these characters because sometimes it's very hard, but one thing to consider: look at how young this cast is, collectively. There aren't any adults, only young teens and kids, and you could very well note that Infinite Ryvius is a coming of age, psychological story within a sci-fi/action and very underemphasized mecha coat.The series does indeed take largely from William Golding's Lord of the Files.  You may wonder why I waited to mention that until this point of the review, and not at the very beginning where I could have said, "this is an illustrated example of Lord of the Flies in space". That's only partially true, and I think Infinite Ryvius is a tale of more multiple layers than is given due credit.  While it's far from perfection and may take a few episodes to grow on the viewer, it has its own flare that makes it stand alone above many anime series in it same genre.  It could also be said that the series actually mirrors many classic works of literature: George Orwell's 1984 or Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 with its construction of a corrupt caste system and authoritarian control, as well as hints at a utopian establishment are two examples, William Defoe's Robinson Crusoe another.  It's difficult to place the specific points on how these works collectively tie in, because the intricacies could be the basis for a book in itself, but the larger point would be to say that it really is a big story to tell.Does it always translate well? Perhaps not.  There are points where the interactions of the kids aren't so much in ties with the overall story, but give you more of a framework of their day-to-day duties aboard the Ryvius, some funny, others quite aggravating: but that's what it's intended to do. I imagine those who would like to jump headfirst into the story would find this pacing quite awkward. It's one you really have to sit through to truly appreciate it, and reflect back on the larger message of what the series is trying to convey.AnimationThis is the part of review I really get the most critical about in terms of blows to Infinite Ryvius.  The animation does not translate all that well for a series animated in 1999.  Not very fluid or consistent on an animation perspective, and there are a stretch of episodes, especially after the first 4-5, where it's notably inconsistent.  The character faces aren't drawn to scale in some points and are quite irksome to watch, but it starts to pick up again throughout the series. I'd argue that the cel production values in terms of the background are pretty much spot on, however.  Very detailed renders of the space environment, the magnitude of the Ryvius, and overall just a nice job for its time.SoundInfinite Ryvius gets a solid eight from me in the sound category, and not simply on the part of its OST, which apart from the beautiful performances by Mika Arisaka in the opening and ending themes, but the quality of the voice acting.  Very well done.  The characters really fit in the shells so well, particularly in the Japanese VA work. Since emotions and psychology are so key to this series, it's a given, and granted, as much as one might say they may not like the characters because of their imperfections, the emotion behind these imperfections are so spot on it's difficult not to give credit.I remember the first time I watched the series, it made me shed a few tears (so much for pleading the fifth on that :P) after a certain scene in episode 22.  One of the characters, who's seemingly strong at the beginning of the series, has an all out breakdown to a bare minimum in that episode, and it's really one of the highlighting moments of the series because you really see the reason why that character breaks down, you can even feel it coming a few episodes prior. That's not to say it's predictable, but the latter half of the series translates and progresses these emotions in the best way.  I did enjoy the Infinite Ryvius soundtrack on a multitude of levels, the BGM is solid, but I would say it works best in the series frame versus an outside context. The opening/ending themes, however, are rather solid.  Mika Arisaka is most known for her contributions to series like Infinite Ryvius, and ending themes to 12 Kingdoms and Gundam Seed Destiny.  "dis-" the opening theme, is one of my favorite opening sequences and songs in anime, because it not only paints a portrait of the conflict in the series, but also the lyrics work really well with showing that.  The ending theme, I would say, is of the same caliber.CharactersInfinite Ryvius wouldn't necessarily be half of the series it was without being such a character centric series; it is heavily contingent upon that factor, and surprisingly, for a series attempting this magnitude, it does work on most terms.  While it's difficult to quantify how much each character contributes to the whole of the story in such a small space of description, each character has a point in which he/she develops over the course of the series.  Again, it's stressed that the point of this series is to establish the imperfections of the kids and young teens, and how they grow from their experiences aboard the Ryvius as they desperately search for a way to get back home, even after the breaking point.To highlight some of the main characters, as mentioned: Kouji Aiba is a largely indecisive teen who has a complex against his rather rebellious brother Yuki.  Yuki, without sparing words, is a total jerk...I would probably even say worse than that if you look at his personality, but his characterization is quite strongly asserted.  Most viewers will probably hate how these two go at each other, but as you see in later context, the brothers' relationship does develop towards greater means.  Ikumi, Aoi, Kozue, Fina, the members of Team Blue, Juli, Stein and Lucson are all characters also to note in terms of their transformations from beginning to end in the series. Each member has their own former insecurities that are brought into context when they not only fear for their lives, but act in the bane of desperation. In the middle of it all is one character named Neya, a girl whose role, at first, isn't discreetly placed in the heart of the series.  She might come across to some viewers as very weird or oddball, but if you think about this as a psychological series, it becomes clear what Neya's role shapes into, and I actually liked how the series handled her character and used her as a pilot to drive some of the emotions home in this series. Some of the character transformations I never saw coming, and for me, it was genuine how the series managed to handle it in the span of 26 episodes, though not always evenly paced.  It's a large cast to handle, and while many may say that some contemporary series like Baccano! have at the forefront (Baccano! juggles, if I recall, 12 main characters through quite a cycle in its progression, though different in both context and theme), imagine the magnitude many times over with the handling of Ryvius, in somewhat of the same transitions between how each character responds, develops, and reacts within the events of the series.  It's really an epic feat in and of itself.OverallI really enjoyed Ryvius in the aftermath, certainly one of my favorite series to date and I'd place a recommendation to it for those who want a good sci-fi story with characterizational focus and development in a good sci-fi/action, psychologically oriented series.  Granted, if what you look for are bouncy likable characters or great artwork, Ryvius wouldn't be for you.  There are some bits of romance and humor in this series, but they're more distinctly understated.I think in the overall perspective, Ryvius is a series that will age well with time, with not only the premise, but the overall message the series conveys in the conclusion.  The ending itself ties all of this together with only a few loose strings, but nothing that will leave you distinctly hanging.


StoryWere William Golding to have written Lord of the Flies in a futuristic setting, he would have done so precisely in the mold of Infinite Ryvius.  Unfortunately, Golding most likely would have produced a much more polished and solid work, as, while Ryvius has its strengths, it's riddled with a number of flaws that demote the series from greatness to mediocrity.  Still, the similarities between the two works are both numerous and striking, ranging from something as superficial as plot elements to something as deep as analysis of philosophy.  While starting off rather jovial and light hearted, the series raises rather serious questions in its latter half, and overall does a decent job at conveying the moral gravity of the themes it sets out to question.Ryvius takes place in the relatively near future where man has colonized the solar system following a phenomenon that has created a disturbance in space called the "Geduld."  Due to the intense gravitational field inside the Geduld, its exploration and study require the use of very specific materials built into a few space stations scattered amidst the planets.  The story begins when one of these stations is sabotaged during a routine dive, and, with its protection breached, begins to sink into the Geduld.  The crew on board end up sacrificing themselves to save the lives of five hundred trainees on board, all of whom are children, by putting them into a ship within the station's core and launching them out and to safety.With such little notice, however, this throws the survivors into complete disarray.  Having no social hierarchy and limited supplies of food and water, the ship slowly begins to descend into anarchy as the moral structure of the ship collapses.  Ryvius emphasizes the struggle between logic and instinct as the society onboard the stranded vessel descends into chaos, and many of the characters find their idealistic view of mankind challenged.  The series manages to portray each individual's struggle for power quite realistically, ranging from the use of sex to violence to betrayal in order to acquire status, and makes a point not to gloss any of it over.To my dismay, however, Ryvius took quite a while to get moving, as it required an unusually large number of viewings to get through; for the first half of the series I found myself watching only around ten minutes at a time.  Once it got moving, however, I finished it in a matter of hours, so it leaves me with rather mixed feelings when it comes to the series' pacing.  While the drama was orchestrated quite well later on, I found it unevenly and awkwardly placed toward the beginning, as the series tends to exaggerate a number of character relationships in an attempt just to fill up space in earlier episodes.  The result is a somewhat tacky and shoddy feel, and as such, I found it difficult to experience the intended emotional impact the series sought to convey.AnimationNo matter how much I've tried to rationalize it, Ryvius' animation is bloody awful.  The decided lack of color, recycled scenery, and roughshod character designs all contributed to a general distaste for the series, as it provided for a comical feel in many scenes that should have been anything but.  While many of the main characters gleaned decent designs, others suffered severe, exaggerated proportionality issues, and it ended being rather difficult to sympathize with them.  Also, there was a ridiculous amount of downright comical character designs, such as loin cloth men with capes, and this made it hard to take any of the visuals seriously.SoundAlmost as bad as the animation.  Almost.  Given that the margin of quality between the two categories is slim at best, however, that's really not saying much.  The musical score not only lacks in terms of repertoire, but it also lacks appropriateness.  Most tracks played throughout the course of the series are often are ill placed, which, when combined with lame graphics, disrupts the emotional impact of the drama on a consistent basis.  To draw an apt comparison, imagine a heavy metal piece playing while the boy and girl in a romance anime first kiss.  Yeah, it's that bad.The voice acting also could have used some improvement as well.  Kouji's seiyuu, for instance, sounded unprofessional on a number of occasions where his voice would crack inappropriately.CharactersAs can be expected of such a show, Ryvius focuses almost exclusively on its characters, of which there are quite many.  Only two (Aoi and Juli) really caught my eye, though, as many of the relationships in the series are not approached properly.  Aoi behaves the most human among the cast, as the disparagement between rational and instinctive behavior is reflected through her on almost every level.  Though initially shouldering all her problems with a smile, her emotions begin to chip away at her resolve, and her mixture of fear, paranoia, and sorrow cause her character evolve substantially over the course of the series.  Juli follows a very similar progression, only her character is approached from the position of a social elite, whereas Aoi is more of a commoner.Still, key character relationships, such as the one between the Aoba brothers, could have used a lot of work.  Not only did theirs not seem natural, but by the end it served absolutely no purpose other than to create drama.  Being that it was a central focus of much of Yuki and Kouji's development, it made their characters come across as shallow, especially when juxtaposed with the much more solemn events to befall them.  This left both their characters with a one-dimensionality, a shallowness, that I couldn't shake no matter how hard I tried.  Toss in random people running around in loincloths/capes and dinosaur suits, and it becomes quite hard to take the characters seriously on far too many occasions.OverallWhile a valiant (or no so valiant) attempt to capture Golding's classic in anime form, Ryvius ultimately falls short.  Its inability to truly capture the depth of the philosophies it examines due to its many flaws bothered me to no end, as many of its faults could have been corrected with relative ease.  Had Ryvius a much stronger emphasis on the emotional and intellectual weight behind its themes it could have been a classic itself, but in the end its inability to go beyond mediocrity left it a disappointing watch.


Ryvius is a blend of various different genres, such as adventure, drama, survival, sci-fi, mystery, political, and romance around a spaceship full of children getting stranded in space. Two things that are done very nicely is the atmosphere of fear, as well as the character interaction. - You are constantly made to think that the hundreds of children that are stranded without adults in the middle of a weird cosmic phenomenon are in deep trouble. Also, you see them chatting, fighting, suffering, threatening, flirting for so long, you actually get to know them and care to see how they cope and if they survive their ordeal. - Since the plot is very slow and tries to be as mysterious as possible, you are also made to think there is some weird shitin’ goin’ on here and you are glued to watch further. Some sort of political conspiracy or an alien mystery. Although the reward about the last part is rather disappointing, it still works as a magnet of interest. - All of the elements in the series are quite mainstream and appealing to the majority of anime fans and that is basically the reason it was a show many were fond of when it aired. The variety of its multiple themes was also an easy way for each individual viewer to focus on the aspect he liked and not mind the rest that much. - The elements are also NOT too serious. The show is fooling around half the time and this way it becomes easier accessible to more people who don’t fancy too much silliness or too heavy tragedy. All the above can work both ways though. Although Ryvius is indeed specifically made to be half light and half heavy to be accessible for the masses, at the same time it is not refined to enter the high tier of quality anime. The story for example appears to be mysterious and complicating when down to it is just a mess of good ideas that are handled poorly. Some sort of political agendas and terrorists and aliens and mystical robots and whatever, all that are thrown amidst teen angst to mostly colorize the setting and not to provide immersion to it. The pacing is also painfully slow to the point the entire series could easily be zipped to half its duration. Several key events are also solved quite conveniently through mystical powers, dubbed unknown technology in the series. How the hell do a bunch of kids manage to constantly fend off the attacks of a super advanced alien race? That is not cool and mean very little for the target audience which are teenagers and prefer the cool factor over reasoning. Speaking of cool, this anime does not look as one at all. Its production values are not great in any way other than the details on machinery. Animation for example is minimum, as there is a lot of frozen panels and even repeated footage. Characters are also drawn and shaded very simple too, while the special effects are cheesy. Action scenes are also unexacting to the most part, as they are short and without much choreography. Voice acting is just nice while the soundtrack, as atmospheric as it may sound to be, eventually has no memorable OST. You could excuse all the above as an attempt for the show to be subtle rather than poser but in a medium that is almost entirely about entertainment this works against it. If a show is not extreme enough, all its merits are simply not memorable. An easy example of that is the name of the anime which is taken from the name of the mecha. Do you think it is important enough to remember the mecha? Maybe the way it fights? How about the characters? There are dozens of them and they are all acting in a simple way or their roles are too minor in the show. What motivation do you have for remembering them? Down to it Ryvius is interesting and mostly memorable for its human drama. It is one of the few anime that deal with group mentality and how one can snap under the constant pressure of fear that leads to mass hysteria, as well as how propaganda can help to ease the fears even with false hope. It is also an almost mainstream teen story that shows how emotionally unstable teenagers are and how cruel and violent they can be to each other for no real reason. This is the only element of the show that is plausible, unlike the pseudo-serious story. The slow pacing is hit or miss if it works; it all depends on personal preferences. Bottom line, I recommend this show to those who like survival stories and teen angst but not to those who want fast pace, good storytelling or great action. SUGGESTION LIST Light ones: Mujin Wakusei SurviveVifam 13Ulysses 31Galaxy Express 999 Heavy ones: Lord of the Flies (western book / movie)Battle RoyaleGantz

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