Super Robot Wars: OG Divine Wars is an anime adaptation of the Gameboy Advanced game, Super Robot Wars: Original Generation (unless you played this game in America where it is known as Super Robot Taisen: Original Generation. Why the name change? Because "Wars" wasn't "anime" enough for American audiences. Just a guess.) Having said that, this review is comparing the anime to the source material, and is therefore, a little judgemental. Okay, okay. Very judgemental.
But first, a little set-up for that the anime sometimes glanced over.
It is nearly two hundred years after the beginning of the "Space Era", and just as Earth has its eyes firmly set on the stars, the stars decide to send down two meteors that destroy lots of stuff that was on the Earth's surface, but they didn't really seem to hit anything of significance since these meteors are rarely ever mentioned again. The Third Meteor, however, is the one that matters, since it holds the deus ex machina of the series, Extra-Over Technology (or EOT for short.) While Dr. Bian Zoldark was studying the EOT, he discovers that a group of alien conquerors known as the Aerogators created the EOT, and they intend to claim the Earth for their own. To combat this new threat, the Earth Federation Government (EFG) develop a new series of humanoid mecha known as Personal Troopers (PT). An EFG Investigation Team is then sent to the edge of the solar system to evaluate the presence of Aerogators, so it comes as a shock when the two forces meet and (instead of sharing tea and cookies with each other) they engage in combat! (Who could have seen this coming?) In the end, the Earth Federation claims a hard-earned but costly victory against the Aerogators. But the question remained; would Earth's current defences be able to hold out against the full might of the alien conquerors' invasion force? As a side note, none of the above it actually shown in the anime and is only expressed through plot exposition in the form of scrolling text and verbal diarrhea from characters that weren't even there. These are two of the best ways to explain what is going on, if the animators' intent was to bore the audience to tears and ensure barely any of this information is remembered after ten seconds have passed. Top notch storytelling thus far.
(WARNING! The rest of the review may contain basic information about some random plot points, so for those who want to know nothing about the storyline, skipping the rest of the review may be recommended. If that is the case, refer to the number values at the bottom of the review and quit reading. YOU WERE WARNED!!!!!)
With the still looming threat of the aliens on the horizon, the Earth Federation Government must take some kind of new initiative in the fight to come to turn the tide in their favor. So they decide to make more, even better Personal Troopers to throw at the problem, and thus, the Project SRX (Super Robot X-Type) and Project ATX (Alt Eisen Trooper X-type? Best guess?) are established to make the next generation of Personal Troopers. But for all intents and purposes, just focus on the SRX Team since the anime ignores the ATX Team even exsists until almost halfway through the series. That is when the ATX Team is droppped into the storyline with no explaination and suddenly decide to give them some screen time. Now add a rogue group known as the Divine Crusaders (DC), led by Dr. Bian Zoldark, that believe the EFG isn't up to the task of fighting the Aerogators, so they try to forcefully seize control of the planet by declaring war on the EFG. So the planet is thrown into the chaos of a (ridiculous) civil war to decide who gets to fight the overpowered aliens, all while the threat of those same overpowered aliens get closer to invading everyday. Genius. Pure genius.
The first episodes slug along as they typically focus on Ryusei Date, the gamer turn mecha pilot via 'The Last Starfighter' plot device (if you don't get that reference, you are too young and need to watch older movies), as he gets brought up to speed on the differences between VR combat and real 'I might get blown up' combat. These training sessons mostly come from his teammates Raidiese F. Branstein, a serious and skilled soldier that brought enough family issues to share with the rest of the class, and Aya Kobayashi, a young woman that leads the SRX team but really only got the job because of her huge... telepathic abilities. (They were only looking at two things when they saw her: the left and right hemishpere or her brain.) These types of episodes tend to drag on for most of the first half of the series with awkwardly animated mecha fights sprinkled in. (Seriously though, the 3D animated mecha fights in the fight half are clunky and rigid and overall unenjoyable.) Sadly, with most of the focus of these early episodes almost solely on the 3 SRX team members, the side characters are dropped in fairly often with little to no explanation of who they are, where they came from or why they are getting any screen time at all. (See ATX Team.) And with a hero and villian roster of a little more than 50 characters, it can be a little more than difficult to get invested in any one of them. These frequent character introductions bog the story down almost as much as Ryusei's 'training arc'.
Fortunately, around Episode 13 is where the pacing finally calms down and hits a rhythm that is easier to follow and invest in. Most of the characters have been introduced (or at least shown that they exsist) so the episdoes start to show off some more of the character interacting and give the major plot points more time to develope and affect the characters in more meaningful ways. The quality of the mecha fights even takes on a bit of a higher quality, even going so far as to show off some of the special attacks that the mechas made famous in the video games. They even start to feel as though the units might be working together and possibly even using strategy to take down the enemies and reach a common goal. These are the episodes that will really invest and draw in potential fans, since this is probably where most (if not all) of the budget went when making this series. (That and that catchy first opening title sequence. Why did they have to replace it? The rest of the soundtrack is either annoying or none exsistant.) Even though, the last 2-3 episodes do have a little bit of the information overload with some rapid-fire battles, character developements and plenty of plot twists (cliche twists that may cause some to members of the audience to roll their eyes in reluctant acceptance), it is told mostly though battles and conversations rather than exposition dumps so it is a bit more enjoyable process. The storyline will lead into SRW: OG Inspector, so not everything is resolved, but it leaves off at a fairly satisfying conclusion.
So if you like mecha shows and are looking for something to tide you over til the next anime, give this one a shot but don't go out of your way to hunt it down. If you already like Super Robot Wars, you are who this series was created for, but just don't buy it unless you know you want it. But if you don't fit into either of the above categories, this would probably be a hard watch, and is definitely not a good first mecha anime to enjoy. Seek other solutions.
Right, it's confession time for me. If you have been reading my reviews than you may have noticed that I tend to rip the anime a new one. There is a reason for this though and it has to do with the fact that I can't turn my brain off when watching anime. I can't ignore the stupid shown in the anime and this is a problem as most anime are very stupid indeed.
In this case I'm not talking about a 90 pound girl catching a multi-ton cruise missile and throwing it back. Yes, it is stupid but it is a stupid that I'll allow. It's anime. Things like this are normal here and I'm pretty much fine with it. It annoys me to be sure but I will not rant about it.
So, having explained this lets rip into this anime shall we? Just a heads up: There will most probably be spoilers. The more I hate an anime the more spoilers there will be.
ART: It's fine but looks and feels very dated which is surprising since it aired in 2006. Still it gets the job done and the mecha's look pretty good. Only problem I had is the large cast which made keeping them apart at the end a chore.
SOUND: Again no complaints from me. I have watched the anime a few days ago but can no longer remember either the OP or the ED song. This is how I generally prefer it so I'm fine with it. Voice actors did a good job overall.
CHARACTERS: Main character is Ryuusei. He is a fanatic player of the Burning PT Tournament who gets drafted into the military as an ace pilot candidate. He is very cocky and tends to rush into things without thinking but has a deep desire to protect.
Raidese is from a high ranking family in the space colonies who turned his back on his relatives. He gets attached to Ryuuseis' squad but often but heads due to their different personalities. Gnerally he keeps his cool but loses it where his family is concerned.
Aya is the squad captain and superior of Raidese and Ryuusei despite her young age. She has a crush on the unit commander, Ingram, and will do anything for him.
Ingram is commander of the special unit and he has been intrumental in its development. He used the Burning PT tournament to sqout out potential pilots capable of piloting his special units.
Zolberg is the leading scientist of the EOTI organisation and fears that the Eath is not ready to face the coming invasion.
Aerogaters. This is a mysterious race of aliens that started coming to Earth for a while now and started a secret war with the Federation.
STORY: Ryuuesei is a massive robot otaku who loves playing the Burning PT tournament. Sadly for him he gets crushed in the finals and soon after the stadium gets crushed in an alien attack. Before he knows what is going on, someone drops a mecha in front of him and urges him to get in to fight. This person was Major Ingram, who was there to scout out pilots for his project and he has chosen Ryuusei. Thus begins Ryuusei's fight against the Aerogaters.
RANT: It's stupid. Very, very stupid. Even worse is that it is the kind of stupid that pisses me off because a large part either doesn't make sense or could have easily been avoided.
For those of you who have read more of my revies, and know my hatred for stupudity, I must add that not all stupid things piss me off. No, it takes a special kind of stupidity to set me off and this anime has this quality in spades. Joy.
I wouldn't have minded the stupid as much if the anime was presented as a comedy but this is sadly not the case. No, this anime takes itself way to seriously for what is going on and heaps on the drama when it can. This has the unfortunate side effect of being even more stupid at times.
Still the anime has it good points too. The mecha action looks pretty decent, in my inexperienced view. When it cuts lose with the action you are invested in what is going on because of how it looks.
Speaking of looks though.... Yeah, it looks cheap. Some shots are used multiple times and the attacks are laughebly bad. The all powerful space battleship Hagane is in multiple fights and gets shot at a lot. You see the bridge crew when this happens and damage is called out like they are seconds from blowing up. Yet, in every exterior shot there isn't so much as a scratchmark to be seen on the ship.
But on with the stupid. First and biggest problem is Bian Zoldark and his Divine Crusaders. He starts a war against the Earth government because of the way they deal with the Aerogaters. He believes strongly that the people aren't ready for the coming war and that the government is doing nothing to change this. So he decides to build an army and launches a surprise attack.
He informs the people of Earth about his reasons and promises not to harm any civilians. The funny part is that as he is telling this he is killing a lot of soldiers and doing trillions of dollars of damage. I imagine that many of these soldiers have families outside of the military and they will most devinitely get hurt by the actions of Zoldark.
Anyway the reason for his fighting never manages to convince me as it is stupid no matter how I look at it. In human history no army has ever won a fight by deliberately starting a fight on 2 fronts. The only reason he gets away with it is because the Aerogaters just fuck off during this time.
Yep, the Aerogaters, the reason why Ryuusei joing the army just drop off the face of the Earth during the war. In fact they remain more or less gone untill episode 20, when the DC is finally defeated.
Zoldark uses the peace talks the government has with them as reason for starting the war. Unfortunately there is a slight problem with this: YOU NEVER SEE THIS!
All you hear is Zoldark mentioning that the government trying to sell the Earth away to save their skins but at no point will you see it. Showing it would have solved so much problems though.
It would have validated his reason for launching the DC and would have explained the turning of Sanger to his side. Who is Sanger? He is the commander of a special and he is a true Samurai in that he would always fight with honor and follow commands. He gets captured and brough to Zoldark and within a few minutes he has changed sides. To say that this is out of character is calling it lightly.
Having him present at the peace talks and hearing what the government planned would have been a serious breach of faith in his belief in them. This would festered untill he eventually switched sides to DC and fight for them.
Another botched item is character introduction. At some point two side characters meet up for the first time. This happens outside the Hagwane, which at this point is the final ace of the Federation. Security will be beyond tight just to get on the base but she is a crew member and stands outside the ship within spitting distance of it.
At this point the other character comes rushing towards her demanding to know who she is and what she is doing there. Like I said the number of checkpoints you had to go through would have been staggering so for her to be asking that is very silly indeed.
To further add to the stupidity she is not even a security officer but a member of the bridge crew. When you see someone you don't trust standing somewhere she is not supposed to be you call security and then you fuck off in case the shoting starts. Running up to a possible insurgent is a very quick way to die young.
But it doesn't end there unfortunately as our, now introduced, moron decides to give her a tour of the ship. I should point out here that the girl she just met is the childhood friend of Ryuusei and by chance they pass each other on the ship.
Both are surprised and stop to call out to each other. By name. Again our moron leaps in between them loudly declaring that she has a right to be there, having verufied her credentials herself, and Ryuusei better not bitch about her in any way.
.....THEY KNOW EACH OTHER BY NAME YOU FUCKING CUNT! DO US ALL A FAVOR A GO FOR A WALK OUT OF A AITLOCK WHILE FLYING THROUGH SPACE!
Everything about this section is just wrong and was so easily avoidable. Just have them sit next to each other on the shuttle going to the ship or pass through security together and it would have been natural for them to start a conversation. None of this was needed and only shows the utter incompetence of the writer.
Unfortunately the anime is littered with these little moments of stupidity and you could have lost most, if not all of them, with a simple rewrite. Zero fuck were given with writing it and, as a result, zero fuck were given by me as a result.
As it is this anime is an utter waste of the time and effort to make it.