This is one of those animes that tries to cater both sides of the spectrum. You know, there are the A types and the B types, one wants a good story and an interesting cast, the other wants action and boobs, and when they meet they usually mock each other’s tastes because they know better...
Anyway, this series tries to have both. Both spectacular action and fan service that would thrill mr.B and nauseate mr.A and still throw in a good story and developed characters that would interest mr.A and make mr.B stare at the ceiling.
Did the mix work? Yes and no. It did make the series to be more than just brainless action and bare legs, yet it never took itself too seriously to actually present fully the whole deal, thus it ended in a very open way and turned off most who watched it. It had the potential for greatness but failed to implement it (wow, same story for most anime).
So, the animation is half decent as it has some really WTF backgrounds for a great amount of time and still uses the tired but always successful ecchiness we all hate to love... Or is it the other way around?... Anyway, I was personally pleased with most of it as the color palette was nice, the weapons and equipment the fighters were using rocked, and the sceneries were interesting in themes and allusions. What I didn’t really like were the dumb looks the characters had. I mean, they seemed so spaced-out and it felt like a cheap amateurish production. Which is as I said all part of the problem that plagues most anime; good ideas but bad implementation. But as long as you don’t mind the stupid looks of the main cast, the rest is nice to look in overall. Just don’t go in with the mindset of expecting Mushishi or Mononoke level of atmosphere. It is essentially a series for teenagers who like superpowers and is simply heavy on the LSD moments. Neither the action, not the visual effects are really anything spectacular and this is true for practically any anime made by J.C. Staff. That studio cares more about making you stare at simplistically drawn boobs than actually trying to make a serious and well made show. They did it here as well and it surely damages the overall.
The acoustic part was an interesting surprise. I must say, the music is overall the best part of the series and even worths getting a copy of the soundtracks. I must have listened to the opening theme at least 200 times (without looking at the screen, because as I said the characters have lame looks) and the BGM is generally contributing a lot to the otherwise half-baked attempt at a good story or ecchi comedy or whatever… Stupid anime plague; one moment the talk about the meaning of life and the next they do sex jokes… Overall an ok work.
The story was better on paper than in actual presentation. Directed by Nishikiori Hiroshi, a guy who has taken over some very famous shows (Azumanga Daio, Planet of the Beast King, Toaru Majutsu no Index) but in all cases he just never manages to create a great storyboard. He just doesn’t have the talent to make proper use of any premise, of which in this case looks at first to be like a case of typical rebellious teenagers with superpowers versus generic ruthless status quo monstersTM. But it soon escalates to something far more than just that and I must say I f-ing loved it! For example, the leads never actually fight the main baddies themselves. They are too damn imba to do so! They only take on their lackeys, which are basically human collaborators with circus cloths and cool mecha. The villains themselves turn out not to be the usual “evil without a cause” bunch. Heck, their leader is even more than just the epitome of evilness. Shoot, his flying talking parrot is far more than just a token character. Hehe, damn aruhoto-naruhoto birdy; you got me by surprise there! Even the protagoninists and secondary allies begin as archetypes (the meak, kind-hearted boy, the oversexualised girls, the emo lone wolf and so on) yet as the episodes go on you get to see far more to their personalities than just that.
Imba villains, cool weaponry and colorful protagonists, yeah, good sh*t to watch. So far so good; but unfortunately the story still suffers from some basic ever-present shounen BS and self contained stories that leave the whole deal in a mess. For starters, the series is separated into almost stand alone story arcs, featuring its own special monster of the week baddie in it… No, wait, make that Monster Union Member of the week because as I said the main baddies are simply untouchable for the most part (and following the cheesiness of the trope, their official name is Monsters… duh). So we get this crazy person going Viva Monster Union and taking the leads before the next pops up and repeats the process. Been there, done that. But at least each arc leaves small bits of information regarding the state of the world and the upcoming events so it is not really totally disjoined and skippable. And each arc really brings more light to the characters and the world around them. Tiny bits as I say as most of the time it flows in quite the typically expected formula of random beams blowing sh*t up during the action and sexual frustration in the later half.
As for the ending, it is far too open to please most as it is only the end of a strong baddie who wasn’t even close to the level of the Monsters. Duh! It feels complete in its initial goal but hell, it had enough material to make two more seasons. But you know what? The last episodes are really a drug party as they were such a mess of allusions and crazed up sh*t that I almost though I was watching the final episodes of the NGE series. It was such a trip! … And yet such a letdown as apparently they never bothered making a sequel and wrap the damn thin.
In all, it was an interesting experience. Not really just a generic teenagers with superpowers anime and yet not close to a masterpiece of cinematics and atmosphere. I blame J.C. Staff for that. It is by far not a must see anime but it still worths the watch as long as you have seen a bit of both sides of the A – B spectrum and don’t want a thrilling viewing experience. I personally kept it around and plan to watch it again; that means something for someone who got fed up with the usual stuff.