Once upon a time, Sunrise executives got into a drinking contest, or a party at the strip club, or whatever it is they do when they run low on cash and have to think of a new title. They needed something good, something genre-breaking. The artist already gave them a beautiful design, so now they only had to think of a story – piece of cake, right? Well, not really. They could only come up with a list of all the overused crappy cliches:
- a teenage protagonist that's a coward and want to make peace not war
- a female tsundere childhood friend that is his ever-unfullfilled love interest
- a bunch of random background characters
- an intergalactic war between two super powerful nations
That was a very poor list, but they were not discouraged. They started to think how to make this more presentable.
'Hey, how about we add Lelouche wannabe?' asked person A 'Everyone loved Lelouche, right?' And thus L-Elf was added to the list.
'I know, let's kill the tsundere friend, and make our hero go berserk with grief! Tragedy is always good, and at least we will have a glimpse of coherence in main protagonist's actions!,' said person B and thus another idea was added to the list.
It was still weak. And cliche. And boring. So they sat in that bar/strip club/some other establishment they occupied at that moment, and they thought very hard. Very, very hard. So hard they almost came up with a plot for Evangelion. And then one person asked:
"How about we make him a vampire?"
The applause was overhelming. That was it. The selling point they were looking for. A mecha-pilot, who is a whiny teenager AND a vampire. Brilliant. Splendid. Superb. Money would flow their way like a school of sharks smelling blood. They written it all down, called it episode 1 of Valvrave the Liberator, congratulated themselves for a job well done, and fell into a deep slumber.
If that was the end to their adventures they would make an anime that's average, but not that bad. Unfortunately, once they finished writing the first episode of this amazing saga of love and hate, they sobered up. And once the alcohol was out of their systems, the world seemed less shiny, the plot was less brilliant, and they couldn't be bothered to tie up everything they tossed into the mix. So instead they started to cut things up.
"Hey guys, you know what?” said person X “Tragedy is not fan-service friendly, let's skip the tragedy!" And thus episode 2 was born.
"Hey guys' said person Y, "the intergalaactic war is boring. How about we pretend we're waging war and go for high school comedy instead?" And thus episode 3 was born.
"Um you know what?" asked Mr. Sensible, the only sensible person in the office, the one who was never invited to their drinking parties, "the plot is beginning to fall apart. It seems very... I don't know, implausible? Stupid? Incoherent?"
And they looked at him, considering his wise words. Indeed, it didn't look as hot as it seemed at episode 1, when everything was shiny and epic, and viewers needed to be baited into watching. They wrecked their brains trying to come up with a solution, until one of them stood up and said:
"Coherent plots are overrated!" The round of applause was given, and thus they were liberated from their conundrum! They no longer needed to bother with the pretence of logic, they could go crazy with all the completely retarded scenarios that would still appeal to their teenage fan-base, since “pure teenagers vs lying adults” theme always sells. And thus the horrible episode 4 clawed its way up into existence, from the deepest realms of stupidity.
The saga is not over yet. Only 4 episodes were aired so far. What horrible episodes awaits us on the horizon? Only Sunrise knows.
Welcome to an anime called Valvrave the Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave), where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.
Over the last decade or so, Sunrise hasn’t had a very good track record when it comes to original mecha productions, despite having the juggernaut that is Gundam under their belt. For every good production they’ve put out, they’ve churned out just about as many, if not more that are bad. This is a story of how Sunrise decided that they don’t give a rat’s ass anymore.
Valvrave is a fairly straightforward story as far as mecha series go: 70% of the human population is at war, with the two sides being a) The FREEDOM loving ARUS, and b) The SPESH NAZZIS of Dorssia. The story is set in the 30% of the population, in the neutral territory of JIOR. Their deal is that they don’t wish to fight, nor do they have the equipment to do so anyways… or so they say. One day, the daily lives of JIORians are flipped upside down when Dorssian forces come to town and wreck things up, and in the chaos, a high school student finds a strange robot where his school is! However, there is one condition before piloting it, given in the form of a question: "Do you resign as a human being?" It is from this point on that the fate of JIOR and its neutrality lies in the hands of high school students with a handful of powerful mechs that span the colours of the rainbow as part of their arsenal, an elite Dorssian soldier who through oddball fate has no choice but to work with said students, some conversions to the module they are on, diplomacy and explosions in between defending their land.
Originally, I had ignored this series for the most part when it was airing. Despite my interest in mecha, I had ignored it because I had pretty much made the connection that Sunrise doesn’t really do a good job at it anymore long ago, especially when you consider the (not so) loved series that is Gundam AGE. After 11 weeks of some comedic gold of threads about it on 4chan’s /a/, and considering the fact that the robot designs are pretty cool, I decided to give in and give it a go, so that I could watch the end of the 1st cour on schedule. And for the first half of the 12 episodes this season, I understood why the other reviews on here had dropped it by the 5/6 episode mark.
It was horrible.
The characters are almost unlikeable for one reason or another, the plot was ridiculous to the point that it basically blurred the line between Super Mecha and Real Mecha and only went crazier from there, and there are a generous number of moments in the show where you simply can’t do anything but just cringe at how horribly cheesy it is.
Despite all the glaring flaws I had said, this strange combination of things that should have stamped it as a catastrophic failure long ago is mostly redeemed by one thing once the mediocrity passed: it’s unpredicatability. However, it’s not of the “oh, I’ll just guess this happens and assume the opposite” kind. It’s the “oh my god did that really just happen” kind, and that’s how it gets you hooked. You could love it, and continue on and be on your merry way. You could hate it, yet still be amused enough to keep watching it. It doesn’t matter, you’re still watching it, and that’s what Valvrave is good at: getting you at the edge of your seat, blowing your mind every now and then, and just being entertaining. Sometimes, that’s good enough.
I look forward to October, and see what Sunrise has in store for me with the second half of this odd, yet charming series.
For many of us studio Sunrise is now labeled as “the mecha trainwreck” studio. They were quite innovating in their early years but for the past 2 decades they make only robot-themed shows filled with obnoxious lead characters and storylines written on the run. And yes, they usually sell very well to their target audience thanks to the good budget but if you compare them with the mecha shows of GAINAX you easily realize how they are hardly trying to be anything out of the ordinary or even well made. They are kid stuff for mass consumption with little to no actual value.
Their latest proof of that is this Valvrave thing; a patchwork of good ideas from past works, hardly trying to do anything new with them or at least present them in a nice way. It is just throws them randomly on the screen and expects you to shut off your brain and stare at the scenery porn, the mecha porn, and the silly school comedy shenanigans. Guess what folks; it won’t work no matter how many pink explosions and sailor suit girls they splatter all over your face. Because there is absolutely no effort given to make us give a damn about anyone or anything before they try to entertain us with anything else in it. This is what made Code Geass good in the first season to the point most didn’t mind how bad it became plot-wise in the second. And this is what made Guilty Crown bad right away, since just like Valvrave it never tried to be anything more than random good ideas.
You get weird stuff like mecha who turn their pilots into vampires with fast regeneration who also possess their victims and fight space Nazis with ultimate attacks that include performing hara-kiri and throwing Frisbees, while having flashforwards to centuries later where amnesia and deaths happen. It sounds cool but there is absolutely no attempt to move from event A to event B with some sort of logic behind it; it all plays out as randomly as possible. It is impossible to create anything good if there is absolutely no consistency to how something works or how someone behaves. Some girl survives a nuke by being inside a car and just like everything else that is all you ever need to accept this lame plot armor. An elite assassin who can easily kill hundreds of soldiers gets owned instantly by the protagonist’s bite. A few minutes later the protagonist attacks his schoolmates and is owned by the slap of a frail girl. And no, that is not supposed to be a joke; it was supposed to be a most dramatic scene.
Two minutes after it begins and you are already thinking this is yet another alternative universe of Gundam. Only it isn’t; it is supposed to be a NEW show with a NEW setting. Whatever; we typically have a Gundam future where mankind creates space colonies and fights with mechas. Our protagonist is a typical teenager who “accidentally” finds a new overpowered model and is forced to pilot it as means to protect his friends and stuff. He is yet another one of those pussies who blushes when he looks at a girl or screams when a female does the unthinkable and touches him. I mean, really, from all the people in the universe he is the one who finds the robot and has the guts to pilot it? Where did he found the balls all of a sudden? In the typical Sunrise fashion, he acts as the plot demands it and not as he should. More specifically, when a girl is in trouble he gets manly but when said girl wants to thank him he screams like the sissy he is. Add to that a ridiculous scene where he goes berserk by mystical powers and rapes a girl he proposes to marry the exact next day. What was this show called again, Vulrape the Lubricator? Anyways, the show will constantly try to present him as a tragic hero who is forced to sacrifice a lot for the good of the many but his blunt personality and the completely random plot twists will make it impossible to give a damn.
In a similar manner, the fail expands to everything else in the show; the enemy spies for example. You know; the ones in all Gundam shows who pretend to be civilians just to sneak in and steal the new model? You get this sudden antithesis where on one side stands the pussy protagonist doing a harem comedy and on the other these amoral assholes who kill defenseless people for the lulz. And yes, they are transfer students; every mediocre anime with schools needs transfer students in order for something to happen. Oh my, such amazing characterization! Now can we please get something so we can describe each one of them with more than a hair color or a silly-sounding name that repeats every 2 minutes? Or can we at least have some bloody consistency in the way they are supposed to behave? If they kill on sight any defenseless person they meet and laugh about it, why do they start to chat with the lead’s schoolmates for no bloody reason? I mean, really, the robot they came for is in front of them, they killed dozens of people to get to it without lifting an eyebrow, and as soon as it is a few steps away they stop walking or shooting anything that moves, and start to talk with nobodies. HERP!
From the dozens of cardboards this show has, one of them stands out and is none other than the Char-wannabe of this season. You won’t forget his name, since everybody yells about it in a most memorable and retarded way. ELELFU! ELELFU! ELELFU! He acts like a double agent, out to take revenge on the space Nazis and does it by magically predicting what everybody is going to do next. Of course he calls it tactics but it is practically magic. “Haha, I predicted that none of the enemy bullets would hit you, while you run to get into the robot against my orders, wearing a green skirt and having French fries for dinner.”
The robot action is another thing to facepalm about, as it is filled with pink wings, pink laser beams, and pink explosions. HOW MANLY! Did I mention how easy it is for a civilian to master the controls of a super powerful robot full of mystical powers in about five seconds? But when an experienced soldier tries to pilot it, he is immediately killed by the computer because he is not a pussyfied male teenager. Yeah, typical Sunrise, find a cheap excuse so only teenagers are allowed to have superpowers; adults can go frakk themselves. For more information, check out how being older than 17 means you are cursed to be a nobody in shows like Accel World or Guilty Crown. Hell, Valvrave takes that to the next level by having a school of immature kids rebelling against the adults and declaring independence. Because adults are dicks and only teenagers are awesome. Disregard how there is absolutely no policy or reason behind that thought or how in 5 years they will all be adults like the ones they take a shit on right now.
I better clarify something in case you missed the irony. This and the aforementioned titles are about teen fantasy. They are made to make the teen audience feel like they are awesome. Realism has nothing to do with it; it is pure escapism and the rule of cool. Everything needs to revolve around sexualized retarded high school kids having the fun of their lives by doing anything stupid they ever wanted in a colony that is magically self-dependent. 15 years ago we had Infinite Ryvius, with a similar situation. Only thing, over there the teenagers had lack of resources and many had mental breakdowns, so it was hardly fun and for the same reason ten times more interesting. There is absolutely no drama or even reason in Valvrave despite pretending to have buckets of it.
And don’t think the lame tributes to retro anime will end there. In order for the base to continue having food and otaku related nonsense the teenagers need to raise funds. A decade ago we had Starship Operators where the teenagers there had to turn the war into a reality show. If you think that was silly, Valvrave goes even beyond that by having the teenagers gathering money by doing j-pop musicals.
I would gladly accept all the pandering if the show was like Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure or Tengen Toppa but the problem is that it ain’t. It is not GAR brilliance but rather a dork gamer’s wet dream. Seriously, teenagers who are into sports or have girlfriends will find this show lame for deifying geeks. The protagonist has enough firepower to wipe out armies and is otherwise screaming like a monkey for being hugged by a girl who simply wants to thank him for saving her. Yet he saves the day and everyone cheers for him in every episode for being the waste of flesh he is. Last time I checked heroes are supposed to have guts or charisma and he has none. Hell, he doesn’t even look memorable; he is just another cookie cutter dude you will forget by tomorrow. And furthermore everyone in this show is constantly using cell phones, plays videogames, sleeps with huge anime pillows, is a hikikomori, or acts like a spaz. NOBODY IS MANLY!
I have a hard time getting into these modern anime who do nothing but pandering to dork otakus and don’t try to tell a good story. I am a big anime fan but back in my teens shows were a lot more about characterization than fancy pink explosions or advertisements for videogames. Mecha anime were war dramas or psychological thrillers, this is closer to a school ecchi 4-panel comedy than a mecha action show. And it doesn’t work; especially when they try to build drama. The hero is too afraid to approach anyone because he thinks he will harm them with his vampire lust. BOOHOOHOO is this supposed to be taken seriously? It’s not like he was going to do anything more with any girl even if was still normal. Why? BECAUSE HE IS A SPINELESS PUSSY! He gets his own imba mecha, has hax vampire skills, saved millions of lives, all the chicks love him, and he loses his mojo as easily as he gained it. If somebody thinks this is either cool or tragic then he needs to stop reading bad fan fiction.
Well done Sunrise; you managed to make a fool of yourself once again. At least Code Geass had a good first season before you blew it all up. And at least the white dressed racist aristocrats there didn’t have red mascara around their eyes to make them look so gay. I bet you realized you will never write a proper plot ever again so instead of delaying the inevitable you start the fail right away. Well, at least this way nobody will have high hopes and will not be disappointed later on. And I see you already decided to prepare us for that by the title of your next show. Why bother to find a cool name like Valrave when the show is so retarded? Just name it Butt Buddy Complex.
I was surprised by this anime. The first episode was good, but then from then on I was a bit unsure if this was just going to be another Mecha show with nothing unique in it... Well I ended up stopping at about episode 13 or so, but then as soon as i watched a couple more I watched all the way to ep 24 in one night. The rest was very good and took a lot of twists that I didn't expect. I felt that it was somewhat unique, which can be hard to come across.
P.S. The opening and ending for the series in the later half is awesome! :):)
Overall I enjoyed it and was one of the only animes i've liked sense I watched attack on titan. 8.7/10!!!!
as someone who kind of likes those animes where a high school student saves the day with a giant robot (i.e. Linebarrels of Iron, Full Metal Panic, Evangelion, …you get the idea) I liked this one. The love interest part in this was a little different. Normally it’s the two that hate each other through most of the series but in this one they already like one another and it’s the “death” of Shōko Sashinami that throws Haruto into a bit of a rage and vows to kill every Dorssian. Bit different but still some of the same. I was really surprised on who got in the Purple Valvrave in the last episode. I’m not going to say who but it was a person who never even crossed my mind to get in a Valvrave. I am really glad that there is a second season because that was not one of those anime endings where you might think they could just leave it there. No this was a cliff hanger ending.