Valvrave the Liberator

Alt title: Kakumeiki Valvrave

Valvrave the Liberator
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blitzburns4's avatar
May 28, 2018

Valvrave the Liberator Review

The following is a review for the anime Valvrave the Liberator, produced by Studio Sunrise in 2013. The series ran for 24 episodes, and is directed by Ko Matsuo, whose other two biggest directorial works were Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt and Red Garden. More notable, however, is the writer Ichiro Okouchi, whom was one of the two cowriters for the esteemed Studio Sunrise hit series Code Geass. The following review contains a plethora of Spoilers. But if you haven’t seen the series and just wanted to know a bottom-line summary, just know this: I give Valvrave a cautious recommendation. Much like the series Guilty Crown, while it’s not as disappointing as most serious viewers would probably make it out to be, it’s still disappointing. Indeed, while it’s not quite as intelligent or daring as Guilty Crown is at its best, comparatively it is more entertaining just by sheer virtue of how random and ironically comedic it is, particularly in its first half. I’d also venture to say that, in my opinion, it is best to think of Valvrave as a series that lies closer in the ballpark of Future Diary’s over-the-top antics rather than Guilty Crown’s unforeseen left turn into degeneracy. Just enjoy it for what it is, a un-ironically dumb mecha anime, and you’ll have a great time with Valvrave. Just don’t expect there to be much in the way of actual substance worth revisiting once you’re done.

With that said, let’s begin.

Forming a part of the “trifecta” of disappointing mecha series of the new decade, along with Guilty Crown (2011) and Aldnoah.Zero (2015); many viewers were left wondering if mecha was even a viable genre for anime anymore after the massive continual disappointment each new mecha series provided its viewers. Guilty Crown was released back in 2011 by powerhouse studio Production I.G. to massive fanfare, and it will probably remain one of the greatest disappointments in anime history for the foreseeable future. I go into further greater detail about Guilty Crown in my review for it, which is also posted here on Anime Planet.

Two years later, in 2013, came Studio Sunrise’s release of Valvrave the Liberator, which quickly proved itself to not just be a disappointing anime, but a testament showcase for the ridiculous lengths an anime (or, more specifically, a mecha anime) can go to keep an audience engaged and guessing. Reactions by critics for Valvrave were mixed, but in general trended negative. Nicoletta Browne of respected editorial T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews says of Valvrave the Liberator that, “[it] is a complete waste of time”, and proceeds to give it 1 star. (Ouch!) Dexomega of Ani-Tay says of Valvrave that it is “Completely Insane” while elaborating, “Valvrave’s story is all kinds of insane and absurd, but it comes through the screen as something [that is] incredibly awesome.” Likewise, Richard Eisenbeis of Kotaku quips, “Valvrave Mixes an Over-the-Top Premise with Real World Consequences” in the title for his review, which I think is fairly accurate and concise summary. Nick Creamer of the Anime News Network tells us in his review that, “Valvrave is a very silly show” and later, “[that] Valvrave’s larger narrative is non-existent” but does admit in his conclusion that “Valvrave the Liberator serves any number of anime fans who don’t take themselves too seriously, best enjoyed with drinks and friends.” I agree with this assessment. Nick gives the series an overall grade of C+, which again, I think is an accurate and fair representation for what Valvrave the Liberator, as an anime, accomplishes and provides in entertainment value for its viewers. Its certainly entertaining, but I’ll be damned if I will (most likely) ever watch it again.

Finally, in 2015 comes the release of Aldnoah.Zero, which was created by popular anime studio studio and powerhouse A-1 Pictures and features Gen Urobuchi and Ei Aoki, the tandem behind Fate/Zero. Once again, there were grand expectations. Once again, those expectations invariably failed. The summary of that show’s main issue was that it (apparently) had the biggest fake-out of the decade by having an excellent first few episodes before figuratively dropping off a cliff in terms of quality. This trend of disappointments finally ceased with Studio Sunrise’s Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans (2016). My precise thoughts on Aldnoah.Zero (and maybe even Iron Blooded Orphans) are coming soon™.

My goal over this recent string of reviews has been to revisit each of these series and really dissect if the shows were as disappointing as the community has made them out to be and, if so, get right down to the why’s that I think that they genuinely failed. I’ve already linked above my Review/take on Guilty Crown. Now, I’m here to analyze and discuss my thoughts and sentiments on Valvrave the Liberator. My sentiments for Valvrave are, on the whole, the same as Guilty Crown’s. Though I do, personally, like and argue that Guilty Crown accomplishes more even if its failures are much more egregious given the circumstances of both series' creation and release. I do think Valvrave sort of benefitted during its run by being released after Guilty Crown. This allowed Valvrave to be the primary benefactor of people’s tempered expectations following the colossal failure of Guilty Crown. Of course, that’s just a working hypothesis and I have absolutely no way of backing up or qualifying that statement; except to say that there were articles and discussions like this floating around about Guilty Crown before its release, which I cannot seem to find for Valvrave the Liberator. The precise nature, degree and range of audience disappointment, and reactions in general, for each of these three series are kind of hard to surmise accurately. You’re welcome to peruse through the various online discussion threads to see what I mean, but if you’re here reading this review- I’m assuming you already have, at the very least, a cursory understanding of the online anime community's consensus and its general sentiments towards Aldnoah.Zero, Guilty Crown, and Valvrave the Liberator, respectively. In general, they're not considered good anime or held in a particularly high regard.

Valvrave sort of has this Catch-22 dilemma going on for it that can be best summarized with the phrase “So bad it’s good”. On paper, it’s got a very simple setup with all the checkmarks for a prototypical mecha series. Neutral peaceful town is attacked by a militant group of assailants in the first episode? Check. Innocuous teenage boy accidentally falls into a super powered mecha and saves the day? Check. Political intrigue as the main character navigates a multi-dimensional, three way power struggle between the dominant military powers of the world? Check. Romantic subplots and love triangles ensuing soon thereafter? Check. A cast of arch-typical supporting characters? Check. As Richard Eisenbeis highlights in his review title, its what Studio Sunrise decides to do with that formula that’s interesting. Instead of following the conventional formula and maybe executing it better, Valvrave almost seems to satirize it, with the punch line being that you can never find a point in the series where the show stops taking itself seriously. So you can’t help but laugh at its expense. There will be crazy moments that happen where you’d almost be expected to (and certainly forgiven) for thinking the show was just screwing with you, if not causing you to exclaim out loud at the ridiculousness of it. The key buzzword I keep stumbling across (such as in Dex’s Ani-Tay review) in my online readings is “campy”. For the sake of brevity, according to the second most popular definition on Urban Dictionary: Campy is a word that means the following, “adj. Refers to intentionally exaggerated thematic or genre elements, especially in television and motion picture mediums.” I’m…tempted to finger-point at the anime community for their apparent adoration and appreciation of Valvrave the Liberator’s ridiculous antics, but treatment of Guilty Crown as a total black sheep to be scapegoated. Tonally, however, viewers have a point. Valvrave, from the very get-go, makes no secret of its, ahem, grand ambitions. Many have done so already, but let’s summarize its ridiculous moments again just to have it on record for this review.

In Episode 1, the main brown haired and blue-eyed character, Haruto Tokishima, and first auburn-haired, green-eyed romantic interest, Shoko Shashinami, are introduced in a seemingly ordinary high school life. When pandemonium breaks out as the Dorissans, one of the three powerful conglomerate nations along with the J.I.O.R. (where the High School students reside) and A.R.U.S. that rule a future Earth, attack the school as part of a takeover of J.I.O.R.; Haruto ultimately takes it upon himself to pilot a mysterious mecha after seeing his romantic interest, Shoko, seemingly killed. He saves the day but gets murdered (quite humorously, actually) himself by an enemy agent called L-Elf at the end of the episode, and comes back to life as a vampire and attacks L-Elf, body swapping with him for Episode 2.

I have your attention? Good.

Yes, the show keeps getting more and more ridiculous from there. Episode 2 showcases Haruto’s mecha going super saiyan and destroying what appears to be an entire galactic fleet, as well as a ridiculous scene where an A.R.U.S. test pilot tries out Haruto’s newfound mecha and literally explodes gruesomely and dramatically in a moment straight out of Elfen Lied. In Episode 3, L-Elf’s dramatic escape is an obvious highlight—perhaps of the entire series. After Haruto swapped with L-Elf back into their original bodies, L-Elf is held in an interrogation room full of soldiers, but escapes bound custody by using a piece of glass he caught from an exploding lightbulb and proceeds to murder what feels like hundreds of people in a most ridiculous fashion. In a choreographed action sequence that includes him free falling amidst hundreds of explosions and rockets flying everywhere. The A.R.U.S. forces are also revealed to be another evil regime, just like Dorissa, and so the high school literally proclaims independence by Episode 4, and using Haruto’s mecha, pushes their high school module, which is on a space platform, off into space. (In a scene as ridiculous as it sounds, I assure you.) Using Haruto’s mecha, a new WMD, as blackmail to A.R.U.S. and Dorssia to force them to comply. The series finds itself on a bit more stable ground by Episode 5, where the newly independent nation finds its first genuine challenge when the weather system malfunctions, leading to the discovery of five other mechas similar Haruto’s in the space system’s hangar. Oh yeah, Shoko is revealed to be safe in Episode 3, and she ultimately becomes the new high-school-nation’s prime minister.

Episode 6 is all about a character development. It’s about a character named Saki Rukino, just mentioned above, who is developed when Haruto fails to stop her from becoming another pilot. She gains Haruto’s immortal powers, including body swapping, and is immediately revealed to be an attention narcissist. She humorously uses Haruto’s body, (Haruto is an international icon akin to Che Guervia or Ho Chi Minh by this point) to promote herself as a close associate/lover of his and cause other shenanigans. When the truce established in Episode 4 breaks down under renewed Dorssian assault, she quickly becomes a liability on the battlefield to be saved by Haruto. She only finds her resolve to begin fighting again when she realizes that the battle is being streamed to the world population. (Cringe.) 

Episode 7 has a 200 year time-skip. But only momentarily. (WTF?) Focusing back on the students, this episode features the rather random (but again, ridiculous) character death when a girl named Aina Sakurai, after having a tender exchange of dialogue with Haruto, is suddenly killed under an enormous amount chain machine gun fire and explosions (You can’t make this stuff up.) because L-Elf’s old group of comrades had infiltrated the module. L-Elf is shown to be a ridiculous tactical mastermind when he leaves written instructions for Haruto to follow in his Mecha in the ensuing battle. By this point, a plot formula has become evident that continues over the following five episodes: the students are making a sprint for the neutral moon. Every episode along the way, Dorrisa launches a new attack with some new gimmick: a new ranged weapon, magnetic weapons, heat weapons, a new tactic, etc. And a new mecha or logical trick is utilized to save the day, masterminded by L-Elf. We see the NEET Akira Renbokoji, bad-boy Raizo Yamada, and Haruto's best guy friend Kyuma Inuzuka all become pilots during these five episodes. The only event of special note is what happens in Episode 10: when there’s a literal rape scene when Haruto, who needs to feed because he’s a space vampire, attacks Saki. But instead of biting her, which was shown in previous episodes, he tears off her clothes rapes her. (Which is somewhat consensual?) How the series treats these two characters in Episodes 11, however, is very interesting because Haruto tries to take genuine responsibility for his actions. Saki will remain the “best girl” for the remainder of the show, but sadly this plot thread is never revisited for the remainder of the series. She's left behind / captured in Episode 19 / 20. She doesn't reunite with the other characters until after the climactic final battle and the story is over. More on this in a minute.

The mid-series climax of episodes 12 and 13 showcase the primary series antagonist: Cain, who was L-Elf’s superior and shown as the overall string-puller throughout the episodes leading up to this point. He casually overpowers L-Elf and gets his hands on one of the more powerful mecha units in the module hangar, which by the way is later reverse-engineered and equipped by the Dorissan forces in future episodes, nearly killing Haruto in the process when he manhandles him in a close-quarters mecha battle. He only survives courtesy of a Deus-ex-Machina moment where Cain’s mech unit nearly runs out of energy and he has to escape. The school makes it to the moon, and they’re safe. Dorissa calls off their assault because the moon is neutral territory. (Wasn’t J.I.O.R.?) 

By this point in Episode 14- the series sort of reboots itself and becomes something of a tangible and coherent story that we can summarize and follow without the incredulous moments. At the very least, the show becomes much more consistent. The series decides on a GUNDAM WING route for its plot and opts to send the mecha pilots back to earth in an effort to discover answers: about the immortal pilots, about Haruto’s perceived Vampirism, about why there was a high school in neutral J.I.O.R. territory with military personnel and super-powered mechs under it, and, oh yeah, maybe to liberate their homeland too and formulate a revolution. The simple plan created by L-Elf promptly goes awry, however, when the cargo ship they were using to sneak back to Earth is identified by Dorssian forces and they crash land right in Dorssia territory. Random characters are developed here in these few episodes along the way, which I found to be a sort of questionable creative decision because it takes the focus away from the more-interesting Haruto & Saki character development. Random amnesiac character, Maire Nobi, (who?) is developed and revealed as a test pilot for Haruto’s mecha and successively killed off in Episode 16. (But not before a ridiculous moment where L-Elf shoots her in the head.) Likewise, Episode 15 features the backstory of NEET/shut-in pilot Akira Renbokoji and her estranged brother and class president Satomi Renbokoji, who is the reason for the plan screw-up. A series of (cringe) flashback scenes are shown where he totally throws his sister under the bus and ignores her as she’s being bullied, which is something of a non- sequitur to me. He sees her as a liability on his reputation because she cheated…I guess? I don’t see how her helping him cheat on his exams by hacking the servers leads to systemic bullying by classmates. The guilt suddenly catches up to him in Episode 14 though and, suffering a nervous breakdown at the worst moment, causes the ship to be identified in its descent to Earth by Dorssia authorities, go off course, and land in Dorssia itself. 

Episodes 15 to 19 depict the crew’s attempts to survive and escape Dorssia, which includes a new plan drawn up by L-Elf to use the pilots’ ability to swap bodies for infiltration. These episodes answer a few key questions about the pilots, especially Haruto, and provide some background on co-protagonist L-Elf along the way. The nature of Haruto’s vampirism, immortality, and mech’s power is revealed in Episode 16 & 17: he’s linked to a living spiritual entity that powers the engine of his mecha, which also powers the other mechas as well. (Meaning his is special.) This living spirit, called a Magius, was trapped there by scientists who were trying to use it to power their new war machines. They put it into the engine and had it feast off the spirits of humans, manifest in this idea called runes, to generate incredible power which could be used in combat. The spirit feeds on him, but more specifically his memories, as he fights. (The obvious plot hole, however, is why Haruto needs to feed and act like a vampire at all given this revelation. It also fails to explain why only Haruto and his classmates can pilot the mechas. And especially- why he raped Saki.) Which is why it is so powerful. They escape Dorissa thanks to Maire Nobi’s sacrifice, who loses all her memories and dies, I guess. They then later escape Earth on an antique rocket in a museum in Episode 19.

However, Liselotte, the “good” magius loli who saved L-Elf when he was child and betrayed her kind in favor of the humans, and acts as his primary motivation, promptly dies in the group’s escape in Episode 19. L-Elf has a mental breakdown, thus concluding the third major story arc. Episodes 20-24 almost feels as if the show bites off more than it can chew, but it does give the series its climax and it does conclude the story decisively. L-Elf is out of action until the final part episode 22. The Magius reveal their existence to humanity in Episode 20, but use their influence to convince the world and humanity that the independent high school nation are the real bad guys, here, by executing Saki (whom they captured) on live television and showing her regeneration. A high school massacre right out of Another, Corpse Party, or Blood-C ensues as the whole of humanity turns on these high school students thinking they are magius, and in a final cringe betrayal throw Haruto and L-Elf out an airlock in an escape capsule. (Because they freak out about magius too.) In Episode 21 he ends up dumped without his mecha, along with L-Elf, on an isolated crater on the surface of the moon. With only a limited amount of dwindling air to survive.

In the final climactic episodes of this series, Episode 22, Haruto (Naruto?) has it out with L-Elf in a mano-to-mano ideological fist-fight in this moon crater over his unwillingness to give up. They come to terms in a spiritual eureka! moment that happens with some now-deceased friends, giving them their raison d'etre to continue fighting. L-Elf hatchets up a plan to escape the moon, they both confront Cain (along with former enemy A-Drei, who discovered the conspiracy and joins L-Elf and releases Saki) and ultimately they defeat the magius’ conspiracy. Of course, this is not without some dramatic sacrifices. First, Kyuma Inuzuka, pilot of the blue mecha, sacrifices himself in Episode 21 to save L-Elf and Haruto after they were dumped out of the airlock, which is how they get stranded on the moon in the first place. Then Haruto goes ahead and sacrifices himself in the same manner foreshadowed by Maire Nobi in Episode 24’s dramatic confrontation with Cain, whom he kills. He loses his memories and just…dies. (Huh?) The Magius back on Earth are all massacred in a wave of paranoia courtesy of L-Elf’s revelation in Episode 23. He accomplishes this when he assassinates a magius on live Television and shows it regenerating. The final scenes of Valvrave the Liberator cut to hundreds of years in the future as Saki teaches a child that looks like L-Elf about the heroes of the new J.I.O.R. nation, and looks to the future as they have a defining first encounter with a new (ridiculous-looking) alien species, which look like animated blowing bubbles shaped as humanoids.

Well, that sums up just everything in terms of plot.

I apologize for all of the summarizing, but I felt compelled to hit most of the major ridiculous notes about the series. Everything I just wrote was, in a nutshell, the script for Valvrave the Liberator. Something I think is worth noting: the ridiculousness factor of the series does moderate itself by the second half, where it becomes much more identifiable but also does seem to lose a lot of the “edge of your seat” attraction to see how the series one-ups itself. Either that, or we viewers became so completely desensitized by Episode 10 that it ceased to matter. Not to sound like a smartass, but one has to figure that the protagonists are going to pull through in this conflict. It just becomes a matter of how and to what extent. The how is fairly straightforward by the end: unravel the conspiracy of the magius and defeat their main ringleader Cain in combat. The extent becomes the big plot twist and question mark: killing off one of the two main characters is always a gutsy move, but somewhat less so when it is done so in the closing scenes of the series. And of course, this sacrifice is foreshadowed with the sacrifice of Maire Nobi back in Episode 16 because she dies in the same exact way. Ditto for L-Elf’s relationship with Liselotte, and her eventual sacrifice, which was hinted in a flashback as early as Episode 8. (Though I will echo the top comment of this reddit discussion: that relationship sank faster than Titanic.) As I was saying, however, Valvrave has this Catch-22 dilemma going on where it’s a deceptively unpredictable mecha series disguised as a clichéd one. The prevalent “So bad it’s good” philosophy is a defining feature of its first half. And, by the second half, you’re invested enough that you’ll want to see it through its conclusion, even if it becomes much more predictable.

This ridiculousness of the first half both a good and bad thing, with benefits and drawbacks, but I’m inclined to think it’s better attribute overall. For one, I like seeing something I haven’t seen before in anime. And there’s also the obvious plus is that it will probably draw you into Valvrave quickly with all of its audacious creative decisions right from the get-go. The obvious drawback of this creative strategy, though, is that after a certain point it’ll be hard to go back and take what’s going on seriously. Stakes wise, after the ridiculousness of its first half, it is next to impossible to suddenly care whether a certain key revelation about a character is revealed…or even a character death. So when a side character, or honestly even a main character, dies; all viewers sort of look at each other and collectively shrug. As I said, I’ll never fault an anime for trying to break new ground. Even if it fails spectacularly, or if that new ground is based off silly premises. Because I like seeing new ideas explored in anime. In fact, I put Valvrave in the same category as Akame ga Kill and Guilty Crown for being a very entertaining watch, given what it is. Despite the many questionable decisions it makes and subtle plot threads left unaddressed by the series conclusion.

In my case, I was right there with many viewers excitedly viewing one episode to the next to see how the various plot threads would turn out. As other critical reviews have iterated: at the very least, its animation and action choreography and character/mecha design are all spectacular and beautiful. One the other hand, I’m not sure that Valvrave deserves credit for all of the writing shenanigans it pulled. Even if they happened to work. In particular, the show has a bad habit of only focusing the narrative focus on developing side characters when the show is gearing up to kill (or someone close to them) them for dramatic effect. This happens in Episode 7 with Aina Sakurai. This happens in Episode 15-19 with the group of secondary antagonists led by A-drei. (Before killing most of them in Episodes 18-24) This happens with Maire Nobi in Episode 16. This happens with Liseloutte in Episode 19. And this happens with Kyuma Inuzuka in Episode 21. And really, developing a side character but never revisiting them (except marginally) at any point in the story going forward is pretty much the same as killing them to me. This notably happens with Akira Renbokoji and her brother Satomi Renbokoji in Episode 15. The whole point of that flashback is redundant because its never revisited at any point ever later on in the story. In addition, making Haruto’s father a sick, evil, cringe-y scientists also did next-to-nothing to further Haruto's character development or progress the story.

The ending is satisfactory because its definitive, which is a positive attribute I can appreciate about Valvrave that is not existent in many other anime series. As I said earlier, there are a lot of plot threads left hanging with Haruto’s death, which kind of sucks. The primary one that comes to mind is the love triangle between Shoko and Saki and Haruto. If I were to really nail Valvrave the Liberator for any singular thing, it would probably be for being so safe, despite its ridiculous antics up to Episode 10. Even though it ultimately fails, in Guilty Crown’s case, I wasn’t just sitting there laughing at the ridiculousness of it: I became seriously invested, oftentimes sitting there in awe at the ginormous steel balls the writers had with certain audacious plot decisions, even if they failed. Which yes, I was invested in Valvrave the Liberator’s plot after a certain point. (Let’s call it Episode 4: when the school declares independence.) But this interest was fleeting, and can best be compared with the impact of the two shows’ conclusions. In both conclusions, the main character ultimately suffers some sort of tragic fate which leads to their death. But in Guilty Crown, Shu’s ultimate fate by the conclusion is a defining series takeaway, for better or worse. I know, for my part, I was pissed with Shu’s ultimate fate. Whereas in Valvrave the Liberator, Haruto’s death almost feels like an afterthought to the fact that the main antagonist, Cain, was defeated. I registered that it happened to almost minimal emotional effect and impact. These details are important. The ending is supposed to the culmination (and climax) of our characters' experiences and final destination of their development. In literature this concept is referred to as the Hero's Journey. One of the main reasons one series may register a reaction and one doesn't, I suppose, is because Haruto is more or less the same character by Episode 24 that he was in Episode 1. How can you care or admire someone who you don't believe has suffered actual hardship and overcome genuine adversity? 

I do agree with some commentary online. It almost feels like there was more planned for this series. And of course, knowing Sunrise, there probably was. But while this series was enjoyable, as I already said- I will probably never revisit Valvrave again. There’s simply next-to-nothing there of substance to incline me to revisit it. You need empathy for the principle characters for that, with meaningful, decisive actions done to overcome believable and genuine hardships. Which is incredibly hard to create for fictional characters, yes. And if I were so adept/knowledgeable about it I wouldn't be sitting here complaining about these issues in an anime review. I cannot contrive the magic formula Valvrave could or should have followed to make it a more exhilirating or excellent experience. Of course, I can defer and compare it to series that did work, (Yuki Yuna is a Hero) or worked better (Guilty Crown). And of course, I can identify its failures. Meaningful actions and believable hardships, or even a sense of empathy for the characters in it, are just about the last things I’d say Valvrave has. Which you kind of need for an action series. You reap what you sow, or so the saying goes. Valvrave's writers couldn't possibly expect its viewers to care after casually including stuff like this or this. (Both real scenes!)

You can find a full picture-chart summarizing Valvrave here.

Thanks for reading,

- Blitzburns4

6/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
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Sarcataclysmal's avatar
Dec 17, 2016

Based off memory. Also, spoilers. (Mature language possible)

Kakumeiki Valvrave. Also known as Valvrave the Liberator. Russia, the US and what is seemingly India are in a war. Oh, sorry- I forgot, JIOR*, the US Alliance dudes and Darssus or whatever, are at war. JIOR is neutral while the other two countries fight each other. One day, the Russians attack JIOR. JIOR is almost completely wiped out except for a small little station. The main character stumbles upon a mecha that asks "Will you lose your humanity" or whatever it is. He gains power of the Valvrave and becomes a bad ass. But, he is losing his humanity. He's able to "swtich" bodies by biting someone. Very intruiging.

This first season of Vavrave the Liberator could be called the mecha-R-rated version of Power Rangers (of course, with all those fujoshi fans rooting for MC x White haired dude). Valvrave gave a story that was a tad... meh, but nonetheless was enjoying.

Animation for Valvrave was excellent.

THe soundtrack for Valvrave was also excellent.

The MC is becoming not human. Interesting thing number one. White haired dude is now siding with JIOR rather than Darssus. Intersting thing number two about the characters. The rest of the characters are either "meh" characters or just characters that are there. Like miss Big Oppai. Oh well.

5/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
5/10 characters
6/10 overall
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C0ldC0R3's avatar
Aug 21, 2016

So, I will put it simply.

They were trying too hard!

I watched the first two episodes and decided that it just wasn't even worth my time.

*SPOILER*

The MG gave up his humanity for nothing!

THE END!!!

(I gave it a 5/10 because I normally give any anime I like, no matter the actual rating, ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

5/10 story
6/10 animation
8/10 sound
3/10 characters
5.7/10 overall
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Epimondas's avatar
Jul 14, 2016

Well it is a mecha anime and to be honest, it is pretty standard with a few rare exceptions here and there.  For the most part, it is nearly the same carbon copy of at least two other major anime mecha series such as Aldnoah (though the relationship between two of the main characters are slightly different.).  Therefore nothing really stands out as all that exceptional. Drama wise it does a pretty good job of building a sense of hate and antagonism bordering on a fight to the death blood fued between Jior and Diossa with obvious favoritism leaning toward the innocent children who were forcibly brought into a war from a neutral nation standpoint.  Dossia meanwhile keeps acting more and more like a mindless beligerent superbully and coming up with new and more horrible ways to prove that it's nation is not run by humans and deserves no sympathy whatsoever.  Dorssia constantly proves it cares not for any Geneva like accords by it's growing more disgusting warcrime behavior.  Among the misfits operating our of Dorssia are at least one complete psychopath who loves to kill for the sake of killing, and a heartless monster of a tyrant who will go to the most ridiculous extremes of inhumane behavior to see his selfish agenda reached.  No you can not convince me this creep is doing anything for his nation.  There are limits to how far you can go and still justify yourself or call yourself anything approaching a national status symbol.  

The heroes are made up of students and students who become immortal or so they say yet I am wondering if that is really true as at times it feels like the show contradicts itself.  I will give it half a point above average for story because of the feel good, drama, tensity, and how well they make the Dorssians look like aweful monsters.  Aside from the questionable vampire like alteration to the immortal students, this show is far from unique or different in anyway.  I could count near volumes of other shows that have similar mech units or styles or purposes or back stories or wars or general stories (the way the story flows other than how the pilots transform) or so on.  It is all pretty standard fair and pretty cliched at that.  Mecha has become too standardized to function well as a genre anymore so it sadly feels like it is even a curse to make mecha anymore as if all the ideas possible about mecha centered stories have already been created and the rest are just recycled versions of those.  Well this show fails to disprove that.  As usual, there is a rivalry for the affections of the lead male character (big surprise there).  The lead hero constantly takes the central stage in putting his life in danger (isn't he supposed to be immortal and able to heal from injury?) but since he is supposed to be immortal, it just does not quite have the same significance as other shows.  Once again, the story and war centers around underaged children who have not had actual combat training or at least not all of them and most still wear school uniforms (big surprise there).  I feel a little bored doing this review since so much is so recycled parts I have seen countless times in mecha anime and anime in general.  Frankly, why the shift to sexual assaults from biting is not made clear and neither so far has the reason to bite at all or why they get frenzied beyond control.  Oh wait, so far it is only him that happens to. so did he get a bad batch?  I sense a few plot holes or if not at least the delays to explain certain elements are put off too long for the story to work as well as it should.

Other times the drama and point of climatic drama drags on too long like the drill scene.  How long will that take and how many times are they gonna pan to all the characters for reaction shots?  It is like an unnecessarily long super slow mo scene.  Shoko is a decent enough character friendly and upbeat when she isn't so depressed that she might make the Pope cry.  I like Rukino the best.  She is nice enough, often at the point of action or activity, seems to be a part of every major arc of the story and is connected to virtually all the student and teacher characters.  It almost seems as if she is the actual main character when you consider she is also the narator from another time frame (not a spoiler, cause you see that quite often and from fairly early on in the series).  She has alot of baggage to bring ot her drama table and create a connection to the viewers from.  The other characters really don't have enough revealed to feel that for or at least no where near like she does.  Something is different about Haruto.  It is just taking to long to offer anything about it.  There are a few light forshadowing bits about that he and his valvrave are somewhat unique but this far into the series and nothing more is a bit much.  Yamada is a bit of an abrasive bully type but gets pumped up to take on the world when a few classmates fall victim to the Dorssian hate storm.  I frequently find my self wishing for the moment when all of the Dorssians get crushed or at least realize how pointless and brutal their behavior is and that it creates new powerful enemies with a blood lust to see them wiped out.  It is almost funny that they come off so stupid and never seem to realize the impact their selfish ways has on others.

Animation is about slightly above average for post 2000 or so.  It does not have any especially detailed attention to shadow, or depth like some of the other recent reviews.  There are no efforts to make it stand out that much artistically speaking.  I'd say it is probably about equal to  Hundred's level of artwork and animation quality.  Sound is not realistic because being in space, you probably would not hear things like explosions though nothing stood out as a mismatch voice wise and nothing seemed off kilter effects or anything else significant.

It is interesting to watch and has a few fun inticing characters, just don't expect anything mindblowingly original or nothing but typical expectations among virutally all mecha anime.  Given some of the graphic nature and dramatically disturbing scenes, at least 12 and up are a good bet to watch.

5.5/10 story
7.5/10 animation
7.3/10 sound
6.5/10 characters
6.8/10 overall
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Angelica117's avatar
Jun 16, 2016

To tell you the truth kakumeiki valvrave one and two mad me cry all the way. The people who mad me cry the most because they died was marie, haruto, and kyuma. 

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
FringeBenefits's avatar
Nov 10, 2014

Having just reviewed the execrable Cross Ange, which seems to be Sunrise's follow-up to Valvrave, I thought I'd finally go back and record my thoughts on one of the most hilariously incompetent mecha series I've ever seen... and remember, I've seen Dragonaut: The Resonance.

There are some concepts that just can't be saved, no matter how hard the show tries. Valvrave is a spectacular example of this. Just a brief summary of this show is enough to get a laugh out of most people: "Angsty teenage body-swapping space vampire mecha pilots in space high school!" It's like they came up with it by throwing darts at a board.

Going back a few years, do you remember how Code Geass was initially a pretty good series, only to fly completely off the rails in the later episodes? Valvrave, by the same writer, is like that... except it doesn't wait to derail. By the end of the first episode, it's gone full-on bonkers.

So we've got a huge Dyson Sphere orbiting an artificial star somewhere out in the solar system. Back on Earth, there's three major superpowers: ARUS (henceforth called Space America), Dorssia (Space Germany), and Jior (Space Japan). Gentle anime viewer, if you guessed that, much like Code Geass, this would be yet another revisionist take on World War II with Japan or its expy as the poor, helpless, long-suffering victim nation... well, you get no prizes. Sorry.

I don't have the time or patience to go into Japan's stance on WWII or Ichiro Okouchi's thinly-veiled anti-Americanism, but it helps to keep both of those things in mind going forward. Anyway.

Vampirism. Body-swapping. A high school declaring itself an independent nation. Wacky humor alternating with blood-spattering violence. A vast, ancient conspiracy. Harem antics. Space Nazis. Fanservice. Characterization that changes at the drop of a hat. School bullying. Rape. Racism. Amnesia. Aliens. Politics. All these, plus the aforementioned clumsy WWII allegories and some particularly ludicrious "science" (even by anime standards!) can be found in Valvrave. If this is starting to sound to you like a very confused anime, dear reader, you don't know the half of it. Oh, it tries... it tries so hard. But it flip-flops back and forth between drama and comedy so many times that by the time the second season starts and the tone FINALLY becomes somewhat more consistent, absolutely no one buys the tonal shift.

That said... unlike Cross Edge, I can recommend Valvrave to almost anyone. It's a perfect example of So Bad It's Good, a series that positively begs to be MSTed. If you're the type that loves a good trainwreck, that can't resist the urge to shout advice and sarcastic comments at the dumbasses on screen... this is the anime for you. You'll bust a gut laughing. The second season succeeds in sucking quite a bit of the fun out of it in a hamhanded attempt at damage control, but the first season is gold.

A word of caution: there's a certain scene at the end of episode 10 that strikes a lot of people, myself included, as horrendously distasteful, and may be triggering to some. Said scene is an almost perfect example of a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, in that it comes up maybe three times afterward and is then never mentioned again. In other circumstances, this scene would be horrible... but what mitigates it, if only a little, is how it was so blatantly, obviously inserted to generate controversy (and thus ratings), with no thought to how it would affect the story or the characters. I suggest trying to ignore it... it's what the characters do, after all.

0.5/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
0.5/10 characters
2/10 overall
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triviper's avatar
Jul 2, 2014

Spring 2013 Anime Review - Valvrave the Liberator
- Oh Sunrise, what has become of you…
- Basically just Geass x Gundam gone wrong
- The social networking stuff was a good idea
- L Elf is pretty sick, but his skills are too farfetched. After seeing Cain it's just even more wtf, but at least then you can see this series is not shooting for realistic at all
- How does Akira take a shit?
- Correction: Valvrave = Geass x Seed x g00 x Kojima's ZoE
- I severely underestimated this anime and have a stigma towards it for some reason. I think because it's actually a pretty good mecha but it's just so ridiculous, has weak character designs (in terms of appearance) and spits at the series it has borrowed from. It's like winning a competitive video game match by cheesing; attaining victory but with a guilty sense of dishonour and unworthiness.

————————————————————————————————

UPDATE: Anime-Planet has removed the Blog feature where this post was originally published on March 23, 2014. I pulled the scores from my ratings, although this is NOT a formal review. Think of it more as “thoughts on…<anime title>”. I wrote my thoughts out as I progressed through the series, so contradictions may occur as my opinion shifts. To shorten the post I took excerpts from the original. Sorry for any inconvenience and please leave your thoughts below! :)

2013 Spring Anime Reviews:

  • Attack on Titan - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14071
  • Gargantia - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14072
  • The Flowers of Evil - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14073
  • Arata the Legend - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14074
  • Devil Survivor 2 - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14075
  • HENNEKO - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14076/
  • Karneval - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14077/
  • Photo Kano - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14078
  • RDG - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14079
  • Crime Edge - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14080
  • Valvrave S1 - http://www.anime-planet.com/users/triviper/reviews/14081
?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
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ilubsanime's avatar
Feb 3, 2014

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!!!!

8/10 story
8.5/10 animation
9/10 sound
9.5/10 characters
8.7/10 overall
casualterror's avatar
Dec 6, 2013

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.

8/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
Thrawn's avatar
Jul 18, 2013

Story: To set the tone right off the bat, most of it is an orgy of pink bubblegum explosions and laser spams, and I mean a fuckton of lasers, bullets from chainguns (IN SPACE), a buttfuck fuckton of missiles because shit blowing up, you know? You know. Shit blows up. A lot. And mecha just tearing shit apart. Action in every single episode of this batshit insane, stupid ass series with twists up the wazoo. Wazoo? Think of it as ass because why not. It's chock full of 'em, irregardless of how illogical, stupid or silly they are.

But to start off coherently or sensibly, it's pure, action-packed fun. I mean, it starts with a man and a woman, two co-workers all la-de-da when they get shanked by a big ass blade that's made for shanking. In space. In the first minute people die! You know you're in for something and know what? It keeps it up by some world building throughout the episode and the climax which should not be spoiled for how random it is. And by random I mean "Naked guy wearing a tophat waltzing down the street and whipping a rubber chicken from his butt-crack and whipping your knee-caps with it" random. Or weird. Or simply the tits. But it builds on that twist concept with some badass mecha battles in the following episode. There's mecha action in every episode and aside from the first, these Valvrave mecha things fuck shit up (Along with badass and it's suffixes, I cannot say that enough). And I mean fucking shit's shit up. It escalates until it reaches an orgasmic peak of dumbfoundery and badassitude that it's just plain awesome. Sure it's stupid as all hell but there's no way you'd stick with it for that long if you were expecting something intelligent.

Fun, fun fun fun. Crazy fun. Non-mecha time is spent with the students, and it's pretty fine all on it's own. Pretty good even. Certainly nothing political intriguing or plotting plots, hatching schemes, vile villainy or some... incredibly convoluted non-teenager intelligent shit but I found it to be enough to not make me hate it or mildly dislike it for not being shit blowing up.

For the actual plot, ... it's simple enough. Survival and shit. But it's mainly between Space Germany, Space America and Space Japan. To be fair, it's more like Super Germarussia or the Galactic Holy Roman Empire (Think Teutonic here, or just think of a badass militaristic state of Germany and Russia combined), Space America (Built on diplomatic alliances and shit, but still America. In space) and Space Japan, which is Neutral and totally... not as superpower-ish. There's no other nation in the planet, or on Earth-2, which is where most people are because it's space. Some political shit goes down bada-boom, badda-bing, you got your Colony thrown into the fires of Space Germany and shit gets real. It doesn't get much farther than the two nations wanting the Valvrave and Space Germany fighting tooth and nail for it, because it's Space Germany. Super crack-squad of murder specialists are sent and shit just happens.

Really, you aren't here for the plot. And since there's a second season to explain what the fuck happened in the last episode because the fuck man, the fuck. But despite all the shit that went down there, it still retained it's badass flare and kickass fights because if there isn't at least one fight per episode, you're probably watching some pussy ass anime that isn't about shit blowing up in space and mecha face punching some bitch ass ships.

You heard me. Some guy in a mecha uses his fists to kick some ass instead of laser spams. Because if he used his massive balls, the show would be over once he appeared.

Animation: Now, I know this is strange and the animation probably doesn't deserve a 9 but it's because it just looks so... new-age to me. The character designs in particular, they look pretty spic and span, something recent stuff would look like. A bit more polished to the stuff I was used to prior to watching this and I liked it. Felt slick, you know. And the mecha designs, those I loved. From all the colours of the rainbow and the way they moved when they fought, the special abilities looked GORGEOUS and it was just so amazing and fun to look at! It was fast, it was energetic and baby I loved it!

And the pink bubblegum explosions. Now that's creativity.

Sound: Um... I... kinda skipped the OP/EP but I did enjoy the OP and the EP was snazzy, I guess. The VA I have no problem with and I can't remember the music from inbetween the OP/EP. BGM, if you will. Yeah.

Characters: Characters? Psh, who needs deep characters when you have shit blowing up and orgasmic battles of testicular exploding magnitude. Not this one, that's for sure. Main guy Takeru? He's cool. Gets cooler as it progresses so he's good. Elf, he's badass. Actually, if you're Space Gerussian, you're badass. It's a requirement for joining the Space Corps. Black Haired Gal, a friend of Shouko? A friend of brown-haired chick is pretty cool. She has backstory and depth. I like that. Sakura- Brown-haired chick, she's pretty cool. What she does later on is wicked.

... what would you expect? The characters are hardly deep and some are total jerks at times but it's a badass show about pink explosions and space fights. Some are badass, sure, but I can't be judging characters solely based on badassery as I'm biased enough as it is. You may care for some but for the majority, you could care far less. Hell, I can only remember three names and one of them is Colonel Fucking Cain.

Overall: Say what? A 9? The fuck Thrawn, lay off the milk. And let me assure you, I based the 9 on how much fun I had with it. It's not deep, logical, sensible, intellectual nor sophisticated and the story development is stupid- well, most of it is stupid. But what it is is unbriddled fun with some crazy twists, illogical and improbable situations, mecha on 20 ship action, pink explosions, stupid ass developments and overall, an action-packed space fare. I just had a blast with it and I didn't need to use my brain once.

6/10 story
9/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
5/10 characters
9/10 overall
someone173's avatar
Jun 30, 2013

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.

5/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall
Szwagier's avatar
May 3, 2013

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. 

1/10 story
8/10 animation
6/10 sound
1/10 characters
2/10 overall
ThatAnimeSnob's avatar
Apr 24, 2013

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.

2/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
2/10 characters
3.5/10 overall