NiaLand is an A.I. theme park that brings dreams to life with science. Vivy, the first autonomous android to work there, has hopes of making people happy with her singing. One day, an A.I. teddy bear named Matsumoto appears, claiming to have come from 100 years in the future—where a war between A.I. and humans rages. Their century-long journey starts now!
Vivy is a rollercoaster. Not one of those sleek, smooth, modern roller coasters, more like a poorly maintained rickety ride that leaves you with bruises, whiplash, and a concussion after tossing you around painfully like a ragdoll. The anime ripped through the spring 2021 season like a tornado, trying to build a massive, complex world with a twisting, turning plot, but in the end it only left me asking one thing. Why? The decisions made by the creative team for Vivy were at times baffling. It seemed like an anime made by a committee rather than one with a single vision. It seemed like they had a checklist of things they wanted to include (e.g. Artificial Intelligence, Time Travel, Space Flight, Singing, Hollywood style choreographed action sequences), and they just threw them into the story without regard for how they would all fit together. The arc based storytelling with huge gaps in time between arcs made it difficult to see the big picture. An arc would run its course, and I’d be only left wondering. Why? What was the point of all that? How does that actually help with the mission? Each arc would introduce an entirely new set of characters, an entirely new setting, an entirely new mission with little to no continuity with what they did before. Not even our lead character could remain consistent (for spoiler reasons); the story was just set adrift at sea with no anchor. And once the arc ended it would move on to the next one, with only the hope that whatever happened actually helped the protagonists’ mission to save humanity… somehow. With so many characters coming and going, I had a hard time keeping track of them, let alone care about them. Why should I even care? Even the music was a disappointment. For an anime that centers around “singing from your heart” or whatever, the music was mostly forgettable. Satoru Kousaki, accomplished composer for the iconic OSTs of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the Monogatari franchise churned out a soundtrack as lifeless as the android protagonist. The music lacked the virtuosity of a show like Your Lie in April or the diverse creativity of a show like Carole & Tuesday. Sure, the OP was catchy after a few episodes but it’s not one for the unskippable list. Why am I even watching this show? The animation. It was pretty good. Not quite at the levels of a show like Demon Slayer or Violet Evergarden, but at least it was among the best I’ve seen for a TV anime. Studio Wit did a great job, but animation alone can’t carry a show. I’ve tried to skirt around spoilers but hopefully there’s enough content in my vague generalizations to express my opinion. It was a chore to watch. I’ve seen so many discussions about how this is an underrated gem and one of the top anime of the season. It even managed to crack the AP Top 100 (accounting for prequels/sequels)! Throughout the show I was just waiting for that “wow” factor, for it to all come together. It never did.
Vivy is yet another one of those time reset anime where the point of the plot is to undo the plot. Something really bad happens in the future and a program is sent back in time in order to prevent it. Therefore it’s the done to death power fantasy offered by this concept: Are there negative consequences in your life? Keep going back in time until there are none. Despite the show trying to mitigate that by making it seem like the time travel part can only happen once, or that the characters are not allowed to fix every negative thing so the future won’t become too different, in the longrun it’s all bullshit because they clearly go back more than once and it doesn’t matter what changes they make to history, since the event they were trying to prevent wasn’t caused by the stuff they were preventing.Despite that, the anime managed to stand out for many at the time of its release. Artwork and music were above average and every story was dealing with interesting sci-fi concepts regarding artificial intelligence. Every story was also very tragic, as many bad things were happening to the people involved with the events that were supposed to be leading to the tragedy in the future. This mix of elements is especially effective on easily impressionable people who will see the whole thing as very emotional, and won’t about the nonsense in the plot. As for anyone who cares more about good writing than how much something makes you cry with its overbearing theatrics, the show will fail him at everything besides its production values. -It’s very hard to care about any of the characters since they change in every arc. You are given no time to like them before they get killed a few minutes after their introduction. The first episode for example begins with a massacre of people that mean nothing to you. They are background nobodies and yet the plot assumes that you will care to see them getting saved via time resets. Even though they mean nothing to you.-The science fiction concepts are not explored. They are mentioned, they get a superficial infodump about what they are all about, and are then thrown away. Every arc is very short, isolated from the other arcs, and with its own themes, therefore nothing gets any significant exploration. -The overall plot is not as elaborate as the show wants you to think it is. Despite showing you how the timeline is altered with every change, the arcs are disconnected by very long timeskips where stuff chance out of screen and in whatever way it suits the plot. There is no actual continuity, since you never feel like whatever the heroine does in one mission carries over to the next one. -The main heroine is not some deep or memorable character. The show is just overselling her by being drawn as a hot sexy waifu with boobies that are half exposed most of the time. Other than that she’s an emotionless robot that changes several times because of amnesia, time skips, or because she’s dragged around in missions by the teddy bear robot and not because she has any control over her actions. Essentially she’s a plot device, following a computer program, and she doesn’t develop naturally like a human being. In fact she doesn’t develop as much as she gets rewritten, since she gets multiple amnesias that wipe her so-called progression. -The finale is basically rendering pointless the entire series, since the changes in the timeline didn’t stop the disaster in the future. Also the main antagonist was so uninterested in achieving her plan, she just lets the heroine to do whatever she likes. Also there never were any stakes because the characters can go back in time again in case they fail. It’s a time travel story, what did you expect? Negative consequences that can’t be undone? Thus, as a whole Vivy is a show about forgettable characters, superficial themes, no actual plot progression, or actual character development, and a finale that essentially tells you there never was any pressure of time or danger of losing. It’s another one of those throwaway shows that you might like the first time you watch it, because the artwork looks nice, it has a hot sexy waifu, and sad things happening all the time. But there is no replay value once you realize how lazily written and superficial it is as a whole, and won’t stand the test of time for most.
When I marked this anime as watched, I noticed a lot of the negative reviews, or maybe poor is the better word. I tend to not review animes but the criticisms for this one felt a bit unfair so I thought I'd add my take on it in case anyone was curious and wanted a more in depth of review. Vivy is one of those futuristic stories that centers on AI and the inevitable clashes between it and humans. Even more typical, is it's AI protagonist that struggles with a burned purpose that causes it to seek and understand what it is to be human. I don't mind that it's foundations are similar to things I've seen before. I think it's interesting reading and watching them and seeing how they interpret the conflict and the resolution that follows. Vivy is tasked with preventing a clash between humans and AIs a hundred years in the future. They have to change "keystone" events that ruin the relationship between humans and AIs. It seemed simple enough, though it becomes very apparent it wasn't very thought out. The episodes themselves feel mostly self contained. There is some relationship between the previous and the next, but it feels like an episodic detective show for the most part. I enjoyed this format because it was interesting to watch the conflicts and then figure out what went wrong and where. It also has some amazing choreographed fight scenes (particularly episode 7) and the drama was well written enough to keep me engaged. The characters in each episode feel fleshed out enough that I appreciate the questions they pose. Each episode gives us a view of an AI that feels more human than the last, and conflicts that feel heart breaking at times. The animation brings a lot of it to life and works well with the stories of each episode. It's why it's progression after the first half falls a bit flat. In episode 6, VIVY has to shut down an AI facility. The core of the facility is an AI used to be married to a human, and the human was very in love with her. It hurt him and he ended up committing suicide in front of VIVY. This isn't the best summary, but it is more or less what occurs. When VIVY witnesses tbe suicide after killing the AI, it causes her to malfunction and shut down. The episode itself is one of the best ones in my opinion, and I felt like it had the perfect blend of emotion and dramatics to keep you engaged. The cliffhanger at the end made you keep watching and wonder how she would handle it, only they didn't do it as well as I had hoped. In the very next episode, we realize VIVY has forgotten her memories. She is not the Vivy she used to be but over the course of the episode, she is reacquainted with her partner in investigating tragic events in history and eventually gets them back. What feels disappointing, is that she still doesn't quite understand what a heart is. Her purpose when created was to "sing with all your heart" and of course as an AI such an abstract concept burdens her. However, it feels insufficient that she doesn't understand it yet. She's witnessed AI's die, then feel human emotions, and so much more so the fact that in this episode and after she struggles with it feels so disappointing. It felt like the build up was wasted and they didn't quite progress like they should have. After that, it gets a bit slow and the action is reduced for an episode or two until we come back to the final conflict. She doesn't quite understand what a heart is until the final episode and while I understand why they do that for climatic purposes, it's a revelation that should have been reveleaed to her in earlier episodes. It could've done so much more in the second half and explored so many more stories but it didn't. Episode 6 was a very critical moment to the story that didn't properly follow up with. It's why Vivy feels like the most static character while her peers are much more dynamic and engaging. Vivy is still excellent to watch and is in a lot of ways a reflection of the viewer. We ponder some of the questions presented through the episodes, but the journey doesn't feel as exciting in the latter half as it should. I also took issue with how the AIs attributed all of their actions to their "purpose." The only episode that really breaks this mold is the seventh one that has an AI directly acknowledge it's purpose isn't what it really wanted. It's one of those scenes that feels great but they don't quite follow up with in the ways it should. I took issue with the resolution of episode 7 as well. It feels very messy because the whole conflict or event they're supposed to stop, doesn't really feel changed. They're supposed to stop an AI from supposedly committing suicide, but in the end they defeat her and the other antagonist and it feels like a murder-suicide if anything. It left me wondering how that effectively changed the future. It's probably explained in episode 8 but if it is, I can't remember It's disappointing don't get me wrong, but still very much enjoyable. The episodes are very interesting and emotion packed and kept me entertained. There wasn't a moment where I felt bored. It slowed a bit in the middle half and I can understand ir drived some viewers off, but the questions and crises she pondered made me want to see it through. I was interested to see how she handled it and felt invested in her because it was like watching a child grow until they hit an inevitable road block like every one else (or at least it worsened in her case). I also took issue with the way the music was handled. It had some great songs, but with the premise of the AI being a songstress, it didn't feel like it had enough music. I felt like there could have been more, but for what it's worth, all the climatic scenes have great song accompaniments that work very well. The intro and grace version of it are particular favorites. Not only this, I had issue with the way the story presented itself. These keystone events feel important, but we don't really understand what changing these do. To be fair, Vivy acknowledges this and asks her partner the same, so perhaps the intention was that, to realize it all was futile. However, I feel like it could have positioned itself better and explained why we were doing these or how changing these would lead to more direct impacts in the future, because it felt like they were on a wild goose chase playing detective for a decade instead of doing much to actually pin down the problem. Perhaps they could have handled the story a lot differently and actually tackled the conflict before it started instead of solving it after it happens, like they did in the final two episodes. The war breaks out anyway and we fix it then, but if they had made Vivy change a lot earlier on before erasing her memories and still have her struggle with the abstract concept of a heart, we could've seen her actually start to question the choices they make in preventing the conflict and take a more proactive approach. It could've been a lot better that way and engaged us, and built on the detective framework it has for most of the story Still, Vivy is great. It could have been better but it's certainly not terrible. It has gray fight scenes, good music, and interesting themes and characters that present them to us in digestiable ways. The writers don't give as much thought to the latter half as I would have liked, but the story overall makes for very intriguing thing to watch. I would've loved an epilogue to peer into Vivy's life post conflict to see how AIs and humans have rebuilt their relationship and how she handles everything. At the very least, they make you invested enough to feel satisfied she finally solved everything and looks to be happier than ever. Vivy has weakness that are a bit glaring, but does a lot good in my opinion (or perhaps it's my bias. I'm a sucker for stories that are emotionally charged more than anything). Still, I'd recommend you watch VIVY or add it to your watchlist. It's great, linear, and intriguing overall
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