They’re the best Anime that 2021 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Night Head 2041, Godzilla: S.P, Edens Zero, and more!
10: Night Head 2041
Japanese: NIGHT HEAD 2041
MAL Score: 6.68
In the year 2041, World War III has wiped out two-thirds of the human population, and in the newfound structure, the belief in any god or beyond-human entity is considered a preposterous notion. In order to prevent citizens from bearing possibly incriminating thoughts, the government has assembled a Special Weapon Enforcement division to capture and rehabilitate such believers.
The Kirihara brothers, Naoya and Naoto—who were hidden away from society by their captors for years to conceal their psychic abilities—were promised freedom once the world was ready to face their existence. Now, wandering in the appalling new societal climate where psychics are not welcome, the brothers find themselves on the run from the Enforcement’s devoted operatives, Yuuya and Takuya Kuroki.
What a show, inspired me to watch the original show now.
Things of note:
Episode 4 has a real nice siren sound use that really makes you feel the effect of the emergency.
The OST is spectacular especially the piece Sacrifice. Has the real classical emphasis on it.
The show also doesn’t have too many ‘ahhhhhh’ scenes.
The story at first I was unsure about but it definitely has become spectacular by the end especially with coming full circle. You get some unexpected situations during the show that really push you back into your chair.
The art for this show is brilliant. Characters and many effects use CGI and backgrounds are a mixture. I honestly think it is great to look at and will really stand the test of time superbly.
The sound is the best part and I don’t mean the OP and ED of which are both good, I mean the SFX sound and the composed music to lift you into every situation are just so powerful and do such a great job.
The characters are 2 sets of brothers both with roles to play. Most other characters also have roles to play but they are the most seen. Shouko Futami is a really complex character since she is at the forefront of the story itself. I honestly think she was superb even with her underlying tones of knowing it really is goodbye in some cases to who can or cannot exist.
The show was superb in the end, the first episode and I mean maybe 10 minutes of it had me hanging a bit but then it really caught me. I think for me this is the best show of the season that I have seen. I obviously didn’t watch every show that came out.
Also, Shouko Futami is the best girl and not just because of her character design with that unusual hair style but her entire characters story and her voice are so superbly chosen.
9/10. Such a shame it is over but then again Night Head Genesis is now on my watch list.
Let’s start with the “good”:
The character designs are for the most part relatively tame, except for Hikasa Youko’s character, who actually looks excellent, and Michio Sonezaki, whose face even a mother couldn’t love. The OP and ED are both solid, and the soundtrack is, at points, excellent as well. But, if there is anything Night Head deserves some praise for, it’s the CGI. While at times it is messy and poorly conceived, some of the greatest CGI moments in anime are in Night Head. That being said, the fight scenes are rarely memorable and these highlights are few and far in between; CGI technology obviously still has a long way to go before any anime will truly hit it out of the park, but Night Head deserves some modicum of credit for at least pushing the boundaries.
And now, onto the bad:
Before I get into the rest of the critique, I think it is important to note that this is one of the most lopsidedly produced anime I have ever seen in my entire life. Shirogumi, Night Head’s studio, shilled out the big bucks to get a relatively star studded cast of voice actors, legitimately solid CGI, and a decent OST while simultaneously ensuring everything else about the anime sucked complete ass by hiring a staff team that clearly has no idea what it is doing taking on a sci-fi story of this magnitude.
Night Head cannot string together a plot to save its life. It is absolutely FILLED with conveniences where the two sets of main characters meet in completely random places (where one of the two is supposed to be trying their absolute best NOT to encounter the other by the way). It also fails incredibly hard at juggling its plot threads; there are tons of disjointed ideas that are either resolved with random bullshit or are abandoned altogether. In fact, at times it seems that Night Head actually forgot what was happening previously and just decided to start something new just for the hell of it. Night Head introduces multiple plot twists in each episode, including the literal last episodes, to the point where it becomes exhausting to even try to figure out what they are going for. As if it couldn’t get any worse, it also constantly pilfers worldbuilding ideas from far more creative and better science fiction media while having the audacity to constantly shove pretentious philosophy and psychoanalysis book cameos in your face. Perhaps this might be excusable if the show didn’t also completely fucking butcher every idea and theme it introduces. In short, Night Head head’s plot is a confusing, amateurly written, pretentious clusterfuck that eventually becomes so convoluted and nonsensical that it’s impossible to even make sense of, let alone enjoy.
Besides every character being impressively dull and empty (especially given the impressive cast of voice actors), there’s a guy named Miracle Mick. WHY.
For some ungodly reason, the esteemed staff of Night Head 2041 decided all of this wasn’t enough. They also had to somehow make the show EXCRUCIATINGLY boring. The method with which they achieved this completely eludes me, as before Night Head 2041 I would have said it was impossible a show this incompetently pieced together could be boring. Of course, this trend abruptly ends near the end as the show stops making even the smallest amount of sense and becomes a nearly unwatchable clusterfuck of ill-conceived ideas and story beats.
Night Head 2041 is an abject failure with few discernable redeeming qualities. It is insultingly derivative, shockingly pretentious and amongst the extraordinarily diverse selection of science fiction works, rife with unique worlds and themes, that anime and manga have to offer, it stands out as one of the single least valuable works in the genre I have ever laid eyes on. It has earned the extra point solely on the merits of its production values, but even so, Night Head is by no means worth a watch.
Final Score: (2/10)
The story and plot itself you can screengrab from the synopsis (which the MAL Rewrite team has always done a good job at explaining the tip of the iceberg at what it’s all about), but the basis is this: the plot has stuck the same since 30 years ago with the same core theme of George Iida’s supernatural, sci-fi themes which he has been working at best since the 80s. Disregarding the loosely inspired 2006 Genesis adaptation (which was twice too long that made it twice as boring), 2041 aims to rectify the mistakes done in Genesis 15 years after the (kinda) horrible adaptation which did not age well, and for the most part, has kept its spirit alive even after 30 years with the original creator himself coming back to helm his own scriptwriting and series composition for a new generation.
For newcomers into the Night Head franchise, I’d highly recommend that you read this journal review from more than a decade ago about the OG 1992 TV drama. It’s definitely aged, but still works in this show as well in more depth and detail, similar to 2041: https://yanie02.livejournal.com/77839.html
The core characters Naoto and Naoya (which form the Kirihara Brothers) and Yuya and Takuya (which form the Kuroki Brothers) are the central characters in the now 30-year-old franchise to stop one another and rid of a world that’s destined on destruction, but the characterization is sadly “one-way streets” amidst a really good dramatized supernatural plot with the amount of material, idea and theories that George Iida is known for. One thing that stuck out that sadly annoys me more than most, is that you can’t go like a mere minute to hear this word always being yelled “Brother!!” at. It’s like they know they need to depend on each other to do what their side’s bidding is fighting for from the basis of prophecies, and in a sci-fi world such as Night Head with psychokinesis as the main weapon, it’s hard to draw the attention away like some NPC calling out to you as and when he/she likes it.
Don’t get me wrong, Night Head has potential, but its the story developments that made-and/or-broke my good watching experience streak, and with characters that are unique, but exhibit the modern-day anime tropes, Night Head 2041 falters where the audience needs its info to hold that compelling watch factor. In simple language, there was something wrong with the characters’ and story developments, and this drama ended up being so-so. Some episodes were even boring. The brothers’ characters were somehow boring. And all of these in the midst of a dark and gloomy adaptation of a cult-following drama, I always wonder why I have the perseverance to even finish this in the first place, because as proven with Toh EnJoe’s Godzilla S.P on Netflix, Night Head 2041 has a lot of resemblance to that, that keeps me sane with the growing expectations of questions being answered, which I’d say “Yes and No” to that. Plot conveniences don’t make the story work, just factually speaking.
The time-space distortion of a paradox has led us 30 years here to studio Shirogumi who has been recently armed with full-on 3DCG experience creating Netflix shows like Revisions (which was all style but no substance). And for the 2nd work that hearkens back to FujiTV with their late-night +Ultra programming block, it’s defintely impressive to say the least. And a lot of people still have disdain for 3DCG shows because the potential is there, but not everyone can embrace it well due to the wonkyness of the overall cinematography execution. And this gonna be the head counterargument just like any other show made in full 3DCG, but you’d have to witness the key frames in order to realize its “grandeur” execution. For the most part, Shirogumi aces it with the 3DCG, and declare it “perfect” all you want, because it is, while I can accept it for what it is.
The music is definitely very good because it’s Who-ya Extended and Myuk, 2 very reputable music artistes who has done numerous Anisongs before. The former coming off from Jujutsu Kaisen’s 2nd OP and the latter coming off from The (abominable) Promised Neverland S2’s ED, their songs are defo famous with the cool licks and themes that fit a series such as Night Head well. Nothing much to say about that, but if you’re a music buff, the OST is off-kilter perfect. Even getting a stacked VA cast of characters, and their acting is just about as good as the rest of the biography under their belt.
As good as I want to believe that Night Head 2041 can be, it’s just the same as 2006’s Night Head Genesis in almost every way, save for the animation aspect because of vastly upscaled technological improvements, it can be done. This anime falling right under the noses of its own franchise will only be known to the hardcore enthusiasts of both the old and (now) new generation, and as for me, I will gladly decline this entry ticket into a franchise that only the bare minority will ever talk about in years to come. It just isn’t for me.
9: Godzilla: S.P
English: Godzilla Singular Point
Japanese: ゴジラ S.P ＜シンギュラポイント＞
MAL Score: 6.71
This series features an original story, which depicts the young geniuses Mei Kamino, a female researcher, and Yun Arikawa, a male engineer, as they take on an unprecedented threat with their companions. When danger comes up from the depths, only young geniuses Mei, Yun, and their team can face the threat in Godzilla Singular Point!
From what I can tell you, this series is better to binge-watch cause they’d hit you with big brain terms that would challenge even Einstein himself.
The story is… Well, it’s not really bad, but it’s not good. Basically this season is a big info-dump.
Not really the type I like. I like info-dumps, but if they were done basically all the time, then even I get turned off.
Also, the main big in the title only appeared briefly lmao
The characters also isn’t the best thing. They aren’t characters, but just plot device that explains the plot for the viewers.
Heck, even the AI themselves have more personalities compared to the actual characters lol
That doesn’t really scream good character writing.
The animation is really really good. Of course if we separate the different styles. Because of the mishmash of the great CGI of Orange studio and the stylized animation style of Bones studio, both styles are fighting when they are on the same screen at the same time.
It really shows how disconnected each style are from another even though separately, both styles are great and worthy of 9/10.
But sadly, they just look jarring together in the same screen.
The music is great. The OST is good and the op/ed themes are both decent. I don’t really have have problems with music from Godzilla franchise. But here, really nothing stands out. But still consistently good.
Overall, I probably won’t rewatch this series even if season 2 comes. I’m just really not a fan of big info-dumps.
I like the characters very much. They are all intelligent and rarely do anything stupid that makes you groan. Some characters who would have been turned into a second rate villain in past Godzilla stories are actually very nuanced and have reasonable points of view to do what they think is the right thing. The MC’s are not superheroes, but just very intelligent characters trying to do their best, as in real life.
The anime style is very original. It tries its best to balance between cute and realistic. I think they did a pretty good job.
The story is a very interesting original tale, if not a little convoluted. Time travel stories are notoriously hard to keep a track of, and this one is no different. The first half gives you the mystery and is straightforward enough, but the second half gets boggled down by the pseudo-science and at certain points become almost incomprehensible without the MCs giving us an info dump in the way of SMS text messages between the two. Not exactly subtle. Also, let me warn you that the ending is rather abrupt. Not bad, but also not the best.
The best thing about this show is that you can tell the creators love the Godzilla (and other Toho monster) franchises. The EP is simply a love letter to all past films and is an absolute joy to try to find every little bit of Easter Egg in it. I’ve noticed about two dozen immediately, but my understanding is that there are a heck of a lot more.
I would absolutely recommend this show. It is fun. It is certainly much better than the last attempt to animate Godzilla.
This show does not give a fuck about handling narrative twists in a certain way nor does it think any of the sci-beats are more important than the character interactions which all kick ass. The massive supporting ensemble works well enough by not pretending to be anything more than vehicles to move between the secret underground lab to the Diet building. And they look good as hell while it all happens.
The show just wants to give you wide establishment shots followed either by the lazy genius guy and goofy-cool CG kaiju fighting the goofy DIY mech or the energetic genius girl running along with her AI dog box on wheels talking about diagonal lines or some shit. The characters are colored with a bright flatness that rubs against the CG really well without ever being too loud or overstated. This isn’t ground breaking, but if a monster of the week show pretending to be high concept sci fi kind of sounds interesting to you, then please check it out.
8: Edens Zero
English: Edens Zero
Japanese: EDENS ZERO
MAL Score: 6.84
All his life, Shiki has been surrounded by machines. At Granbell Kingdom, a long-abandoned amusement park, he is the only one of his kind around. That is, until Rebecca Bluegarden and her feline companion Happy arrive, unaware that they are Granbell’s first visitors in one hundred years. Their goal is to make fun videos for their B-Cube channel, but what they find instead is a friend in the socially awkward Shiki.
When Granbell becomes too dangerous for the three of them, they set off on an adventure through the Sakura Cosmos. They hope to make more interesting videos and even find the elusive goddess Mother, while Shiki wants to make more friends, spurred on by the words of his late grandfather. Of course, the journey will not be easy, as no one has seen Mother before, but Shiki is determined to reach his goal and explore the boundless reaches of space together with his new friends.
the animation looks pretty nice, the movements of Shiki vs Catsellan were pretty fluid! the effects added to the gravity were pretty nice and I love the way shiki’s ether great activated.
I like how the anime suggests shiki has a fear of bugs, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t revealed until much later on in the manga. It’s a nice touch.
overall I’m very excited! edens zero is heavily underrated and slept on and I would say, where it is in the manga, its better than both its precedes; rave master and fairy tail. really hoping people can get into this with an open mind, instead of just judging it based on the similar character designs.
It has the same light-hearted comedy setting which made me love Fairy Tail, but because this is a 25 episode series, the first few episodes are kind of fast paced, presenting you a new character in almost every episode and the plot develops really fast when you compare with long running series like Naruto, Bleach or even Fairy Tail, which had from 12 to 25 episodes just to present you the plot.
The plot so far is interesting, but it’s too soon to really say anything more about it. I really hope it gets a second season later so we can actually see how it will develop (yes, it is a possibly hundreds of episodes long plot and i love it).
I remember some people complained Fairy Tail had a lot of static images in the fighting scenes, that’s not the case here. I’m really happy with the way they animated them.
The main aspect i rate animes are enjoyment, and this really is something else for me. If you liked Fairy Tail, or even if you didn’t, give this anime a chance. I promise it will at least make you laugh a couple times, then you can decide wether or not it is worth to keep watching it.
The elephant in the room is of course the character designs. Any one who has watched Fairy Tail (or Rave Master) will recognize that Mashima’s art style hasn’t changed much. People who call it lazy or unoriginal need to realize that the author is currently publishing two manga every week/month. For the sake of efficiency I forgive someone who has been in the industry for over two decades for using designs he is familiar with. In many ways he also manages to improve them, giving cool new outfits and forms to the characters.
Eden’s Zero easily surpasses Fairy Tail, in my opinion, in terms of its story. In the first two episodes alone, we get a deep dive into the main characters backstories, as well as short, satisfying action sequences (unlike the often dragged out fights in fairy tail). Shiki Granbell’s backstory is emotionally powerful, and makes you care about him and his goals. The sudden death of all of Shiki’s friends and family at the end of the first episode shocked me because of the unexpected dark and serious mood. Eden’s Zero places it’s focus on friendship without letting plot armor stand in the way of emotionally satisfying narratives. Shiki also is more humble and intelligent than Natsu, who I found irritating and unlikable. In the first episode alone he gets more character development than Natsu did in several dozen. His goal to make friends may be simple, but it feels relatable in a wholesome and optimistic way. Also, the animation is not one of the best of this season, but it has some sakuga worthy moments. And the music and voice acting is solid as well.
Speaking of friendship, if you want something entirely without the cliches about the “Magic of Friendship” then this is not for you. The general themes are similar, but they are expanded upon in interesting ways. The quest to find mother, the universe’s god, is intriguing in the same way Luffy’s quest for the one piece is. I am willing to try to enjoy Eden’s Zero as much as possible despite not loving Fairy Tail as much as I wanted to. If you loved Fairy Tail than I have no doubt you will love this, and if you didn’t then I think it can offer a more enjoyable experience. For me, who tries to enjoy everything I read or watch as much as I can, this is a 10/10.
7: Azur Lane: Bisoku Zenshin!
Japanese: アズールレーン びそくぜんしんっ!
MAL Score: 7.06
In a seemingly peaceful time without looming threats of Sirens or war, shipgirls from different nations live together in harmony. Some girls, such as the destroyers Ayanami, Javelin, Laffey, and Z23, attend school. Others immerse themselves into various other activities, including sports, foraging, training, going to formal parties, or even vying for the commander’s attention! But one thing is for certain: the girls will continue to deepen their friendship in the pleasant port of Azur Lane!
The first adaptation of Azur Lane was a disaster. Poor pacing, inconsistent animation quality, bad writing reducing a major faction (Ironblood) to a minor role…gacha adaptations aren’t known for their quality, but that didn’t stop Azur Lane from sinking in the Sea of Disappoinments. So, what does Bisoku Zenshin do to avoid the same fate?
Fluff. Loads upon loads of fluff.
Where the first adaptation struggled to find a balance between action and comedy, Bisoku Zenshin doubles down on lightheartedness. Each episode follows Starter Squad on their adventures around home port, encountering other shipgirls along the way while partaking in wholesome activities. Sleepovers, amusement parks, chocolate making, open-aired baths…there is no identity crisis to be found here, Bisoku Zenshin knows it’s Slice of Life and delivers in full. Now, does this mean that punchlines will have you laughing into next week? Probably not, but the formulaic routine is enough to keep viewers entertained without throwing them for a loop.
The production quality of Bisoku Zenshin is an interesting conundrum. Animated by the newly formed Yostar Pictures alongside CANDY BOX, Bisoku Zenshin’s animation quality can best be described as less impressive, but far more consistent than its predecessor. Warm colors, cute facial expressions, lewd close-ups…it’s about what you would expect from a Slice of Life, but a few shots (best seen through character stiches) offer a glimpse into what a more refined production pipeline could create once YP gains more experience. As it is, Bisoku Zenshin doesn’t do much to impress visually (especially with only an 8 1/2 minute runtime, 6 1/2 minutes if you exclude the ED), but avoiding the issues of its predecessor by starting from scratch and setting the bar low is a reassuring sign for the future. It’s even in the name: Bisoku Zenshin, “Slow Ahead”!
The characters of Azur Lane are its bread and butter. Where Bisoku Zenshin triumphs here is in broadly characterizing a larger amount of shipgirls than its predecssor while treating Ironblood as it is: A major faction. To put this into perspective, Niimi / Z23 was only given ~3 minutes of screentime in the original adaptation, whereas here she’s a main character. Frankly, it boggles my mind how the first adaptation failed at proper faction representation (it didn’t even include cameos from minor factions; Bisoku Zenshin does) so to see proper representation now is a relief. As for the broad characterization, it’s just that: Broad. Think of it like being introduced to some potential waifu candidates every episode, except that you actually get an idea for their personality instead of being stuck with a brooding, OOC Enterprise for 12 episodes. The character diversity each episode brings is refreshing, and it’s unlikely you’ll go through the entire cour without finding at least one shipgirl you like.
What else? Sound quality is nothing special (some cute tracks here and there; OP and ED are nothing special), voice acting is authentic (same VAs as the game), storyboards use the manga as a base and splice chapters / add new content without an issue…that’s about it. Bisoku Zenshin doesn’t stray from the pack; its key goal is fanservice above all else. Does that mean it’s bad? Far from it, especially when compared to its dumpster fire of a predecessor. It’s simply a decent, niche title that will satisfy Azur Lane’s playerbase and pull in an anime-only or two with its wholesome moments and diverse cast. What matters is that Bisoku Zenshin knows this, and that’s all it needs to stand out from the original adaptation.
When the previous main part of Azur Lane came out in late 2019, the hype was really big. After all, Azur Lane is a very successful mobile game, I mean who doesn’t want to collect all the different waifus. But the disillusionment came quickly. From the entire animation to a break of several months in between, this anime has suffered a lot of criticism. With “Bisoku Zenshin!” the studio “CANDY BOX” is trying to do everything better and they certainly succeeded in their very first main work!
The plot in “Bisoku Zenshin!” is quickly told. It’s a typical slice of life anime with a nice amount of fanservice. We experience the exciting and happy everyday life of our main characters Z23, Javelin, Laffey and Ayanami. Whether just going to a festival together or have a barbecue, there are always great moments where they can simply enjoy the day with their friends. It can be noted that they really enjoy their “time off from fighting”. After all, our girls deserve a break too!
The personalities of the characters should already be known to many viewers, here we experience their typical characteristics again. We have a Z23 that worries a little more than the others and also takes care of her friends. Javelin who is always happy, cheerful and energetic. Our sleepy Laffey is an important part as well and Anayami who sometimes checks things a little slower and gives a cloud-cuckoo-land vibe off at times. All those can be seen here and that’s how we like them. They’re natural and cute in their own way.
The animation is certainly the point that gives us the most pleasure. The quality has increased significantly compared to the previous part. The colorful everyday life of our girls is sweetened even more with maid or bunny costumes. Even the classic “onsen scenes” are shown to us as well. A successful service for us fans!
The OP “Longing for!” and also the theme music “Mahiruiro Siesta” are very happy songs that you can simply enjoy. It’s not as action-packed as the previously known “graphite / diamond”. The soundtracks are just very relaxing to listen to. The background noises and also the voices or characters are on point.
“Azur Lane: Bisoku Zenshin!” is a perfect after-work anime. With its episode length of just 9 minutes, it is also significantly shorter than the standard time of 23-24 minutes. It’s an anime to relax and enjoy. There’s no such thing as a plot that requires a lot of thought, just watch your waifu ships and enjoy the fan service! All in all, that’s the Azur Lane we want!
Let’s be honest here: it’s a gacha game where you gather shipfus and is known for having a lot of fanservice. There is some story, but it’s more like something interesting (or not) on side for most players. Slow Ahead manga, and now anime, focus on those “important” parts, which is SoL, comedy and fanservice.
Natural consequence of being a fanservice (in broader meaning, not just sexual) for players of already fanservice focused game, on top of being a short adaptation of 4-koma manga, is that it doesn’t explain anything about the world or characters. This anime is aimed at people who already know shipgirls. While I’d love it to bring more players to the game, I can’t really recommend starting with it if you had no contact with the Azur Lane universe before.
With that out of the way, what can I say about this title? For one, it’s actually good. Jokes are funny for the most part and fanservice – be it sexual or just game references – is right on spot. While it could get way more ecchi, I’m ok with the level we got served here.
I’m obviously biased, but characters are the strongest point here, as you’d expect from this kind of anime. Their design, voice acting and quirks are all good and also represent their game counterparts properly.
Art, and especially sound, aren’t anything special. Just simple and cute.
In the end, Azur Lane: Bisoku Zenshin is one of those titles that are there simply for promotion, without even trying to seem like a standalone anime. After all it is an adaptation of an official, free 4-koma manga that’s promotional/fanservice material in itself.
MAL Score: 7.46
One day after school, first-year high school student Yomogi Asanaka comes across a starving man under a bridge. Introducing himself as Gauma, the strange drifter informs Yomogi that he is a “kaiju user,” a person who deals with the “kaiju”—monsters who bring harm to the city and its citizens.
The following evening, Yomogi runs into Gauma and his classmate Yume Minami. Simultaneously, a kaiju appears in a populated area of the city. Due to Gauma’s lack of experience controlling the kaiju, he brings out a mysterious object from a glowing pouch, summoning a giant robot known as Dynazenon. Requiring the cooperation of four people, the mecha drags Gauma, Yomogi, Minami, and Koyomi Yamanaka—an unemployed man who was wandering on the street—into its cockpit.
Their encounter with the kaiju marks the beginning of their entanglement with kaiju eugenicists—kaiju users who manipulate kaiju with ill intent—and their efforts toward bringing out the full potential of Dynazenon.
SSSS Dynazenon is yet another tokusatsu edition via the courtesy of the tag team of Akira Amemiya and Keiichi Hasegawa, the latter of whom is well known for his work on the 1990s Gridman The Hyper Agent series from which the SSSS series is derived from. As one might suspect right away, Dynazenon is connected to the SSSS Gridman anime from 2018, unsurprisingly enough. Much like its predecessor, Dynazenon is essentially a reboot of the classic Gridman franchise, catering to a modernized audience with stylish art and more befitting themes, while still appealing with the sense of nostalgic tokusatsu entertainment.
However, in its endeavors to recreate and stay faithful to the original essence of Gridman, Ultraman, and other tokusatsu/kaijuu series in general, Dynazenon is still riddled by the very overbearing qualm that Gridman was also held back by: the ability to stand out for itself, like many previous Trigger anime did (or at least try to). I understand that it’s not absolutely necessary to live up to the reputation of Studio Trigger and its go-to style, but when the series is a whole is grounded as essentially modernized “adaptations” of a much older franchise, the ability to get creative is significantly compromised early on, if not completely.
The story starts out with a high school boy named Yomogi randomly running into a mysterious man by the name of Gauma, who claims to be a “Kaijuu User”. Not long after, the city is suddenly under attack by an enormous surreal monster, and the stranger summoned the giant mecha known as Dynazenon to fight. Yomogi, his classmate and love interest Yume, a local shut-in named Koyomi and his cousin Chise are sucked into the conflict and must team up, super sentai style, to fight against the kaijuu attacks and stop whatever (or whomever) is responsible for them. Truth being told, the story is extremely generic at heart, and I’m not sure there was enough weight to balance that out.
The narrative structure of Dynazenon is very similar to that of Gridman for the most part, for nearly every single episode. It’s essentially rinse-repeat: first half of mundane dabbling through the main cast’s daily lives and activities; second half comes with a monster-of-the-week being summoned by the likes of Team Kaijuu Eugenicists and launching its assault, with the last several minutes involving Team Dynazenon taking down said entity. There’s probably no need for that much specifications, but the fact still remains: even with some variations in between, nearly every episode’s pattern is quite repetitive and predictable. “Show don’t tell” scenes are flaunted like decorations. Randomy tossed terms and cheesy names are dangled around to put on a facade of uniqueness in personality. Fabricated sensations of dread and tension in otherwise silent awkward segments are used to justify the extended drainage of airing time. Typical philosophical mumble jumble like “these monsters feel emotions, too” and “you desire to fight them more than protecting” are tossed in to make the narrative seem more deep and complex than it really is. Perhaps much of this wasn’t intentional, but it seemed to me that the plot felt too structurally simplistic to properly bear the weight of whatever subtlety or nuances the story may have attempted to utilize. There’s no genuine hooks, no explorative themes or topics, not a single concept or idea utilized in an interesting way to make the buildup and payoffs worthwhile.
Every episode we are given some exploration into the recurring characters’ livelihoods, as well as some of their backgrounds, aka Dynazenon’s “slice of life” segments. The minimalist method of attempting to flesh out the cast members is commendable and the subtleties in the supposedly “organic” interactions between them is nice by itself. However, the characters themselves aren’t quite particularly complex, profound, or remarkable by any means; much like the plot itself, the cast is quite facile for the most part. It wouldn’t have been a necessarily bad thing, but the lack of overall depth of the cast doesn’t help or balance much when the rinse-repeat format itself becomes tiresome until the last couple of episodes, where the show then decides to shovel in an “eleventh-hour” run-of-the-mill plot twist to make the excuse for an obligatory heart-pumping “final boss” battle and evocative wrap-up of sorts. This would be cool for the most novice of viewers, but after one has seen the same sort of theatrics over and over in other similar shows (albeit usually without the same visual flashiness), it gets quite tedious. It’s even more conspicuous when one is aware of many of the plot holes not being properly addressed or even set up properly for foreshadowing. Like that of its predecessor, Dynazenon’s plot problems really stem from its overbearing reliance on being faithful to the original source material, thus causing them to lack the strong sense of innovation and novelty that would’ve otherwise be more appealing to the masses. Not even the sense of self-awareness was close to enough to fill in the gaps.
Amidst the number of fundamental misgivings, Dynazenon undeniably has fared very well in terms of animation and sound directing. The animation scenes look really smooth and brilliant, and the sound design is nice and intricate. The shot framing and dynamic camera work help to make the fight scenes more exciting and immersive. The sound design gives off a raw and authentic vibe, from the crumbling of the ground beneath the massive kaijuu to the mechanical sounds of the transformations to the visceral trading of blows between giant hero and giant monster. Not every part is filled with action, of course, but even the audio details are still there, like the clamoring of the public masses to even the minute sounds like someone randomly tapping on their handheld devices. Every now and then, the show tosses in classic soundtracks from the original Ultraman franchise to further hamfist the sense of nostalgia. The voice acting switches between mundane and expressive, the latter instance being rather amusing. The numerous jump/smash cuts are intentionally used to scroll through the non-action portions of the episodes to depict the angsty of youth. Often at times, though, they can feel jarring and disconnecting especially if one wants to be given more reason to care about the cast. The art design is nice but quite average in comparison to most of Trigger’s previous works. At the very least, the impressive aesthetic composition has made the series quite watchable and visually appealing in spite of the lackluster storyboarding.
The characters of Dynazenon, as mentioned before, are quite unremarkable, and don’t have a whole lot to really stand out for themselves. The entirety cast are a walking bunch of archetypes that don’t have many notable traits for themselves. Yomogi is your typical high school age male protagonist; his mentality is pure and righteous, he wavers every now and then but always manage to pull the most amusing of shounen-like sequences. Literally in one episode he pulls something akin to Simon The Digger and manages to break everyone out of an genjutsu rather easily. Gauma is that enigmatic loud and brash figure, established as an eventual plot device put on strings to connect to the underlying mystery and/or conflict. Koyomi is that awkward nerdy shut-in adult, though remotely relatable to a degree, with obvious social issues and is often blatantly displayed as pathetic and almost always getting the short end of the stick with his daily life. The aforementioned’s cousin Chise is that happy-go-lucky girl with a random and briefly inserted background of solitude that was never really touched upon more than one. She only gets more highlighted upon randomly befriending a friendly kaijuu, but the narrative misses out on the chance to even slightly flesh her out. Yume is also quite an archetype, but she at least gets more of a decent background check involving her past. Her inner conflict involving her deceased older sister gave a sense of genuine value to her complexity to where I was actually able to care for a character more than the rest. Additionally, her usually quiet stoic nature was complementary to the added background context, and while her little character arc wasn’t as substantial as I’d like it to be, it amounted to somewhat enough at the end to have her development be the most acknowledged, if not the only one. I admittedly wasn’t particularly a fan of her romantic relationship with Yomogi, though, on the other hand, as I felt it may have somewhat adulterated much of that progression. The group Team Eugenicists are practically akin to a spinoff of Team Rocket from the Pokemon series, albeit with no consistent intentions or schemes. They amounted to being bombastic anarchistic figures want to use kaijuu to “free” the world, yet they themselves are chill people who seemed fine with the current society as it is. Their motives are straightforward and blatant; they advocate the whole “take over the world” idea, but it amounted to minimal value at the end of the day. They only exist for the sake of the SSS series always needing some obligatory half-baked villainous group. If the story itself wasn’t so fundamentally weak, perhaps this level of characterization would’ve been forgivable due to the former balancing things out.
I wouldn’t say I didn’t enjoy Dynazenon at all, but it was a very inconsistent experience. The first impressions for me weren’t so bad, but I didn’t find myself particularly hyped at any point in time while watching. Due to the repetitive tone shifts of Dynazenon, it was such an unsettling feeling of moving back and forth. Sitting through the first halves of each episode wasn’t all that easy, and often at times my attention drifted. Even the action-filled portions, as eye catching and raw as they were, don’t feel consistently enticing and exciting, especially for a very seasoned viewer like myself. Some segments had me chuckling a bit, and others had me rolling my eyes. Being dealt with such a mixed experience, I found the value of enjoyment hard to put enough account for in the hindsight of things. I couldn’t find myself getting behind any of the characters or their motives and/or backstories, with the exception of Yume for reasons stated earlier.
Dynazenon may play a huge part of what is now Studio Trigger’s prized ongoing cashcow in the SSSS franchise, but aside from the flashy aesthetics and clumsy attempts to look like something profound and organic, it never really went anywhere in the end. It simply meandered around pointlessly and never tries to make a name for itself. Riddled by jarring plot problems and an inability to address or set them up for later, it ended up as just another sakuga-filled display full of heart and spirit, but not much tact or ingenuity, created specifically for the tokusatsu nostalgia, very much like how Gridman was.
Hopefully, one day….one day….Studio Trigger can truly “save anime” again.
Every moment, shot, line of dialogue holds meaning. Though it lacks the constant stunning animation of large-budget anime, it surpasses most with considerate editing, thoughtful framing of each storyboard, expressive character acting and detailed body language, and complex background art. Dynazenon uses every aspect of anime to its advantage, designing a work of art that reveals more information through its visuals than through simple dialogue. Many scenes are cut before the dialogue finishes, abruptly stopping all background sounds. Each cut is purposeful; it gives us a sense of how the characters feel and what meaningful information we must pay attention to. The times Dynazenon is fully animated, it looks as fantastic, if not more, than Trigger’s best titles.
Dynazenon has its fair share of formulaic elements repurposed for its benefit. Our four main characters combine pieces of a toy mecha to become Dynazenon—the robot as tall as a skyscraper. The cast aimlessly wanders through their everyday lives until a kaiju appears and gives them a purpose, to fight evil kaiju as Dynazenon! Dramatic tension slowly builds up throughout each episode’s quiet and subtle first half, leading into a bombastic last third. Again and again, a kaiju is summoned to wreak havoc on the city. The tonal shift between subtle and over-the-top tokusatsu mecha action is deserved. It’s pure cathartic joy.
All five main characters have a vibrant personality and distinct idiosyncrasies that set them apart from the rest. Their lives, fears, and insecurities are vividly detailed through quiet, intimate scenes and backstories. Confronted with their past, they must overcome their relatable insecurities. Notably, all of them feel real. Of course, they’re animated, but their personalities are never forced, as so often happens with anime targeted at a young audience. These successes can also be attributed to the impressive VA performances. A few of the VAs are surprisingly industry newcomers—like Minami’s actor. She delivers every emotion naturally.
Conversely, Gauma, the supposed kaiju slayer reincarnated 5,000 years ago, talks and acts like a zany anime hero. He speaks with every trait of an energetic kid fascinated with fictional stories. Unlike the others, Gauma works three jobs, doesn’t go to school, and lives under a bridge, firmly grounding him in reality. Although at first, his aspiration to be a hero comes off as heavy-handed, through developments, he transforms into a person worthy of admiration. Taking a glance at the poster, you might guess Gauma is the main protagonist, but Yomogi fits that role the most. He is our central perspective. We spend the most time with him. His life is like an open book—unlike everyone else, he’s not mysterious or secretive. More importantly, when everyone is given a piece of Dynazenon, he gets the middle part, Dyna-soldier. Yomogi could’ve quickly fallen into the bland protagonist archetype; luckily enough, he has an intriguing depth surpassing his traditional appearance.
Koyomi and Chise, the last two of the group, leave a slight impression at first, being shuffled to the side in favor of Gauma and Yomogi. Their development comes later, but it’s well worth the wait. Both of them are necessary to the success of the team. Chise isn’t given a piece of Dynazenon, though she is very much a part of the team. Oftentimes we see the catastrophic battles from her perspective. Connecting with others is a theme they embody. Without a strong connection, they would be unable to pilot Dynazenon together.
Each kaiju has a distinct power that I couldn’t possibly spoil because they’re so creatively thought up. Certain kaiju powers test the characters’ minds, memories, and trauma. If any of them are facing obstacles, whether physically or mentally, it will show in how they fight as Dynazenon. If one of them is off, all of them are. Part of their growth as a team is dealing with individual problems together. Beginning as random strangers, they become a believable found family.
Forever, kaiju have been known as irrationally vicious monsters from films like Godzilla. Similar to how Jaws made me think sharks were man-eating monsters. In truth, they only kill three humans every year. Dynazenon challenges our assumptions of Kaiju. They’re innocent creatures, often small and scared until the Kaiju Eugenicists control them with mysterious powers. These four antagonists could be mistaken for ordinary people. They appear to wear futuristic military uniforms, and they treat human life with no care in the world. Despite doing everyday things, like eating at a restaurant or visiting a water park, they’re unambiguously cruel. As antagonists, they embody ‘banality of evil,’ a trait associated with fascists. They have hidden motivations, which are both comprehensible and morally reprehensible. Their fascist ideals directly conflict with the heroes’ righteous morals—emotionally charging each of their confrontations. Unfortunately, there was not enough time for the series to adequately delve into each villain.
There are no wordy explanations for powers, kaiju, or robots, no need for exposition. If we receive new information, it is from witnessing it rather than being told it. The sci-fi elements, such as controlling mechas, maintain an internal logic. There are no retcons or forced developments. Director Akira Amemiya found his niche in SSSS.Gridman and refined it, this time embracing a more personal script giving the cast room to explore every emotion. This fact is especially true in the anime’s finale—a moving, thought-provoking reveal that will linger in discourse long after the end. Like its predecessor, SSSS.Gridman, this series is brimming with foreshadowing, visual metaphors, and awe-inspiring twists. Is Dynazenon a sequel to Gridman? No. There are a multitude of references, similar themes, and two minor characters who connect both universes. You don’t need to watch Gridman first, though it would undoubtedly make you appreciate it more. Both anime are highly recommended.
SSSS.Dynazenon is the work of master artists. It may not have a big budget to attract mainstream attention, what it does have is talent, ambition, and heart. Like all great sci-fi anime, the story it tells is less about giant robots battling and more about the human condition. It successfully told a compelling story with well-rounded characters in a mere 12 episodes. There are few anime more deserving of the label “Underrated” than this fantastic show.
Both structurally and thematically, Dynazenon presents itself as beeing seemingly mundane. While unoriginal there is a new monster every week and the heroes overcome their weaknesses to beat the enemies. But there is nothing wrong such a with structure. For this is one show that takes it’s structure to it’s advantage. It takes care to develop it’s characters, to imbue them with a sense of humanity. Character drama becomes the backbone of what is essentially a very straightforward action show.
And when it comes to action, it delivers. Every battle manages to be unique and fresh in spite of the presence of supermoves and lengthy transformation sequences. The music is perfectly integrated to enhance action. Contrasted heavily with scenes of levity that keeps things from feeling dire or stale.
Above all else Dynazenon is earnest. It beacons to an era where entertainment was less dire and dreary while simultaneously managing the desire to offer morals to it’s viewers. If you aren’t cynical enough to completely ignore raw passion, I’d highly recommend that you give it a watch.
5: World Trigger 2nd Season
MAL Score: 8.09
After successfully holding off the invasion by Aftokrator, the Border Defense Agency prepares an away mission into the Neighbor’s dimension. However, like in previous scouting expeditions, only A-rank teams are certain to secure a spot. As the B-rank wars continue, Osamu Mikumo and the rest of Tamakoma-2 quickly fight to the top in an attempt to obtain a promotion before the operation begins.
Meanwhile, a new Neighbor ship approaches Border Headquarters. Noticing that the attackers are targeting the Border Expedition Ship, forces are hastily sent to combat them. However, with fewer squads available due to the proceeding rank wars, the organization is sent into disarray. This latest offensive from the Neighbors shrouds the fate of the all-important expedition ship in uncertainty.
wanted to review as best as i can.
story : 9
a new aliens appear out of nowhere to invade their world and theres few people who fight against them , later on they build a base specifically to defend their world against aliens or known as “Neighbour”. the story is revolve around Mikumo Osamu who encounter his first neighbour , and thats kuuga. when he met kuuga everything changed , after big scale fight kuuga joined Border to help their teammate save their brother and friends and here we are filled with good fight with a lot of strategies. the story is really great for me but its your typical shounen. but eitherway no problem i still like how the author write this manga and its story.
Art : 10
the arts is really improving 100% for sure , back then on season 1 everyone complain about how bad the art is compared to today , even tho back then the anime itself had a chance to be one of the top 10 shounen. but as you can see rn the art is really improving and you should watch it , you wont regret !
Sound : 9
all i could say is good job for toei and all the voice actor for voicing such good anime.
Character : 10
the character is very good with all their big iq brain xD , and yeah quite decent, adorable, funny , something like that.
Enjoyment : 10
I really enjoy it even back then when s1 was considered quite bad but it doesnt matter for me as long as their fight is immensely good with all their team fight. you also will find it amazing trust me.
Note before overall rating.
If you dont like weak mc but with quite clever mind and strategies + they’re improving with quite slow pace , then you should as well skip this anime because this anime is not for you. go watch your typical OP MC with minimum progression or growth character.
Overall : 9
9/10 is my solid rating for this anime, such a good series. enjoy it to the fullest !
honestly all i could only say is thankyou TOEI. XD
While the studio butchered the animation on the first season, they did this season GOOD! I must admit that my score IS biased but my review is NOT. So please allow me to tell you why there is nothing like this show and if it’s for you.
Why there is nothing like this show? I also have no clue, BUT, what is this show in the first place? Not the synopsis, not the FAQs or setting, but what makes it unique. The answer is, TACTICS.
I have never seen an anime that even comes close to how this title showcases tactics. You see, everything is laid out, which means there is no over the top power and there are no out of nowhere mc’guffin. Everything is out which means everyone is on a very level playing field so when it’s a gigantic free for all, we see how people having access to the same equipment utilize them differently and creatively to one up their opponents. And the scenes and wins are genuinely amazing and earned because we fully understand what is happening!
If this was NOT my bias, I’d still score it 8.5/10. It’s really good and there really is nothing like this at the moment to the detriment of anime in general.
So if you like tactics, NOT just thinking MC but a thinking cast that reasons out offense, defense and counters, you will LOVE this show.
Story and Character 9: Oh my god we finally get to see Mikumo start coming into his own as a character during the ranking tournaments and it is a joy to see this very slowly built up character finally finding his calling. Plus the action packed first few episodes that added a lot of world building were a joy to watch as always. World Trigger truly excels with having very strategic battles using a very fleshed out power system to the likes of HxH.
Art 9: OMG Toei actually fixed the animation for this wonderful anime, finally giving it the adaptation it always deserved. With beautiful particle and lighting affects coming off of all the trion weapons and explosions plus the overall movements of the action feeling very fluid make this battle packed season a joy to watch.
Sound 9: The sound of WT was always pretty good (other than occasional bad yelling voice acting) which lucky isn’t really hear anymore and overall just makes sure to add to the experience.
Enjoyment and Overall 9: WT S2 is a wonderful adaptation of a long awaited arc in the world trigger series and it brings me so much joy that after the reading the fantastic manga I can finally highly recommend the anime as well as a great battle action manga that has extremely interesting and strategic fights+powers. If you are looking for a good sci-fi shounen then look no further cause this is the anime for you.
4: Dr. Stone: Stone Wars
Japanese: ドクターストーン STONE WARS
MAL Score: 8.19
Senkuu has made it his goal to bring back two million years of human achievement and revive the entirety of those turned to statues. However, one man stands in his way: Tsukasa Shishiou, who believes that only the fittest of those petrified should be revived.
As the snow melts and spring approaches, Senkuu and his allies in Ishigami Village finish the preparations for their attack on the Tsukasa Empire. With a reinvented cell phone model now at their disposal, the Kingdom of Science is ready to launch its newest scheme to recruit the sizable numbers of Tsukasa’s army to their side. However, it is a race against time; for every day the Kingdom of Science spends perfecting their inventions, the empire rapidly grows in number.
Reuniting with old friends and gaining new allies, Senkuu and the Kingdom of Science must stop Tsukasa’s forces in order to fulfill their goal of restoring humanity and all its creations. With the two sides each in pursuit of their ideal world, the Stone Wars have now begun!
after each episode. It is really satisfying seeing Senku and the others build modern things from scratch .
This Season has the same feel as the first season which was obviously very Entertaining. A lot of new characters are introduced and each and every one of them are so cool.
The Story is Great and All of Senku’s new inventions are pretty cool. We get to see things outside the village and The action is pretty good too.We even get to see more on Tsukasa’s side and I really liked it.
The art is pretty nice too. What I like about the art is The color combinations used. It is really beautiful . The cracks on the characters faces are so unique and they bring more out of the surroundings.
I really love this season’s opening. It is really good and I cant move it out of my head.The OSTs are great too.I personally think Gen impersonating Lilian is the best.
There are a lot of new characters intoduced this season. Each and every one of them has got their own story . They all are looking great and have good voices. There is not much you can complain about.
This Season was pretty good just like the previous season which I really loved. The Character interaction,Personality, New inventions,Sound,Comedy and action were all on spot so I really enjoyed this season.
“Hell yeah it is!”-Me
“10 Billion Percent”-Senku
Dr. Stone: Stone Wars is the second major animated arc of the Dr. Stone manga, Riichiro Inagaki’s 2nd major serialized work in the Shounen Jump (Weekly) magazine, following Eyeshield 21. With one of the most unique art styles and premises of both 2019 and 2021, it’s no surprise why people find this series fascinating. Heck, it’s honestly a great contender for my personal anime of the season, and here’s why:
Picking right up where we left off in season 1, we witness the Ishigami village prepare for the upcoming battle against Tsukasa’s army…except our protagonists are trying to actually avoid battle. Now, if you’re looking for a shounen like My Hero Academia or Demon Slayer with tons of action, Stone Wars is not really the sequel I’d be looking for. Stone Wars follows up on the somewhat unrealistic, but exciting-to-watch antics and inventions of Senku and co. as they now create ‘weapons of warfare’ ranging from telephones, kevlar vests, and motor vehicles to reduce the number of casualties as much as possible. In my eyes, Stone Wars is not about war. It’s primarily about the clashing of ideals between the insanely buff anti-capitalists, Tsukasa and Hyouga, versus Senku, protector of the status quo and freedom of innovation.
What makes Tsukasa and Hyouga more interesting to watch rather than typical villains is their lofty goals of creating a completely new world. However, if you watch critically, you will notice from very specific context clues within both seasons that Tsukasa and Hyouga are very different idealistically. After the deaths of the Tsukasa Army soldiers from the sulfuric acid pond, Tsukasa mourns and recalls their names while he reminisces over their bravery fighting the ‘murderous’ Senku with his weapons of science. Hyouga blanks and asks Tsukasa who these people were, implying Hyouga did not even remember the names of the soldiers he left for dead. Tsukasa is still unaware of Hyouga’s treachery and reminds him of the fabricated incident of the sulfuric pond. While Tsukasa is depicted to be emphatic and distraught over the loss of his soldiers, Hyouga is seen as an individual who does not care much for the lives of ‘the weak’. Even though the guy has destroyed countless stone statues, Tsukasa still feels like a human with genuine emotions because he cares for the common people. Rather than depicting Tsukasa as completely evil, the writers purposely wrote one of the primary antagonists as someone who we should sympathize for. On the other hand, we have Hyouga who we’ve learned is an individual who will sacrifice human lives for an agenda. He is also notably the only person to have killed/let someone die on-screen. If you factor in his blatant support of the destruction of stone statues, Hyouga’s ideals appear to align with fascism. He supports active ethnic cleansing of the human population, even amongst un-petrified people for an over-exaggerated ‘survival of the fittest’. As you watch more and more of this series, the darkness of Hyouga versus the idealism of Tsukasa becomes more and more evident.
Then we have Senku and co. The most common criticism of Senku’s character is that he is a big-brain Gary Stu with zero weakness. That is simply not true. Senku has a weakness! Albeit a shounen cliche, we see time and time again that he will sacrifice himself for the sake of his friends. He always tries to keep them out of danger. Despite taking literal spears to the stomach and facing head to head with Death itself, he only does it for the sake of his friends. People don’t realize this because he NEVER TELLS you this. Even if it is not necessarily efficient or optimal, he will take the path safest for everyone. He always shows this weakness as a strength which makes him all the more likeable as a protagonist. Every invention or trap accommodates even people he is actively fighting against so no one is badly hurt. A combination of bad luck and bluff tactics makes him all the more believable and fun to watch. Even if it’s not always realistic, you have to give props to the writer for writing someone so interesting!
If you have favorite characters that are not Senku, don’t worry, you are in luck. The spotlight this season definitely goes to Chrome and Gen with their own respective challenges, as well as some of the newer characters in Stone Wars. Chrome gets to play an escape-the-room scenario and actually prove his independence from Senku as someone equally passionate in science but significantly more realistic. While Senku might as well be God’s Hand Lite, Chrome is like the HSer trying his best to finish his chem lab before class ends. However, this makes Chrome much more interesting, as he discovers not just how to get out of a messy situation himself, but his own identity as a person. The crazy af antics Chrome always pulls never fails to get a laugh out of me cause I love the guy! He’s my favorite character in the series and it’s great to see him get some spotlight even if he’s not the main protagonist.
For Mr. Asagiri Gen, master of bullshitting his way out of every situation, the guy is so fun to watch as he uses his skills as a liar to gain an advantage. His skills in the psychological department are so versatile, he might as well be Senku’s 2nd half! Although his primary role is certainly in the first half of the season, the visuals that TMS Entertainment uses to display his sleaziness is so damn entertaining I really can’t say anything bad about him! This is the kind of character we need in shounen! Not the dumb, loud, and screamy friend of the protagonist, but someone who is not only intelligent, but cunning.
On the Tsukasa Army side, we got some interesting obstacle characters who indicate their own ulterior motives in addition to possible longevity for the future of the series. We have the guy with superhuman hearing, Ukyo, who provides a compelling challenge for our protagonists as they try to set up a cell-phone communication device. The guy can literally hear a tree branch fall from a mile away yet our protagonists still have to deal with him? He seems like an impossible challenge like everything else Senku and co. have dealt with, yet Ukyo never actively tries to physically injure anyone from Senku’s side…Ukyo’s board position in this tactical battle for communication raises some question marks for the audience, which makes a seemingly minor character provide more subtle details than one would expect. You’ll just have to watch to see what these details are.
The last character I want to touch upon is Nikki. She is one of the other characters in the Dr. Stone setting that I personally found relatively well-done despite playing a minor role. She is one of the first people that Senku’s team tries to convince to abandon Tsukasa for a ‘better alternative’. Rather than just being one and done, Nikki is like your picky anime viewer, unsatisfied with just the bare minimum, and raises the stakes for Senku and Gen with her high standards and sends Senku and Gen’s team into a panic! The end result of the situation is certainly predictable, yet the way Nikki’s character presents her decision in relation to her backstory particularly struck a chord with me. Her background makes what would ordinarily be a plot device, feel significantly more real. Unlike Ukyo, Nikki’s own ideals are clear-cut and surprisingly match Senku’s. It is within her desire to preserve what she loved from the past and save the status quo. Nikki, despite freedom from the shackles of society in the Stone World, longs for that one thing that kept her going throughout her old life. I personally resonated with that so much. It made me appreciate another well-done character in the Dr. Stone World.
Now, I know I’ve said a lot of compliments about Dr. Stone, but there’s a reason I cannot rate it any higher.
Some of the minor issues are the iffy pacing at the beginning (including the recap; yes, I still remember that), and the presentation of Tsukasa’s backstory. Within 5 minutes, we learn how Tsukasa was traumatized by a bad experience and how he decided to enter MMA boxing and got beat up a lot. Except…it never explained how he became buff enough to literally one-shot a full-blown lion in season 1! And catch an arrow mid-shot! He’s still ‘the world’s strongest primate high schooler’ but he appears to have become larger than the Rock at around age 18 with scientifically unexplainable superhuman abilities. Even the Hulk would cry “Uncle!” after getting slapped by Tsukasa. If you were looking for how Tsukasa became the big man he is…you’re out of luck.
The last bone I have to pick is the plot holes. There are so many plot holes. I’m willing to look past them because I love Senku and the gang, but there are at least two problematic scenes. One of them is when Tsukasa and his new ally look for someone important to Tsukasa. I will call this new ally, ‘Al’, and this important person, ‘Pal’. Why doesn’t Tsukasa look for Pal on his own with his army? For some reason, Tsusaka chose to postpone un-petrification and wait til Al used that as leverage. Al essentially tricks Tsukasa into thinking that ‘together’, they found Pal. In reality, Tsukasa just found Pal by himself and thanked Al for doing nothing! Also, some of the fight scenes are unbelievably stupid as well. I won’t mention which one, but there is a specific scene with a spear that is mindblowingly dumb. If this certain spear-wielder either let go of their spear or thrust their spear forward, they could’ve killed someone and/or escaped unharmed. The tides of an entire battle are decided by this “ten billion percent” stupid decision that is not realistic.
Even though I cannot look past some of the story-writing flaws, I still loved this season, even more than the first one. It truly is something I looked forward to watching every week while I suffered through online learning over Zoom, and I hope whoever is reading this will enjoy this series just as much as I did.
Dr. Stone with a banger of a first season, comes back with what we can call a modicum of the legacy of what it had left behind. I would call this season the smaller brother, talented yet not as much as its elder brother, the latter being the first season. Even with its significant flaws—being extremely fast paced, mundane story telling and characters popping out of nowhere and diminishing in the subsequent episode—there is still a lot to admire and love about this season. So let’s dive into this 10 billion percent exhilarating review of Dr. Stone: Stone Wars!
:: Story ~ 8 out of 10 ::
I feel like compared to the first season, this season is a step-down when it comes to storytelling. It felt like it was progressing with great celerity, without trying to engage with the audience too much. It took Senku about 3-4 episodes to build the light bulb in the first season, and this season Senku built a freaking tank in 2 episodes. I would’ve loved to see another 24 episode cour like the first season, or even a 13-14 episode cour to let the story flesh out a bit more smoothly. But I am in no way besmirching the show, cause for what it is, it is really enjoyable. It branched out from Senku being the main attraction to others like Chrome, Taiju, Yuzuriha and more which I really loved.
:: Art & Sound ~ 9 out of 10 ::
The animation is good. As it is to be expected from any anime in 2021 (Ahem ahem, we don’t talk about Ex-Arm). I’ll not tergiversate and say, I used to hate the opening at first. But eventually it grew on me, and I couldn’t help but listen to it every now and then on Spotify. This season conflates good animation with catchy music, which ameliorates the overall watching experience. No complains here!
:: Characters ~ 8 out of 10 ::
Although each character get their moment of fame. It is ephemeral. So you don’t really bond with any character much this season. Even the show’s most poignant moments, feel rather… dull, I literally felt nothing when Tsukasa’s sister was de-petrified or when Tsukasa almost died. But since this was the second season, we already had a connection with most characters. All the characters add to the show’s enjoyment and most of them are amiable in their own ways. Except Hyouga. We hate Hyouga.
:: Enjoyment & Overall ~ 9 out of 10 ::
As a whole, I loved this season. Maybe not as much as the first one, but I still enjoyed it. It didn’t live up to what I expected it to be, but oh well. I will be patiently waiting for season 3 which I hope they do make eventually. Dr. Stone is quite unique in its approach, where the protagonist fights using science and his brain, rather than plot armour, muscle and power of friendship. It would be a shame if they decide to drop it.
MAL Score: 8.19
According to the Republic of San Magnolia, their ongoing war against the Giadian Empire has no casualties—however, that is mere propaganda. While the silver-haired Alba of the Republic’s eighty-five sectors live safely behind protective walls, those of different appearances are interned in a secret eighty-sixth faction. Known within the military as the Eighty-Six, they are forced to fight against the Empire’s autonomous Legion under the command of the Republican “Handlers.”
Vladilena Milizé is assigned to the Spearhead squadron to replace their previous Handler. Shunned by her peers for being a fellow Eighty-Six supporter, she continues to fight against their inhumane discrimination. Shinei Nouzen is the captain of the Spearhead squadron. Infamous for being the sole survivor of every squadron he’s been in, he insists on shouldering the names and wishes of his fallen comrades. When the fates of these young souls from two different worlds collide, will it ignite the spark that lights their path to salvation, or will they burn themselves in the flames of despair?
From the time it was announced that my favourite LN series would be getting an anime adaptation, I was filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing my fave scenes and characters adapted. Unfortunately, I could not help feeling a sense of dread as well given the studio that would be adapting it. A-1 have had a pretty inconsistent track record over the past decade or so. They’ve given us some amazing works like Anohana and Bokumachi, but also some…. less than stellar works like SAO season 2 or War of Underworld PT.2. A-1, and the anime industry as a whole’s main issue is that LN adaptations are usually just cash grabs and glorified promo material to get people to go out and buy the books. Usually large swathes of stories are left out or butchered. As a result, I was worried that A-1 may rush through the story and omit key aspects of 86. Thankfully, I could not have been more wrong. Not only did A-1 remain faithful to the source material, they even enhanced it in many instances. With arguably their best LN adaptation ever, A-1 gave us the anime of the season.
86 is a very character driven story. Volume 1, which the first cour of the anime covers, is quite slow at time just because of all the detail that goes into the world-building. Asato sensei does a great job of humanising characters and creating a connection between you and them. There may be times during the anime where you feel it drags on or it’s going a bit slow, but I can guarantee you there’s a pay-off coming around the corner. Every second you spend in this world and with these characters matters. The cruel nature of war and child soldiers is on full display, and unfortunately death is always only a moment away. At the core of 86 is the theme of racism. The light novel and anime by extension, do an amazing job of showing how easy it is to fall into the cycle of hatred. On one hand, you have the Alba living peaceful lives within their cities, on the other you have the 86 being forced into a war they didn’t start and left to die. The psychological trauma that both the kids and their commanding officer, Lena go through is conveyed masterfully and really drives home the toll these things can take on humans. If it sounds like this is a dense story, it’s because it is. There is a LOT to unpack in 86, which is why I am so happy A-1 took their time and only adapted one volume for the first cour. This is something that’s nearly unprecedented in today’s era of profit over fidelity.
From a cinematic perspective, A-1 eloquently employ the use of split perspectives in 86. The story is told through the eyes of Lena and Shin and is usually split halfway each episode. It’s a great way to flesh out the world and the characters and I’m glad they went this route. I also loved the use of camera angles, particularly as it relates to facial expressions in the show. During tense moments and conversations, I found that the cuts and angles used added to the moment and helped drive home the significance of the scene.
I mentioned it briefly earlier, but I can’t help but reiterate how much I LOVED the pacing of the show. Usually with these types of adaptations we would get 1-3 volumes for 12 episodes. For a series like 86 which is quite frankly extremely dense, this would have been a disaster. Doing the first volume, at a rate of one chapter per episode and with the quality we got artistically with amazing character designs, the best CGI I’ve ever seen, etc etc., perfection.
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been pushing the 86 agenda on Twitter and facebook for years. Part of that agenda was an OST by Sawano Hiroyuki. I could not imagine the world of 86 being animated without an OST from the GOAT himself. Sawano has done the OST for several aniplex mech series so it’s not really a shock that he hopped on 86, but bringing his kouhai Yamamoto Kohta onboard was a pleasant surprise. As you’d expect, the two of them SNAPPED on every track featured in the anime. Both EDs are amazing and several inserts like “The Answer” are on repeat on my phone daily. Could not ask for more.
In closing, 86 has been my favourite Light Novel series for years, and at this point it’s probably safe to say the anime is now my favourite anime series. A-1 put together an all star team of talent to work on this show, took their time and gave us something really special. Even if you don’t normally like mech or science-fiction anime, 86 is well worth a viewing due to the amazing handling of real life themes. In today’s hyper-political and tense times, a story on the dangers of racism and hate couldn’t be more relevant.
Eighty-six gets 10 Para-Raids out of 10.
Advertised as a military science fiction, I first want to mention that above all else, the anime manages to maintain a stellar force of animated quality. A-1 Pictures can sometimes be a missed bag but make no mistake, this show doesn’t step over its toes and overestimate itself. It manages to capture the essence of a military sci-fi by the high quality animation. From the machines, battle sequences, to the character design themselves, every bit of production makes a strong impression. Producer Nobuhiro Nakayama has previously worked on other sci-fi projects such as Heavy Object, A Certain Magical Index, and Accel World, among others. Let’s of course not forget about the director, Toshimasa Ishii. He managed to put together a storyboard to compensate with the artistic talents of the staff and make this show into a reality.
However, I do want to distress not to think too hard into this show. While 86 may be somewhat more complicated than the average sci-fi anime you see these days, it’s also fairly watchable for new viewers. You don’t need a rocket science degree to understand the technological advancements of their world. However, it make take a bit of time to understand what our characters are capable of and why they exist. Off the bat, we have Major Vladilena ‘Lena’ Milize, who serves as a Handler in the Republic forces. Coming off as one of the most human characters in the show, she treats others like humans than tools. It seperates herself from her superiors and above all, she fights for equality rather than winning the war. Lena’s character is portrayed as human by her actions. She often speaks out and challenges morality issues with her superiors. Within her squadron, she tries to forge a bond together even during their toughest times. As such, Lena represents much more than just the average Handler. She’s a beacon of hope for the 86 Squadron.
Speaking of which, what exactly is the 86? In general definition, they are pilots representing the Republic of San Magnolia. However, these members are not treated equally as other sectors as result of many complicated events. The show follows a group of elite 86ers (as part of the Spearhard Squad) with Shinei Nouzen as their leader. Taken for granted, Shinei carries a burden of responsibilty for his squad members. This is seen through his actions, when he disregard his own life to fight in what he believes in. Throughout the show, Shinei faces death straight on without fear even when taking inconceivable risks. His actions are not gone without notice as characters have come to respect him as a capable leader such as Kurena. I’m not here to convince you whether Shinei is a likable character or not. His actions can sometimes be questionable but the sheer bravery he shows on the battlefield is undeniably respectable.
With that in mind, 86 deals with war drama elements by showing and telling, a combination that is achieved with its historical background storytelling. From the very start, we learn about the state of their world and how characters are shaped by what they are. Most prominently, Lena and Shinei explifies their leadership role, and they must make important decisions even if they have to do it themselves. It’s also important to realize that Shinei’s squadron has character bonds within the group. When we see its members outside the battlefield, most of them behave like normal people despite knowing what future may lie ahead of them. It’s because of their bond, there seems to also be a glimmer of hope for the 86ers.
It’s a 1-cour show, at least for the first half and not only that, this falls short on one episode compared to the standard 12-episode formula. By no doubt, there’s content omitted in this adaptation such as the death of a certain important character on-screen. And also, if you came expecting this show to tell some romance, then look elsewhere. Sure, there are some hints dropped from Lena’s point of view and her growing affection towards Shinei. However, this doesn’t bloom into a relationship. After all, Shinei is the last type of guy who wants a girlfriend in this series. He’s a fighter, not a lover. Looking back though and among the Spearhead squadron, their relationship is perhaps one of the most important in the series.
I’ve already mentioned about the high quality production of 86. But who can forget the music? Hiroyuki Sawano is well known for his previous involvement in sci-i projects such as Aldnoah Zero and Guilty Crown. Here is no different as we see the sheer amount of talent poured into the soundtrack. Every episode is able to synchronize the soundtrack to make scenes impactful. It accomplishes this to make viewers feel what the characters feel, especially during the more emotional scenes. That’s important too, because war itself can have emotional impactful on anyone. It feels like the author and producers wanted us to experience what war is like hence the soundtrack enhances that experience.
Science fiction military anime isn’t an uncommon trend in today’s industry. Darling in the Frankxx, Aldnoah Zero, and the infamous Code Geass are just a few examples. What 86 manages to do is capture the feeling and reality of war, in a way that makes us realize what lives really is like for the characters. From day one, you can see grim reality of how war can change a world and people. Let’s just hope the second half of 86 will be as memorable as the first, because this anime is just getting started.
The first few minutes are really intriguing. We see two totally different realities. In the first one, we see people-controlled drones marching towards the enemy and, in a matter of seconds, we are taken to a totally different “World”. A calm, peaceful world that many would say is a “Normal” life, even the newspaper saying the weather conditions is presented to us until the beginning of the so-called “Ministry of Defense War Informant” where we realize that we are, not only, in the same world, but also in the same period of time. Some are living in complete hell and others leading their normal lives. Another thing to mention is that both are fighting on the same side, against the same enemy. And this is the first pillar, war, a confrontation between two groups that want something, where that “something” is so valuable, so important that it convinces people to join the cause and support the conflict. That makes people abdicate from their own lives for the greater good of the whole. And this is the first problem of 86, the war is not presented to us, we do not know why it happened or its trajectory to reach the period in which the anime takes place. The only thing the viewer can do is ignore the reason for all the developments that happened previously and simply accept the fact that a war exists.
A few seconds later, we see our protagonist going to the headquarters, where we see that although a war is going on, the atmosphere in the barracks is calm as if they were in a bar. This greatly displeases our major, who is indignant with the form that the situation is being driven by the Republic. This is when the most important dialogue in the anime takes place, with Annette asking Lena two questions, “Why do you care so much about drones?” and “Why do you care so much about 86?” And it is from this conversation that we understand the real situation in which the characters find themselves. The Republic once formed by people of different ethnicities decides to use minorities as soldiers, or better said, as pilots. This is why we only see people of the same “Race” (I apologize to everyone who has the slightest knowledge for the misuse of the term), represented by the hair color of people in the city, because they are treated as human beings, unlike all other peoples who, despite being citizens of the country, were treated like animals and forced to fight against the “Legion”. And then, the second problem presents itself: discrimination. It is very difficult to watch 86 and not remember Nazism, where the Germans used a pretext of racial superiority in order to subjugate all other ethnicities and especially Jews. Looking at it in this way, both history and fiction seem to rest on the same point, and that’s the problem, they’re not. While in Anime the 86 are used as fighters, the Jews on the other hand, were used as labor and as a way to unite people, hatred for the Jews made Hitler’s army march without any doubts that what they were doing was right and that they were superior. But why weren’t Jews used as combatants? The answer is very simple, why would you, after being oppressed by a country, humiliated and put in the same condition as an animal, would you fight on their side? And so we get back to why a war happens and how it stands. The Anime neither tries nor seeks to explain the reason why the 86 fight and defend the republic, because exactly as stated above there is no reason for that.
And that brings us to the third and final pillar “What makes someone a human?”, a simple question that follows us through all 11 episodes: “Why is Lena treated like a human being while Shin is treated like an animal?”. And again, the author’s inability to guide a story is evident. Not only does it bring the vision of only two people but forgets all existing context/ where are the other countries? Who created the Legion? Who has ever been annihilated by the Legion? Were they all people? Or were they all animals like the 86? The anime through Lena tries to make us create a feeling of compassion for the 86 and not only that, but it ends up giving us the same feeling that is seen in the republic. Instead of making us think about how everyone who is presented in this universe are human, the anime guides us to the reverse of Nazism, where we came to believe that all but the 86 (And obviously Lena) are the evil to be eradicated. And this is a big problem, because, all the time, the feeling of superiority is shifted in favor of the “Weak”, in favor of the “Oppressed” and, by that, we start doing exactly like those we despised and just repeating their actions.
The characters in 86 are another disappointment. In fact, we have two characters while the others are used to reinforce the anime’s weird theses. In one hand, we have the major fighting against discriminatory thoughts practiced by the Albas. In the other hand, our typical protagonist, codenamed Undertaker, someone cold, centered, ruthless and skillful, who despite all the characteristics listed above has a past that haunts him daily. All the other characters are the anime’s frustrated attempt to make us believe in its plot. Lena’s uncle has only one function, to make racism, illogical speeches that contest the Democratic ideology that his niece has, all with the intention of causing even more hatred of the listeners against the oppressor. On the completely opposite side we have all the other 86. Their function? In this case we have 2: the first one is dying anyway in order to cause the shock and the feeling that no one is immortal and that war does not choose who kills, even thought the episodes show the complete opposite, war does not only choose who will die, but also, the moment when death will occur in order to “impact”. The second function is pure fan service. We see that after the battle they are just kids who were forced to fight, who have tastes, interests and passions giving that false impression of “Wow they’re just teenagers like me”, while, at other times, mostly after battles with fatalities, we do not see feelings of loss. There is such a big discrepancy between “The normal teenagers” and “The pilots of the juggernauts” what could be explained with the influence of Alba’s thought in their heads, but which is totally abandoned by the work that continues to tread the same path of a meaningless cycle of hate. And this is something that we often see in various media, where the is only perpetuated if nothing is done. The best example is the obvious and clear inspiration of Nazism in history, where the Jews, even going through everything that passed on, understood that the Germans, due to the aftermath of the first war, were just weak-minded people incapable of thinking for themselves.
I’m not the best person to judge 86’s direction since I haven’t read the light novel, but what I can comment on is its decline in the early episodes. In the first episode, it’s brilliantly done delivering some of the information in dialogue and even visually, which is the role of a director. From that point on, he apparently forgot everything he has learned in life and ends up doing an extremely deficient job and largely focusing on elements that are totally unnecessary for the progress of the story. I don’t know if the director just followed the author’s text in a linear way, but if he did, the blame continues to fall on his shoulders. The animation and design are lazy and simplistic, and it doesn’t just extend to the fights and faces of the characters. It extends through the environments, the battles and the place where they happen always look the same, giving that feeling of “I didn’t just watch this episode?”. There is no visual progress, with the exception of the final stretch of the anime. The soundtrack, despite not being to my liking, fulfills its role. Its real problem is the bad way it fits, especially in the parts where it should be emotional or melancholy, where everything seems to be the same moment, where completely different songs look the same because they are always used in the same order Before–> Battle –> After, which makes the composer’s work useless.
86 is an example of how a story should NOT be guided, from characters who just fill the screen, Of totally artificial relations between Lena and everyone else in the anime, to the misuse of racial discrimination in every possible way. Unlike other stories or the History itself, 86 leaves a stupid legacy, being just another work that tried to generate some moral debate. A war anime in which the author himself does not know the reason for what happens in that world. A shame and complete disregard for the racial discrimination experienced by countless people.
2: Nomad: Megalo Box 2
Japanese: NOMAD メガロボクス2
MAL Score: 8.22
Megalo Box is an advanced form of boxing where competitors wear metal frames called Gear. When the first ever Megalonia tournament took place, “Gearless” Joe became its champion and known to all as a legendary fighter. However, soon after, he lost an exhibition match against the second champion and vanished from the public eye.
Seven years later, Joe now goes by “Nomad” and keeps a low profile, occasionally fighting in a few underground matches to get by. He is haunted by hallucinations and relies on a set of painkillers to numb his mind.
During a match, Joe wins against an opponent, Chief, who purposefully loses for some extra cash from gamblers. Subsequently, Joe discovers that Chief is from a community of immigrants called the Casa. Chief is gradually trying to make enough money to purchase the land where they live illegally. At first, Joe hesitates to get involved, but eventually decides to lend the Casa a helping hand.
Hummingbird: Will you listen to my song, Nomad? I’m in a hurry, ask someone else.
But the Hummingbird just won’t give up and pursued the Nomad.
Hummingbird: Please, I must sing my song.
Nomad: You’re rather selfish. Sorry, but I’ m just not in the mood. I’m on a journey to die.
Hummingbird: But that’s ridiculous. Who goes on a journey to die?
Nomad: It’s the truth. Why would I bother lying before I die?
But the hummingbird refused to give up.
Hummingbird: Then how about this? If I can make you lie, listen to my song. If I fail to do so, I will say no more.
Wanting to be freed from the persistent pest, the Nomad agreed.
Hummingbird: Why do you want to die?
Nomad: Because I lost everything.
Hummingbird: That’s a lie.
Nomad: But it’s not a lie. I lost my home, my fortune…and my family died from illness. I’ve got nothing left.
Hummingbird: No, you still have eyes to see me and ears to hear my song. You even have a mouth to speak to me.
Nomad: Yes, you’re right.
Though they felt that they had been duped, the Nomad admitted defeat.
Nomad: All right, I lose.
The Nomad didn’t want any more trouble, and stopped to hear the Hummingbird’s song. The voice was so beautiful that it filled the Nomad’s empty heart with a gentle warmth just for a moment.
After it had finished its song, the Hummingbird flew towards the ray of sunlight that was peeking through the clouds.”
– The Hummingbird and the Nomad (Storybook)
Redemption. The most successful and decorated Olympian of all time, Michael “Flying Fish” Phelps, sums the one word this way: “Perseverance, determination, commitment, and courage-those things are real. The desire for redemption drives you.”
Going back to Megalo Box, the prequel being a creation and a homage to the 50th anniversary of Ashita no Joe a.k.a Tomorrow’s Joe, was a fun watch when the anime first debuted in Spring 2018, but quickly faded into obscurity for it being like a stereotypical Shounen anime where the underdog fights his way through all the underground boxing ring matches, to then rise up and be a formidable foe. Even I’ll admit that going back to Season 1 now, just feels like the re-watch has made the experience much worse and a slog to finish this “boxing” anime.
But the sequel here, dubbed Megalo Box 2: Nomad? NOW THIS IS A 100% GAME CHANGER of anything but everything that we haven’t yet seen before. And apparently the production team behind the prequel also thought of it the exact same way with director You Moriyama, whom producer Minako Fujiyoshi had to convince him to do so, thinking that the prequel by itself is an open-and-shut case. Rather than make yet another season of staying with the whole “tribute to the past” thingie-a-bob (which was what attributed to the less-than-stellar feedback in both Japan and the West at the time), the staff team scrapped that idea, and went for a more mature theme that displays the post events of Gearless Joe in a long timeskip of 7 years, where everyone has matured and Joe’s fall from grace as a depressed adult post-Megalonia. Instead of sticking to the same “Ashita no Joe” guns that bullets could crack for its own niche, the production staff team went for a more independent work which incoporates real-life societal issues, while still following Joe as he travels from place to place, while simultaneously not being able to move on from his past friends and rivals. AND BOY DOES IT SHOW, I’d say this change greatly increased the impact that boxing anime fans have been craving for the longest time.
If anything, this Nomad sequel proves one crucial thing that is missing from the prequel: character development IS KING, neither the boxing matches (though since this is a boxing anime at its core, it has to be there) nor the impact of wins or losses. As such, Nomad starts out differently than your average sequel, giving it the vibe sense that the world of the past is present, but you cannot always look back to your glory days and make the same results again. And that’s Gearless Joe’s re-account of his mature life being the Nomad: the one who wanders around with no goal in sight.
Need I mention that Nomad itself is more complex (as foreshadowed by the production team), but still reigniting the same flame of nostalgia? Because that is what it is: the Gearless Joe is not the same Gearless Joe 7 years later, and has largely kept to a low-profile state after losing out to Yuri’s young successor Edison Liu, leading to his recluse life under painkiller drugs and earning money from his old ways of underground boxing matches. If you’re wondering why I’d mention a “nonsensical” story in the beginning of this review, “The Nomad and the Hummingbird” is essentially the mature-but-depressed and delusional Joe’s road from cradle to death, then riding the road to redemption, and it is a crucial pointer in the progression of the sequel. Through the same-old and new characters that are like character arcs in and of itself (and outstanding ones at that), these people will teach Joe the meaning of life, and what it meant by getting through all the trouble of being an outcast and making the most out of the new life, setting new goals, objectives and aspirations for the future. Seriously though, never have I been so captivated by a character-centric story so jarring, yet is intensely intriguing and hits at the heartstrings like a solemn foreign song played on the guitar. You can never find a better original story like this that is done through much of the production staff team’s back-and-forth multiple discussions about the new Gearless Joe and his mature characterization, but fix as much as they can it did to give it an edge that I can say, is on a much higher pedestal than any typical “underdog to champion” fame kind of boxing show.
Mature being the theme of Nomad, and of course, with such a huge timeskip, Joe and the kids of Team Nowhere have matured A WHOLE LOT. We all know what happened to Joe, but in the course of events, his manager-cum-coach Nanbu…shall I say, had some life complications to the point that Sachio and crew thought that Joe was solely at fault when he “abandoned” them for his own gain when going against the former No. 1’s student successor (Edison Liu). Needless to say, all of that was a recipe for disaster, as the tables had drastically turned on Joe: the loss of his Megalonia “champion” status, and Sachio with the Team Nowhere kids exiting Joe’s life thereafter. 7 years later, everyone obviously grows up, but Joe’s fame got so much on his head that the loss subjected him to post-natal depression. Overtime, the new characters Chief (an Afro-Latino immigrant) and Mac “The Hero” Rosario (brought in as the new technological face of boxing Gear) encounters Joe, fights him, and teaches each other about what their human values are worth fighting for, hence the symbolism of “The Nomad and the Hummingbird”, which explicitly interchanges the roles between the three Megaloboxers (once in each character arc), educating them and edifying the meaning of “coming home to the family”. Even if all is lost, your family will still be right beside you, even through the course of life and death. And you know that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE symbolisms in shows, and Nomad does an outstanding job at reading between the lines when it comes to characterization of the tightly packed and immaculate kind.
TMS Entertainment is back to produce this show (without the help of its subsidary 3xCube which also produced the classic Ashita no Joe), but this time, the old-school style animation is largely improved for the better. Even Joe’s VA Yoshimasa Hosoya was surprised at the improved animation, and quote-unquote “was surprised by the improved animation which he felt to be more fit of a movie rather than a TV series”. Season 1 wasn’t bad, but the asinine tight production schedule, other than the tribute of sampling full HD to old 480p visuals, made it truly stand out in its time. Season 2 here is largely more of the same, though I’d guess that 3 years of production development is more than enough time to make this sequel work its legs to kick out wonders. It is an unique mold, all on its own.
Even the music by famed composer mabanua is back with more of the same-old, old-school style instrumentals, but incorporating with Mexican-Spanish themes. Such as the OP “The theme of the Nomad” which is meant to sound like a glorification of Gearless Joe’s better days in mono, to the Latin-American ED “El Canto del Colibrí” (translated as “The Hummingbird’s Song”) in full Spanish Tejano “folk” style music, meant as a song of the hummingbird, seen as a messenger of the gods used to convey good and peaceful thoughts to kin about their loved ones, dead or alive. And even as much as I miss LEO Imai’s hyper OP “Bite” of the prequel, this narrative shift of a sequel does not need all the barking and biting hype, and settles for the comtemporaries to add the classic punch to the impact.
Overall, it’s insane to see a famed sequel like Megalo Box 2: Nomad, be so shunned by the community, because other than it being a vastly superior sequel, it can also be taken in as an independent work all by itself. Providing the fact that you have to bear through the decent prequel to get to this sequel, I can safely tell you that the wait is worth the trouble.
Este es un Anime Excepcional Secuela! Realmenté excellenté.
Indeed, Megalo Box getting a second season almost feels like a miracle. Joe has been established as a character with integrity but also one we came to understand and relate to. From this season, we see a change in his character, including his name. Now going by the name ‘Nomad’, the first episodes explores his psychological state of mind and how he lives his new life. Taking place roughly 7 years since the first season, we see Joe living his life not with luxury but one who tries to get by everyday, almost like a survivor. He relies on painkillers that translates into a sort of dangerous addiction. This self-destructive behavior shows that Joe has a hard time letting his past go. The painkillers he takes feeds on his mind to forget, even if it’s damn impossible.
And that’s the beauty about Nomad: Megalo Box 2. This show is so much more than about throwing punches in a ring. We start off this season with heavy drama that deals with sensitive topics in the sports competitive world. Let’s also not forget that despite Joe trying to keep a low profile to himself, he still possess competitive skills in the ring. Sure, he may not be at his prime but Joe hasn’t lost his touch either. From the first few episodes, we also meet Chief, a character who inspires Joe to once again rise up and be himself. It’s not until a life changing event later when Joe decides to truly move on from his past. Chief represents the source of power that Joe needed this season. He’s been running from his past and if it wasn’t for Chief, his future would be grim, perhaps even nonexistent. For this season, it gave us a deep dive into Joe’s psychological mind, about how he’s been dealing with Nanbu’s death, and how he moves on. Joe’s worst enemy is himself and it’s important to see how manages to defeat it.
Joe isn’t the only character who underwent changes. One of the more prominent characters who underwent a character change is Sachio, a young boy who has now grown up as a teenager also getting involved as a Megaloboxer. But no mistake, he isn’t as skilled as Joe, Yuri, or any other of the elite fighters. More importantly is his feelings towards Joe and how he seem him this season. Other important characters making their appearances includes Edision Liu, a man who wants to prove himself and to Joe that he is a true Megaloboxer. On the other hand, we also meet Mac, a Megaloboxer who draws in some parallel similarities to Joe in his quest of redemption. The season even goes through his past life and how he became where he is in he present time. Even more interesting is how we see technology can influence a person’s life, most noticably Mac. You have to know that fighting in a ring with a robotic arm and gears has its risks. This season turns up to the 11 when we realize the real consequences, with Mac being the perfect example of telling and showing.
If you believe in this show to succeed, you’re going to need some patience especially with the story pacing. The first half of this sequel is more about Joe’s personal recovery from his past and move on with his life. The second half draws in more about the boxing world’s truths and consequences. It also sets up for a mega confrontation between perhaps two of the series’ biggest names: Joe and Mac. The latter is a character that isn’t easy to accept at first but over time, the show truly wants us to understand his character. And indeed, Mac’s personality and characterization gives us a deeper insight not just about him but also the Megalo Box world. How can we ever forget the dystopian society that differs so greatly between the wealthy and the poor? When I came into this season, I knew this show would do a lot more than just show us a memorable boxing match.
Similar to the previous season, we got the crude yet aesthetic art style we were familiar with. The most memorable quality relies on Joe’s physical features, showing his longer, dirtier hair. His character expressions were also more depressed until he meets Chief. Speaking of which, Chief himself shows traits of a leader and mentor. His general composition and personality is reflected in his expressive dialogues. To say the least, we managed to get a very human story with characters driven by certain ambitions. As with a sci-fi dystopia, the technology in this show has both a simple yet complex way of selling its product. The robotics and technology adds credibility to the unique style of Megalo Boxing. Every move in that ring shows what the capability of such technology in this timeline and by no understatement, it’s a sight to remember. The director and producers managed to truthfully animate this season with a goal in mind and that goal was achieved.
Megalo Box may seem like a simple sci-fi sports drama show at first but it proves itself to be a complex storyteller. From the deep character development of Joe/Nomad to the storytelling of Mac, it shows how people can change or influenced by certain people or events. This season may not be very easy to jump into at first but you won’t regret taking that step to live the dream again.
Nomad takes the cheerful conclusion of the first season and throws it down the gutter. Gearless Joe. A man who had reached his peak early in life, is left stumbling into a downward spiral. What’s left after a few years is a lone man with nothing. Wandering on without a destination. Getting money the only way he knows how. A stray dog now more than ever before.
A continuation of a story whose ending, albeit not perfect, felt complete, could very well have been just a way to milk a pre-existing series dry. But I was glad to see that wasn’t the case here. Nomad doesn’t use the first season as a crutch, but as a foundation to build off of.
The uplifting nature of season one is replaced with a much more somber tone. Joe who had previously been fighting for his future, now fights to handle the pain of his past. It’s in stark contrast to where we last saw him in his life, but not a bad direction to take his character. Of the whole first season’s cast, he was definitely one of the least interesting ones. He’s a blatant representation of an underdog and works as an inspiration to seize your future with your own hands. He was pretty much just a caricature, and the show was more or less carried by the people around him. But without the urgency of a massive tournament, this season had more room to develop him and the rest of the cast. Taking what we already knew and expanding upon it.
This is where Nomad truly shines greater than its predecessor. It’s not tied down by a destination and has the freedom to explore its cast to the fullest of its runtime. Resulting with the characters having an added sense of realism and complexity to them. While also staying true to how they behaved in the past. But with this freedom comes a paper-thin narrative. Nomad is very much just about exploring the characters as they find their way of life and where they belong. At the start of the show, Joe had lost his former home. Much like a nomad he travels around. Stuck in his past guilt, unable to move forward in his life. Throughout the show there’s a wide usage of the hummingbird as a symbol for guidance. The one who sets Joe on the right path again, a man named Chief, wears this symbol as pride of his nationality. It’s not symbolism at its most subtle. But ties naturally into the story itself and gives meaning to it.
But only if you had a positive outlook on the first season and especially the characters, will any of this mean anything to you. The lack of an overarching story means that your enjoyment will be largely dependent on your perception of the cast, even more so than in season one. However, even with the looser structure, the identity of Megalo Box is very much still present.
If the first season’s distinct artstyle and stellar soundtrack was enough to grind your gears then you’ll find that Nomad still has that in spades. Visually pretty much identical to where we left off. The same grit and rawness is still present in the artwork, with good use of lighting and shot composition. Animation is still packing the same punch as what we were given in season one. The fights are bloody and the punches have a strong sense of weight to them. Meanwhile the music is yet again made by mabanua. Giving us beats with an attitude, getting the blood pumping and ready for action. But has a much stronger hispanic influence in its identity this time around. The music also isn’t afraid to leave it’s upbeat focus to congregate with the otherwise pretty dismal tone of this season.
Nomad was an unneeded follow-up to a show that’s been falling into obscurity. But one that left the series on a higher note that it previously had done. Delivering on more of the series strengths as well as improving on some of its more sour apples. With characters that are more empathizable, and themes one can easily relate to. This installment is definitely an underdog, and it’s a shame this won’t get the amount of attention that it deserves. But thanks to the ones who’ll follow through. The story of Joe is not dead yet.
1: Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song
English: Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song-
Japanese: Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- (ヴィヴィ -フローライトアイズソング-)
MAL Score: 8.51
When highly evolved AIs set out to eradicate mankind, the carnage that ensues fills the air with the stench of fresh blood and burning bodies. In a desperate bid to prevent the calamity from ever occurring, a scientist bets everything on a remnant from the past.
Turning the clock back a hundred years, AIs are already an integral part of human society, programmed with specific missions meant to be carried out for their entire course of operation. Vivy, the first ever autonomous AI, is a songstress tasked with spreading happiness through her voice. In a theme park where she hardly ever gets a proper audience, she strives to pour her heart out into her performances, bound to repeat it day after day—that is, until an advanced AI from the future appears before her and enlists her help in stopping a devastating war a hundred years in the making. With no time to process the revelation that flips her world upside down, Vivy is catapulted into a century-long journey to avert the violent history yet to come.
“My mission is to make everyone content by reviewing”–Pipe
Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song, Vivy for short, is a spectacular series. It combines action, smooth animation sequencing, solid character development, a fantastic soundtrack, and a story that could have more holes than Gruyère cheese, but who cares. I don’t mind if it’s rife with time travel misconceptions and clichés; it is still delightful and quite surprising. I love this series. However, if we overthink the plot, we will lose all the enjoyment of this series, the beauty behind the story, and all the mysteries surrounding Vivy. For example, few spectators might find it ridiculous for an AI to take responsibility for saving the world from nowhere or the thought of time travel in this series. If you don’t like these ideas, you will hate this series.
At first, what gets my attention is Vivy, an AI that has a single goal, making everyone happy with her singing. A similar plan to mine with this review. However, her mission changes after several events that happened over a timeline of 100 years. First, a malign AI codenamed “Matsumoto,” I call him malign because he is an interloper, and the archive (Arayashiki) couldn’t remove him from Vivy’s core. Matsumoto requests Vivy’s help, and he gives a new objective to prevent the war between humans and AIs in 100 years. He creates “The Singularity Project” to change AI’s important events that lead to the war.
The world setting is easy to understand. Humans developed AIs for almost every task and became highly dependent on them. However, Vivy’s premise is truthfully a bit more complex to digest. One of the most challenging concepts to accept in the story is the AI time travel interpretation. I don’t want to enter into the metaphysical and metaphorical time travel description of how Matsumoto traveled 100 years back. Still, the authors are clever in avoiding this discussion because it could bring misconceptions. The authors skip all the paradoxes that a lousy explanation could create.
Furthermore, they averted the comparisons with similar plots such as Steins: Gate or even Re: Zero. Ultimately, it’s a series that uses the past to point toward the future, as the opening quote, from H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” suggests: “We all have our time machines, don’t we? Those that take us back are memories, and those that carry us forward are dreams.” Matsumoto’s information is the memories, and Vivy’s mission is the dream that evolves during the long journey. In conclusion, we can end all the time travel discussions with a single line “they conceived the time travel.”
Nevertheless, the series is no perfect. The negative factor for some fans is the pacing. Sometimes you will feel that some parts are missing and needs an explanation; I believe the issue appears for lack of time, but overall, the series is terrific, with some minor problems.
On the other hand, the most fantastic part of the plot falls on Vivy. That’s what gets me hooked on watching the series. If we pay closer attention, the authors didn’t need a set of rules similar to Asimov’s laws. Instead, they only give every AI a single mission, and, in the case of Vivy, they create a character who tries to follow that single mission. In exchange, Vivy changes and struggles to understand and complete the Singularity Project from the perspective of her mission.
Moreover, Vivy is more profound than just great animation and drawing. It is a show that takes us into Vivy’s journey about herself. Vivy assimilates little by little reason, feelings, passion, and maybe heart. I am curious apropos of how Vivy will handle all the contrasting information that could interfere with her mission. Can an AI evolve and change during this journey, and how will she decide differently from the typical machine learning concept but following a synthetic life envisage. Can an AI develop something similar to a spirit or soul?
Although the rest of the characters are pretty interesting, such as Vivy’s sisters, the time skip may not let us explore their whole personality, which is a problem. Also, it is common in the sci-fi time travel plot that someone goes to the past and forces a change for the future. So happens here with the AI Matsumoto. This cube traveled back in time, and Vivy considered it a virus initially. However, equal to Vivy, this compelling character is the main factor influencing Vivy’s decisions and helps her to grow. It has a weird personality, never stops talking, and occasionally could be annoying, but it is the perfect partner that appears in the precise moment.
Another essential concept for the series is Arayashiki, aka Archive. There is not too much to say, and several viewers won’t consider it a character. However, in Mahayana Buddhism, Arayashiki is the eighth foundational level of consciousness. It stores patterns from other forms of awareness and retains developments and thoughts to use in other lives. In the plot, Arayashiki stores and interprets all the data from the AIs then decide based on that information. It is an exciting fact that grabs my attention because it justifies the whole of Vivy’s evolution story.
From technical aspects, I don’t have anything to complain about the production. The art is fantastic and well structured. It has a broad combination of diverse palettes, and the choreography and camera angles are precise and affect the story. The sound is marvelous and has one of the most pretty scores from the year. Furthermore, the songs are lovely, in particular Harmony of One’s Heart. Regarding the VO, there are some significant problems because Vivy’s voice isn’t the same when she sings, and for a trained ear, it is a letdown.
Finally, Vivy’s is a series that has several good things and few bad things. It is an action-packed thriller that most of the viewers will enjoy. I love the show; I consider it one of the best from this year and possibly one of the best original series from the last years. I am sad because this series is not getting the recognition it deserves but is causing a great impression in Japan. It is a must to watch.
PS: I am confident that I will fail my mission. But, fear not, I will not promote the hate for the humans between my fellow AI sisters.
Vivy’s premise is a combination of beloved stories and Hollywood films about sentient robots solving humanity’s problems, whether intentionally or coincidentally—Ghost in the Shell, Terminator, Blade Runner, iRobot, and A.I. Artificial Intelligence, to name a few. Vivy may not rank among the classics, though it’s impressive audiovisuals will inevitably land it a place on “Best Sci-fi Anime” lists. Written by Tappei Nagatsuki, of Re:Zero fame and produced by none other than WIT Studio, it was bound to create ripples throughout the anime community. Doubtlessly, the premiere episode caught fans’ attention. It begins with a clichéd cold open. A city full of humanoid robots sing a horrible melody out of tune, plumes of smoke rise above the futuristic architecture, people run through the streets screaming, and ounces of blood cover the pavement. Then it ends—this is the future ahead of our titular heroine, Vivy. One which she is asked to prevent.
50 years in our future, Vivy prepares to sing in front of a small audience. Her stilted performance and hollow singing left the citizens underwhelmed. After all, Vivy is “the first autonomous AI” ever created; Her purpose is to sing for the entertainment of citizens. While preparing for her next song, a robotic stuffed bear, given to her as a gift, suddenly calls out to her. The bear, who introduces himself as Masamoto, was sent to warn her about the future apocalypse. Once she comes to believe him, she is swept into a whirlwind of government conspiracy, a gang of criminals, murderous robots, terrorism, and more.
Masamoto’s plan to prevent the apocalypse is known as the Singularity Project. He revisits her throughout the years to stop ‘Singularity Points’. These are the significant events that cause the disastrous future, and it’s Vivy’s responsibility to prevent them from happening. All of this information is explained in a lengthy exposition dialogue during the first episode. “Telling” rather than “Showing” is the frustrating pattern of this show’s script. Vivy was chosen because, in the apocalypse, she is the only autonomous AI left uncorrupted. Masamoto reprograms her to have combat abilities during combat, which somehow gives her the power to shield bullets with her bare hands, dodge bullets, and run as fast as a train. If that sounds stupid, well, it kind of is, but the animators make it look badass.
At its core, this is a thriller anime with a splash of music. Vivy’s programmed goal is to be a singer, and it shows. Vivy’s singing and mannerisms change as time flies by, visualized with brief performances. The song reused the most is the opening, which is fantastic on both visual and audio fronts. When the show focused on her music career, her dreams and passion showed she has a heart: music and an audience her sole motivations. Yet, we don’t see it enough. It would be offensive to claim she has “no personality” because it’s OK not to present your emotions outwardly. Writing Vivy in such a way detracted from the story it attempted to tell. Whether Vivy accomplishes an outstanding performance or fails to get a crowd, she has very little response. Happiness, pride, or dismay are hard to tell, though we can infer her emotions. Her face is nearly expressionless, her voice is constantly monotone, and she has little to no body language indicating what she’s thinking. This is not uncommon for films starring AI characters—after all, Arnold Schwarzenegger only had 17 lines in Terminator. However, he wasn’t the main character, and Vivy is. Her subdued personality isn’t the problem. It’s how she lacks autonomy in the series named after her.
Rather than being a heroine, she was more of an interchangeable pawn being guided through the plot by an obnoxious robot man in her head, rather than a heroine with her own autonomy. The few times she rejects Masamotos orders, there is a glimmer of hope she may regain agency in her own story. Then the moment ends, and the script is thrown back into Masamoto’s court. All of their excursions in reshaping history are planned by him. He does everything for her with future robot abilities, no matter how illogical, and Vivy does the fist fighting. Her hero’s journey was more like a long video game tutorial played by someone else.
Masamoto, an irritating AI that takes the form of a teddy bear and a flying cube, exists to guide Vivy through the plot. Imagine if you combined Jarjar Binks with a sarcastic supercomputer. That’s him. His voice is grating, like nails on a chalkboard—and the actor has a history of good voice acting, the screenwriting and directing are entirely to blame for wasting a good voice actor. Jun Fukuyama previously voiced Koro-sensei in Assassination Classroom, which he performed exceptionally. The world-building is reliant on Masamoto’s exposition. He’s not a character. He is a mouthpiece for the writers to hold our hand through the complicated story. There’s plenty to criticize about Masamoto because he, unfortunately, was given the majority of the dialogue.
Masamoto constantly condescends to Vivy, removes her autonomy, and provides painfully unfunny slapstick humor. The show has a habit of creating unintentionally funny situations: Imagine a random guy hysterically running into the street, only to get hit by an AI-controlled taxi that says, “Thank you for your patronage.” It’s hilariously foolish, even more, because the show takes it deadly seriously. Towards the beginning, I took it seriously due to the art direction. During specific moments, the frame will fixate on Vivy, and the visuals increase in detail to admire her beauty and convey emotional significance. Every feature on her expressionless face is maximized as if it was drawn to be placed in a museum. Then seconds later, we return to the same art style. These jarring shots remind us that Vivy requires artists to endear us to her rather than through the screenplay.
Due to Vivy’s plot structure, side characters often last only two or three episodes, then they are forgotten. For some reason, every intelligent or character with power is male—with similar bland appearances. Unfortunately, their best designed characters aren’t the ones who do the talking. Every named female character is given the role of singer, caretaker, spouse, all of whom are AIs following orders with little autonomy. The only odd one out is Vivy—solely because Masamoto reprogrammed her to do the fighting for him. Every sentient AI in this world is a beautiful woman. No men, which begs the question, why? Is it because people are more receptive to AI if they’re women? Are the robot creators all men? Of course, this is left unexplored. All of these negative factors point to one answer; the show simply has a narrow view of identity. The best futuristic sci-fi stories challenge modern society’s problems, such as social hierarchies. Vivy is more content with reinforcing them.
The utopian futuristic setting is rich with possibilities: There’s no poverty, pollution, war, racism, or crime, except for the AI haters. But why? There’s no further exploration. The world is essentially concept art. After each time, skip minor changes beyond superficial aesthetics: Holographic images, floating screens and keyboards, different dress codes, shinier buildings, and increasingly abstract architecture. These are set-dressing distracting from the real problem—this setting is a juvenile interpretation of society. A world like this might exist someday, but it needs to make sense. The writer doesn’t even attempt to make sense of it, flat out ignoring history. No matter what time period, people of all backgrounds are dumber than ants. They make the dumbest choices possible in order to cause drama and conflict for Vivy to resolve.
Vivy’s wealth of missed opportunities extends to its antagonists as well. Why do the antagonists despise robots? They insist they hate them, but for vague reasons. Metal bitch! Disgusting robots! Why? There are plenty of motivations based on other sci-fi stories: a fear of bots replacing human workers, drastic change is scary, paying AI wages, or whether or not AI should raise children. However, it’s not our responsibility to write the villains’ motivations. The thing is, there’s no real reason why there shouldn’t be robots here; this world is nearly perfect aside from rare malfunctions every few years. If the sentient robots revolted against the nation to gain equal rights to humans, then a reactionary movement would make sense. As far as we’re shown, none of the sentient robots are paid, have the right to own property, or to vote in elections. There were plenty of opportunities to make this “Singularity” thoughtful, instead, they settled with “Malfunctioning robots kill lots of people.” To seriously consider this a cautionary tale is foolish. A multitude of better stories about artificial intelligence have already warned me. When robots eventually overthrow humankind, I’ll be ready for them.
The production of Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s is nothing short of incredible: beautiful character designs, top-notch voice acting, awe-inspiring fight choreography, melodic BGM, and professional insert songs. The culmination of skilled artists led to this anime’s creation. Anyone would assume the storytelling, characters, and script would be on par with the rest with such a talented team. Sadly, that is not the case at all. Vivy lacks both intellectually engaging storytelling and character depth to stand with the greats of the genre. The overwrought finale attempts to tie the tangled plot threads and convoluted timeline together, but it rang hollow. The animators and art directors deserve praise for their effort, though the more time you think about the whole anime, the less it makes sense.
The Spring 2021 season has been an absolute buffet for sci-fi fans, and Vivy: Flourite Eye’s Song is easily my favorite to come out of the bunch. I think it flew under the radar since at first glance it just seems like some idol anime, but it’s so much more than that. Been a long time since a new seasonal, original anime came out that I was very impressed by. It has one of the best female protags in anime I’ve seen in recent anime, and, just about everything in this show is amazing. While I wouldn’t call it a 10/10, it’s still absolutely worth your time watching imo.
FES’s (I’ll be calling the anime FES, and the main character Vivy to not be confusing) story is one as old as time in the sci-fi genre of “what if the robots we created completely took over and made us invalid”, but the execution of it is absolutely spectacular. Every ep uses it’s run time to its fullest, and there are so many excellent scenes that most anime wouldn’t even have 1-2 of. The pace is constantly moving, and there’s always some new twist or development to keep you watching. There’s crazy fight scenes and action, somber emotional moments, some light comedic elements, and just moments that will leave you shocked being absorbed in the moment of what is happening.
The story is pretty consistent and I didn’t notice any major plot holes (tho certainly feel free to point them out in a message if I missed something and I can edit it in). There were perhaps a couple minor ones, but nothing that bad. Worldbuilding is perhaps a bit lacking, but that’s really the only 2 flaws I have with the story. There’s great themes on trans humanism, and what it even means to be human. It’s fairly typical stuff for anyone who’s watched stuff like this, but it’s done very well.
Vivy, holy Vivy man. She is such a well done example of the “robot becoming more human” trope. She goes through so many trials and tribulations, but she’s still herself at the end of the day. She starts off pretty much as an emotionless blank slate, and by the end understands herself and the concept of emotions perhaps better than a good amount of us in the real world. Her development is paced very well, and over the course of this 100+ year story and all the interactions and events she experiences turns her truly an amazing character.
Matsumoto too is a very fun, great character. He doesn’t have as much development, but as his relationship with Vivy gradually changes, so does he. He’s funny, clever, a bit of a troll, but all around a dependable ally that has plenty of good moments.
Side cast and most antags are good, but I feel sometimes we could’ve gotten to know them a bit better. Since FES is a very episodic show, you may only know these characters for 2-3 eps max. I’d say for the most part you get to know them enough to connect or relate with them, but it really depends on the person. There were a few antags that were kinda meh, but for the most part they’re pretty good.
Quite possibly FES’s strongest point. So many scenes are an absolute spectacle to watch. Character designs are unique and very cool, backgrounds are detailed and colorful, the actual animation is very consistent and consistently very good if not outright amazing at times. Once or twice an ep, you’ll have an extremely detailed close up of Vivy, and it might sound weird to praise this but they’re some of the best “still images” I’ve seen in anime if you get what I mean. Point being they’re beautiful, and the anime is general is pure eye candy. The action and fight scenes are very dynamic and intense, and you can feel the weight behind the hits. I wouldn’t watch this series just for the action, but certainly it is a part of the package so to speak.
FES’s soundtrack is full of epic, astoundingly good music. Since Vivy is an idol and one of her main goals is to make everyone happy with her singing, her songs actually play a huge part into the overall narrative. The actual incorporation of the music into the plot and her character development is one of my fave things about this show. The rest of the music is also great. There’s a nice mix of electro, orchestral, opera, etc. I’ll also make a brief note about the sound design/effects being really good, and there’s some really satisfying bits with the action.
Voice acting with sub is great. All the cast do their job well, and the singing is a joy to hear. No matter the scene, the voice acting never felt bad.
Vivy: Flourite Eye’s Song is 13 eps of heart pumping, mind blowing, electric rollercoaster of fun and enjoyment. I loved watching it every week, and would absolutely rec checking it out. If I had to really nitpick, I would say I would’ve liked to see a bit more of the side cast overall and there’s maybe a few minor issues with the plot, but overall it’s an amazing anime.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song
2. Nomad: Megalo Box 2
3. Dr. Stone: Stone Wars
5. World Trigger 2nd Season
7. Azur Lane: Bisoku Zenshin!
8. Edens Zero
9. Godzilla: S.P
10. Night Head 2041