Summary: The year is now 2019 and while some technology has changed a lot, people seem to be using min-tablets as computers/cell-phones which have a virtual reality app built into them, but in other ways life is still rather normal. Kai is the put upon friend of Akiho who doesn't want to help her complete her sister's dream of making a life sized robot from their favorite show but he's not heartless enough to completely ignore her either. One thing leads to another and Kai slowly begins to realize that there is something strange going on both in the background with mysterious reports appearing on his tablet foretelling the end of the world and even things going strange in his favorite video games. The more things he discovers the more things he starts to uncover until he seems to have stumbled upon the greatest conspiracy of human history.
The Good: The mecha genre (or the giant robot genre in general) like all others has gotten a bit stale and boring after decades of stories and it can be hard to make it interesting again. I'm not saying that R;N did quite that but I did like how they paired together the mecha genre with slice of life and I generally amused at how for once our heroes have to build their giant robot, there's no secret government organization that's already made it for them. As contradictory as this is about to sound, while R;N was originally a visual novel with dating sim aspects in it (there were about four girls, each with a different route and ending to the story and only one of them was the "true ending") and did focus on each route a bit none of those events took away from the rest of the story or felt like they were abandoning some of the mysteries in favor of romance. The romance isn't as well integrated as S;G's was (although that story had a bit of a cheat to make it work better) but I certainly think that this means it was easier to adapt than a lot of more traditional dating sims.
The Bad: As mentioned earlier, I already knew that a number of people either hadn't liked or had simply been underwhelmed by the original visiual novel, wrote that off, and expected a show that I wouldn't adore as much as S;G but that would still be rather solid. Sadly no, even knowing that this story just wasn’t anything above mediocre by the end and failed to make some of it’s plot threads come together in a cohesive and emotionally pay-off-y sort of manner (heck, there are some details that were either addressed so quickly I missed it or not at all, important ones) and by the end of the series I just didn’t care what was happening. I guess lighting doesn't strike twice since whatever that spark of specialness that made S;G come together and work, plot wise and character wise, for me just never happened here and I was frustrated that I never got the payoff that I had every logical reason to expect was coming.
The Audio: I liked the first opening and ending songs a bit better than the second set but none of them have really stuck with me the way some of the other OPs/EDs from the winter season did. The voice acting was all fine and a bit more memorable, there was only one crossover character from S;G and they actually had the same seiyuu (which rather surprised me given the 18 year gap between the shows) and I don't have much more to say here. The actors gave the characters the right emotions that matched up with what the characters were doing on screen so they did their job just fine, even if I thought what the characters were doing was dumb a lot of the time.
The Visuals: Production IG actually worked on both noitaminA shows this season and thankfully R;N did not suffer the random decrease in quality that Psycho-Pass had once or twice. I actually really liked the design of the Gunvarrel (you can tell that the same designer also did some of the mechs in this season's Gargantia), although the CGI for some of the later scenes wasn't as well integrated as I would have liked. The character designs were likable, the scenery looked fine, honestly there was nothing spectacular here that I can talk about but the show didn't look bad by any means either.
I'm going to be a bit mean and give this a 2.5 out of 5 for just not explaining some important details in the end and being, well, boring. Don't feel the need to pick this one up for Funimation (they're streaming it and have the physical rights I believe) or even rewatch it, next show please!
*How Helen would have re-ordered the anime, the spoiler edition. Basically we discover what was going on with Misaki, Akiho’s sister, very close to the end and it seems like she had a very tense, interesting story to tell. So I would propose a rather radical re-writer where the first half of the story is half set in 2019 with Kai and the others meeting up and slowly learning about the reports and the other half (so alternating back and forth within an episode) with Misa’s story, slowly showing how everything started going wrong years ago to add more tension and to well, help pad out the story. I figure that by around the halfway point her story would be done and the story could then focus exclusively on the 2019 part with the current events, just given how this show meandered a lot I think this would have at least forced it to be tighter in plotting and execution and that Misa’s story was probably a heck of a lot more interesting than a lot of the stuff that actually transpired.