Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Anime Review: Valvrave the Liberator

I saw a few episodes of this back in the spring when it was first airing, I believe four, and then had to give up since I just couldn't get through the rest of the episodes without the intense urge to snark commentary at whoever was online with me at the time. And some of the things I had heard about the show were far from great as well so I wasn't in any hurry to finish it up. But as fall starts to roll around, the second half of the show hits the internet in just a couple of weeks, I started to get curious about it again and, well, since I only had 8 episodes left and I already knew all the headdesk worthy plot twists what did I have to lose except about four hours of my free time, right?

Valvrave the Liberator

Summary: In the future humanity has enclosed the Sun in a dyson sphere where they live and there are three main factions, ARUS (which seems suspiciously like a militarized United States), Drossia (who pretends they're not actually space nazis), and innocent little Jior who of course wants nothing to do with the growing hostilities between the two. But as Haruto and his classmates discover when their school's module is attacked and they discover power mechs lying hidden beneath it, powerful enough to change the course of the entire war, something doesn't add up here.....

The Good: The last time I talked about a show which seemed like it was trying too hard to be the next Code Geass I was discussing Guilty Crown and man was it terrible. Valvrave as well isn't quite CG but thankfully it's better than GC by a long shot and actually an okay show by the end. In the last third the show starts to find it's feet and the characters become a tad less ridiculous and more competent which greatly helps and it starts explaining some of it's absolutely nuts backstory (I have to admit, I did not expect the show to turn out to be NEARLY this crazy when I started it and I do have to give it some credit for that). Finally, one large thing this, GC, and CG have in common is that at the heart of it there are two characters who stand larger than the rest and each of them does it a bit differently. In CG we have Lelouche and Suzaku who are formiddable enemies to each other, in GC we have Shu the unwilling protagonist and Gai the leader whose mantle Shu takes up. Valvrave has Haruto, again a bit of an unwilling protagonist and L-Elf, a strategist whose been waiting for a moment like this to launch some plan of his and it actually pulls off that balance much better than I would have expected, they come to depend on each other, plan on each other, and yet don't still fully trust each other (nor should they) and that was an interesting character dynamic to watch unfold and something I had been looking for in anime was curious why no one had done it yet.

The Bad: To be blunt, there is a rape in the show, I don't want anyone to go in not knowing that since it's not anything you could have guessed after just the first couple of episodes. I am frustrated and confused for why the writer decided that the violence against a female character HAD to be rape instead of just, violence (even if it was creepily hinted at a bit earlier on, gaaaaaah). Other than that elephant in the room, the show's main problem is that it thinks it's a serious show with meaningful themes and quite frankly it's not. It's a bit of a mess, makes quite a few things unintentionally hilarious (you know it's a bad sign when everyone tells you you HAVE to stick around after the credits of the first episode), and a number of plot events are just so illogical that it's simply impossible to take the show as seriously as it wants you to. And for some people they might be okay with that, if I had been with friends I would have enjoyed this quite a bit just for all the snark potential it had but if you don't want that then avoid it, there are far better mecha shows out there.

The Production Values: I'm rather curious why the show changed it's ending song halfway through the season since I loved the first ending song, it worked nicely and even though the second song did grow on me I simply liked the first better. And I also loved the opening song, it was catchy, bouncy, upbeat, everything I want in an action OP and I feel like it reflected the show well also since it wasn't serious, just fast paced and a bit crazy. As for the visuals, I'll admit the main reason I watched the show (both times) was because I wanted to see some eye candy mech fights and everything did look pretty good. It was rather colorful, I didn't see too much CGI although it must have been there with all the mechs, and I liked all the designs so all in all this was the part of the show I had the least problems with, hurray!

In the end I can only give this show 2.5 out of 5 stars for the unnecessary rape scene and for just completely missing how silly it is and how that doesn't fit at all with the tone it was going for. Do I plan to watch the second season? Maybe??? There are so many shows coming out this fall that I certainly won't be twiddling my thumbs like I was this season so I'm not sure I'll have time, although I'll likely make time for it at some point and finish it up then and see just how crazy it decides to go (I'm betting on pretty far).

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