So a new year and some new anime to start if off right. I've made it no secret that I like some weird and sometimes under the radar stuff. Though I wouldn't call Satelight's newest offering Nobunaga the Fool under the radar given the media blitz it's received. So in an attempt to ring in the new year and a newer me, I’m going to keep some running blogging on at least this series, so let's kick off episode one!
Wow, this is certainly a bit of a downer of an intro. We start off with the day in history that Jeanne d'Arc is lead to the stake to be burned for witchcraft. Simultaneously we're also shown the fateful day that Nobunaga Oda is betrayed by Mitsuhide Akechi and killed at Honno-ji Temple. As Jeanne is burned she begs god for a sign and has a vision of a man calling her Ranmaru, and saying that in a world after this one they will find dominion, before she seems to die in peace. For his part Nobunaga sees a vision of a version of Jeanne over Ranmaru as he tells his famous squire this line. An interesting scene, and both are seeing each other as they will eventually show up for the rest of the episode proper.
We're then treated to some exposition about how humanity is divided between the West Star and the East Star into what amounts as a very Sci-Fi Fantasy blended universe, and the mix is certainly interesting as it seems a large number of historical figures have been reborn in this new universe and are repeating their lives to an extent. Jeanne is a simple country girl who others say is 'Demon Possessed' because she hears voices. And in one of the odder moments of the episode a man claiming to be Leonard Da Vinci shows up claiming to be able to help her find the truth of her destiny. May I just say that I look forwards to more antics from him because his tuba megaphone is hilarious, also he apparently works for King Arthur. Ok. Moving right along...
Nobunaga meanwhile is apparently slacking off and not going to his brother's crowning as heir of the family, chilling in the woods with Mitsuhide Akechi and Hideyohi Toyotomi, all three of whom are young men looking to change the world. That is until they notice a gathering of troops from Takeda clan and their new mecha. Running ahead to an Oda fortress to try and warn them, Nobunaga's reputation as being lazy gets his warning laughed off by the local lord. Until of course the enemy actually does attack and slaughters everyone but our intrepid trio. Now bear with me because things get a bit rapid fire...
During the battle it turns out Jeanne and Da Vinci have hopped a ride to the Eastern Star with Magellan to test out their own new mech and actually survey the place. It seems that at some point in the past the Eastern and Western star severed contact and we once again have developments in the west going one way, and in the east another. Jeanne has a vision, and knowing that she did, Da Vinci and her both abscond with the new secret mech, with Magellan ordering to reclaim it with them dead or alive. We then skip around the Eastern Star seeing various people commenting on seeing the falling star in the sky which is actually the small ship Da Vinci and Joan have absconded with. Nobunaga and his two bro's vowing with renewed vigor to change the world since the falling star must be a sign they're to do so, before suddenly realizing it's not a star but a star ship from the west they've only heard of but never seen.
Running in to check for survivors Nobunaga stumbles across unconscious Jeanne and the mech, and climbs in, the machine saying that only the true Savior King can pilot the unit. And then in fly a pair of mechs looking for Jeanne and Da Vinci, ending our episode.
So....wow. There's a lot going on here. The episode itself is very busy and a little hard to keep track of with the jumping back and forth between Jeanne and Nobunaga, and it also kinda hurts the pacing. That said, there's some seriously gorgeous eye candy here, and I'm curious to see just what this is all leading to. As I've said before, Five Star Stories is one of my favorite manga series, and I was drawing a lot of mental comparisons to it during this episode. If they can fix the pacing issues, I'm definitely down for more. Right now Nobunga the Fool is definitely on my radar, and has my curiosity. Iwant to know what plot device was put into motion for all these famous historical figures being reincarnated again, and how this is going to play into the grander scheme of the plot. With all that said, happy new year everyone, and here's to me keeping off my ass and actually posting more!
With this season finally gearing up I'm finding myself in an odd predicament...there's actually more than one mecha series on the air that actually look interesting. However one has been surprisingly both what I've expected so far, and disappointingly not quite as palatable as the others. This isn't to say I'm hating the show so far, but it is to say that maybe well...Valvrave the Liberator may be too much of a good thing. This isn't bad per se but let's look a little closer at a show that so far has felt just a little too familiar.
The first episode of Valvrave establishes that as of the year Shinreki 71, almost all of humanity has finally left the earth and settled in space colonies. Two sides are the dominant powers in this new order, the Dorssia Military Pact Federation, and the Atlantic Ring United States. Caught between them is the neutral nation of Jior. Turns out Jior has been developing a mech in secret and Dorssia wants it for themselves. It all smacks of Gundam SEED's set up right from the get go, and while this isn't a bad thing it all just feels far too familiar of other series that have come out.
Our main character Haruto becomes our accidental pilot when the Dorssians invade, shoot up the place, and our intrepid hero winds up in the cockpit of the titular Valvrave. The mech asks the simple question of wether or not Haruto will surrender his humanity, upon doing so, the mech injects Haruto with..something, my money is on nanomachines. At this point the Valvrave launches to take on the invading Dorssian mechs, and wipes the floor with them, before the Valvrave suddenly overheats and shuts down. At this point the Valvrave lands, and as Haruto emerges from the cockpit, one of the Dorssian invaders named L-Elf shows up, shoots Haruto and plans to steal the Valvrave. Only Haruto gets up, and vampires L-Elf.
So...what's all this mean? Honestly I'm not sure, and I'm hoping that the series actually does get better, because right now I just feel like we're retreading ground. An alternate title of this series could be Guilty Valvrave SEED of Iron based on what I've seen so far. Haruto very much reminds me of Shu from Guilty Crown, only a little older and a little less of an immediate wimp. It's nice to see that he commits to fighting right off when it comes to piloting the Valvrave, but I can't help but worry about his avoid fighting mentality is going to lead us to some standard mecha series cliché. The Valvrave seems to be straddling the line between Real and Super type robots, but really it's heading into Super territory with it's crazy energy, and the fact that well, like the mecha from Linebarrels of Iron, it's seemingly injected Haruto with nanomachines and made a contract with him.
Our world set up smacks very much of SEED in that two governments are at war, with a neutral country making a super weapon in secret. I wouldn't be surprised if when ARUS makes it's entrance into the series they contracted the construction of the Valvrave for their use the way OMNI contracted Orb in SEED to build the Strike and the rest of the X Series. The Dorssians appear to be space Germany with TIE Fighter winged Mecha, and I won't be surprised to find out L-Elf and his other Letter-German number squad were all genetically engineered super soldiers.
The animation is well done, and we get a sense of power behind the Valvrave as it weaves around and slashes up the hapless masses but...despite being a new 'original' offering from Sunrise it just feels in the end like, well... We've been here before. It's certainly not a bad place to be, and originality in any medium is getting harder and harder these days. This show is young, and I'll hold out hope that it becomes good enough to step out from the shadows of those that came before and maybe, hopefully, something more than the sum of it's parts.