In case you didn't see it, Steins;Gate was one of the strongest shows of its time. And if you did see it, you likely know the main reason why, namely its lead, the inimitable Rintarou Okabe, aka Mad Scientist Kyoma Hououin. It did have a unique premise and gripping plot twists, but really, it was all Okarin, and to a lesser extent, the oddball characters surrounding him.
Put plain, Steins;Gate was carried almost entirely by a single character.
So far, Robotics;Notes is proving to be similar in that regard, but I'm sad to say that it's got a tougher battle ahead of it if it hopes to retain our interest. Where its predecessor was still strong in the premise, plot, and supporting cast departments, Robotics;Notes is weak, or at least less strong.
That's the bad news out of the way, but the good news is that so far, it's proven just strong enough, thanks to a smooth execution, adept pacing, and people that are just plain likable. Just.
Anyone watching will know that Robotics;Notes strongest point is its heroine, Akiho Senomiya, a girl that, through sheer energy and passion, is irresistibly lovable. This Genki Girl Mecha Nerd just barely skirts the edge of hysterics, and manages to endear rather than annoy. It's a supremely difficult balance to strike, but it is struck nonetheless.
Akiho's got her work cut out for her, though, as the rest of Robotics;Notes skirts the edge of unoriginal and derivative. Stop me if you've heard this pitch or something similar before: High school-age childhood friends, one hyper and the other lazy, are members of a club, and are working on a big project. Antics, challenges, and plot ensue as they try to bring their project to fruition and make new friends along the way.
That said, the show's aforementioned adept pacing and smooth execution (thanks to Production I.G.) help make the pill a very easy swallow. After all, refined, familiar experiences have their own place alongside flawed-but-innovative experiments.
And of course, there's Akiho, with all the guts, passion, and willpower you could ask for.
Even Kai, her childhood friend and point-of-view character for the show, quickly redeems his immediate impression, which is that of a callous, lazy jerk. Of course, the motivation for his secret tenderness is as cliche as it can get, but still, cliches are cliches because they work.
It also helps that Robotics;Notes, despite its nonsense semicolon, is much more grounded and down-to-earth than most of its contemporaries this season. Everything they do here feels like it could happen in 2019. Countless nerds in our real world constantly take on ambitious projects out of sheer enthusiasm, in this case building a scale replica of Gunvarrel, star robot of an iconic mecha anime.
Those searching for more concrete intrigue may yet be rewarded, too, as the first two episodes plant the seeds of future twists and drama, including childhood trauma, potentially sinister corporations, a videogame that might be more than it seems, and a weird girl who makes dial-up modem noises and has a glowing forehead. I'm not making that last bit up.
In short, Robotics;Notes has just enough in terms of strong characters, strong production, and strong execution to hook, though its hook is not nearly as solid as Steins;Gate's. Let's hope it can live up to its potential and distinguish itself right proper as the season goes on.
From other sites around the web