Vividred Operation is, surprisingly, a very simple thing to describe: it's a magical girl anime with sentai action (the color-coordinated variety). What's much more difficult to explain, however, is what makes it remarkable. Like, why are there a plethora of, well, buttocks, in plain sight? Why a ferret? And maybe more importantly, what does it mean to "dock"?
Actually, we don't know all that much just from the first episode, but it sure leaves an impression. Click on and bewilder yourself.
From studio A-1 Pictures and the creative mind that brought you Strike Witches, Vividred Operation is definitely something on the hardcore otaku radar since its initial announcement last year. The visual similarities to Strike Witches, at least in terms of the direction, is clear from the get go. There are other interesting talents working on the show, such as writer Hiroyuki Yoshino (Code Geass, Qwaser, My-Hime) and illustrator/designer redjuice. The animation production, from episode one, looked great; it's vibrant and lively, as you would expect a magical girls show set in a colorful future.
Like many other anime originals, the setting is what strikes me as the most interesting thing from the very beginning. The future in Vividred Operation is powered by the Manifestation Engine, literally, as this new technology solved the world's energy problem. A large generator located in southern Tokyo Bay beams this magical juice across the world, so that every device with a receiver can be auto-magically powered. The inventor of this technology, Kenjiro Isshiki, is the grandfather of Akane Isshiki. Akane is also the proverbial "red ranger" in this magical girls show.
This is where Vividred Operation gets very carbon-copy-like. We see that Kenjiro lives only with his two granddaughters, Akane and her younger sister Momo. Momo is your archetypal dutiful little girl that takes care of the home, and Akane is the archetypal cheerful main character. One of their parents have passed away and the other is in the hospital, and we even got a flashback as to what might have caused it--and as you would expect, the flashback was vague enough to not tell you why exactly. Kenjiro also seems to spend all his time and all his money on his private research, which happens in a lab inside the house they live in. Also in a very archetypal way, a mysterious enemy slowly appears and invades Japan in the first episode. In a typical way, this enemy, dubbed "Alone," is impervious to traditional weapons. Somehow I think Grandpa has the cure for Mr. Alone.
What isn't so typical is the trick when Grandpa Kenjiro transported his consciousness into a ferret plush. It's at this juncture that Vividred Operation show us something new and fun--like how two girls stow away a lifeless body inside the family refrigerator; or how the Grandpa-slash-magical-mascot operates his smartphone (with shoulder strap so the ferret-body can carry it) to guide Akane in order to save her friend Aoi (who is probably the "blue ranger"). There are a lot of little touches that makes it visually delightful and enough of a twist that rewards the active viewer.
A story like Vividred Operation tells us much by what it holds back. While it might want to psych us out, thinking it is pretending to be just like other stories like it, at any rate what drives the overall story will be the pieces of the past that Kenjiro isn't telling us, or the memories that Akane was too young to remember. The Alone and the Manifestation Engine both hold a lot of plot juice within them, but I guess that's why I'm here for the ride. At the very least there should be a pretty neat world to work with; I was hung up on how quickly the world adopted this alternative energy technology--only five years!
Or, of course, you can read about what the voice actors thought what Vividred Operation is all about. Or better yet, simply remain thankful and appreciate that the girls in this world wear things like pants and skirts.
[Vividred Operation is on Crunchyroll and Hulu!]
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