"RahXangelion" is the word I felt best summed up my viewing of Fafner: Dead Aggressor. More than a passionate love letter to two of the greatest giant mech/angst-ridden melodramas of the anime universe, it's a ravenous note from a stalker who wants nothing more than to attain the same level of recognition as those who inspired it.
That's the feeling I couldn't shake with Fafner, which thrilled with its gold-plated antagonists and delightfully weird opening and closing, but coasted along at a frustratingly slow pace and introduced far too many characters at a time. I commend it for making the attempt at following in the footsteps of a genre with established hitmakers, but this isn't a series you'll want to view in lieu of other, more ambitious sagas.
Fafner: Complete Series (DVD)
Fafner follows the exploits of Tasujimiya Island, a peaceful island that lived in harmony for quite some time, until the bizarre intelligent reace known as the Festums arrived and began wreaking havoc on the inhabitants. The island-dwellers and the invaders are at war, and like usual, the fate of the known world hangs in the balance of alien technology that isn't even fully understood as well as the youths who are fated to control it -- in particular, Fafner, an enormous mech that sync with pilots much in the same way you've seen in Evangelion and other biomechanical behemoth series. The pilot becomes one, in a sense, with the weapon, feeling its pain and sensing its movements. It's got to be more than a little uncomfortable, but those kids seem to take it all in stride, despite the madness going on all around them.
The sprawling cast of characters centers around an appropriately aloof teenager named Kazuki and a group of high school students caught in the crossfire. The first few episodes explore the intricacies of the students and their fellow island brethren. They're battle-worn, and there's a defense plan in place to ensure civilians are protected and able to get to safety when the invaders come out to play -- shelters throughout the island and several mechanisms in place to ensure the cities aren't destroyed. Most of them, at least.
By the end of the series the very same soul-searching questions Evangelion centered around are raised, though Fafner never tackles the subject matter in such an obtuse manner. There's substance beyond the fluff, but you can only try so many variations on the same flavor before your taste buds begin to dull.
The puzzle pieces of the atmosphere are in place, but the series lacks the glue to properly arrange them. This tale has been told before, but much more cohesively. Still, it's worth a watch if only to see how derivative the work can truly be -- or if you're looking to add some new German slang to your vocabulary.
6.0 – Okay. 6’s are flawed, but still enjoyable. These titles may not have attempted to do anything special or interesting, but they are nonetheless enjoyable. These typically make great rental fodder or bargain grab.
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