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Final Impressions: Star Driver

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Oh Star Driver, where did we go so wrong?

I was so optimistic when you first started, I was sure you would be the standout series that season. And while, yes, you started out as optimistic and enthusiastic as Takuto himself, in the end you fell prey to many pitfalls of other BONES anime. But was it really all that bad? Was Star Driver really a terrible abomination that showcases all that can go wrong with original anime? Or am I just a jaded jerk who can't see the "true glory" contain within its frames?

Oh, you know where I'm going with this. The only place we can lead with an opening paragraph like this! To the jump! Click through for my full thoughts.

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When Star Driver opened with it's bright color palette and exuberant character designs, let's just say that I was pretty excited about it. I've had good fun with past BONES original shows, despite their flaws. So as the first episode finished, I wrote, "I'm sure it'll feel fresh throughout." Little did I know!

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The main problem with Star Driver was its lack of creativity in delivering the story. We had entertaining characters, great art, awesome music and more, but the script just decided to plop things on our laps at random intervals. Every week we were given mecha battles that quickly became tiresome affairs with reused animation and boring techniques that Takuto would pull out of his ass at the last second. Sure, we all knew he had to win in the end, but could you at least have it make a little more sense?

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Another problem was the lack of clarity in certain characters motivations. I would've cared more about Sugata's intent to forever lock away Samekh if we had at least gotten some hints as to his intentions to do so before the last episode. Instead, I was left wondering why Sugata joined Kiraboshi at the last minute and acted so aloof. We all theorized he was simply "following his familial duty" or some variant when he was actually working on his own plan. I'm not saying we needed every characters intentions spoken out loud, but better foreshadowing that is clearer to the audience is necessary here.

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Of course, we're all aware of BONES reputation for above-average animation, but while we did gets glimpses of awesome occasionally, much of the production felt very cheap, especially in comparison to previous BONES works. Perhaps this was just my fault for expecting the same level of work, or maybe BONES has been cutting costs (but what studio hasn't been, really?) so I guess all I can really say here is "it can't be helped."

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Although, I can't go without talking about the final episode. Which, while leaving perhaps 40% of my questions unanswered (30% of them being WHICH GUY WILL WAKO CHOOSE?!), still did an excellent job bringing the series to a close. Suddenly, animators appeared! Abruptly, many revelations about the story were exposed! This is a problem with every anime series, it seems, but at the very least: Star Driver episode 25 was pretty. Incredibly pretty, in fact, and it actually surprised me as well.

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The surprise being that Takuto would risk the whole world to save Sugata (and keep the love triangle going). Instead of letting Sugata seal Samekh and himself away, Takuto broke Wako's seal and unleashed the beast into the real world. He defeats him, and the cycle of life goes on. I really liked that little twist, especially considering I actually believed for a moment we would get a (sorta) sad ending with Sugata ending up sealed away. But what really sold this episode to me was the punch Takuto gave his father. It felt even more satisfying than the first punch!

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In the end, I'm not sure I can really recommend Star Driver. While it has some great bits (the beginning and the end with a few smaller moments in the middle) that large chunk of middling episodes located in the center of the series creates a tough barrier to leap. It quickly gets repetitive and borish, especially as I watched it on a week-to-week basis. Perhaps marathoning it would alleviate this problem, but I'm not ready to find out anytime soon. In the end, Star Driver was a thoroughly average show with glimpses of greatness and cleverness. At the very least, if you are willing to overlook the poor storytelling, you can still gather entertainment from the sheer fun and fabulous nature of the show. And well, when talking about this show, that's not something that should be downplayed at all.

Kiraboshi!

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Ben Huber
Ben HuberContributor   gamer profile

I'm the managing editor of Japanator by day, and a roving freelance graphic designer by night! /  more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #anime #BONES #Final Impressions #top stories

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