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Review: Vividred Operation

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It sure is vivid

I knew basically nothing going into Vividred Operation. I wasn't watching much anime during the Winter 2013 season anyway, and Vividred kind of got blurred together with all those other shows in that broad category of "cute girls with [insert gimmick]." I had seen some figure designs floating around, so I had a vague idea that the series featured young ladies who are prone to wearing short-shorts, but that was about it.

Since I had zero expectations, I wasn't disappointed; however, I have to wonder how the show would have come across if I'd been anticipating anything in particular. If I was expecting a magical girl show, which Vividred basically is, I would have been let down; If I'd been expecting a sci-fi show, I would be annoyed that the show doesn't really deliver on any of the interesting ideas it presents at the beginning. I guess if I'd wanted a moe fetish-fest I would have been reasonably satisfied, because seriously, this show loves butts. This show loves butts like Attack on Titan likes killing people off-- no, I think it loves butts even more than that. There is simply no describing how much this show loves 14-year-old girls' butts.

Naked STRATEGY

Vividred Operation DVD Complete Set
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Licensed by: Aniplex of America
Release Date: December 17, 2013
MSRP: $74.98

First, the good, and there is a fair amount of it. This is a pretty great-looking show, with fluid animation and some fun design work. I found the characters themselves to be pretty generic-looking, but the crisp artwork and vibrant color palette is consistently appealing. The scenes of the girls using their super-powered Palette Suits to fly over the ocean, both in combat and out, are filled with a sense of genuine exuberance that few anime are able to capture; at times, you almost feel like you're flying yourself.

The show has more than cosmetic appeal too, since it has an intriguing setting. Instead of the typical current-day-Japan, our gals live in a near-future where all of the world's energy problems have been solved by a brilliant invention called the Manifestation Engine. Due to the abundance of clean energy, the people of Vividred are basically living in a utopia, and they know it. Of course, when the mysterious bio-machines only known as the Alone start to attack the Manifestation Engine, the utopian setting makes the sudden violence all the more striking. How ironic if, after humans had finally found the means to stop fighting among themselves over resources, the very machine that enabled true world peace led to destruction from without?

All of that rather interesting stuff is secondary to what Vividred Operation is really about though, which is admiring middle-school girls from behind as closely and as often as possible:

BUUUUUTTTT

MORE BUTTTT

Think I'm exaggerating here? I took both these screenshots during the first minute of the show. The first MINUTE.

I feel kind of like I'm beating a dead horse here just by mentioning the sexualization of young girls, since most fans know by now that shows featuring girls this age tend to feature fanservice to appeal to male otaku ("Constant butt shots? It must be Tuesday!") However, if I let it go unremarked, I feel like I'm just accepting it as the status quo, and I don't think that's right either. In the case of Vividred, the constant closeups of gleaming butts-- because yes, they gleam-- render the show inappropriate for younger viewers, whom the show is actually better suited for thematically than an adult audience.

See, if the only problem with this show was the amount of fanservice, that would create an interesting little ethical dilemma for me over whether or not I could recommend it, but that's not the case. Vividred Operation has a lot of problems aside from the butts. All the interesting sci-fi stuff about the Manifestation Engine never really goes anywhere, the show doesn't really capitalize on its setting, the action is mostly predictable, and characters tend toward the bland and underdeveloped. I found the first few episodes downright tedious to watch due to their predictability, and while the show admittedly gets better as it goes along, it still never deals with any theme more complex than "The power of friendship can save the world!"

With Ferret

Furthermore, the extent to which the show copies from other popular properties is striking. Like Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, it's a sci-fi magical girl show-- meaning, the girls' transformations are powered by tech rather than magic. There's nothing wrong with being inspired by Nanoha, however, the mascot character in Vividred ends up being a talking ferret- just like Nanoha. Rei Kuroki, the token "Dark magical girl" has a lot in common with Madoka's Homura Akemi; in fact, the whole show often feels like a kind of poor-man's Madoka. Add in the fact the Alone often seem like very literal copies of the Angels from Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Vividred rapidly starts to feel like a scrapbook, cataloging items from better shows.

Homerun-chan

Go ahead, shoot that arrow Homura Rei!

All this, I could probably forgive if the magical/tech fights were interesting, but they generally aren't. The girls immediately know how to use their new powers upon getting their Palette Suits, so there's no fun to be had by watching them learn the ropes. In every fight, the girls transform, and sometimes merge together to form a more powerful magical girl using a system called "Docking," which naturally involves getting into their panties and kissing each other. Every attack is called out with a name like "Naked Blade!" or "Naked Collider!" just in case the sexual overtones of all of this were somehow too subtle for us. I do think the advanced forms the girls attain by Docking, like Vivid Blue and Vivid Green, look pretty neat, but you can always just buy the inevitable figure and skip the anime.

Vivid BlUUUUUUEEEEE!

Vivid BLUUUUEEEEEE!!!!!!

I really don't know who to recommend this show to; as I alluded above, the simplistic nature of the action and the plot lends itself to a younger audience, but a younger audience probably shouldn't be seeing the constant parade of butt and crotch shots. On the plus side, the show does have a proper ending instead of one of those "Keep your wallet ready for the sequel" deals, so if you're one of the few people this show legitimately appeals to, at least you won't be left hanging.

You know, wanting to look at shapely butts doesn't make you a bad person; we all have our weaknesses. I mean, if they released an OVA that was just Shizuo from Durarara!! doing push-ups, I would totally watch that. But what's a shame about Vividred Operation is that it clearly had the potential to be more.

5.0 – Average. This one’s just “okay”. It has many flaws, and just couldn’t follow through on its intentions or had ones that were simply too narrow to warrant consideration. Some will still enjoy it, but should temper their expectations, or perhaps just opt to pass. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.

 

 

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Vividred Operation reviewed by Karen Mead

5

MEDIOCRE

An exercise in apathy, neither solid nor liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide

 
 
 

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Karen Mead
Karen MeadContributor   gamer profile

Hi, I'm a former newspaper journalist who got tired of having a front row seat to the death of print. There probably could be some interesting story there about a disenchanted reporter moving on ... more + disclosures


 


 


Also on Japanator: Vividred Operation   (1)   From our database:

  • Review: Vividred Operation - Karen Mead
  • Final Impressions: Vividred Operation - Jeff Chuang
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