quarta-feira, 28 de agosto de 2013

[Anime Review] Robotics;Notes.

Continuing the trend started with Chaos;Head, and followed up brilliantly by Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes is a visual novel transformed in anime by Production I.G. studios (see wikipedia page for full disclosure of the people involved in it). 

Although continuing the same trend of the medium - starting as a visual novel and being translated both to manga and anime, as well as most of the themes in the previous series (serious themes, philosophical and scientific discussions, mysteries), Robotics;Notes is a whole different beast from, say, Steins;Gate (and also, from what I gather, Chaos;Head, but as I haven´t seen this series yet, I´m gonna refrain from any comparisons with it heretofore). R;N´s is not a continuation per se, although we have some interesting stuff as the appearance of (what was) a minor character in Steins;Gate already fully grown and working for an aerospatial agency of Japan (JAXA). These, alongside other things, are treats that show us that the stuff we see happening is taking place on the same world as Steins;Gate - which I personally, as an amateur author, find it very interesting: world building and mythology. 

We follow the protagonist Kaito Yashio, and lady protagonist/deuteragonist Akiho Senomiya. Kaito is calm and collected (for the most part), and Akiho is his opposite, energetic and optimistic, always displaying moves and phrases that would make less 'realistic' anime girls blush. 

The plot is a bit convoluted, which is part of the great mystery that makes it worth watching the series unfold. The way that is handled is the big thing here - we have the main story, which is the struggle of the members of the Robotics Club to try and build this huge robot in a 'realistic' manner, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, as we have many other subplots, like the developer of a computer game that the main character is almost addicted to that comes to live in their city, looking for clues as to the whereabouts of her lost mother - that turns out, was the director of an inside the show anime that is the template of the game the main character enjoy so much, and also another mystery plot point, because the anime was cut from the air before it aired its last episode, and the whole development crew was killed off! Talk about your mistery/conspiracy/thriller huh? And that´s not even scratching all the plot twists, surprises and such.

The characters are all over the place, with various styles and personalities, and are all likable - some more than others. Like Steins;Gate, the animation itself is also top notch, and it delves in a more "realistic" style of anime, which is the type of anime I enjoy writing about the most, like I said before, in my review of Steins;Gate, the ones that can easily be transformed into live action and wouldn´t even need to change anything (or much) about plot/story/graphics.

There are some aspects of this show that are not as realistic as Steins;Gate, though, which kinda bummed me down - if SG came before, therefore RN should´ve been an even better depiction of realism than the previous one, right? Well, it appears I was wrong! With all the 'realism' that this anime brings to the table (like for instance, when they discuss the construction of the giant robot (about 15 meters high) they want to finish) concrete matters are often brought up, like the weight of the materials, the number of engines it would take for it to move, energy supply, among others, thought sometimes - and for brief moments - it all just fall down flat - more precisely towards its ending episodes. It´s not full fledged realism at its best (even SG was, as the creators put it, 99% scientific and 1% fantasy, and not being "realistic" alone is not sufficient for it to be a bad, as it is the case) though. However, when it is in its best realistic form, it brings the kind of scientific insight that puts this anime on a different level from a typical 'shonen' series about giant robots. Not this is an anime about giant robots, mind you; more like, in the same way as Steins;Gate and time travel, the robotics theme is there just as a condiment, or dressing, to talk about other matters and delve into all sorts of relations amongst people and the personal problems of the characters.

But as I touched upon it before, I would like to point out some aspects of its realism, both good and bad - also noting that this is an anime series, and therefore noticing the irony of it:

Where it is realistic:
- The construction and everything about the robots, up until the last episodes - the last couple episodes show some robots more fitting of a shonen series about giant robots than this more dramatic kind of anime;

- People are not kung fu masters in disguise (with one exception - I´ll get right onto it, don´t worry);

- The characters actually change clothes, not only regarding chronological time, but according to climate, season and also activity. This is considered seriously realistic in my book, and even Steins;Gate, perfect a series as it was, didn´t have this one covered - as Kurisu, for example, practically wears only one outfit during the entire duration of the series - and I´m not even mentioning Okabe, because he´s supposed to be a mad scientist anyways, so he doesn´t actually count;

Where it is not realistic:

- I believe Kaito would have long had sex with Frau Kojiro - if she is as open as she is about sexual matters, is beautiful as it´s made up to be, and lives alone, and also has no qualms of throwing herself on top of Kaito a couple of times, to boot. Throwing oneself (as a beautiful girl) on top of a healthy, young male, inside a dark room, an environment in which there are only those two people, protected by walls, gotta be the fastest, most surefire way to have sex, like, ever (but then again, if Kaito was in love with Akiho, maybe he would´nt have done it to avoid spoiling it, as girls are fast to discuss these matters, and she probably wouldn´t have liked that);

- A girl, Nae, from Steins;Gate, now all grown up and working for JAXA, taking on a lot of trained (supposedly) soldiers like it is nothing. I´m sorry, but what? You mean you want me to believe that geek/technology oriented, mild mannered, small framed, meek girl can take more than one trained, fully armed soldier to the ground? And she does it not once, but twice, and in the last time, it is also played for laughs, because she literally say "no, thanks" to the help of three other men who just stared amazed at this meek, small framed japanese woman to take down various balaclava clad, pistol holding, knife wearing soldiers, with her bare hands. I´m sorry, but you have better chances about me believing the Robotics Club building the actual robot they were aiming at, than this. This is the worst offender of realism in this anime, but we have many others as well, just not that shameless;

Anyway, will all the flaws it has, it still is one of the most realistic, interesting pieces of animated entertainment I found these last couple of weeks, so it awarded a review here. It is definitely worth a watch for all the conspiracy, mysterious and interesting moments, given by one of the best writing I´ve seen so far.

- Realism
- Great characters;
- Great animation;
- Well written and convoluted mystery plot;
- Coming of age story;

- Slow pacing in the middle;
- Realism sometimes falls down flat;

Rating - 3 crows

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