I discovered this show thanks to Nico Nico Douga Medley. It was a, “Hey, that song sounds cool and I love the animation, I need to look into that.” And with nothing more than the name of the song I eventually found the anime it was tied to. From there it was a simple process of downloading and then watching.
At this point the only things I knew about the show was the OP and a random news piece on ANN saying the Director hated the manga and had asked the Mangaka if there was any way he could save the children. I also checked out what people who had watched it said, and the most common comment I found was that they loved the first half but hated the second. So I already have an idea of how the show would turn out, but I was still interested.
24 episodes later, and I’m depressed. This show is a long string of “this character is about to die so we’ll show you their story and then they’ll disappear.” Half the stories are depressing in of themselves even without having the poor kids die. Oh did I forget to mention that they were middle school kids? And the stories for some of these kids include but are not limited to: Rape, Suicide, Teenage Pregnancy, Prostitution, the list can go on, and all of this is happening to middle school kids who we one by one watch, as they each die protecting the earth. But of course the kid’s lives aren’t enough, we also have to be shown that the earth they are trying to save doesn’t deserve to be saved.
The REAL problem I have with this way of telling the story, these dedicated episodes to a single character are to build a reason for us to care for them. So that we’ll miss them when they die. But when ALL of the characters are going to die and it follows such a straightforward pattern of that character’s story is up so they must die next episode. It’s just impossible to actually care about them.
I’m being a little one sided, there are also a few happy stories mixed in there. Stories of kids who are true martyrs for the earth and what they want to protect (usually family or close friends). But after finally seeing a glimmer of hope, that’s when the show will throw in a twist, like the fact that the enemies they are fighting are humans, just like them, from a parallel earth and by defeating them the other earth is destroyed. Or that even the earths that win and survive still get destroyed because they try to mimic the power of the giant robots. The ending does not even try to tie up the loose ends, leaving us to wonder why the parallel worlds have to be destroyed, who the “mastermind” are and what they really want. They are small things but still enough to bother me as I watch the tried and true, the one who was left tells the story and sacrifice of those who saved this world.
So the story is covered, it’s depressing, and there isn’t much redemption for it to gain with the ending. But there is more to the show than that. When each child became contracted to the giant robot they each found a chair within the cockpit, a chair that held a special meaning for each. This really added something to the show in my opinion. It gave you a small glimpse as to who they were before ever seeing their story, and then during the story you would find out just where and why that chair is important to them.
Each child and each enemy would fight differently, and while most of the battles are short this was still a nice touch. The designs for the robots were different from your Gundam ripoffs as well, I’d even go so far as to say I’m more impressed with the robots here than what I’ve seen of Kurogane no Linebarrels so far.
Lets look at the music next. The OP Uninstall by Chiaki Ishikawa is more fitting than most anime OP, and it’s a good song in of itself. The rest of the music is there and it’s good, but far from memorable. Voice acting has some great cast members, but outside of the first few episodes most don’t have any lines outside of their dedicated episode and after that their dead. It feels like a real waste.
The animation is ok, really the scale of just how large these robots are is the only thing that really impressed me. Everything else was Gonzo standard CG, and at best it has on par animation for the rest of the show. Character designs are fitting, and again help define the characters before their episodes.
I didn’t enjoy this show a lot. It has some good points, and it wasn’t bad. It just left me feeling empty the entire time. I really think you can do better than this. There is the chance that the manga does have a better ending, like all those fans say. Myself, I am done with this show and I move onto something hopefully with a more upbeat story where people don’t drop dead every other episode (in other words I won’t be watching Jigoku Shoujo for a while). ^_^ I also have lots and lots of infected to kill, Left 4 Dead is awesome(and is the main reason I haven’t been posting much recently).