Now here’s an interesting show–a mix of Ender’s Game, shades of Infinite Ryvius, and character-driven drama, with Evangelion-like robots and fight scenes. (The first fight’s conclusion is remarkably similar to Shinji’s first battle in Eva unit 01.) This show almost slipped under my radar for the new season but I read a few positive reviews on other blogs, and it intrigued me enough to check it out. So far it seems promising, even though it’s silly to have a OP song called “Uninstall”… :)
The most distinctive thing about this show so far are the characters–namely the large number of them (I think there are about 10 kids?), and the character designs themselves. They are not typical anime designs for the most part, though they do remind me some of early 80s mecha shows like the original Gundam. The faces, hair, and even body shapes are much more varied than is usual in anime–in fact it’s almost jarring. (They are not ugly, mind you. Just different and distinctive, kind of like the designs in Satoshi Kon’s works or anything put out by Studio Ghibli.) Some of this I suppose is necessary for the viewer to tell apart the different characters, given there are a lot of them. The guy who operates the computers seems much more archetypal on the other hand, and the black robot we see is not all that original in design and behavior.
Storywise, the premise of the show–kids who think they’re playing a game when they’re really not–immediately reminded me of Orson Scott Card’s classic SF novel Ender’s Game. Of course, Evangelion itself reminded me of Ender’s Game to begin with too, but the similarities are stronger in this show,though there doesn’t appear to be a central character per se. One of the strongest aspects of Card’s novel was his ability to depict team-building, about how Ender was able to assemble a very competent battle team and interact successfully with his subordinates and his friends. When you have a large cast, of course, not everyone is going to get equal time and treatment and so I hope–depending on what direction the story goes–the writers will be able to make everyone distinct and work well together, or show how their inevitable differences will result in conflict and even enmity. After only one episode I still have a hard time remembering almost any of the characters very well, other than the fourth grade girl and her crab-torturing brother (shades of Peter, Ender’s older brother?). I hope that will change over time.
Anyways, this has suddenly vaulted to being another good ambitious show to keep my eye on. I’ll probably be writing more reports on it in the days to come.