February 25, 2010

“Why can’t you all just behave like normal humans… and do the right thing!”

Ikumi Oze, Infinite Ryvius

Oh my god. Oh my ******* god. Words fail me.

Infinite Ryvius is a 26-episode animated series by Sunrise, produced during 1999. It stars one Kouji Aiba, his brother Yuuki Aiba, childhood friend Aoi Housen and classmates Kozue Izumi and Ikumi Oze, with the series famous for including a large number of people as the supporting cast. The story starts off with introducing the Aiba siblings and their friends as astronauts-in-training onboard an orbital space station located somewhere inbetween Earth and Mars (read: empty space) in the 22nd century, where space travel has become commonplace and colonization of the Solar System’s many moons and planets have become possible. However, a phenomenon known as the Geduld has expanded from the Sun to cover all of the Solar System; when it first manifested, all people living in the lower hemisphere of Earth were at least heavily affected, if not killed outright.

During a scheduled maintainance of the station, the time period invested is declared a holiday for the students, and half the number pack up and leave; the other half stay, due to various reasons like seeing no reason to go back home for what is the equivalent of a one-day holiday. However, during an unexpected terrorist attack disguised as a shipwide malfunction, most of the experienced crew are killed, leaving only the top-class students and the other trainees that have remained behind. The top students (who call their group the Zwei) try valiently to salvage the situation, but ultimately the space station is doomed to destroy itself while “sinking” into the lower and much denser areas of the Geduld. This is when a secret is uncovered about the station; there is an operational cruiser hidden in its superstructure, and the Zwei waste no time in evacuating all remaining people to it.

I might want to warn all those who see Infinite Ryvius as their new sci-fi kill-’em-all show should not watch this. While there is action aplenty as the Ryvius crew clash with their pursuers and later ships of the same class in an attempt to reach a safe location where all the students can disembark, the show is not about who has the biggest guns. It deals with how, given a bad situation, will people deal with each other. The “people” in question here have the average group age of 16 years and below, so expect some…

I correct myself. Expect LOTS of angst, lots of shouting, lots of fighting, lots of jealousy, lots of friction between ALL of the characters. If you’re reading this and you/someone you know happen to have a job as the captain of a ship on the seas of Earth, there is nothing more facepalm-worthy for a show than Infinite Ryvius, as the students… well, behave like students. They slack, they complain, they have all sorts of attitude problems with their fellows and with the current authority of the ship that I’m sure would make sailors go, “Jesus Christ, drop your whining and get to work already!

And you don’t see just a few people doing this either. All of the 400+ people on board the Ryvius get their chance to be jerkasses, from being plain lazy and childish to getting gofers through threat of physical force to being extreme hypocrites/extremists and… you know what, go watch it and then tell me that there’s nothing wrong with their actions, even if they are just teenagers.

The portrayal of the Ryvius people take it like the concept of “team work” and “get serious” were never taught to people who might eventually grow up to be in charge of a spacefaring ship, like they were never taught that space, especially their version, is an unforgiving hell that will gladly take lives if… I dunno, SLACK OFF MAINTAINING THE SHIP YOU’RE RIDING IN?!

The show, however, gives this some justification; some of the students do not train to handle coordinates and stuff, but instead take courses like laundry and food preparation. It’s basically what you might find in an airline training, and the fact that the students can be as young as 13 years, right at that age where elder advice and common sense are like poison to the mind and everyone thinks that they are being assigned too much work, allow this otherwise amazingly impossible concept of the Ryvius students to be presented in a reasonable manner than other sci-fi shows.

The shows also show rather (in my opinion) realistic portrayals of several different types of governmental systems. While I’m not familiar at ALL with the various systems, the traits are obvious enough; when the Zwei were first in charge, it was “top class first”, like an aristocracy.

That bombed soon enough when a group led by one Airs Blue who wasn’t afraid of resorting to physical violence stormed the Zwei-controlled … um, “regime”. After, they established a system where their group and those they approved of got the privileges, and those people who stood up to them and/or didn’t work for the ship could look forward to a severe beating, while those who worked could at least have a semblance of peace. Sounds alot like dictatorship with some communism thrown in for good measure. Blue himself and the way he threatens others who question his methods also provides a hint of autocracy.

Then they were overthrown when the other students decided that enough was enough with the help of a Zwei student, and the Zwei could get back into power. However, there was a fatal flaw; the Zwei were reluctant to actually enforce rules and such that were left behind by the gang (an example being the point system where points allocated through work could be used to exchange for daily necessities). Point-gambling and related actions became more widespread, and without the gang to provide an effective threat, the internal affairs of the ship slowly slipped back to the chaotic conditions of the first Zwei control period. Democracy with only “freedom” written in its law books.

Then after Ikumi Oze was directly affected by the chaos and subsequently hurt as a result, he snapped. He, being one of the more idealistic people in the series, finally decided to use force to subjugate the elements that he thought were disrupting the peace on board the ship, and even smashed a section to prove his point.

From there on the system was such that whomever stepped out of line (exacting physical violence on someone else, for example) would be severely punished and their points revoked. For the remaining people onboard the Ryvius, this became a matter of life and death and most of the students complied with earnest; those who did not were given the beatdown of their lives. In a way, while Ikumi wanted a system where everyone has a peaceful life, he also wanted a system like Blue’s where there was actually a significant enough threat that the hard-headed students of the Ryvius would take heed and act accordingly. While there were no class privileges, it resembled totalitarianism, though after the events of the entire series up till this point many would agree that it was a much-needed wakeup call to the students of the Ryvius about their own selfishness.

Despite that, none of the systems are actually perfect; while Blue’s and Ikumi’s methods of running the ship are shown to be the most efficient for the short-term, not a single method out of the four presented in the show show a viable way of running the ship; once the threat of physical suppression was gone, the students reverted to their “me first, screw everyone else” mindset; in addition, they show no remorse for their actions whatever they might be, instead focused only on how they are going to pass the day today without missing out on what they want. To add to that, most of the leaders and the characters involved in running the ship instead use it as a means to construct their own ideal world, with the most notorious being Kouji Aiba himself; constantly seeking to please everyone and clashing with the leaders of their respective periods when given their situation, his view on how the Ryvius should be run is clearly impossible.

But don’t get me wrong. The way the show is portrayed with will make your support of various characters swing back and forth; not just once, but multiple times as each new episode reveals a new situation that instantly renders the previous void. It is an excellent anime, filled but not packed to bursting with the typical mental confusion of the teenage years, and does a near-perfect representation of the behaviors of the current teen generation, if they were given a crisis like the Ryvius. Ultimately, nobody in the show is absolute good; neither is everyone absolute bad either, and it only reinforces the point that if one person decides to take the job of running a social system upon his/hers own shoulders and only their own, shortsightedness regarding everyday situation and the fact that one’s own views cannot account for the majority will kill what would otherwise be a very effective measure or method of rule.

Ultimately though, you would find yourself going back to and sympathizing with each characters’ as their past is revealed, and even if they turn bad. Yuuki Aiba’s “don’t give a damn about others” and Kouji Aiba’s “happy happy everybody” attitudes mutually piss each other off, but over the course of the series we see them reconcile in various small ways. With the others, immature behavior is slowly corrected, some who cross the moral line get their due, and some characters get justification to their “no man is my friend” behavior through the narration of their past, no matter how small.

And lest I forget, there is even more character and plot relevations on the other side of the fence; that is, all the reasons for the Ryvius’ hate, and why the actions leading up to now had to be taken. While it pales in comparison to the Ryvius crews’ screentime, it does make for an interesting part of the show and lessens some of the confusion that might arise from the plot.

On a scale, Infinite Ryvius ranks as a “go and watch, RIGHT NAOW” show. This little net-speech does no justice to such a great anime, and even though it takes a little getting used to all that unadulterated and undiluted angst (and, horror of horrors, there is no such thing like the Bright Slap in this show), on my own head I bet that the character and plot development will keep you watching until you finally reach, after all the trials they have had to go through, a happy ending.

And if you’re all wondering why one of my anime monoluges would suddenly include something non-mech related, then I really urge you to watch this show. šŸ™‚


One comment

  1. Love browsing your page, always learn random interesting stuff.
    Emily Randall from Husky Training.net

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