Fellows of the Grand NoObhood, COMPLAIN!

April 18, 2010

“Now, for the Gravion’s final combination! Touga, activate Elgo Form!”

Klein Sandman aka. Zieg Zeravire, Gravion Zwei

One more yearof polytechnic life left before ascension to army life and sugar-sweet chicken spaghetti. Time sure flies by quickly.

Anyways, I’m determined to get back to normal life roaring and ready to go, but I wonder for just how long I can keep the fire of the soul blazing. If only it was as easy as keeping a fire of the hearth blazing… not that it’s possible to get any first-hand experiences where I live.

The VF-25S is all but done concerning physical matters and work has begun on the Armored FAST Pack. The only real problem is the application of decals (no prior experience and tools) and I’m not going to use Bandai stickers unless Ozama Lee crawls out from under my bed and slaps me with a gigantic carrot-shaped placard. Of course work will slow down immensely due to the reopening of my polytechnic term, but that can’t be helped. In fact I quite welcome it, since as it is said, you’ll learn to appreciate things when taken in moderation.

But anyways, enough of that. Today, I’m once again here to talk bullsh*t about two anime series: Stratos 4 and Gravion/Gravion Zwei. Stratos 4 has the odd and totally unnecessary task of splitting up its episodes into 13 main ones and an assortment of OVAs, so they’ll all be named Stratos 4 in this instance, since there is no timeskip or whatever to actually warrant a second season.

Now I’m not even going to get into the normal “good character development” thing, it’s a standard drill in everything related to telling a story and only the really noteworthy deserve mention (not that Linebarrels was noteworthy enough but damn, I fu*king went through with recording down each squeak and bash of all 25 episodes of that mecha-masked boobfest, hell if I’m not going to allow myself some ranting space after all that emo sh*t).

But for Stratos 4, I’ll say that they somehow managed so that the chara-dev thing goes on for, like, 4 episodes out of a minimum of 13, and subsequent efforts for its second season have kept the emo to an episode or 2 out of eight. Good job too, since I doubt many people can sit tight through a show where the main showcase is blowing up asteroids and… nothing else, really, except for the occasional fanservice; the real meat of the story (and quite some delicious meat too, figuratively and practically) comes during the ending points of the first and second season where us viewers really get to hold the loop to the entire story and most if not all the plotting is laid bare. Until then, tear your hair out in an attempt to keep the suspense from driving you crazy. It does have a few minor questions that otherwise take the finality out from the series’ ending, but nothing large enough to impact the entire show in a major way. Their animation/CG mix is decent to say the least, so there should be no complains there.

And as for why am I foisting my rant on a show decorated with fanservice, well, the planes and technobabble in it were what compelled me to watch it in the first place, so it gets a mention here.

Now for Gravion. I must hereby say that after going through the first season, I have no freaking idea what the show it about to be. After following through with the second season, well, it’s just about as super robot as another standard super robot show: guy gets to pilot powerful robot and learns all sorts of things about comradeship and being hot-blooded. But with Gravion, there’s a slight difference: the main character, Eiji, gets to pilot the right leg of Gravion.

That’s right. Gravion protagonist Eiji pilots Gravion’s right leg. Or more specifically, the combination part that makes up Gravion’s right leg. It plays hell with Gravion early on since it’s maintained by five people, and when has a super-robot protagonist earned his reputation through meekly following orders? He learns quickly though, and that makes for an interesting watch.

Then you have the rest of the team. Gravion’s core is a smaller robot called the Gran Kaiser, piloted by Touga, Sandman’s adoptive son who has never seen an inch of life outside the orphanage and the Sandman estate (and trust me, the Sandman estate is large).  Touga is joined by Eina, Luna and later Leele, the first being Touga’s maid and quite the un-fan of being a Zeravire exterminator in charge of Gravion’s right arm, the second a childhood friend (kinda) and Touga’s staunchest supporter who specializes in piloting left-flying rocket fists, and the third a silent girl whose past is as mysterious as her combination part is: Gravion’s boosters and components for its (massively upscaled) beam boomerang. The four plus Eiji are rounded out by Mizuki, a woman in her twenties who has a past relationship with Eiji’s sister, Ayaka, formerly in Eiji’s position, and the most-stacked female character in a decade of anime/manga (not counting doujin productions, of course). They make a colorful if unstable team of characters together, moreso for eleventh-hour addition Eiji and this is what makes the show incredibly interesting as well as full of potential humor moments.

Of course the show doesn’t sell itself solely on fanservice and maids; Eiji’s thoughts on Touga and a person are generally defined during combat and are a mixed reaction depending on how ruthless Touga is, but it finally snaps when one of his three-loli retinue is nearly decapacitated by Touga and we get the subsequent Emo Moment of the Season. The above is just an example of some of the serious moments that go on during the first season.

Even the side cast is quite large enough to give off its own distinct flavour; the most noticeable being Eiji and his three personal loli maids who can strip-dress him with enough force to scare him to tears, as well as notable members of the Sandman’s maid retinue and Touga’s clueless one-liners with anything outside Sandman Estate. If anything, thirteen episodes are too short to give all of them the proper screentime.

Then comes Gravion Zwei. Like with all mid-story mecha anime, the government and the military get their hands in the pie of beating threats to humanity, and as expected fail miserably after the first stunning success; such a standard loss in quality is avoided in Zwei however, since the bad guy actually made modifications to the Zeravire so that the military’s strongest attack would also activate a world-destroying act. The gags and humor are still there, along with unfortunately the rather meh fights in Gravion; bar a handful of Zeravire encounters, the fights in Gravion, and by extension Zwei, are almost boring to watch. Zwei remedies this by having even more interaction between characters, and within the space of thirteen episodes manage to wrap up the mysteries of the Sandman, Leele, Ayaka, get through a rather long period of emo for just about half the damn cast and give them all happy endings, and make Klein Sandman one of the most awesome “leader/mentor” characters ever to grace mecha anime… hell, make that anime in general. Seriously. It has to be watched to be believed.

Both Stratos 4 and Gravion/Gravion Zwei share one thing in common; the depiction of the pilots in their everyday lives. While it is the main point of Stratos 4 (aside the nicely disguised “war against the aliens” theme) it is unusual for Gravion, largely because instead on focusing on the monster of the week, the show chooses to cut that short in favour of mano-a-mano talk.  Certainly not a common sight, though one with a disposition for action might not like the wordy nature for those two shows. Worth watching alongside whatever title has you hooked nowadays, though it might not look like much.

And before I end this: A Big ‘N Hearty Fark Joo to Poffins from B-07-employed civillian consultant Nano. Godamned Poffins! I can count the number of times I didn’t score a Burnt Poffin with my hands tied behind my back!


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