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Attack of the Figurines!

January 4, 2013

“Do not call me by that name!”

Straf-model Shiki “Hina”, Busou Shinki

Konachan.com - 146537 sample

I wonder how many of us expected a Busou Shinki anime out of left field. Granted, we had Moon Angel, but that was like five episodes of Arnval fan-ism in OVA format. The anime might not be much with just twelve episodes, but it’s a full series by itself, at least.

While I don’t follow Busou Shinki as ferverntly as I do to Total Eclipse, I still liked the show enough to keep coming back. The premise of the anime is simple enough; some dude has four Shinkis that get up the shenanigans whenever and wherever. Realistic or not, it’s basically four girls doing random stuff. Not much to ruin there. A simplistic style of animation keeps things clean and easy for the animation crew, although some of the Shinkis are prone to improbable poses (given as how their joints are clearly defined in the series).

It’s when the show continues on that they try to give a bit more depth to the background material; a Shinki owned by a Japanese Self-Defence Force member prowls a remote mountainside acting as a ranger of sorts, a Shinki-park, a tournament for Shinkis organized by Shinkis with Shinkis taking part. Well, sure it’s not much, but it beats having the four main girls get up to random stuff in their master’s home without any resemblance to the storyline. Some of them are a bit off-key though, like the air hostess Shinkis (I have a hard time imagining them being useful in any capacity). Don’t count on schematics much though; if you’re looking for a step-by-step handwalk through the world of Busou Shinki’s technology and stuff, then you’re in for a disappointment; that’s hardly touched upon other than a cursory mention or two.

Speaking of storyline there isn’t an outstanding one in Busou Shinki. I mean, you could call it a story, but it’s more of a anthology collection with the same four characters plus a special guest or two per chapter. There are a few points that tie together, but any more is meaningless.

I liked the characters well enough though. Aines, the Altines-model Shinki, is a great source of comedy and reaction, and Hina being competent at damn near everything puts a nice contrast to the rest. Then there’s the Fubuki-model Shinki and her nice pair-up with her master, who may or may not be a ghost, and Maochao and Howling, the fail-forever schemers’ duo. Maochao’s voice actor did perfect for her character’s voice, I might add.

Busou Shinki serves as a good relaxing watch during or after watching a different, more serious show, as long as you don’t pin it up to “anime of the year” standards or other such lofty standards. It was never meant to be, and will never be, a substitute for a dedicated comedy or action show, but as a side dish to other, more story-driven anime it’s pretty delicious.

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Anime Fest Asia [Singapore] 2012

December 29, 2012

“Sorry… but I don’t have time for such useless romaticism. I’ll settle this in one shot!”

Lieutenant Colonel Fikatsia Latrova, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse

Later is better than never, I guess. ‘Though this end-of-year is quite unlike any I’ve had before…

Well anyways, this is pretty much the last big post of my blog for this year; AFA 2012. With a bit of difference, this year’s Anime Fiesta Asia isn’t the first in SEA now; actually, beginning from last year or so AFA has already been hosted in other countries. It’s a good thing they’re not hosting it in one nation and another the next year… Imagine having to travel around the region three times or more before you get a local event!

And well, rather than making it an annual event and shuffling the hosting site inbetween nations, make all the hosting sites host it!

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Tiger and Bunny

Well, it should be pretty obvious by now that I’m more on fantastic non-organic designs than anything else, so this year’s AFA was somewhat of a slight disappointment. I understand that the recent months have been a cold spell for Robot Damashii and the Gundam Fiesta probably took away all reason to display Gundam model kits, but still, I was surprised at the small size of the mech-related places.

Then again, they did make up for it by displaying all the new and hot stuff, so I guess it evens out?

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Yes… you will be mine… *cackle*

2012 has been an interesting year for Code Geass, with the introduction of the Lancelot Grail in the Reflection of Oz photonovel currently running in Hobby Japan and the production of the OVA Akito the Exiled. Considering the rather stone-set ending of both Code Geass seasons, any new material would probably be set in the time before the end of the series, and you can practically see Bandai scramble to add in new material to the world of Code Geass.

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At this point in mecha anime history shoulder guns are like soldiers in Hollywood movies firing on full-auto.

Akito the Exiled follows the story of the Euro Universe, which is basically the third superpower block in the anime that most fans can only remember when prompted; it was just that obscure. Not one to wait, Bandai has released the model kit for the main KMF of the series, the Alexander. Somewhat differing design asthetics aside, I have to say the usage of CG in Akito the Exiled has allowed alot of the older designs reappearing in the series to get revamped in greater detail. Whether or not it stacks up to the animation, well, I’ll report back on that when I watch it, eh?

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I’ve had one too many bad experiences with model kits with a shiny finish to consider buying this.

Model kits of Silver Crow and Black Lotus… well, I think it’s Black Lotus. Haven’t watched any of Accel World yet to be able to identify them all.

I’ve always thought that Figmas and the like are more suited to this considering they’re easier to handle with less chance of something important snapping. Based on past experiences, I like to fiddle around with my “action figure”-style models; if I bought this, I’d run the risk of breaking them. Bricks like the SRX from Super Robot Wars, I’ve got no problem because I won’t be changing poses once every year, let alone on a weekly basis.

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Hell and Heaven!

Sweet mother of Zonder.

Now, if they would do a Genesic version… well, not that I can afford a Soul of Chogokin anything in the near future anyways. In-between this, planning to get Integral Works, waiting to see if Kouki would troll us Muv-Luv fans by announcing Integral Works (TDA) or Integral Works II and all the model kits on my shelves, I don’t think I’m ready for the SoC Gaogaigar. Yet.

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Sure, he looks like a Transformer, but everyone likes Big Volfogg nonetheless.

The ever-cool and ever-lovable Big Volfogg in SoC form.

Everyone loves Big Volfogg.

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The nostalgia…!

With the recent resurgence in celebrating all things classical, we get pretty awesome stuff like this. What most of us know as Power Ranger goes by the name of… well, Zyuranger, I think, but not knowing the name of the-thing-I-refuse-to-call-a-Megazord-so-as-not-to-embarass-myself is not the point. The point is that this articulated goodness is bloody awesome compared to the fixed-jointed Megazord toys you used to be able to find in Toys ‘R Us. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. Of course, by now most people would think that a true collector would be going for those fixed-jointed toys instead, but each of us to our own.

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The Black Bunny, when she’s not being militant-dere.

Infinite Stratos figure of Schwarze Regen (with Laura Bodewig). It’s not a Figma or Revoltech, but it seems pretty good, and the size of it is like having a brick on your table. Then again this just means that you can change its poses… I don’t think IS’ inherent mechanical designs lend themselves well to any movable-joint figures larger than a Revoltech. Stuff’s just too heavy unless they want to invest in metal parts, and we’ll see the cost skyrocket even faster than a laser weapon.

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And the Blue Duchess when she’s not being a terrible cook.

Infinite Stratos figure of Blue Tears (with Cecilia Alcott). Daily reminder of how the first opponent to get introduced and befriended ends up being a jobber 95% of the time.

The other 5% is filled by Fate Testarossa.

I’ve always wondered what happened if IS used full body armor rather than the Busou Shinki-style of half-machinegirls. Being a 15 centimeter-tall plastic doll is one thing, and being a full-bodied person flying around with Strike Freedom’s pieces hanging off you is another thing.

Then again, I like some of the Busou Shinki designs better than the others. I know Maochao probably can’t hold a candle to Straf in combat, but at least Maochao looks integrated with its armor. I have trouble seeing what is what whenever Straf gets to fighting in the anime; the direction where the gigantic shining katana is swinging does help in guessing what’s going on more than the action itself. But this is personal opinion, so don’t use it as a testimonial or anything.

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I could make a joke about genderbent Kou Uraki and Heero Yuy…

Even Bandai is jumping on the machine girl bandwagon with their new figures.

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Taka! Tora! Batta!

A figure of Kamen Rider 000 that looks suspiciously like it came from the SIC Hero line (it looks about four sizes too big for the small boxes of the SIC that I’m used to seeing).

Well, I’m not sure, but it looks pretty awesome. Considering that early Kamen Rider works were about cyborgs and were depicted as far darker than their live-action counterparts in some of the adaptation works (and in the case of Shin, what looks like a rather painful mutation problem) you don’t really feel that with some of the newer works since it’s just normal people transforming into superhuman people with the Kamen Rider equivalent of swipe cards. The SIC line does a good job in capturing some of that serious-business feel back, expecially when it comes to the fantasy- and monster-based Kamen Rider designs (Kuuga, Blade, Hibiki, 000, etc.).

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Across the worlds!

More Kamen Rider stuff from Ryuki, Kuuga and Decade.

Ryuki was probably the first Kamen Rider show I watched almost ten years back, back when it used to air on TV in the evenings. I remember it being extremely fascinating, because here in a sea of children shows where all was good we had quite the down-to-earth characters trying to kill each other. I didn’t even get it until I went back to rewatch the entire thing when I was older.

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Celebrating the next generation of panties-filled goodness.

Some Strike Witches. I pretty much lost track of the vanilla series in favor of the fan-run Strike Witches 1989 on /tg/ and the (also fan-run) Gulf Neuroi War art on pixiv.

What can I say? I’m not oldfagus romantica enough to appreciate the granpappy planes in the normal Strike Witches series.

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Troll Mode: buy all these, arrange as seen, then put a Walpurgistnatch sculpt in the middle.

Some megucas Madoka Magica characters in figure form. As you can see you get a free QB if you choose the unawakened god.

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Hako-atama.

I don’t know what’s with the sudden appearance of these box-heads everywhere.

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The Saber that looks the strongest.

Militant Saber Saber Alter preparing to behead someone.

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The not!Saber.

Nero from Fate/Extra. Can’t tell whether that skirt is see-through or not.

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I can tell where the /tg/ inspiration for Valinov Kharn came from…

No idea. Sorry.

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Less shiny and more matte.

Figma Black Lotus. Now this is what I’m talking about…

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*Insert Dwarf Fortress x women joke here.*

Labrys from Persona 4 Arena.

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A very cute Mirai Tiger T-shirt.

It would be wasted on me, I hardly wear patterned shirts out.

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Machine Itashar go!

Akibaranger.

Honestly speaking, the premise kind of interests me. Haven’t watched it yet, but it seems to be a pretty fun and action-y show.

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GG, literally Gun Girl.

The MMZ-01 Moe Moe Z-Cune from Akibarangers.

I just want to add that whoever concepted and designed this thing has great wit. I cannot stop laughing just by reading the name out.

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Four years to the 30th anniversary, guys.

D-Arts Megaman X and Zero. Too bad about Legends.

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When he turns to look at you…

Awesome Unicorn Gundam cosplay. I’m poor with names, but I’m pretty sure he was one of the cosplayers listed on AFA’s list of “people to watch out for”.

Now, I’m not much of a person for or with cosplay, but you gotta admit that some of them were pretty nice in their own right.

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That game was piss-easy, dammit!

He’s a pretty cool guy, he cosplays as SLENDERMAN!!!111 and ain’t afraid of being blind.

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Good pose. Now let me get out of the way first…

Pretty cool Mazinkaiser cosplay.

More cosplay images at here.

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Gaoo~

And one more for the Silent Stronghold.

That was about all of the highlights for the year of 2012, I guess. In my opinion it’s been a quiet year for the most part (well, on the anime scene), with SAO, Accel World and Chunnibyou generating some heat in the latter part of the year. I mean, you could say I had Total Eclipse, but I think I’m in one of those love-hate relationships with it (more on it some other time), and the story won’t be continued until the VN is released next year. About the only mech-related show I think I really enjoyed was, suprisingly, Busou Shinki. It was good for what it was supposed to be, and I got good laughs out of the show; what more can I ask for?

Gamewise is the same, since the only mech-related title I can remember offhand is Super Robot Wars Original Generations 2nd. Man, you should have seen the attack showcase videos that popped out on Youtube on the day of release; that’s some bloody fast gameplay. To a lesser extent that the above is Halo 4, but that’s not high on my list for now.

Next year’s highlights include some surprising titles in both games and shows. In addition to already announced items like the new Cyborg 009 and Super Robot Wars UX, we get Valvrave the Liberator, more Akito the Exiled, the ending of Gundam Unicorn and, in a rare instance of something non-Japanese, Pacific Rim. Truth be told, I’m not so hot about Valvrave after reading its sypnosis, but the possibility remains of it not actually turning out like what my nightmares suggest about the show (terrible characterization of previous characters, poor interaction beyond one-liners and overly-confusing speechs that throw circles around simple concepts, everyone bending over for the main character; ring a bell?). In other news, more Fafner and Infinite Stratos have been announced, so that makes it six items to look forward do.

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[REVOLTECH MUV-LUV ALTERNATIVE] F-22A Raptor

December 15, 2012

“In the name of my proud country, the United States of America… I cannot allow you to pass!”

66th Battalion Commander Major Alfred Walken, Muv-Luv Alternative

This is one lucky item that I’ve obtained. As a birthday gift from my cousin, the F-22A Revoltech is about the finest thing I could get.

This also makes it all the more reason to wait out an F-22A by Kotobukiya. The EF-2000 model kit is already tempting enough; with two Flugelbertes, two GWS-8s and a Mk. 57 SA Gun. While highly unlikely, an F-22A kit might come with a whooping four AMWS-21 and two CIWS-1B combat knives. Now that would be the ultimate fulfillment of a model kit.

Hello, welcome to the 24-hour Lockweed Mardin gift shop, may I get you a backstabbing weapon of mass-murder?

Hello, welcome to the 24-hour Lockweed Mardin gift shop, may I get you a backstabbing weapon of political murder?

And without further ado, let’s see what the F-22A can offer us.

Armaments:

AMWS-21 Combat System Assault Cannon(s) x4 (only two given)

CIWS-1B Close Combat Knife x2

Summary:

The F-22A Raptor is the United States of America’s strongest Tactical Surface Fighter in the world of Muv-Luv Alternative/Unlimited/The Day After, and is one of the most proven TSFs in its field of combat. Equipped with powerful sensors, avionics and the latest in weaponry systems, the F-22A is well-known for its monstrous performance in both close-range gun battles and long-range first-strike combat with both excellent stealth and high-speed cruising capabilities bundled into a stable frame. In both the Alternative and Unlimited/The Day After universes, the F-22A Raptor has built up a fearsome reputation as a capable anti-BETA unit, and more importantly to other nations, as a nigh-invincible anti-TSF unit.

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Get out of the way, plebs! Freedom Squad incoming!

Like all Muv-Luv Revoltechs the Raptor is ridiculously pose-able, a fact that has lent itself greatly to fans wishing to see their favorite TSFs in dynamic poses (and can’t get their hands on the Volks A3).  The ball joint system that Revoltechs use aren’t without their disadvantages however; that effect part you get with the Muv-Luv Revoltechs is going to see heavy use as a forced prop for anything that’s not a straight standing pose…

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Fool! Can you not pose me, the magnificent mascot of Eagleland, properly?!

… Like this one.

The Raptor’s Jump Units (aka the fat boosters hanging off the rear and for those of you uninformed of the Muv-Luv universes) are larger than those on my previous MLA Revoltech, the EF-2000 Typhoon. As a result balancing one might be different from balancing the other.

Thankfully the Raptor is a ranged-combat unit, so unlike the EF-2000 there are no spiky bits to impale your fingers on in your mad posing quest.

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My mother may have baked the best apple pie, but I remember her most for her Bowie knife!

The Raptor is comes with two CIWS-1B fold-able combat knives for a last-ditch attempt at close combat should opponents get too close. These knives are made specifically for the F-22A’s knee-mounted storage pods; other units can probably use both the foldable CIWS-1B and the non-foldable CIWS-1A, but the Raptor’s storage design makes it unable to use the CIWS-1A. Not that it has appeared as a cause for concern (yet), but that folding capability is going to give way under a good whack from a BETA sometime in the future. Maybe in TDA 03. I just hope they don’t use Walken to demonstrate it.

Of course, given the two puny knives no Raptor, or for that matter, no American TSF has ever been depicted in being successful at close combat against a non-American opponent. However, close-combat on the Raptor’s terms means a running gun battle, which is a cause for concern seeing as the Raptor’s weakness is melee capability and not close-quarters capability which it has in spades thanks to its cutting-edge engines and internal systems.

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Captain America? Who is this multicolored, benign-looking moralfag you speak off?!

Probably the most attractive parts about the Raptor is the sharp, angled lines all over and its head design. Especially its head design. It’s just so unique compared to most other TSFs (and most other Gundams too, I might add) that I fell in love with its head design and the harsh lines of its frame upon sight. Unlike the functional soldier-look of the Typhoon, the Raptor has an overall much more sinister, more inhumane look to it… which it backs up with its reputation in the Muv-Luv universes.

Unfortunately with the Revoltechs, in this case the Raptor’s shoulder blocks are also unmovable, which does make the figure in question pose a bit on the stupid-looking side when you’re trying to have both guns pointed at each side.

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America loves playing the area dominance game, and I’m not an exception.

While TSF design may seem very impractical, you have to admit that whatever impracticability they have in its inherent design philosophies is balanced by most TSFs being some of the most weaponized fucks this side of the galaxy.

One thing that’s been missing from several of the ML Revoltechs are the lack of effect parts for other mundane parts like thrusters and weapons. I mean, sure it’s gonna add to the price, but hot damn if you’re not going to pose your Raptor flipping all over with boosters blazing and gun barrels on fire.

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That fool who dared challenged our superiority will have every Americana on his ass within hours!

The Raptor’s only appearance in Muv-Luv Alternative was an ample demonstration of their capabilities. Most Japanese TSFs are purpose-built to be ultra-sensitive buggers to allow pilots to navigate treacherous mountainous terrain, but the Raptor can achieve the same thing using the raw power of its internals and engines. And if you’re read the Muv-Luv Alternative manga, the Raptor is one suave mother-BLAM!- and definitely no slouch to any 3rd generation TSF when it comes to turning tight corners and sidestepping like a boss.

It’s dynamic poses like this that makes the ML Revoltechs worthwhile. Sure the Raptor(and from my knowledge, by extension the Typhoon as well) might seem lacking in accessories, but if you’re a good enough photographer with the dedication, know-how and time to set up a shoot, then the Revoltech Raptor is a very good model for highly dynamic shots to awe your friends and potential employers with (if you aim to freelance like my friends).

Not that I would ever recommend using a glorified giant robot toy to woo potential customers to your talents, but you get my point.

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I’ll have you honorfags and moralnubs know that nailing people in the nuts from the back is a completely legitimate war strategy!

Like I said, this mother-BLAM!- is an expert at damn near everything except playing with Far East Gangsta Knives (aka swords), and throwing a kick is no trouble for the Revoltech Raptor. Punches are included as well.

Of course, in canon a kick of sufficient force (which would outstrip the force from a hard landing in the heat of combat) would mean two things. One, the Raptor pilot’s doing it wrong, and two, that’s going to be a damaged leg he’ll  be taking back to base. In ML, TSFs not specced for contact warfare like the Typhoon tend to suffer when they’re forced into it.

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DO NOT QUESTION THE ALMIGHTY PIE, THE COWARDS, THE FHEWLZ!

Yeah, that effect part comes in extremely handy when you’re in need of a pose. It just comes off as weird on this one because the Raptor itself doesn’t look particularly dynamic.

Something of interest is the Raptor’s colors. With each successive iteration the production Raptors have been getting a duller shade of green, with the MLA Revoltech version featuring the latest color update that appeared in Muv-Luv Unlimited: The Day After. At this point the Raptor is almost grey. As for the two white stripes, they’ve only ever been seen on 66th Battalion Raptors. Whether other Raptors from other units feature the same or vastly different color schemes remains to be seen.

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Contrary to popular belief, the entire nation is not made of COD cocksuckers. We have equal numbers in the MoH and Halo fanbase too. Nobody plays Sniper II though.

The AMWSs-21 featured with the Raptor have the ability to separate their cannon module from their main gun module, which gives you something similar to the gun’s design inspiration: the real-world Israel-made TAR-21 Tarvor. In-universe, the gun and cannon modules can be separated as well, although any possible equipment variations for the AMWS-21 other than the standard 36mm chaingun + 120mm cannon remains to be seen.

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DIE, EUROPEANS!

There’s alot of spare material with The Day After, with the greatest potential being the war with the remaining European nations and the United States prior to the story beginning. Of course the above scene isn’t canon yet, but that remains to be seen with The Day After 03.

I should forewarn you that The Day After 03 hasn’t been announced yet. It’s bound to be soon, but then again Alternative dragged so long the JP fans got their “Oruta Madaa?” chant out of endless forum posts. age is well-known for suffering from critical deadline issues when it comes to meeting the time mark.

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… fucking faggots!

And this is in memory of that one F-22A pilot in the real world who let a Typhoon own him. In ML, the advanced warfare technology means that even allowing your enemies to rig the battlefield just slightly to their favor will allow them to completely turn the tables on you; given the embarrassing rate at which Raptors are frequently forced into melee combat, that is a problematic concern, because not everyone can be as APPLE PIE LIBERTA AMERICANA as the infallible Alfred Walken.

Perhaps the US should get rid of its everlasting erection for expensive stealth technology and instead focus on aggressive jamming technology; after all, if every channel your enemy can switch to is jammed by your smart, self-detecting, auto-homing radar systems that also doubles as your own radar and allied ECM radars, their missiles are worthless. Sure a blank radar patch in enemy airspace might be telling, but when your radar’s powerful enough to do all that it’s powerful enough to jam a few dozen AA missiles slung its way. And then you afterburner in and drop bombs on the poor pants-pissing fucker who’s chosen to be your adversary.

And the best part is, you get to save billions each year for the Air Force to put to use in organizing evening barbeques! Think of all the steaks, man!

Verdict:

One can’t really complain about the lack of accessories because if you know what you were buying, then you should also know that in terms of accessories the Raptor’s gonna be pretty ghetto with just two guns and knives. If you’re getting the Raptor, you’re getting it for RAPTOR STYLE.

Apart from the usual shoulder blocks and non-accurate design, there really isn’t much to nitpick at the Revoltech Raptor. I could argue that they could hide the ball joints under plastic or paint (the actual Jump Units use a two-jointed arm system of both swivel and ball joints)  but plastic would increase the figure size and make it more expensive, while paint rubs out after a while and just makes the Raptor look ragged. The point of a Revoltech is its playability, and to that end I can understand the manufacturer’s decision to close one eye at the use of ball joints over the traditional A3 joints.

All in all, the F-22A Raptor Revoltech is a pretty solid piece of work that’s closer to its worth in price than most other figures. It’s a Hobby Japan exclusive, and like I said I was lucky enough to obtain one without much trouble thanks to my cousin.; if you’re still wanting of a Raptor and don’t want to shell out money for this, Koto should release a Raptor soon (I hope, because it would be criminal to ignore one of the more iconic TSFs of the ML universes).

Even if it’s the Raptor EMD Phase that gets a kit, all you need to do to get a production Raptor is some gunmetal green spraypaint… and file down the head fins to a shorter length!

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[ROBOT魂] Fafner Mark Sieben

December 8, 2012

“What makes you any different… from the Festum?”

Toomi Maya, Fafner of the Azure: Dead Aggressor

As far as impulsive purchases go, the Fafner Mark Sieben is one of my odder choices in the Robot Spirits Line. For one thing, it was pretty expensive when I bought it (at about S$70+) and while it comes with a few unique accessories, the model kit only truly shines when paired with the Robot Spirits Mark Sein. Not to mention I put off writing up about the Mark Sieben because of that; I actually bought it at AFA 2011, and was hoping to snag a Mark Sein at AFA 2012 to make the set complete. Alas for long-term assumptions.

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Yes… I’m sorry… everything is actually part of only one set…

Ignoring my lack of posting about model kits again, here we go.

Armaments:

– “Dragon’s Tooth” Sniper Rifle x1

– “Durandal” Sidearm x1 (Not shown)

Fist Guards x2

Summary:

 A Fafner model introduced late into the series, the Mark Sieben’s (VII) predecessor model was the Mark Sechs (VI) piloted by Shouko Hazama, complete with a similar design and the unique flight capability that separated it from other Fafner Models. Piloted by Tōmi Maya, the Mark Sieben’s forte was at ranged warfare, and to that aspect the deadly combination of Maya’s impeccable accuracy and the unstoppable firepower of the Dragon’s Tooth Sniper Rifle was responsible for the destruction of many Festum forms.

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Alien Fight Night!

First off we’ll have some punches… eh maybe not. Most of the Nothung Fafners featured in the show (those built by the protagonist’s side) have a last-ditch melee attack whereby protectors slide over their fists before they punch. On the RD Mark Sieben you get to swap out its normal gauntlets for the ones with covers deployed, but it makes the hand parts more difficult to put in. You might have to push and swear for a while to get the Sieben to pose like a boxer.

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The biggest stick fielded.

It is a very weird purchase for me. I usually shy away from designs I don’t like, and even those I like aren’t necessarily on my wish list because of their complete lack in the expected number of gimmicks and accessories they have. Then again having a Fafner model is a very good insight into unconventional mechanical surface design because their design philosophy is closer to “maximum mobility” rather than “humanoid effect”.

As you can see, the joints of a Fafner model are at diagonal angles. This makes for some weird poses, but the RD Fafner Mark Sieben (and most of the other Fafners too I’ll wager) come with at least two to three joints per limb. High kicks, sweep kicks, knees (well this one might be more difficult) and other fascination poses you can come up with can be replicated in here. Radha Bairaban would have loved being a Fafner pilot.

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They say pictures make peoples’ asses look fat. I’d say pictures don’t lie without basis…

Fafner back view, which you can see is just as skeletal as the front. It’s not so much of the haphazard design’s lack of cohesion… rather I think it was the lack of cohesion that attracted my hand. Too bad the RD’s a bit on the flimsy side, but it’s nothing too serious.

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Where is the charging handle on this thing…?

The Dragon’s Tooth is Maya’s weapon of choice in both the original Fafer of the Azure: Dead Aggressor and its direct sequel, Fafner: HEAVEN AND EARTH (don’t ask me why it’s in caps). Given that the only other two weapons in the show with any consistent kill rates are the Ruga Lance and Garm .44 automatic rifle, Maya’s default weapon, the sniper rifle, is almost godlike. Downs Festums in one shot and doesn’t afraid of anything; engaging Festums up close just leads to bad things, and like all automatic weapons in fiction the Garm .44 is prone to failing when the plot demands it.

And as you can see kneeling firing is not a problem for our magenta yoga-bot. I swear some of the ways the joints turn are just insane.

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Rejoice honey, we’re having duck tonight!

The Mark Sieben comes with an extra kneeguard that you can swap out for one of the normal ones; it’s special in that it’s painted with the Roman numerals of VII, which is the Mark Sieben’s number. The Sieben gets this special treatment along with the other Fafners it accompanies during the final episodes of the original series when humanity attacks the Festum at their stronghold in the Arctic.

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On second thoughts, let’s settle for bull.

The RD Sieben comes with a part that mimics the rifle’s stabilizing part being extended; hence the name Dragon’s Tooth. It would be very useful in dioramas.

One part about the Mark Sieben is the awkward firing positions you might have to deal with sometimes. Its arm design doesn’t mix well with the design of the Dragon Tooth’s rifle stock, but with those arms and joints, something’ll work out.

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… Or maybe rabbits…

Well this pose is more troublesome. Unlike its depiction in HEAVEN AND EARTH, the RD Sieben doesn’t have much to show off when it comes to tilting its neck. It still turns left and right well enough though.

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Aha! We hunt eagles now!

This is the fully equipped Sieben. I didn’t really want to pose it with the backpack because of the fragility; the two holds you saw in the back view of the Sieben are all that’s keeping the flight wings from dropping off, and given the dynamism of certain poses the wings are going to be all over the place in a mess. You also have to note that the wings are rather heavy by themselves and depending on how you handle them, they might become a pain in the ass if they keep dropping or sliding out of position.

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C’mon, hurry up, the birds are going south.

With wings spread, it’s one hell of a majestic pose just standing, though.

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Now, where is the lever for this… hm, “full blast”?

A few redundant pointy bits here and there like some old-school shmup fighter, but it’s got variable-geometry tailfins and that’s cool.

Besides it’s a fucking giant robot backpack, I aint gotta explain shit. If Fukuda got away with it I don’t see why not here.

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Hello, avian friends! Mind one of you joining my dinner table tonight?

This reminds me, I need to get a Master Gundam one of these days. That old fogey’s ride is just to awesome to pass up.

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Owah! Ow! No, wait, this is negotiable – Ouch!

And some random martial arts pose as is customary.

One thing about those flight packs is that they’re not meant to bend forward. You’re not going to get anything resembling Justice or Infinite Justice here, and the backpack is actually blocked by the design of the shoulders.

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Forget hunting the gentleman’s way, let’s use the Insta-Roaster 9000 instead!

The Mark Sieben armed with its Cannon of FUCK OFF that it gained in episode 26.

If you remember the green crystal in the opening post picture, that probably has something to do with the cannon attachment. It originally came about as a result of the Mark Sein, Kazuki’s unit, temporarily fusing its arms with the Mark Sieben and its Dragon’s Tooth to turn it from a shell-firing sniper into what is basically their equivalent of a mega beam launcher. Too bad I still can’t find the Mark Sein…

Verdict:

Well, all in all if you judge the Mark Sieben by its own merits, the unit isn’t that bad. It’s got good flexibility, good design accuracy, and you have to be pretty mad if you’re buying this without knowing what a Fafner is or not liking some aspect of its design enough to ignore the former point.

The problem, then, stems from the fact that the Mark Sieben is in canon a very specialized unit. Unlike the other Nothung Fafners that regularly swap equipment around, the Mark Sieben is stuck in flight-capable mode all the time. No shoulder Aegis shield, no beam cannons, Fafner finger, Ruga Lance, Garm .44, or other manners of cool weapons you see in the PSP games or somesuch. Not even the Mine Blade or the drones controlled by Tatsumiya Island’s core.

That’s a lot of missed potential for merchandising; given that I’ve only ever seen the Mark Elf, Mark Sein and Mark Sieben on sale, only the Mark Elf has the potential to equip all of the above, but that shouldn’t have been a stopping point for Bandai to spread the merchandising over three models even if two aren’t suited to use most of the extra stuff. I mean, they did it with the Zaku II, there really wasn’t a reason for them to skip it here.

Get the Sieben if you must, but don’t expect much in the way of cool shit unless the Fafner series in general get more recognition.

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Gundam Fiesta 2012

November 30, 2012

“Unicorn… lend me your strength!”

Banagher Links, Gundam Unicorn Episode 4

 

In the name of Amuro, late post is late. But here’s my image loot for Gundam Fiesta 2012 held at Nex.

It was a relatively small event in actuality. I hadn’t actually been to a Gundam Fiesta event since the one at 2010, so 2011’s ongoings are unknown to me. But the 2012 event felt slightly smaller compared to the 2010 event. First-time glitter, second-time expectations kind of thing, maybe.

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Oh, ye optimistic fools of overly-large faith…

Nah, I kid. I have no idea how Gundam AGE ranked during its live airing. I’ve seen comments both good and bad about it,and general consensus is that it was wasted potential. Then again the Gundam fanbase is so large and diverse; throw a rock, and you’re bound to hit someone who feels that at least two series were wasted potential.

Now, if someone called Victory Gundam wasted potential, that’s more worthy of scrutiny.

But I digress. When it comes to AGE, I have soft spots for the Genoace Wolf Custom and Genoace Obright Custom. Dat visor that just screams “FOREVER REDSHIRT FACE”.

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More AGE 1/144s.

Many may accuse Gundam of over-merchandizing with the plethora of MS designs from the enemy factions and money-grubbing from the multitude of minute and more visually recognizable variants on the protagonists’ side, but if we have to nitpick, Nazi Germany first did it in World War II with their 101 flavor of tanks and aircraft, and the US and Soviets did it again in their little kitchen spat called the Cold War.

My two cents is that one can’t exactly call it shameless merchandizing when real life does it do. It’s time to find a new pet peeve.

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Dungeons and Dragons Weaboo Edition.

Most of the flak I see justified about AGE is the design of some of the later MSes. Considering that its target market was children within 7-12 years of age I can understand where its coming from. But then again, I can’t really criticize these people since I myself feel the same way.

Oh, the curse of the machine spirit is a gloriously neckbearded one.

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Now with 200% more YAMATO DAMASHII!!!!

Now we move on to Gundam SEED, perhaps the epitome of “wasted potential” for the decade of 2001 to 2010. I daresay it will remain the epitome of “wasted potential” for the next decade too, because given its relatively real-world settings the amount of fleshing-out that was done with it was just sad.

If fate had it that AGE and SEED had swapped places, the world would be perfect. Ignoring director tendencies for a moment, AGE would have been the century gateway to Gundam for the current generation of teenages, and SEED, given a different director, could have given Bandai both a good third series into the 21st century, and continued to rake in cash with a decent balance of side-stories.

Alas for wasted potential.

Well, regardless, at least Bandai doesn’t fail on the merchandizing. Some of the better things to come out this season are the reworked SEED kits; say what you want about the series, but ever since the Strike 1/100 MG the rest of the GAT-series Gundams have been very deserving of their own MGs. Personally I thought that it was long overdue for the Aegis, and hell if I do, hell if I don’t, I’m aiming to get one within the next year. Some of the 1/144s, like the M1 Astray, also come with more items in the set that gives you more things to play with.

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It was so close to being engraved in the hearts of children all over the world during 2001 to 2004.

I mean, seriously, this is the visage of one badass mofo.

Now, if all was truly right with the world, then Bandai will announce a Delta Astray OVA, and use this as a chance to introduce the Rosso Aegis and its friends to the addition. I mean, there’s already the Blu Duel, Verde Buster and Strike Noir… leaving the impossibly-cool Rosso Aegis and the attractive Nero Blitz behind is just cruel.

Haha, yeah. Right. Moving on… ;_;

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When in doubt about custom colors, take white or black Tamiya paint.

Maybe it’s just me, but the normal AGE-2 Dark Hound has always felt like a mismatched suit to me. You have this spear weapon, then you have tiny beam guns and two physical grappling hooks. They do work within the series proper, but for someone who’s piloting a machine made to rush headlong into battle to take advantage of first-strike you’d think the AGE production team would allow a design that toted a bit more ranged firepower.

This custom here is pretty much the AGE-2 Double Bullet taken to the logical pirate end. It’s not like Gundam ever cared about logistics; there was pretty much stopping Asem from slapping two beam guns on with the wings and two underslung grappling hooks.

Heck, if they were going for grappling hooks they could have used smaller claws. I think the pirate motif was quite enough on the Dark Hound for it to drop the hooks without affecting its pirate image.

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When you like it, it’s called a homage. Or so that’s how it’s supposed to go.

Truly 2012 is the year of the UC Supreme Value Meal. With the announcement of previously lamentable “never to be produced” model kits like the Delta Gundam, UC oldies like the Juagg, and even obscure-turned popular stuff like the Base Jabber, UC’s been a reaping year for the UCfags.

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Jobbed ‘ard status at 66%.

The Ankusha may look cool, but damn that mothershagger jobbed harder during UC Episode 5 than a Salamis-class at the Battle of Loum. The Nemo is only barely spared because that plateface was destined a jobber’s life fro the get go. Sucks to be a Nemo.

Or I think that’s a Nemo. The only way I can tell them apart from GM IIs is the backpack.

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Marine Zaku is the new Photobomb Guy.

It took forever donkey years for Bandai to release a HGUC Hambrabi, and I bet no-one saw that Marine Zaku coming from a mile off. Stranger things have happened, but unfortunately for the rest of the world, this moment of merchandizing madness only afflicted Bandai and the department responsible for Gundam Unicorn’s marketing.

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30 years of colors!

MG gallery present at the event.

For more photos, click here.

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Super Armor Heroes Time~

November 24, 2012

“As long as someone survives, we win…”

Hermann Saltza, Blassreiter

Aye, Blassreiter.

The previous Nitro+-related anime I could relate to was Demonbane; general consensus back then from me, and general consensus from me now, was that it was a watered-down version which somehow managed to retain a bit of the atmosphere from the original, thereby preventing it from becoming a totally unrelated anime related to the game of the same name only by title and franchise. For Blassreiter, it starts as an original story concept by Nitro+, so if you’re wondering if you should dabble in Nitro+ anime again after getting put off by Demonbane, then I think you can rest your mind easy.

Blassreiter’s backstory is slightly off the side of the road. In this world, there exist a kind of humanoid monster known as Demoniacs. These monsters possess superhuman capabilities, are resistant to small-arms fire and can assimilate and operate machinery. Combating these monsters are the Xenogenesis Assault Team, or XAT for short, who routinely run operations to hunt the Demoniacs whenever they are found. Amanda Werner and Hermann Saltza, two of the characters in XAT, are the main characters in this story.

The story initially focuses on Hermann’s friend, a racing biker champion by the name of Gerd Frentzen, who loses the use of his legs when a Demoniac attack during a race causes him to suffer an accident. Having lost his career, his girlfriend and his pride, he is given a pill by a mysterious female doctor who promises him his glory days back, Gerd becomes something much more; he becomes an Amalgam, a variant of Demoniacs who retain their humanity during their transformation and can keep their killing instinct under control. Using this newfound power, he tries to right the wrongs that he sees, but apart from having to come to terms with the false smiles of the people around him that he used to trust, he also has to deal with the fact that his powers not only bring unwanted attention to himself, but that they might be more than he can handle.

Throughout the story, various perspectives on the people whose lives have been affected by the Demoniacs are presented; first Gerd’s view from a person who has lost the trust in the people around him and Hermann’s anguish at being unable to do what is right set against what is needed to be done, then to Malek Yildrim Werner, Amanda’s adopted brother who is unable to fight back against the oppression in his life, and finally to Hermann and Amanda as the Demoniac conflict reaches its final point.

Also within the story is an underlying theme of distrust; for Malek’s arc, racism (and very blatant racism at that) is present, as well as the hidden gulf between Malek and Amanda. XAT has their own plans, and even more revelations come to pass as forces greater than XAT and the Demoniacs reveal themselves to bring their own plans to bear. Situated within this is Joseph Jobson, an Amalgam, a man burdened with a past that will determine his entire life.

Perhaps a good thing from Demonbane is the usage of an original storyline in this anime; the show is relatively straightforward in execution (if you don’t find the racism a bit forced) and apart from the world’s settings which are left relatively unexplained, the other aspects of the show are understandable if purposely left hazy. XAT commander Wolf Göring, for instance, turns out to be a rather interesting character, as does the other members Bradley, Alvin and Mei-Fong, and the true meaning of a Demoniac’s power isn’t all as mystical as the show would have you believe.  The only thing the show suffers from is that some of the character’s moments may come as sudden, as the show has a tendency to given little attention to a character beyond superficial introductions until it’s their time to shine in the story.

Animation is relatively consistent, and with character designer Niθ on the team as chief character designer you can expect good-looking women and chiseled men. Fight scenes are done with 3DCG, and while you can complain that the choreography may get worse than Michael Bay Style at times (sadly is does, especially when it comes to fights between Amalgams), the show makes up for this in the design aspect. Joseph’s human and Amalgam forms are easily identifiable as a “main character” design, while the other Amalgams have body shapes resembling their fighting style, temperament, looks and so on. For those of you who prefer more grounded shows, the mechanical designs of XAT’s forces may be a bit off-putting and even bordering on cheesy, but they at least move as they should.

Overall, Blassreiter is a rather interesting premise. One can call it an anti-hero kind of show, with heroes haunted by dark pasts and general dastardly acts from the humans, but it’s not so much as saving the humans than it is the heroes settling the demons within. It’s not a 2deep4u kind of mindfuck show, and while it may get lackluster at times, Blassreiter, judged by the terms of being a Nitro+work, is overall a solid watch and a decent example of what the studio responsible for Demonbane can do in the anime industry.

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2 000 Leagues Under The Martian Sea~

September 29, 2012

“They must have given it to me because they had some kind of feeling that they wanted to convey. Since it’s for the sake of those feelings…!”

Gram River, The Mars Daybreak

It’s an interesting show, The Mars Daybreak. Despite having little to no backstory in the animated series, the 26-episode work still manages to keep you watching… well, at least it tries to, anyways. But to someone like me, the concept is so interesting that can’t ever give the show up in good faith.

The plot stands thus; in the far future, Mars is flooded after a failed colonization attempt. Trying again resulted in the Martians living on floating cities called city-ships; Gram River, a mid-to-low class citizen, is one of them.

The ending of the Pan-Galatic War means that Mar’s greatest export, water, has suffered a sharp drop in demand. This means that the Mars economy has taken a really mind-rending hit, and of course it’s recessions and depressions for everyone. Jobless hobos litter the streets, petty crime is rampant, and… well, it’s general alley-street fare really, it doesn’t actually look half bad as it sounds bad.

Being a planet that’s literally drowning in life’s greatest resource, Mars is, of course, home to a great deal of pirates. Gram River is resourceful, he ain’t no street thief, but when the pirates of the Ship of Aurora come a-knockin’, he finds himself throwing in his lot with them to see where it takes him after he inadvertently helps them accidentally several underwater hangars in his resident city-ship, Adena (nope, the pirates don’t ask if it’s bad).

As he adjusts to the pirate life, Gram has to deal with the world outside his own city-ship, pursuit from the Earth-sent security forces led by Lauren Vestamona, a familiar face from his past, and the mystery surrounding the little trinket of a pendant around his neck that not only nabs him his own giant robot, but starts his whole journey as well.

First things first, I thought The Mars Daybreak was going to be something like Rahxephon, truth be told. This was my impression of the model kit boxart of the series’ main robot, Gram’s Round Buckler the Vector of Hope. Don’t ask me why, but that sleek look combined with its colors just gave that feel (nevermind the box description which runs counter to any mysterious feels you might have).

A quick glance through the first three episodes will quickly reveal a show that’s more like a distant cousin of Zoids Zero. Things are generally fun all around with any serious matters used as a backdrop; Gram is kind of a bro at things and always has a calm, street-smart aura around him regardless of whether he is actually on a street or not, and the crew of the Ship of Aurora, is diverse as can be. You can argue opinions that their personalities are so-so, but as looks go, a talking dolphin and talking cat are about as out there as can be when it comes to typical RPG-style world setups.

Gram’s own progression throughout the story is more of his interaction in a new environment than any kind of actual character growth; he is, after all, already rather high level when it comes to the character development chart. It’s kind of nice to see a character help others along with his own experiences once in a while, and being on a ship means that they can have a new plot and a new face almost every episode.

The story by itself would probably make for a pretty decent novel series; there’s a lot of backstory material to be exploited, ranging from the aforementioned Pan-Galactic War to the Mars Aborigines, the original colonists who survived the flooding, and even the Naval Witches, humanlike characters hinted at to posses great intelligence and technological power; one of them is on the ship of Aurora, while another character uses a Round Buckler that’s obviously several cuts above the rest and can’t be built with mere nuts and bolts.

Then there’s the lives of the Aurora’s crew; the general theme of a group of people travelling around Mars in a battle submarine is a pretty cool deal, and it’s a very big shame that the show gives you customary glances at these greater pieces of the backdrop only once in a while. It keeps things simple, but unfortunately there’s a lot of lost potential; not for a longer series, but for a vastly-expanded universe that could have branched out into a great deal of different genres without having to resort to explanations beyond basic physics (lol Mop Rub?)

Gram’s own character development only comes in drips; somewhere in the middle and in the last few episodes when he finally has the chance to come face-to-face with Vestamona; they’ve had a lot of misunderstandings throughout the show and he finally has a chance to set things right. In fact, the whole sub-plot of his care/evasion of Vestemona and her own feelings for him are settled so fact I’d caution about a lack of emotional tension when it comes to those parts.

In terms of animation, while the fights are few and far between the battles are never on a scale large enough that the show ever shows something new. Most of the time it’s well-drawn but recycled footage, although an important fight will showcase new moves that are just as impressive. The ships are mostly in 3D-CG, but considering that they animate the ships almost as much as the mecha it’s still within acceptable levels.The character art is decent, nice on the eyes, and even in the background doesn’t mean you’ll see any QUALITY getting in.

The Round Bucklers themselves are surprisingly not shown as much; the Ship of Aurora usually focuses on escaping instead of just rolling over everything in their path, and it’s kind of cool to see them struggle with numbers against them since it allows the characters to establish in a very fair manner just how good (or lousy) they are in a Round Buckler. Despite their low-screen time, the Round Bucklers have a good deal of thought put into the way they function. It’s not Universal Century-levels of extrapolation on the physics of magical beams, but the little details like artificial muscles, piloting aids and the advantages and disadvantages of both direct-piloted and remote-controlled Round Bucklers, bullets only being used at mid-to-close ranges that make the Round Bucklers in this show seem a great deal more realistic.

Overall, The Mars Daybreak is a decent, standalone show that could have been better. Maybe it was a lack of funding, or the people responsible never thought more about it, but focus too much on the backstory, and the lightheartedness of The Mars Daybreak might not be enough to fill the hole in your heart. Other than that, it’s a good, decently solid piece of anime for some side watching.