This review number one hundred and seventy one. I’m still clearing the Fall 2012 lineup. There is a lot more twenty four episode anime I have to watch. The anime I’ll be reviewing is Robotics Notes. It’s a twenty two episode anime about a bunch of high school kids making a robot. It’s made by Production IG and it is actually related to Chaos Head and Steins Gate. Chaos Head was awful. Steins Gate was perfect. How does this third one fare? Let’s read on.
The anime is about Kaito Yashio. He is a member of the Robotics Club led by Akiho Senomiya. Actually, they are the only two member and they have decided to complete the robot the original members planned to build. Akiho is persistent in reaching that goal while Kaito just looks on. He is a bit of a straightforward guy who knows that no one else share Akiho’s dream of completing the robot. With the help of some new members and the unrelenting desire of Akiho though, the robot’s completion may just be an arm’s reach away.
Taking the Pants Off
This is the second anime in the noitaminA lineup. It’s a bit awesome Production IG got both slots of the lineup. I can’t help but feel that most people are right though when they say that the lineup has changed in a way. It’s really not the same but as long as it delivers awesome anime then I don’t mind. As for the anime, I wasn’t really expecting much. I did learn half way through my viewing that the anime was adapted from a visual novel by 5pb. It’s apparently another game to succeed Chaos Head and Steins Gate. I’m going to apologize right now because I’ll be joining the band wagon of countless people comparing Robotics Note to Steins Gate. White Fox gave us an outstanding adaptation of a really complex visual novel. It’s perhaps the best VN anime ever and it’s one of the reasons why I gave the show a perfect score. Robotics Note (RN) is a clear example of how Steins Gate would’ve sucked if it was handled by the wrong people. I’m not saying that RN is a horrible show but you can just tell that the complexity of adapting a VN anime purely crushed the potential of the show. It’s a hurdle the Steins Gate anime nicely overcome so you just can’t help but feel disappointed.
The anime started out pretty simple. The robotics club wanted to finish the giant robot before they graduate. They tried to get a bunch of people to join their cause. They seek help from professionals and tried to get a sponsor to get more funding. It’s pretty straight forward from there. As the anime progresses, new characters are introduced that either joined the club or helped in making the robot in one way or another. I also love how persistent Akiho is in building the robot. The story had a nice mix of humor, otakuism, youthful romance and a strong theme of never giving up. All the anime needs to do is further develop the characters, introduce some obstacles that hinder the completion of the robot and give us a step by step procedure of how the robot is made. I would’ve actually loved to see this aspect of the anime if it didn’t have another story.
Besides the giant robot goal, the anime had another story. I won’t call it a plot point because they are completely unrelated to each other with different paces to them but sharing the same characters. The second story is about Kaito discovering a mysterious girl named Airi that pointed him towards some secret documents called Kimijima report written by a Kou Kimijima. The report highlights a secret conspiracy that involved using the Sun in destroying the world. Kaito became deadly curious and decided to uncover the remaining secret documents with the help of Airi. He would later found out though that the scope of the conspiracy told by the Kimijima report isn’t what he expected.
The first half of the anime was pretty good. The two stories progressed pretty nicely. There were a nice balance to both story and all that was needed was to cohesively join them into one big ball. After all, it shared the same characters and explained details about certain events involving the same characters. The first story was really cute because the members of the Robotics Club had nice chemistry. They all contributed to the project in some big ways that really moved it along. As the number of people helping grows, the building of the giant robot started to get really interesting. The second story was nice as well. I’m a bit impressed at how thrilling the mystery aspect of the story was. There were a lot of unexplained things nicely incorporated to the story that add those chilling factor I can’t get enough of. The urban legends of the island, various rumors in the internet and various conspiracy theories were folded into the story that really made it complex. It was also pretty nice how various things won’t make sense until you finished the anime. The mystery progressed nicely with the audience completely out of the loop. It just keeps on building and building that you just can’t help how it would turn out in the second half. Surprisingly, the second half is where the anime started to show its weakness.
First of all, the anime started featuring subplots related to various characters. Steins Gate did the same as well. It had side stories about the side characters that relate to the overall story making it very important. Robotics Note had side stories that relate to either the first story or the second and made either one of them more complex. It became a massive clusterf*ck though when side stories relating to both main story was featured at the same time. I don’t mind exploring a characters side story about her relationship with her family member. Does it have to happen the same time we are exploring a side story about another character and why she is a shut in? The worst part is that the main stories often have to be pushed to the side to give time to the side stories. These side stories often don’t give us a proper ending though or if it does, it doesn’t do much to the story. It felt like the anime wanted to cram a lot of things in the VN to the story only for it to work against them.
With the anime giving time to the side stories and halting the main stories, they soon became badly rushed. A lot of things are left unexplained as the anime progresses and the show just freely fast forward to important events. The problem is that the entire experience soon becomes a bit hollow. With the anime rushing the story, certain events don’t feel as awesome as they should have. One example was a robot uprising in the second half. Tokyo was about to be overtaken by robots but for some reason, the entire event was a bit hollow. There was no proper build up to that moment because it just happened. I’m sure Tokyo being destroyed by rogue robots is supposed to be freaking climactic but it just blew over unspectacularly. I feel a bit disappointed that the anime would sloppily jump towards important events without explaining them properly. Steins Gate seemed to present its story with ease nicely incorporating the side stories while still giving us a proper progression of the main one. I just can’t get behind the anime anymore because of how rushed the stories were.
I think the biggest and most disappointing thing about the anime though is the lack of legitimacy. I’m just relating my experience to Steins Gate though since I’ve never played the game. Call it an otaku gut feeling if you will. Steins Gate gave us a plausible story of how to time travel using a lot of geek talk and theories supporting the process. It used the current technology and the preconceived idea of time travelling to spin a nice web that audiences can understand. Steins Gate gave us a plausible time travel method using certain scientific tools to create an air of legitimacy to the story. I truly feel that Robotics Note could’ve given us the same experience with the angle on how to build a giant robot. There seem to be an underlying geek talk and indulges in mechanical theories that would’ve made the process of building a giant robot feel plausible. It could’ve utilized years of watching mecha anime felt plausible using certain ideas that could’ve gave the robot building story of the anime an air of legitimacy as well. The whole thing was badly handled though. Certain things are rushed and any talk about actually building the robot wasn’t really focused much. The anime just fast forwarded the whole process where you’d just see a big ass robot suddenly being built. It was balancing two stories so it shaved unnecessary stuff. I don’t feel the heart in the building story though. I call bullsh*t that monopoles just happened to work in the engine of the robot and the scale issue was fixed with no real explanation. I felt that Production IG thinks that the audience wouldn’t understand it. Doesn’t that just piss you off though?
The characters started out pretty nicely. They all had standout personalities and certain eccentric qualities to make them memorable. The nice dash of otakuism and craziness in the characters really gave the show a nice feel to it. The character dynamic in the first half was also pretty great. The members of the robotics club and their character dynamic were pretty fun to watch. You really want to see this group of misfits try and build their robot. The side stories were able to give some characters a decent transformation as well. They soon lost their purpose towards the second half though. Certain characters don’t really have a big role anymore so they are often just pushed to the side and new characters are then introduced. Basically, the characters are just tools for the story that it conviently drops when it doesn’t need them.
The main character is pretty disappointing. Kaito is a laid back guy that prefers to spend the rest of his life playing games. He doesn’t seem to fit the role of a hero in the anime that curiously poked his head through this he isn’t supposed to look in. Kaito just follow the tension of the anime. If the scene needs him to be a lazy ass then he’d be one, if it needs a cool heroic guy then he’s be one, if it needs a curious guy then he’ be one but he doesn’t seem to possess a quality of his own. He also lacked a thorough character development you’d expect from someone in his shoes. I can’t really cheer for a guy that seems to be unfazed after knowing the things he discovered. He isn’t like Okabe from Steins Gate that sweats cold sweat after all the f*cked up things he goes through and you can feel the burden he is in after the things he undergoes in. Kaito had the same opportunity to develop yet he doesn’t. He’s pathetic.
It could’ve been a whole lot better though. There are a lot of things that desperately needs an improvement because you can just feel that it had a lot more to offer. Some people equate the show to Guilty Crown, a subpar anime Production IG released last year slated in noitaminA as well. I can’t deny that fact. They share one common trait. They had potential and they wasted it. Despite the badly rushed story though, there is still a lot to enjoy the anime though. There are still some things that are nicely executed in the anime. Even though certain scenes aren’t given enough detail, it was still able to deliver some powerful moments. The first half is actually pretty good for what it’s worth. The characters are interesting and the two stories are pretty great. It’s a damn shame the second half couldn’t carry the show all the way.
Sight and Sound
The character design is pretty decent. The characters all have a nice look to them and some of them do stand out pretty nicely. The character design ranges from simple bishies to large type characters and even varying ages. I do love the hair design in some characters. The bright colors coupled by hairstyles gave the characters some unique looks to them. The uniform of the characters also look pretty good. The nice look of the characters nicely complements their personality as well and I like that in the anime.
The designs on the robots are pretty awesome. Production IG knows their stuff so I’m not really surprise. The hobby robots are nicely designed to give them a basic robotic look while the CG robots in Kill-Ballad are the typical mecha types that move like a person. The CG design nicely blended with the color of the anime so it hardly feels stiff. The large robots are also pretty great. They are like the small robots and have the same limitations.
The animation is pretty decent. There really aren’t a lot of standout scenes in terms of animation though. The standard movements are nicely animated and the facial expressions are smoothly transitioned. I think the Kill Ballad has the best scenes that truly made the animation look grand. The CG characters fighting were pretty great. The camera angle added depth and some effects gave the scenes some complexity. The later parts of the anime also had a decent animation to it that captured the big fight feel of the moment. The movements of the real life robots are pretty great though. It seems plausible that robots would move just like that if some amateurs built it.
The anime had Two OP. The first one is “Junjou Spectra” by Zwei. It’s a decent song. It does fit the anime nicely but it isn’t really that impressive. The verse seems to lack a bit of flare to it and the lead singer’s voice isn’t really that great. The chorus was nicely done tohugh with the great instrumental finish. The OP sequence features all the characters and some of the events slipped in a nice montage. The second OP is “Houkyou no Messiah” by HARUKI. It’s pretty much the same as the first OP. It only gets good once it hits the chorus and everything else sounds a bit plain. The OP sequence features all the characters, as well as the new ones, doing their morning routines. It features the characters just like the first OP sequence.
The anime also had two ED. The first one is “Umikaze no Brave” by fumika. This is a great song because fuimka’s voice is really amazing. She hits some nice high notes and the pace of the song is pretty nice to listen to. The ED sequence features Airi in some places being cute and stuff. Nothing really complicated about it. The second ED is “Topology” by Kanako Ito. This is my favorite song in the anime. It’s a slow song with nothing but Kanako’s voice giving the song character. Her voice is pretty amazing. The verse was lovely and the chorus was really amazing. It has a different emotion that the other songs. The ED sequence features the hobby robot of the club and then some shots of the characters.
5/10 “Wasted potential that sadly, we’ve seen expertly handled before.”
The anime had a lot more to offer but it fell short. The second half really ruined the anime because it couldn’t handle the amount of things it presented. The entire experience is hollow and a bit anticlimactic. There are some good points to the anime but the bad points are all too over whelming.