Original Run: 2004-2005
Number of Episodes: 26
Hello and welcome to the very first Mechanime review! Every once in while, I will watch and review an anime show featuring mecha (read: giant robots).
Keep in mind, this isn’t a review of the entire show. I usually watch watch the first 6 or 7 episodes to get a general idea of what the show is. If I like the show enough, I will follow up with more reviews. With that out of the way, let’s get to our first show: Genesis of Aquarion.
Yes, I have an entire category for the opening of the show, but for a good reason. The opening for any show is extremely important. The opening’s job is to convince the viewer to stay and watch. A mediocre opening won’t give the viewer a good first impression, regardless of how good the actual show is.
With that said, Genesis of Aquarion has a pretty darn good opening. The song, “Sousei no Aquarion”, is different from many mecha openings. Usually mecha openings try to pump up the viewer for future action. However, Aquarion’s opening is much more hopeful and focuses more on beauty rather than flash. While its not my favorite opening number, its certainly is unique amongst its counterparts.
|These are the bad guys. You can tell by the spooky lighting and the fact that they wish to harvest humanity.|
In ancient times, the Earth was invaded by the Shadow Angels, a mysterious force looking to harvest humanity for its energy source, or prana. Their victory was assured until their best warrior, Apollonius, fell in love with a woman human, Seliane. Together they beat back the Shadow Angels with the legendary fighting machine Aquarion. 12,000 years later, the Shadow Angels have returned, hoping to harvest humanity’s prana and repopulate the Earth with their kind. Earth’s only hope is Deava, an organization that combats the Shadow Angels with mechs based on the original Aquarion. However, the only people who can pilot Aquarion are elements, people with special powers such as pyrokinesis and PSI.
Honestly, I think the story is one of Aquarion’s strengths. Its relatively unique amongst all the alien invasion stories that mecha anime usually have. It draws influence from Gospel, Greek mythos, and Hinduism for an interesting universe. The story also manages to tell a linear narrative and still be easy to understand, which is an accomplishment in my book. If you can make your epic story easy to follow and understand, then you're much more likely to keep your audience’s interest. It also saves time, as I don’t have to constantly rewind just to remember who a character is or what the hell is going on.
|From front going clockwise: Apollo, Sirius, Tsugumi, Reika, Jun, Gen Fudo, Rena, Sophia, Jerome, Chloe, Kirk, Pierre, and Silvia. Phew.|
Aquarion has no shortage of characters. There’s Apollo, a wild boy who might be the reincarnation of Apollonius; Silvia, tan element and reincarnation of Seliane; Sirius, Silvia’s brother and prince of Alicia; and Gen Fudo, the mysterious leader of Deava. Each of these characters possess some form of uniqueness (Apollo especially), but honestly, many of the characters felt derivative. That is not to say they aren’t worth investing into; the major characters are still interesting enough to care about. However there were many times where I thought, “I’ve seen this character type done before,” which is not bad in and of itself as long as the writing is good enough. Unfortunately…
...this isn’t written particularly well. The writing of Aquarion is definitely the weak link of the show, which is not a good thing. The best way to describe it is forced: the script forces development, forces conflict, forces romance, and forces Gen to spout pieces of wisdom that isn’t that even wise or profound. The dialogue can be stilted and even silly at times. The writing unremarkable and is rarely genuine. I’m not saying the writing is terrible, but it isn’t particularly exceptional either, and it drags down the product as a whole.
|3D: when regular old 2D doesn't produce awesome enough results.|
One thing that’s notable about Aquarion is its use of CG. The mechs and the Shadow Angel’s monsters are animated in CG, not traditional 2D anime style. And for a 10 year old television show, the 3D animation is pretty good. It may be a little stiff, but it still flows and looks appealing. The 2D animation is nothing to sneeze at either. Character designs are polished and the environments look astounding. Aquarion is a clean looking anime; maybe even a great looking one.
Mecha and Fight Scenes
|Left to right: Aquarion Lunar, Solar, and Mars|
At this point I should mention that the anime’s director, Shoji Kawamori, is no stranger to mecha. In fact, he has designed every single variable fighter (mechs that can transform into jets) in the official Macross series. So it would make sense that the titular mech of this anime is made up of three jets. The jets can combine into three different versions of Aquarion: Solar, which has extendable fists; Lunar, which utilizes a bow, and Mars, which uses a sword. The combination sequences themselves are fun to watch, but it is weird that the combination involves the pilots getting an orgasm-like pleasure (Silvia sometimes shouts phrases like “it feels so good” during some combination sequences- I’m not kidding).
Regardless, the mecha look colorful and sleek, each packing a ton of special techniques. These come in handy when fighting the Shadow Angels’ monster of the week. The fight scenes themselves are short but sweet, featuring some ridiculously flashy attacks (whose names are screamed by the pilots, of course) and enough explosions to keep you interested without going overboard. One of my favorite fights had Aquarion Solar punching a monster to the moon. You know, to make sure it was dead.
Sub or Dub
Subbed. The Japanese voice actors are just more passionate. The English dub isn’t terrible, but it isn’t great either.
Genesis of Aquarion has a great setup and creative universe that can easily hook you. Its art style is great and its use of CG for fight scenes is more than adequate. However, the writing is nothing special, which drags down the product and sometimes makes it hard to invest into the show. Aquarion is worth a shot if you like mecha, but I can’t really recommend it either.
6/10- Slightly above average