I’ve seen three new shows so far. Star Driver is definitely the trippiest.
It doesn’t start that way. The opening, where betrothed couple Sugata and Wako are walking on the night beach, discussing their future, is more whimsical. Wako says she smells a boy, and there he is thirty feet away. Turns out he’s Takuto, a new student who missed the ferry and decided to swim to the island to make the opening day’s classes, so we know there’s something odd about him already. The subsequent first day of school scenes are relatively normal, with hints of mystery. Sugata’s father painted a painting in the school. Takuto keeps muttering things to his not-present grandfather. Meanwhile I’m happily watching, watching it unfold, trying to piece it together, wondering why the students are forbidden to sneak past a fence to an old gold mine—that’s a brier-patch temptation if ever I heard one. Then they give the weirdness knob a couple turns.
Let’s see, there’s a captive North Maiden (oh, Wako is the South Maiden. Sugata tells Takuto this as if it was the most normal thing in the world, like Wako played violin; Takuto doesn’t bat an eye), and a guy in a mask, or maybe it was the robots, who do something to her … steal her powers perhaps. Later they have her sing. They’re trying to level up another robot, or maybe it’s the same one. Why they’re doing it I have no clue, but it gets in my head that there’s probably only four Maidens on that island and they just used up one of them.
Takuto, still muttering about his grandfather, tries to break in and is captured. It seems he has more reason to go to school on that island than just experiencing the joys of youth like he keeps saying. I suspect his grandfather is the reason, and much of the story will be him figuring out what happened to him. Anyway, the bad guys have Wako and are going for another level up, and the creators turn up the weirdness knob again. Takuto breaches the giant robot’s dimension, or something, which he shouldn’t be able to do, turns into “Galactic Pretty Boy,” heh, and the robots duke it out.
Boy howdy! This show not only juggles anime tropes with the best of them but it’s the wildest eye candy I’ve seen in a while. They slam all sorts of visual styles together, sometimes just for a split second. Add that to the fact that one episode in we have no idea what’s going on and I left the viewing punch-drunk. It remains to be seen whether the convoluted world they’ve created will hold up or collapse under its own weight, but at least it’ll look pretty.