Post 500: Three new shows beginning with A!

We have a sequel to Aquarion, called Aquarion EVOL. I don’t know if we really need this. The original series gave us plenty of action, romance and silliness, and had a satisfactory ending. It’s been, what, seven years since it aired. But in EVOL, twelve thousand have passed. Okay, I guess that’s long enough.

Like Fate/Zero, the first episode is two-in-one, I guess in order to fully establish the epicness of the story. But Fate/Zero’s two-parter spent a lot of time setting its dour mood along with the story. Aquarion’s feels like your average first episode, extended for extra fighting. And so we watch a lot of scenes meant to introduce characters and their relationships and status. First, our heroes, Amata and Mikono, both self-proclaimed “nothings” who meet at the movie theatre where Amata works, and where he apparently watches an “Aquaria” movie over and over. And forebodings, such as the weird vision Amata has of what has to be Sylvie, and the fact that he wears weights in his boots and tends to glow from time to time. Then we meet Zessica, who wears very little beneath her choir robes and who we learn has bonded with “Aquaria” four times already. Then it’s over to the boys side to see military training and meet Andy (comic relief) and Cayenne (think Sirius without the breeding). We learn that boys and girls doing the Aquaria training are strictly divided. For them to come together would be impure, making this future world more depressing than it was 12,000 years ago, but we’re just getting started.

Everyone in their pretty little town with gigantic Aquaria cathedral are worried about the “Abductors” raiding other towns and snatching people. Sure enough, we get an attack. We meet some of the bad guys, especially Kakura, a red-haired pilot who moves like an animal and talks about the smell of things, just like Apollo used to do in the old series. The ramifications to that are very interesting. There are probably more of these references, but it’s been 12,000, sorry 4 years since I netflixed the original. Kakura’s in a new type of robot that the good guys can’t handle, and the situation is so dire that they decide to let the boy and girl pilots fight in the same battlefield (amusing “Ride of the Valkyres” style music when the girls join in). Alas, with their seperate training and inability to touch, their teamwork is something to be desired. And they touch anway. You remember what the original Aquarion connection scenes were like? Then you get the idea.

Zessica can only grimace.

All we have to do now is get Amata and Mikono into the battle. Threatened by Kakura (who smells something) and crushed beneath a angel statue’s fallen wing which would have killed damn near anyone, he manages to fly with Mikono away and right into a Vector-Z craft. The subsequent battle takes too long. Zessica and Cayenne have to join in so they can both help and bicker at Amata, while Mikono whimpers on his lap, while Amata, after all, doesn’t even know how to pilot the damn thing. But soon they’re hurtling through space (whee!) and the bad guys are drawn back to their world, a postindustrial ruin that makes you pine for that tree of life the first series had. Okay, they’ve set up plenty for the future. Amata has found some inner strength, but Mikono so far is as “useless” as she claims. Cayenne hates Amata because Mikono likes Amata. Just like old times. The battle scenes look fine, and the music works for the most part. Fans of the old show will find plenty to discuss, or giggle about. I wasn’t a big fan, so this first episode didn’t have the same emotional oomph that it might for others, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with it so far.

P.A. Works’ latest offering, Another, sets a mood from the start and never quite lets go. We have Kouichi Sakakibara, a boy transferring from Tokyo to a middle school in the country, but we also have a voice-over talking about a girl named Misaki who died in 9th grade class 3 26 years ago. And before Kouichi can even enter school he’s hospitalized with a collapsed lung. Reps from his future class are kind enough to visit him.

Meet Kouichi's new classmates ... from 9th grade class 3.

Yep, they’re a cheery lot. And when Sakakibara recovers enough to enter school his classmates seem to have no life at all. We learn later that they associate his name with death, and an atmosphere of sickness and decay permeates the entire school, hell, the entire show. Apart from Sakakibara, we meet Takabayashi, who has a heart condition, and even class rep Sakuragi has a sprained ankle, though that’s probably more of a plot device to get her and Sakakibara together on the sidelines during PE. And then there’s this girl:

What it all means to Sakakibara remains to be seen. The entire class knows something and they’re not telling him, or us. But there’s no shocking moment (Even when Misaki says her name we have already guessed it), no crisis at the end. The show seems content with setting its mood for now and not actually showing us anything, apart from the creepy dolls they flash to in the middle of scenes. They do a good job. At one point they have your typical “students surround transfer student during a break and ask him friendly questions” scene, but the words don’t match who’s talking, and it suggests that this is all a superficial layer over what is REALLY going on. The entire episode does clever things like this. The sequence of scenes, the cuts, the inspired use of noises in the hospital basement scene, makes it all creepy enough that they don’t need any more–for now. Good first episode.

So we’ve a grand far-future space opera, a moody suspense piece, and now we have Ano Natsu de Matteru, which is … damned if I know. We start with Kai, high school wuss with funny hair, testing some movie film when a big something crashes down, knocks him over the bridge and nearly kills him if not for that soft hand that grabs him. Then he wakes up. Reality or series metaphor? we ask. Meanwhile the show meanders along. Beautiful red-haired transfer student (and another “interview the new kid” scene), Kai’s friends, planning a movie … Kai is so dull that the show loses interest in him and we follow Ichika, the redhead, for awhile. There’s something weird about her, but her new classmate Remon is equally weird, so we don’t think too much about it. When we get back to Kai he’s having adolescent fantasies while his friends try to figure out what that mark is doing on his neck …

… oh, and now a whole bunch of people are helping with his home movie, and he also somehow invites homeless Ichika to stay with him. But what will his older sister think? Oh boy, another hide-the-girl-from-the-relatives scene. What’s worse, Kai’s hicky attacks him! What can Ichika do?

Why, get caught by his sister kissing him while wearing nothing but a towel in an energy field, that's all.

What on earth IS this thing? We got high school romance, sci-fi, and some strange spiritual vibes as well. What’s up for episode two? A girl with an eyepatch? Well, okay, in the world of anime none of this is new (sadly), just the show’s handling of it. Or mishandling. On the other hand, I’m interested in what Ichika is and why she’s there, and the rest of the side characters have good points. Kai might be the weak link. He’s just not that interesting. We’ll see.

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