What’s it about ?
This adapts a Playstation RPG videogame. The overall plotline is classic “vaguely governmental agency recruits superpowered teens to fend off alien invasion” fare, with the oddity that it’s set in 1969, with Japan still busy rebuilding itself after WWII.
Shun, our protagonist, is your typical teenage hothead, angry at his dad for getting himself killed and leaving Mom with a serious case of depression and two brats to feed. Aside from that, he’s quite a decent dude, getting on well with the supportive neighbours. He’s the kind of guy who refuses a place on the kendo team (and the potential scholarship attached) because he’s rather start working part-time right now and put some food on the family table. On the other hand, he instantly loses points for constantly comparing his life to a sports manga. (Which is too cute to be funny the first time around, and gets more aggravating as it goes on).
Ruriko is the first superpowered teenage agent of A.E.G.I.S. (the good guys), but they hope to recruit more down the line. Her core powers involve healing, but as that’s not enough she can also channel them to fire white arrows of death at the enemy. Her mission here is to escort a bus transporting some big macguffin, and of course it goes sideways just as Shun happens to be passing by. Obviously he had dormant powers, and after she kickstarts them he’s able to destroy the immediate threat. (Also, he then realizes they were neighbours ten years ago, because what’s one more gratuitous plot contrivance at this point ?)
I’m not really sure how the logistics of the alien invasion work out. Apparently they’ve infiltrated every layer of society and are ALL THE ASSHOLES ? (The punk harassing honest business-owners, the boss firing his secretary after having his fun, and so on…) But then they all go out in bright daylight, transform, and combine into a massive black ball of weaponry that attacks the goodies ? The heck ?
The OP & ED sequences showcase a few more members of this nascent teenage brigade, but they’ve yet to show up. This first episode is busy enough already, after all.
Unfortunately, this is a production which lacks the budget (and maybe the visual creativity) to support its ambition. Everything looks slightly too cheaply animated, and way too often the director substitutes a dutch angle or a random close-up on eyes for actual movement. (And not in the aesthetically pleasing way Akiyuki Shinbo has become famous for.)
And of course, a good chunk of the character designs (especially Ruriko’s “modern” student uniform) look completely out of place for what starts as a period piece.
I think I can see what this is going for. Rather than taking itself seriously, it’s a madcap romp that keeps upping the batshit insanity. Of course none of this makes any sense ; who needs coherence when the good guys have a tourist bus (with their elite field agent as the guide) that can convert into a super-armoured tank, chased by a big ball of combined aliens ? This is stream-of-consciousness delirium.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t click for me. Part of it is the clash between the madness and the relatively grounded world surrounding Shun at the start ; the show can’t quite pull off the contrast. Indeed, the set pieces often feel like they’re missing the design sense needed to really bring them to life. And then, there’s the protagonist who actively drags my enjoyment down whenever he shows up.
As a concept, nice try ; too bad the execution is so lacking, and discouraging me from pursuing it any further.