#36 : Vandread

(13 episodes, + 13 for the second half a year later)

What’s it about ?

Space opera. With a literal war of the sexes ! For a few generations there’s been a complete separation between the Male Empire and its female counterpart, with enough hysterical propaganda to keep the war going for a while.

Characters

Hibiki, our protagonist. A third-class citizen in the Male Empire, his job involves building parts for mecha. He made the foolhardy bet with his co-workers/bullies that he could steal a completed and brand new mecha from the cargo hold of the warship about to join the front ; and he might have gotten away with it if the jingoistic commander-in-chief hadn’t ordered a launch two hours ahead of schedule. On the other hand, he’s resourceful enough for an attack of the female forces on the ship to be enough to spring himself out of the brig. (Into a warship full of female shock troops easily overpowering the taken-by-surprise male crew, but them’s the breaks.)

Other noteworthy members of the crew include the cowardly heir of the Food Company (more interested in shilling his crap than acting like a real soldier), and a tall loner who makes a point of peacefully engaging their captors (“I’m a doctor”) and looks like he’s got an agenda.

Dita is a pilot amongst the female forces who crashes her fighter halfway into the starship (oops). She then runs into Hibiki, whom she seems to be trying to catch as a pet. (The language barrier seems a bit inconsistent ; those two clearly don’t understand each other, and only a few elite female soldiers can decypher male script ; on the other hand, the female troops don’t seem to have too much trouble handling their prisoners…)

And then the male commander-in-chief triggers the warship’s self-destruction (from the half of it that safely detached itself) ; most of the female forces manage to evacuate in time, but Hibiki, Dita and a couple of her teammates get sucked into a space wedgie…

Production Values

Fairly impressive. The CG integration looks a bit clunky nowadays, but it isn’t too distracting, and the traditional animation shows off some good cartooning skills, with tons of little gags always happening in the background.

It’s thus a bit disappointing that, under their entirely sensible and suitably alien-looking spacesuits, the female soldiers wear weirdly fan-servicey clothes.

Overall Impression

Wow. This is a dense first episode, introducing its premise and a good number of characters while still moving the plot along at a brisk pace ; it’s also packed to the gills with world-building. (For example, there’s a throwaway line between male extras that suggests they can somehow have children together ; this is a stark contrast with the female “let’s capture some dudes” tactics, which itself is clearly at odds with the Male Empire’s propaganda that demonizes females so much I can’t see it having the same needs. There’s just so much implied about this universe’s bizarre politics in all this, I’m really curious.)

As a result, the episode sometimes devolves into montage, such as this curious scene where the screens behind Hibiki broadcast a flashback of his as he’s busy infiltrating the warship. It feels like something from a Shinbo anime, symbolic and weirdly surreal… and hey, if it helps making the exposition more fun and visually interesting, I’m all for this kind of thing. You just go along with it ; it’s not as though the show is particularly realistic anyway. I get the impression it’s something of an indictment of modern Japanese jingoistic politics… because like all good S-F, it’s more interested in commenting on the present than predicting the future.

As you can probably guess, I found this lovely. It’s not flawless, but there’s enough going on here to keep me enthalled. And, you know, it’s very funny indeed.

Source: [In Which I Review] Anime series from 2000 – Page 10

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Jhiday

I've been kinda blogging about anime for years... but mostly on forums (such as RPG.net's Tangency) and other sites. This site is an archive for all that stuff, just in case.

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