(12 episodes this Winter, 12 this Summer)
What’s it about ?
Fanservice-y mecha show.
Madoka, our teenage protagonist. She’s an honour member of basically every club in her high school (her schedule is a thing to behold), although she declined the honours of heading the Kendo Club and/or being the Student Council President because she prefers presiding the Sweats Club (whatever that is), despite being the only member of it. She’s the kind of person who jumps in to save a random swimmer drowning on her way to the school, and doesn’t think too much of it. It also happens that about a decade ago, she made a contract of some sort with the super-speshul mecha at the heart of the plot. (Her absent mother is strongly hinted to have been the previous pilot.)
Fin e Ld si Laffinty (aka “Lan”), the mysterious albino girl in swimsuit-like sci-fi clothes… oh, wait, she says almost immediately she’s an alien. Mystery solved, then. She shows up out of the blue to drag Madoka to the aforementioned mecha so that she can pilot it against another alien faction. The subtext is that she’s obviously taking advantage of Madoka’s generous (and slightly clueless) nature for her own ends.
Yoko, Madoka’s 20-something cousin, a scientist (?) who’s part of the human task force working with Lan’s alien faction. She’s entirely against Madoka piloting the mecha (this comes from a promise to Madoka’s mother). She’s rough and callous, but it’s obvious the two of them do love each others like true siblings.
The human task force operates out of a floating base cruising near the town Madoka lives in. Lan’s faction appears to only have a couple of envoys, while the other alien faction operates out of a spaceship and attacks because… er, I don’t really have a clue yet. It also looks like there’s only three of them.
This is a XEBEC show, which means a good amount of fanservice. It includes scenes such as Yoko randomly asking Madoka to strip (because the mark of her pilot powers or something is conveniently located on her butt cheek), or a gratuitous extended shower scene for Madoka. It really could be a lot worse, though : it’s a bit distracting and eye-rolling, but there’s nothing horrible (or worth being censored). Just know what you’re getting.
The good news is that this is a XEBEC sci-fi show with some ambition : the mecha fights look great, the background are gorgeous (wasn’t this half-sponsored by the Japanese district it takes place in ?), and the body language of the characters is well-animated. This show obviously has quite some budget behind it. Almost a shame to watch this first episode in eyebleed-o-vision instead of the proper broadcast next week.
What did I think of it ?
This is about what I was expecting : a fun little mecha show that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I feel this is very similar to Stellvia of the Universe : the characters aren’t very deep, but pleasant to see interacting with each other ; the setup is mildly interesting (I like the idea that Madoka was only brought in because they need her to boot the mecha up, and the actual piloting is done remotely by a team of professionals… well, until Madoka takes matters in hand), and, well, it’s just a fun show.
I don’t expect this to be among the best shows of the season, but it’s quite enjoyable indeed.