Hello everyone, this week I’ll be covering the last of the three mecha shows that premiered this season. Last week, I covered Gargantia, and how I thought it was off to a pretty good start. Specifically, I mentioned it might wind up becoming one of the few boy meets girl shows I’ll wind up liking. Up this week is Valvrave the Liberator, a new original series by Sunrise. Written by Code Geass’ Ichiro Okouchi, I immediately knew Valvrave would likely be pretty entertaining. The real question is if it’ll turn out to be written legitimately well, even with its supposed entertainment value.
Valvrave is pretty interesting, because it’s in many ways just like a Gundam series. In fact, were you to rename the show “Gundam Valvrave”, I’m sure you’ll find it to be the most generic Gundam ever. I guess Sunrise realized that and decided not to call it a Gundam show after all. Still, that doesn’t stop me from comparing Valvrave to your standard Gundam. For the purposes of these impressions, I will compare Valvrave to Gundam Seed (ironic because Seed itself was infamous for recycling a number of plot elements).
They both take place in a universe with two major super powers, and are initially set on the world of a neutral nation. One of these superpowers invades the neutral nation to steal a top secret mech they’ve been working on. The main character, a student at an academy located on this neutral world, stumbles upon this mech as conflict rages around him. Said student fends off aggressors, but not before conflict spreads to the point where he’s forced to continue piloting the mech against the invaders in the future.
Sound familiar? Because that’s what the first twenty minutes of Valvrave are like. Only at the very end of the first episode does it distinguish itself… by introducing a supernatural element akin to the one found in Code Geass. Now I’m not going to say Valvrave is unoriginal, as the observations I just made could likely just be stretches on my part, but it’s not hard to see where Valvrave draws influence from.
Admittedly, the second episode is a lot more entertaining than the first, but the show’s already starting to look pretty sketchy. Both the plot and characters seem all over the place, without any sort of direction. In many ways, rather than go for any sort of realism, it seems character and plot development are more interested in going for spectacle. For instance, the main character goes through two or three character transformations in just the second episode, emerging with an almost entirely different personality every time.
Visually, Valvrave may be the most interesting of the three mecha shows. It has the most pleasant character designs, and the mechanical aspects are very captivating. Soldiers who fight against the main mech uttered being in awe at the strange light it produces, and I find myself agreeing with them. The light it produces is functionally not unlike the light produced by light cycles in Tron, where it is used for both offensive and defensive purposes. It lends well to the idea that the main mech is dancing around the battlefield, making it seem almost believable. This alone should make for some pretty interesting, if not unusual fights.
Like Gundam Seed and Code Geass before it, Valvrave is an over the top experience, with highly exaggerated plot and character development (thumbs up to the voice actors for this, by the way!). I’m perhaps being too hard Valvrave, though. After all, I came in expecting a possible train wreck, and from what I’m seeing, I might actually get one. Train wrecks aren’t necessarily completely terrible, either, because they’re almost always highly entertaining. Being a train wreck means Valvrave won’t be winning any points for legitimately good writing of course, but at the end of the day, if it entertains, I’ll be satisfied.
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