Review: Robotics;Notes

Hey, Kaushik here with a new anime review. This week it’s Robotics;Notes, another anime adaptation of a 5pb. game like Chaos;head and Steins;gate before it. It originally aired in October of 2012, and ran from 22 episodes ending in March the following year. I’ll be reviewing the Blu-ray release of the series, both the subtitled version in original Japanese audio, and the English dub to the series. Without further ado, let’s go~

Robotics;notes Title

A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment

If you’re familiar with the other 5pb. works in-universe, Chaos;head and Steins;gate, you might be somewhat surprised by Robotics;notes. The most apparent thing at first is the difference in tone between the Robotics;notes and the other series. While the other two shows got somewhat heavy and quite dramatic fairly quickly, the same is not true for Robotics;notes. That being said, there is a fair bit of drama, but it’s not nearly as intense as the other shows were. The plot for the show is actually fairy simple at first. The main character, Yashio Kaito, and his best friend, Senomiya Akiho, are part of the Robotics Research Club at their school. While Kaito isn’t particularly motivated (except maybe by his desire to be near Akiho), Akiho’s dream is to build a functioning giant robot. A dream left to her by her older sister, who has since left the island that Akiho and Kaito currently live on.

And that’s it, really. One of the major concepts involved in this show is the idea “What if you tried to build a giant robot in real life?”. Of course, this show takes place in the near future so some of the technology can be slightly forgiven, but for the most part it’s grounded in reality. This is evident when the first build of their giant robot hits the field, as it’s a giant clunker of a machine that can barely move. Much to the laughter of the gathered audience, of course. Things escalate from this point, of course. Other plot lines are brought into the mix, including a conspiracy that threatens the entire world.

Robotics;notes Game Cover

There are a few obvious issues I know other people had with this show. Some of these I share, some I don’t. Let’s start with one I share. Particularly, the conspiracy theory plot line that takes center stage a few episodes into the series. The reveals and climax for this plot line were fairly weak. The ambitions and motivations behind the main villain were poorly explained, and certain details leading to his current state during the course of the series made little sense. Additionally, there were some attempts near the end to bring together some certain events in order to provide them some context in the greater scope of the show. This also was poorly done and instead of a smooth transition between events leading to a single satisfying conclusion, you are left with some singular events with the barest of loose ends tying them together.

That being said, there was one common complaint I heard that I had very few problems with personally. Specifically how robots were handled in show. A lot of people seemed to be under the assumption that the show didn’t quit deliver on the cool robot action that was somewhat promised over the course of the show. Either via the opening themes or actions by certain characters throughout the show. Honestly I really enjoyed the pace at which they handled robot development. There were a lot of trials and tribulations involved in the Robot Research Club’s building process. Some things were sacrificed, some things were gained. In fact, I’d consider everything throughout the series as a sort of “build-up” to the climax of the series, which is something of a vindication for everything Akiho went through. The fight in the final episode is definitely the top moment in the series for me.

The characters

The characters

The characters in Robotics;notes were one of the most enjoyable parts of the series. The somewhat stiff but obviously close relationship between the two main characters, Akiho and Kaito was very well-done. Kaito as a character has a first impression of being incredibly lazy. He’s more into his tablet’s robot fighting video game Kill Ballad more than doing anything else in life. Still, over the course of the show it becomes incredibly evident how passionate of a person Kaito is, in protecting the people he loves and doing what he thinks is right. The disconnect between his normal disinterested personality and his passionate one that appears when he’s needed is great and I enjoy it. Akiho on the other hand can be seen as the perfect foil for Kaito. Where Kaito is disinterested most of the time, Akiho is spirited and excitable. She’s very driven, as well. She’s somewhat haunted by living in her sister’s shadow, a theme that plays out through the course of the series. Akiho’s greatest motivation is finishing the robot started by her sister, who was also in the Robot Research Club, and this goal drives her during the entire series. She pushes Kaito to do things he otherwise might not do, and the two of them together make for a very strong pair.

What you expect the robot to look like

What you expect the robot to look like

Of course there are other characters in the series, but I found Kaito and Akiho the two strongest. In addition to them are the other members of the Robot Research Club, Hidaka Subaru, Furugori Kona, and Daitoku Junna. While they are enjoyable characters, their personal story arcs are not as interesting or even as important as both Akiho and Kaito. Both Subaru and Junna are actually quite unrelated to the main plot at hand, whereas the link between Kona and the conspiracy plot revealed later is tenuous at best. It’s one of those loose links I mentioned earlier on. Of course, one of the last main characters is Akiho’s sister, Senomiya Misaki. For a few reasons, she doesn’t appear much during most of the series, but the idea of her character and what she represents to both Akiho and Kaito is very much important to the development of those characters and the plot in general. Of course, she does appear later on in a fairly major role, and that’s important as well. As for how her character is handled, it’s difficult to say because due to certain plot considerations, she doesn’t have much of a personality. Personally I think her character was handled somewhat poorly, if only because the plot reasons behind her character were weak.

What it actually is

What it actually is

As far as the art and animation are concerned, I really enjoyed the art from the series. Considering all of the 5pb. game anime adaptations were done by different studios, putting Studio I.G. in charge of Robotics;notes was a strong decision. They have a strong history with anime and the quality shows in Robotics;notes. The animation isn’t very impressive since there isn’t much to animate early on. But the final fight is done really well and is one of the coolest parts of the series animation-wise.

The music is also pretty good in this show. The BGM kicks in pretty strong in just the right moments, and stays casual and cool when it needs to be. The first opening and ending themes are “Junjou Spectra” and “Umikaze no Brave” by Zwei and Fumika, respectively. They are okay songs, but I really prefer the second opening and ending themes. “Houkyou no Messiah” and “Topology” are the opening and ending themes, by Haruki and Itou Kanako respectively. I know Itou Kanako for her work in Steins;gate, so it’s cool to see her do something for Robotics;notes as well. Definitely a very good song.

Pros:

— I love the main characters and the developments they go through

— The more realistic take on robots is nice

Cons:

— The major plot of the show is poorly done and loosely tied together

Rating: 4/5

rating40

Miscellaneous details:
Studio: Studio I.G.
Director: Kazura Nomura
Original Character design: Tomonori Fukuda
Music: Asami Tachibana, Takeshi Abo, Yuuki Hayashi
Original creator: Chiyomaru Shikura (game)
Original run: October 11, 2012 – March 21, 2013

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Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

Kaushik

I write about anime and stuff. Giant robots are pretty cool, too.

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