Hey, Kaushik here for another anime review. This time it’s the FUNimation blu-rays of Aquarion EVOL, particularly the dub. The original series aired from January to June 2012. It’s a sequel to the 2005 Genesis of Aquarion. It was produced by the studio Satelight, who, among doing the original Aquarion show, also did such shows as Macross Frontier, Basquash, and the more recent Log Horizon. My perspective on this show going in isn’t particularly positive considering my opinions on the original Aquarion series. The plot was somewhat meandering and not very interesting, and the robot action was okay at best. The characters were somewhat likeable, but not all that great. Luckily Aquarion EVOL does a little better in some regards. Without further ado, let’s dig in~
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment
The story of Aquarion EVOL is kind of hard to approach seriously, even if you are familiar with the original television series. Luckily, this series is definitely watchable without having watched Genesis of Aquarion. I would say that having watched the original Aquarion series is more of a supplement than required watching. There are certain aspects of this show that would be a little clearer, or additional information appreciated. This show can definitely stand on its own merits (thought not very tall), and everything in the show is somewhat adequately explained.
The basic premise of the series is that the planet of Vega, where most of the main characters reside, are under attack by aliens from the planet Altair. The reasoning for these attacks and a more detailed plot is explored as the series continues, but the first reason is that Altair is a planet of men, and doesn’t have women. Thus they attack Vega and seek to kidnap their women, for obvious reasons. Thinking about it logically, it sounds perfectly normal. After all, a race of all men is doomed to extinction. But the concept of a planet of alien men assaulting another planet for their women, especially in a show like this with some pretty prominent fan service, well, it’s just a little funny and ridiculous.
The main defense force of the planet Vega are these giant robots called Aquarions. They are formed by 3 pilot teams, and all the pilots are teenagers from a special academy of these pilots, called “Elements”. Traditionally on Vega the males and females were not allowed to mix, or even pilot together, due to certain restrictions, but that rule is quickly thrown out as the power of certain co-ed Element combinations become necessary for Vega to repel Altair. These Aquarion mechs from Vega fight the various mecha monstrosities of Altair as they fight to defend their home world (and women).
Aquarion Evol’s characters felt fairly hit or miss. Most of the main characters unfortunately were something of a miss. Since one of the major themes of this series is the concept of reincarnation and the idea of living out the purpose of your reincarnated life, I felt like the characters involved in that theme were somewhat bland. This includes the main hero, Amata Sora, the main heroine, Mikono Suzushiro, and one of the main antagonists, Kagura Demuri. The three of them are caught up in this ancient story of reincarnation and love dating back to the original Aquarion series. Since the original series takes places 2000 years before this one, it is mostly known in Aquarion EVOL’s world in the form of an old movie.
However, some of the side characters and relationships are entertaining. Particularly the characterization of Zessica Wong, and the side characters Yunoha Thrull and Jin Muso. I also like how Shrade Elan is handled. Unfortunately, other than Zessica these are all side characters, though they do get their own time in the spotlight for a few episodes. I like Zessica’s role as a counterpart to the idea of reincarnation and destiny in the form of Mikono. Unfortunately she just can’t win. The relationship between Yunoha and Jin is handled very well, and a strong early story plot. Unfortunately, I also consider that to be one of the high points of the series, which doesn’t speak well for the rest of the series unfortunately.
The problem with Aquarion Evol is not the early story, as it establishes itself somewhat well and combines multiple story arcs, some with decent emotional impact, to a strong effect. Unfortunately, as the story continues on and various plot threads become unraveled, some of the character focus is either lost or shifted. Moreover, I didn’t enjoy the main characters of the show, so in the latter half of the series where they really took the spotlight, it became much harder to appreciate the show. The concept of Mikono, Amata, and Kagura are just bland. While they struggle against the bonds of their destiny somewhat, it feels worthless by the end as Mikono and Amata more or less settle for destiny regardless. As a result it feels like no real progress is made in their relationships.
One aspect of the show I really loved was the settings used, particularly early on in the show. The city for the beginning of the show, called Neo Kowloon, is a gorgeous set piece. Unfortunately outside of the early episodes, the city isn’t used as much. And most of the other set pieces aren’t quite as pretty. The character designs are also fairly strong. Everyone looks unique and varied, and I love the designs of Kagura, Zessica, and Zen Fudou. Each character’s design speaks pretty well for their character’s personality and temperaments, which works well for a series of many characters.
I didn’t much care for the CGI mech action though. I really disliked it as it was airing, though I will concede that the blu-ray release cleans it up quite a bit and it looks fairly passable. Personally I’ve never been fond of CGI mecha though; it always looked out of place and ugly to me. Maybe when CGI reaches a higher state in anime I’ll appreciate more.
The last point I’d like to make for this show, and probably my strongest point in favor of the series I’ll make: the music. I love the music of Aquarion EVOL, particularly the vocal stuff. So the opening/ending themes, and the various insert songs, of which there are many. Nearly all of them are performed by the same group, AKINO & bless4, and I think they put on a really strong performance. AKINO also did some of the music of the original Aquarion series, and it was by far the best part of that show too. It can be somewhat disappointing when my favorite aspect of a show is the music, but it really is that good here.
— Some strong characters
— Good character designs
— Great music
— Gorgeous city backdrop, for a few episodes
— Main characters are boring
— Not a fan of CGI mecha
— Plot loses focus a lot near the end
Chief Director: Shoji Kawamori
Character design: Chinatsu Kurahana, Kana Ishida
Music: Ayako Otsuka, Yoko Kanno
Original air: January 8, 2012 – June 24, 2012
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