Star Driver is a 2010 anime series by Studio Bones. Usually their stuff is pretty good (e.g. Wolf’s Rain), so I went into this series with high hopes. Unfortunately, this series is anything but good. It does have some good animation quality and interesting character designs, but that’s about all it has going for it. The story is incredibly half-assed. A douchey kid named Takuto, who calls himself the “Galactic Pretty Boy” (that should tell you something about his sexual orientation), washes ashore on a mysterious island. Immediately, he enrolls in school and gets embroiled in mecha battles with the other students.
They all pilot giant robots, and battle in a parallel dimension. No one is ever killed in the battles, so there is never any tension in these fights. The reasons for the battles, the motivations of the characters, the origins of the mecha, and the way the mecha function are all known to the characters. However, the series does not explain any of this to the audience until the last episode. Basically, they are trying to make everything mysterious and keep the viewers hooked in. Sadly, this doesn’t lend intrigue to the show. All it does is piss you off because you’re being kept out of the loop of a secret everyone else is aware of.
The mecha are French-inspired and have puffy hair bouffants, frilly dress-like appendanges coming out of their asses, and high heels. Also, there is a HUGE amount of recycled animation. Every episode we see the same fucking opening battle sequences/transformations. Now, this practice was considered OK in 1997 when Revolutionary Girl Utena aired, but it is no longer acceptable by today’s standards. I’m sorry, Star Driver, but this is not 1997 and you are not Utena. The show also has a ridiculously huge cast, so large that everyone ends up barely explored, left one-dimensional, and utterly devoid of interest. It’s the same problem that plagued RahXephon. Well that, and it was essentially an Evangelion rip-off.
Star Driver farts along blandly until the final episode when all the mysteries are explained, there is a final battle, and the show suddenly ends without any denoument. A typical shitty, rushed ending from Japan. I think what is most frustrating about Star Driver is that it could have been good, but they squandered every opportunity.
The last time I reviewed a series directed by Akiyuki Shinbo was when I wrote about Bakemonogatari. That boring piece of shit was dreadful. He improved his skills with Madoka Magica, but overall I haven’t been too impressed with his body of work. One of his earlier titles is a 2001 anime titled The SoulTaker.
This anime makes no goddamn sense. The main character, Kyosuke, is living a normal life when he is unexpectedly murdered by his mother. He is immediately resurrected and obtains the ability to transform into a monster called The SoulTaker. The majority of the series features him trying to find his long lost twin sister Runa, and fighting against the evil Kirihara Hospital organization and his father. That’s about the most coherent summary I can give of the show. The rest of it is incoherent.
At first you think this is a show with a supernatural bent, what with all the crosses and religious imagery. But then you learn that Kyosuke can turn into The SoulTaker because he’s actually a mutant. But that turns out to not be true because Kyosuke is really an alien. The same is true for Runa. There is some crazy incest stuff where Runa wants to kill all humans because they are “Devils”, and she wants to marry her brother Kyosuke. Somehow she was split into a bunch of fragments called “Flickers” and Kyosuke has to fight them. Also, Kyosuke had two mothers, and his father tied his soul to his mother and if one of them dies then the other one dies too. There is some weird cat-girl nurse who follows Kyosuke around. Oh, and of course, the finale takes place on the Moon.
If anyone can tell me what the fuck was actually going on in this show, I would be eternally grateful. On the positive side, the show had a really unique aesthetic style to it, and despite all the insanity, it was somewhat intriguing. It isn’t something I’d watch again, but for the insanity aspect alone, it was worth seeing once. Oh yeah, and the English dub is horrible, so be sure to avoid it.