Monday, 7 April 2014

Valvrave the Liberator Season 1 (Episodes 1-6)

I review the first six episodes of the first season of Valvrave the Liberator, a Japanese Animated mecha-SciFi series.

Valvrave the Liberator is a recent anime series that debuted last year and is my third that I’ve decided to check out, behind Attack on Titan and Fullmetal Alchemist, based on Abhinav Jain’s review. Compromising of twelve-twenty minute episodes over the course of two seasons, Valvrave the Liberator is set in the future, where two factions of mankind are at war, and a peaceful, JIOR faction is natural. No longer does man live only on Earth, with 70% of the population having expanded amongst the stars.

The Atlantic Ring States are at war with the Dorssian. However, the Dorssians, invade the neutral JIOR (Japan and Islands of Oceanic Republic), with their superior use of technology to win the day. However, a young teenage student and reluctant hero Haruto Tokishima manages to prevent a Dorssian assault by controlling a giant mecha robot known as Valvrave 01.

The pilot introduces us to a small group of cast – Haruto is the stereotypical reluctant hero, in love with Shoko Sashinami.  These characters are both part of JIOR, and at the start of the series, innocent students attending High School. In the pilot, we also meet a group of Dorssian Secret Agents, led by L-Elf, who infiltrate a covert science lab under the school.  The end result is a pretty crazy six episodes length of action packed, over the top and clichéd adventure that whilst it shouldn’t really work on paper, does pay off – and despite a few nagging problems serves as a fresh break from the multitude of live action shows that I watch allowing for a lot of fun.

The story in the pilot episode however is relatively paper thin and unexciting. It’s a standard plot where reluctant hero who is inspired by the death of someone close to him but it’s the epilogue that makes it worth sticking with, with a surprising twist that drives the show moving forward. Despite the clichés the characters are powerful and interesting, with some good, fun concepts given to the audience and plenty of wacky plot twists each episode after the next.

What makes Valvrave different is that it boasts a number of supernatural elements highlighted by the epilogue. When Haruto took command of Valvrave, he made the choice in sacrificing his humanity to become a monster, able to transfer his mind to other bodies upon biting them. It allows for an incredibly interesting dilemma for the main character.

The animation sequences are pretty fun to watch as well, with a good opening theme. Unlike others who saw this show I never had any problem picking out which fighting mecha was which, with several fighting scenes being pulled off very interestingly indeed.

The show itself gets better as it goes along – I was initially reluctant to watch more episodes after watching the pilot, but it improves dramatically over time, and yes – there are some clichés beyond that of the reluctant hero, and several cheesy elements, Valvrave the Liberator ends up being a damn good anime and has certainly encouraged me to explore more of the medium. The animation style is awesome and several scenes are really well done – with an insane, bonkers storyline turned into something that’s compelling and engaging.

Whether I’ll stick with it though remains to be seen. Yes, it is a strong series, but where we go from here is up for grabs – I have countless of other anime shows to catch up on, a few cartoons such as Young Justice and a large amount of live-action shows that I need to keep up to date with and get caught up on as well. So where things go we’ll see, but Valvrave the Liberator so far has definitely proved to be quite a positive experience.

VERDICT: 3.75/5

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