Check-in Station: Valvrave ep1 (oh Sunrise… oh Sunrise)
Let’s get this straight immediately. I WILL not be able to go through this post, or any post involving this show without mentioning Gundam at some point. I try not to compare series directly to other series too much, but when a show like this comes from Sunrise, and they ape the setup for a Gundam series this hard, it’s impossible. Valvrave (this may be hard to consistently spell correctly) the Liberator, let’s go.
After watching this first episode I didn’t understand very much, and that’s alright. I think the point of this show was very simple. Show you an ass-load of characters, establish some crush/unrequited love, murder some people, and look cool. And judging by that low bar, it succeeded.
The show starts by giving the viewers a little background on the state of the world in this show. Stuff about how seventy percent of humanity now resides in space. There’s a view of what looks to be a colony/artificial moon that people are living on comfortably. We’re then thrust into a high school eating contest for the rights to use a portion of the school grounds. I don’t know why this can’t be settled by teachers or a wacky student council, but this is anime and not reality. I’m sure one way or another the writers had their hearts set on a eating contest, and we were gonna get one anyway. The participants are Haruto, who seems like the less a characteristic, charismatic go-getter, The person fitting that description is his competition Shoko, who seems very active, but not bright. These two obviously have a crush on each other, and that is teased (literally) throughout this episode. We also have a bunch of other school characters whose importance I can only judge on the shots, dialogue and screen time. And even then my notoriously bad ability to remember names upon initial contact is woefully unprepared for this episode.
The only other characters are the quintet of boy band members strolling in to the area. I swear, seeing these tarts walk on screen immediately made me miss Athrun and crew from SEED. They were kinda funny to watch, but these guys just make me “gaffaw” on sight! Even worse, two of these guys seem to be proven psychotics. The leader tells everyone to “avoid contact with locals” as much as possible, but when he overhears Haruto asking Shoko to share the school grounds he flips his sh*t! Seriously, he lectures Haruto, bullies him, and probably contemplated killing him with the set of keys he took from him! Then there was the one who looked most like a little kid who went GIDDY with joy over getting to shoot someone! This may be a bit more disturbing than the “sky is falling” crap I heard so much from early Cyber-Newtypes. Though given that this is a show from Sunrise, I’m pretty sure this hints at these guys being heavily screwed with mentally to become killers.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention why they were there. To steal
Gundams – I mean to steal… do they really even mention the machine’s name in this episode? I think I only saw it on the machine itself. Regardless, almost stealthily kill their way to the machine, slaughtering a bunch of scientists and some greeters on the way (what badass, right?). Their visual confirmation of the machine triggers an invading assault by their military, the Dorssian military (whatever country that is) to destroy the machine. Too bad that a dying scientists hits the appropriate button (that he can’t even see) and sends the machine to the surface. Meanwhile, the invading Dorssian mechs (that kinda look like teddy bears without legs) are fighting their way to the base, causing a lot of collateral damage. In the fight, Shoko is blown to – well to nothingness (which makes me think that maybe she survived), and this causes the normally milquetoast Haruto to go into a vengeful rage. You know, that sentence is kinda funny now that I’ve written it…
The Valvrave surfaces near where the grieving Haruto and his friends are, and he takes it upon himself to get in and take vengeance. Which would work if he knew the damn controls! He’s nearly killed by a grunt before he manages to figure it out, sync with the machine and go on a rampage (that is telecast to the entire world thanks to a convenient and cute hacker girl.
The machine powers down, the world sees Haruto exit the machine, boobs are groped, and Haruto continues to grieve. We then see the psycho who started this whole mess, and attacked him earlier in the episode walk up and stab the character quite convincingly. I really must give this guy credit. He stabbed him right through the heart! Perfect kill! Which makes me think this show is more brilliant than I gave it credit for, or that Haruto isn’t dead. I’ll let you guess which one.
All I’m gonna say on that is that I’m tired of seeing dead things come back to life in my TV shows, comics, movies and anime. At this point, I don’t even wanna see a pop star’s career resurrected.
Put simply, I was not impressed with this episode for the most part. I honestly don’t watch anime for the pretty guys. And most of the time I don’t even stick around for the shows with gobs of gorgeous women (Samurai Girls). The show has to be fun, and interesting and very hopefully, unique. I’ll give this show the five episode test, even though I would’ve normally dropped something like this already. Honestly, this make me reconsider Red Data Girl. Aside from the titular mech’s beautiful rampage at the end of the episode, I enjoyed Red Data Girl‘s first episode much more.