The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Aquarion Evol

Title: Aquarion Evol
Genre: Action/Comedy
Company: Satelight
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 9 Jan 2012 – 25 Jun 2012

Synopsis: 12,000 years after the events of Genesis of Aquarion, Amata meets a shy girl named Mikono in a lonely movie theater. As they explore the city and get to know each other, a mysterious army of mecha invade Earth and abduct civilians. Amata discovers that he has the ability to summon the legendary Aquarion and form the forbidden union between male and female mecha pilots. Amata and Mikono are thus enrolled into Neo-DEAVA, an elite academy that trains mech pilots to defend the Earth, and our adventure begins.

The Highlights
Plot: What plot?
Do I need to watch the first season?: Absolutely not.
Character conflict: Get ready for love triangles and NTR.
In three words or less: Simple. Campy. Fun.

Aquarion Evol is a mecha anime surrounded by a vortex of bright colors, fanservice, outlandish super powers, puns, “deep” philosophy, and innuendo from Satelight directed by Kawamori Shoji. The anime is nominally about piloting robots – the main focus is on the characters themselves and the unusual powers they possess. Three pilots each fly a vehicle akin to a fighter jet that combine to form the titular robot: Aquarion Evol. The robot inherits its pilots’ magical abilities and draws power from their resolve.

The robot itself doesn’t have much personality; it looks plain, and the narrative focuses exclusively on the pilots inside. Consequently, as different (presumably more powerful) variations of machines appear, they don’t evoke much emotional reaction from the audience. Fortunately, the cast itself are spirited and colorful. The character designs look nice and everyone has their own gimmick and personality. Our main character, Amata, is a good-natured protagonist who levitates when he gets aroused. In the first episode, he meets Mikono, a shy and unconfident girl who seems to have no abilities at all. Other members of the cast are quickly introduced: Andy W. Hol, an assertive guy whose power is magical hole-digging; MIX, an uptight girl whose power is magical hole-filling; Yunoha, a shy girl who can turn invisible; Zessica, put in the show to tease Amata and set up a love triangle; and, of course, the director, Fudou Zen. Fudou Zen’s spirited, liberal, paronomasia-filled grand universal philosophy derived from everyday objects is a treat in every episode. It is the cherry atop the sundae of campiness that makes Aquarion Evol perversely entertaining.

The show is undeniably silly. There’s one episode where the pilots discover that they can “feel” missiles better if they have more skin exposed. Thus, they proceed to tear their clothes off during a dogfight, much to the delight of observers on both sides of the screen. The mysterious red-haired antagonist, Kagura, speaks in opposite, kind of like how 4th graders play “opposite day,” so while he is trying to seduce Mikono he repeatedly insults her and tells her that she smells. Another antagonist infiltrates the school and gets gradually converted to the good side by the power of moe. It’s difficult to keep a straight face when watching this show, but that’s the point. Aquarion Evol never puts up a façade of being a “classy” or “intellectual” anime, as myriad shows of its stock are oft to do. Rather, it passionately accepts its identity as a goofy ball of fun. The show repeatedly asserts its disposition with attack names like “Flying Love Attack,” and one scene where the robot shoots pink hearts from its hands.

Consequently, the plot becomes utterly incoherent by the latter part of the series. It would be remiss if Aquarion Evol didn’t develop an ill-scoped, ostentatious plot to match the rest of the show. It doesn’t work because viewers are so divested in the actual story to care and the dialogue is forever stuck in the silly gear. So when the characters actually do get serious, it elicits confusion rather than profundity from the audience.

Despite the crisp art and fluid animation, it is hard to be impressed by the production quality of Aquarion Evol. Stock animations, most notably during each episode’s “Let’s Union!” scene, are used over and over again. The soundtrack is mostly recycled from Genesis of Aquarion. Though I consider it one of Kanno Yoko’s finest works, there is a distinct lack of original music in Aquarion Evol outside of the theme songs.

Aquarion Evol is an anime of glaring contradictions. It’s flamboyant in presentation, yet lazy in production. It’s shamelessly nonsensical, yet subtly charming. Underneath the dissonant mess of plot holes, cliché, and fanservice is an anime that is absolutely sincere. It’s not classy or smart, nor does it ever pretend to be. It’s rambunctious and silly fun, and it fully embraces its own personality. I will always prefer the honesty of a show accepting its shortcomings to the pretentiousness of a show denying them. And while Aquarion Evol falls far short of being in the pantheon of the best mecha anime, I question if it wanted to be there in the first place.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: kevo

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