The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Fafner: Right of Left ~Single Program~

Title: Fafner: Right of Left ~Single Program~ aka Sokyuu no Fafner: Right of Left aka Fafner of the Azure: Right of Left aka Dead Aggressor Fafner: Right of Left
Genre: Action/Drama
Companies: Xebec/Production I.G
Format: Movie; 51 minutes
Dates: 29 Dec 2005

Synopsis: Tatsumiya Island is the last paradise on Earth. Beyond it lies little more than ruin as the remnants of civilization battle in a futile war against mysterious creatures known as the Festum. While Tatsymiya is the only place not under siege, their methods to do so reveal a disturbing truth. For once a Festum comes near, the adults on the island must hesitantly send their children out to fight back for the sake of peace. Now, with a new strategy, two friends, Ryou and Yumi embark on a long search and destroy mission, with little chance of survival.

The Highlights
Premise: A setup for tragedy… in a good way.
Animation and Music: Surpass the original.
Transitions: Choppy and flow breaking.
Designs: Unoriginality is an understatement.
Drama: Manages to draw some powerful emotions from a small cast of characters.

Sokyuu no Fafner is an anime I have fond memories of. What started out as a fairly dull mecha title that my brother pushed on me, completely caught me off guard and transformed into something truly special. Years later, I finally got around to seeing its prequel Right of Left. And much like the original, this two episodes worth of retcon left me quite surprised as to what it could accomplish.

As a work, Right of Left stands on its own… for the most part. While it treads similar ground to the TV series with regards to plot and drama, the way it is pulled off is in such a way that it never feels “all too convenient.” The only thing it doesn’t manage to do is to flow as smoothly. Transitions between scenes, and sometimes within them, are often choppy, sudden, and poorly planned, making certain moments hard to follow.

On the technical side of things, what is there to say? It’s beautiful. Xebec certainly went all out on the visuals, which are only boosted even more from Production I.G’s assistance. Even the music, with its operatic tunes are back to suck the viewers even deeper into the ensuing melodrama. Unfortunately, like with the TV series, unoriginality is a real issue. The “one size fits all” character designs of Hirai Hisashi continue to make characters indistinguishable. At one point, I tried to think back to what was it that created friction between Kazuki and Soushi. But once I figured it out, I realized that I was actually remembering back to Infinite Ryvius. It’s shameful really. The Fafner Titans are just as bad. No mater how I looked at them, they just kept on resembling a precursor to the Guren Mk. II by way of Eva Unit 2. Not to say that it looks bad. The action sequences are amazing when not disturbed by choppy transitions. But the lack of effort is really just embarrassing.

Though for all of its technical flaws, Right of Left delivers what is to be expected from Fafner, strong angst based melodrama. In 26 episodes, the staff was able to put the audience in the shoes of nine teenagers, two young adults, and a number of adults. To expect even a fraction of this from a 50-minute TV special would be unrealistic, if not plain impossible. Luckily, the writers had the nerve to put all of the focus on three characters, and two of them more than the other. For Ryou and Yumi, who must watch their friends die in slow and unusual ways, sympathy came pretty quickly. Though rather than them wallowing in sorrow, they choose to come to terms with their almost certain fate together, so an emotional connection is easy to make.

Like with its predecessor, there is nothing really new or innovative about Right of Left. This is, however, no reason for a casual fan of either mecha or melodrama to give it a chance. It’s basically self contained, and shouldn’t really need any prior knowledge to help it make sense. So really there is no reason just to devote a little time to be taken in by a short and sweet melancholy.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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