The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials


Title: Fafner aka Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor aka Fafner of the Blue Sky
Company: Xebec/Starchild Records
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 7 Apr 2004 – 26 Dec 2004

Synopsis: The denizens of Tatsumiya Island live in a serene world until a mysterious invader known as the Festums start attacking. The only way humanity can counter these intelligent, alien entities is to combat them with the byproducts of an untested technology. In the midst of an escalating war, high school student Kazuki Makabe is thrown into battle with the world’s greatest weapon: the Fafner.

The Highlights
Story: An intricately built melodrama with mechs
Cast: Angst-filled but solid nonetheless
Psychobabble: Unoriginal and too convoluted

Since the giant robot genre seldom yields quality, I have a tendency to put it through a rigorous test. I expect the show to grip me, effortlessly whisk me from beginning to end, and maintain my thin layer of patience along the way. Not unlike flying a kite in the middle of a raging hurricane, most shows tear my patience into tiny pieces in around five seconds. However, Fafner managed to hold my patience and guide me along its intricate – albeit flawed – story of teenagers thrown into a horrific war.

Soukyuu no Fafner is not the most original show, but it is nonetheless entertaining and definitely worth watching. This may be yet another incarnation of the old paradigm of teenagers thrown into the bloody grit and sinew of battle, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it is mediocre. There is plenty of meat beneath the fluff, and although uninspired, this anime has a solid story that deserves a voice and an audience.

Ironically, due to the high production values, Fafner should not have too much trouble finding viewers. Studio Xebec provides the show with wonderful visuals, and their influence is dramatically painted throughout, with lush animation and well-integrated CGI. With an equally powerful musical score, this show gives its viewers the royal treatment.

Despite startling similarities to Evangelion, the series manages to create a new dynamic through its powerful cast. Not afraid of using a harsh, military atmosphere in tandem with tragic melodrama, Fafner tugs at the very heartstrings of its audience. Unlike many other anime, Fafner focuses more on the side characters than the main one. Lead character Kazuki Makabe is a typical, apathetic stereotype; however, much of the story revolves more around his friends than himself. While the main character is weak, the others serve as a powerful buffer which keeps this anime afloat. The teenagers are filled with varying degrees of angst, but each manages to take on his or her own personality, proving that this is no mere clone.

Soukyuu no Fafner is by no means revolutionary, but not all great stories are. If you enjoy watching poignant melodrama set on a stage of teenagers with mechs, give Fafner a try.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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