The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Glass Fleet

Title: Glass Fleet aka Garasu no Kantai
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Satelight/Gonzo
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 4 Apr 2006 – 21 Sep 2006

Synopsis: In vast expanses of space, a rebellion has broken out against the tyrannical emperor Vetti and the aristocracy. With the courageous Michel at the helm, the People’s Army stands strong against the injustices of the government. After a serious scuffle cripples Michel’s ship, he is forced to rely on a pirate named Cleo to escort him back to his allies.  Will this mysterious man help Michel or will he sell him out to the highest bidder?

The Highlights
Primary characters: Believable and interesting with exception of Cleo.
Side characters: One dimensional cliches.
Story: Mildly entertaining until the finale screws with all the character personalities.

Given Gonzo‘s massive anime output over the years, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the studio has knocked on the door of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes for inspiration. Glass Fleet is a intergalactic space soap opera that doesn’t focus on the soldiers on the ground but rather the major personalities that plan, lead and sometimes create the conflicts. Vetti is the emperor who is young, bright and absolutely ruthless; Michel is the revolutionary who wishes to take power away from the corrupt aristocracy and give it to the people; and Cleo is the rash but strong-willed rogue who will completely upset the status quo. Though this anime certainly does not hold a candle to the LoGH, it is a modestly entertaining series that has the ambition, boldness and flaws of a typical Gonzo anime.

I’m somewhat taken aback by the choices the creators make in Glass Fleet.  The show engages in the tea sipping politics and (boring) battle maneuvers of the Legend of the Galactic Heroes, but it also uses the manly shouting and gimmicky slapstick found typical shounen titles.  I, for one, accepted LoGH‘s complete inability to entertain my lower brain functions since the classy world appealed to the more intellectual side of me; however, by using cheap tropes, Glass Fleet sacrifices whatever prestige it could have had for a short-term, shortsighted method to engage the viewers.  The three primary protagonists largely escape being kicked down to shounen cliches, but many of the side characters are not so lucky.

Story-wise, the show follows a series of plot-lines that shouldn’t be too unfamiliar to anyone who has seen any anime about journeying the stars. The heavy politics makes things more interesting than they otherwise would have been, but they’re not interesting enough to compensate for the fact that the show is simply not all that good at what it wants to do. The animation is sloppy for a Gonzo production and the CGI is somewhat of an eyesore; the music and voice acting are passable for an altogether mediocre experience in terms of aesthetic.

Where the show really shines is the antagonist. Leave it to Gonzo to create a thoroughly twisted character who comes across as something more than a recurring Saturday morning cartoon villain. Vetti comes, sees, conquers, rapes, then throws away, and he relishes every minute of it. On the flip side, the primary protagonist, Cleo, is a rather boring fellow who can be interchanged with any stereotypical “cool” rebel figure with no real change to just about anything. The secondary protagonist Michel provides a modest foil to Vetti, but Cleo is such bland personality in the anime that he might as well not exist. The Achilles Heel of the series is Cleo; the anime pretty much implodes since he is unable hold up his corner of the trio.

I suppose I should see Glass Fleet as somewhat commendable effort to dumb down LoGH so that more people can enjoy it.  Why anyone would knowingly want to watch a dumbed down version is beyond me.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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