The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Infinite Ryvius

Title: Infinite Ryvius aka Mugen no Ryvius
Genre: Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 6 Oct 1999 – 29 Mar 2000

Synopsis: When the space training camp Liebe Delta is damaged in a sabotage attempt, all experienced personnel die and only the teenage cadets remain. They quickly find out that a powerful spaceship named “Ryvius” is hidden within the station, and with the help of the Ryvius, they are able to escape a mysterious attacker. But when their hopes for a quick rescue are thwarted, it quickly becomes apparent that the true danger doesn’t come from an outside enemy but from the fears and rivalries aboard the ship…

The Highlights
Characters: Three-dimensional and detailed.
Drama: Chilling to the bone.
Theme: Many references to the real world.
Plot: Too many madmen for one ship.
Humor: Some annoying “comic relief” characters.

Psychological drama is a difficult genre, and if you mix it with a sci-fi setting, there’s no guarantee you’re able to do it justice. All too easily, metaphysical “solutions” for real-world problems can pop up in the script. Realism is often abandoned for the sake of drama. Only by concentrating on the characters and by exposing their inner motivations can you do the setting justice.

And that’s the one thing that Infinite Ryvius does absolutely right. Essentially the Lord of the Flies of anime, the series has a strong focus on character interaction and development, never simply taking changes for granted but always showing how they come to be. Almost everybody in the series has a personality of his own, complete with strengths and flaws, and when people are shown reacting to threats, these traits come out even more strongly. Rarely do you see such realism, and here, it comes complete with a bone-chilling story of dominance, love, treachery and loss. The script is quite possibly second only to that of Fullmetal Alchemist.

The whole plot works so well because you’ve already seen so much of it in our real world: Politicians are willing to sacrifice innocent lives to cover up their mistakes. Tight situations bring out both the best and the worst in people. Democratic solutions fail in the face of a crisis, and rational ways of decision are replaced by strict hierarchical orders where the strong dominate the weak, even if they have the best intentions. Sometimes, people become tyrants just because they feel they have no other way of achieving the best results for everybody. It’s dark, it’s somber, it’s real.

There are only a few details where Infinite Ryvius goes too far for the sake of drama. First of all, while quite some characters (realistically) develop psychological conditions, a few already start the journey with a serious case of being nuts. Some, like an uncontrollable choleric, can be attributed to anime cliché, but what’s the big idea about including a serial killer on a space training center? And even if the creators did that for the sake of drama, they have absolutely no excuse for a few other characters that never serve any purpose except comic relief. They certainly have their part in the plot by becoming victims of the new social order aboard the “Ryvius”, but you hardly feel for them because even the violence against them is served with a big dash of over-the-edge humor. The lesson to be learned? If you’re so good at creating drama, don’t weaken it with forced “funniness”.

Psychologically deeper than Evangelion and with one of the most serious and most powerful plots dramatic plots in anime, Infinite Ryvius is a series you shouldn’t miss. Why it never gained as much popularity as other, more mainstream titles is beyond me; maybe it was merely being overlooked in a year dominated by the big brand names. In any case, this is a series that belongs into your shelves. There’s hardly a reason why you shouldn’t love it.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: Taleweaver

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