The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Rio: Rainbow Gate!

Title: Rio: Rainbow Gate!
Genre: Comedy
Company: Xebec
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 4 Jan 2011 – 29 Mar 2011

Synopsis: Nicknamed the “Goddess of Victory,” Rio Rollins works as a casino dealer at the luxurious Howard Resort. She is well known for providing customers with luck in their gambling endeavors, but at the same time, she is one of the few dealers talented enough to be a Gate Holder. Inherited from her missing mother, Rio’s Gate Card is one of thirteen rare cards, which are said to grant the wishes of whoever is able to collect all thirteen. Soon enough, unknown enemies begin challenging Rio to Gate Battles in an attempt to win her Card from her, but Rio and the friends she makes attempt to stop their adversaries from taking away Rio’s precious keepsake.

The Highlights
Visuals: Beautifully done at times; sloppy at others.
Characters: Possess silly superpowers, but empty personality-wise.
Gags: Mostly boring, but nothing horrible.
Story: Nothing deep.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Rio: Rainbow Gate! was the result of a staff meeting in which Xebec executives decided to roll Dragon Ball Z, Saki, and Queen’s Blade all into one show. It not only contains trademark elements from all three of these (illogical battles, ridiculous super powers, and big boobs, respectively), but also adds so much more: ghosts who love chicken wings, Mexican-Japanese afro samurai, and robots with tan lines. The entire show is filled with energy and a penchant for chaos that create a light watch.

Perhaps the one aspect of the anime that is laudable is the use of some breathtaking colors to fill in Rio’s world. You can notice the twinkling of sunlight on the ocean waves or the soft, rose-colored blush of a character’s cheek; these effectively add visual concreteness to the fictitious casino city setting. Furthermore, the quality of animation works well during fan service scenes. When the camera zooms in on one of the girls’ faces, panning down to give full view of some buxom heroine, it’s clear that the anime is not afraid of bringing out the goods visually. It should be noted, though, that at times the drawings are somewhat sloppy.

Almost everything else about the anime lacks any sort of substance what so ever. Based off a series of pachinko games, it’s unsurprising that the animators chose for fan service over story. They give Rio and her enemies silly, unexplained powers over gambling games, and endowed every single named female character with a back-breaking F-cup. None of the characters are truly likable, as all of them feel like they’ve been cut out of a cardboard box. The majority of gags are unlikely to elicit laughs, although the cast of experienced voices makes the jokes bearable.

In fact, the weak characterization in the show drags the story down: the first few episodes introduce half a dozen enemies, all of them impotent and factor little into the narrative. The only use for these minor characters seems to be to place Rio into situations where she is required by her boss to wear revealing cosplay and compete in luck or skill-based games that in fact have nothing to do with casinos. On top of this the audiences that come to watch Rio’s battles for gate cards never seem to mind that their Goddess of Victory always seems to end up undressed — men and women cheer for her all the same.

The second half of the anime attempts to take a serious turn, as Rio is required to prevent the gate cards from falling into the wrong hands. Dramatic as it may sound, in the end the story is about a busty lady and her comedic sidekicks using a ridiculously named superpower to save the day; it’s certainly nothing new, and the narrative is extremely formulaic. What saves the show’s pathetic attempt at creating substance is the fact that Rio remains true to itself: it’s silly until the end. Even when the story becomes (relatively) more serious, the anime never oversteps its bounds by attempting to shove some moral lesson down the viewer’s throat.

Simply said, Rio is nothing better than eye candy. It has enjoyable visuals for the most part, but lacks in every other arena. Yet it remains difficult to call the show a failure, largely because the anime’s problems could have been far more serious. None of the characters are weak enough to anger the viewer and the gags can even be occasionally entertaining. A subpar anime, Rio: Rainbow Gate! has little to remember by in terms of good or bad — actually, I lied. A ghost with a fetish for chicken wings is pretty unique.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Kylaran

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