The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto

Title: Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto aka Star Driver: Takuto of the Radiance
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Bones
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 3 Oct 2010 – 4 Apr 2011

Synopsis: On a bright, starry night, 15 year old Takuto drifts onto the beaches of Southern Cross Isle unconscious and barely breathing.  He is rescued by two lovers Sugata and Wako, and in the following morning learns that he is going to the same school as the couple.  After an eventful first day in his new school, he witnesses Wako being kidnapped and pursues the mysteriously dressed assailants.   The kidnappers are from the Glittering Crux Brigade, an organization hellbent on destroying a magical seal Wako is protecting.  The moment right before the Crux could complete their mission, Takuto barges in an unveils himself as the Ginga Bishounen, a protector of justice, and summons the powerful giant robot Tauburn.

The Highlights
Visuals: Glorious mech fight scenes; interesting design choices.
Music: Search Youtube for “Star Driver Monochrome” right now.
Story: Passable but rarely exceptional.
Characters: Not interesting enough to be memorable.

How many of you here are male and ever got into Sailor Moon at some point in your life?  Don’t be ashamed; it’s a wide reaching show that has strong characters, large doses of fabulous and enough violence to rival Dragonball Z.  Now, imagine a gender-bent Serena (or Usagi for you purists), instead of a squad of magical girls think of giant robots, and replace baddies from outer space with school kids in S&M outfits, and you have the recipe for Star Driver.

In the world of anime hybrids, Star Driver is a hippopotamus’ head fused with horses’ torsos above an eagle’s talons with a lizard’s tale.  It’s a strange creature that should have been strangled by the unmerciful hand of evolution for being such an unusual direction, but due to the current stagnation of the industry and Bones‘ expertise, it comes across as fresh and exciting for the first few episodes until the viewer comes to realization that every single episode looks exactly the same.  Like Sailor Moon, or virtually any other Saturday morning cartoon, Star Driver is an episodic show that adheres to a strict plot structure that becomes boring to watch as the series progresses.  Each episode a new character is introduced, developed by interacting with the main cast, compelled to fight against the protagonist, then loses and comes out of the experience with a new insight.

This formula could have worked if it either had great stories to work with or a compelling main cast to create actual chemistry among the characters.  The series is rather spotty on the former and whiffs hard on latter.  The main problem is that the three main characters are just not that interesting.  Takuto is the unwaveringly optimistic ally of justice; in short, he’s a one dimensional bore.  Sugata has a dull, reserved personality except for occasional flare ups every 8 episodes or so.  The most interesting of the trio is the girl, Wako, who is a perverted fujoshi constantly wavering between the two boys while suppressing the deep desires to have a threesome.  Overall, this dynamic doesn’t work as well as it should, and with the exception of the occasional interesting new character, the series fails to create something compelling enough to come back to week after week.

I feel that the characters and story is such a strong let down especially considering that the visuals are near orgasmic.  Bones is in top form with Star Driver with fluid animation and very interesting design choices across the board.  The main robot, Tauburn, boasts high heels, childbearing hips and a massive feather on its head.  The antagonists adorn clothes that are best described as odd but sexy contraptions with enough exotic colors, tightly bound leather and sprinkles of fabulous to hold its own gay pride parade. All this novel imagery makes everything seem to pop out of the screen.  Another thing the show puts to waste is the fight scenes; they are some of the brightest gems of television fight scenes around, but they lack the hot-blooded build up and pulse-pounding context to truly shine.

Though this mahou shoujo/nen super robot anime really failed to do anything with its flash of brilliance, Star Driver is the kind of thing the industry needs to be doing.  It creates the kind of flamboyance that gets the good old “did they just do that?” reactions that’s recently been reduced to “goddamnit, I didn’t have to know panties can be used for that!”  All Bones has to do is find less shallow and more engaging stories to complete its recipe of the bright, radiant fun.

The Rating: 6
6/10

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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