The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Valvrave the Liberator

Title: Valvrave the Liberator aka Kakumeiki Valvrave
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Sunrise
Format: 24 episodes
Dates: 12 Apr 2013 – 27 Dec 2013

Synopsis: In the 71st year of the True Era, mankind has migrated throughout the solar system and to a Dyson sphere created around an artificial sun. Of the three superpowers of this world order, the nation of JIOR has declared neutrality in a war between its sibling powers. One day, one of the superpowers, Dorssia invades a Dyson sphere owned by JIOR and is subsequently met with a mysterious giant robot that has powers beyond anyone’s expectations.

The Highlights
Visuals: Solid animation with nicely integrated CGI mechas.
Characters: Mostly interesting personalities who are just… there.
Story: The individual pieces of drama are intriguing; the overall arc is pointless.
Train wreck status: The show’s never been on the tracks to begin with.

Valvrave the Liberator is a giant robot anime from the creators of Code Geass that is explicitly designed to create situations that will get the biggest reactions from online messaging boards like 2ch. The show is really not about the overarching journey of the characters, the growth of the cast or even the story; it is about creating just the right environment to make a certain twist or turn in the plot set the Internet ablaze. The show is almost like an odd encapsulation of the 90s mentality of edginess for the sake of edginess. It’s quite entertaining as a mindless roller coaster so long as you never try to dig down for more of anything.

If you were to cut out all the nonsense, and told the story as a straightforward mecha series, it would be a nice looking Gundam clone with a lead who is an alpha dog in a giant robot and beta when interacting with normal human beings.  In other words, unless you’re a mecha fan, the show would be boring. It’s the intrigue created by the stupid drama and wanton use of heavy ideas that makes the show tick, and it’s an undeniably effective catalyst. The script is, in a way, masterfully written to smash the status quo at the end of every single episode to successfully create a sense of nail-biting suspense. The sheer idiocy of a body swapping, immortal space vampire who has a giant robot that commits harakiri to shoot a giant energy sword is almost inspiring that it cycles around to be impressive.

Do not expect profound growth of the characters or some sort of pay off from the story because the show never really builds up to anything. By the end of the series, it’s clear that there is no great reason to why many events happen the way they do. The writers just use potent storytelling tools like racism, rape and genocide for the simple shock value. The sheer rawness of the events does ultimately evoke the emotions the creators intended, but it feels like a cheap shot to the gut when nothing seems to come of the actions.

Aesthetically, the show looks nice with good character designs and consistent animation. The CGI mechas may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the Valvraves are interestingly designed robots with abilities that set up some really cool fight scenes.  The music is nice but the overall OST won’t leave that great an impression, aside from deep sense of irony from the lyrics of the first ending song.

Valvrave can be seen as a bar of chocolate in the check out isle since it’s a cheap, quickly digestible token amount of joy wrapped in a colorful package.  Sure, it gets its flavors from cancer causing materials, but it’s fun while it lasts.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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