Kakumeiki Valvrave – 01
「世界を暴く」 (Sekai o Abaku)
“Revelation of the World”
Similar to the extremely underrated Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince, I strongly suspect there’s going to be a wide divergence in the verdict of Kakumeiki Valvrave. I hardly know where to begin in trying to describe just why this episode was so marvelous and what started out as classic mecha science fiction quickly developed into something quite unconventional. The first half of the episode fits the cookie-cutter mold of its genre in just about every way –a pacifist stumbling upon a giant robot and decides to pilot the all-powerful machine to save his friends. But the subsequent events, especially the ones after the ending credit, far exceeded the usual clichés of its genre and present an entirely different take on what I presumed to be a vampire-like genetically modified soldier. My gut tells me some may find the choices a little too precarious for an icebreaker but for those capable of keeping an open mind, I have no doubt you’ll find the premiere of Valvrave to be an especially enjoyable ride.
Let me say this up front – Valvrave is not going to be a reiteration of Gundam SEED or even Code Geass. The comparison is inevitable as the man behind the series composition is none other than the esteemed Okouchi Ichiro who of course, penned Lelouch of the Rebellion. The first episode features a high-school setting, cross-border conflicts, flashy animation by Sunrise and a bevy of beautiful characters voiced by one of the most impressive cast of seiyuu – Fukuyama Jun, Miyano Mamoru, Namikawa Daisuke, Ono Daisuke, Tomatsu Haruka, Yuuki Aoi, Kayano Ai, Horie Yui, just to name a few. To that extent, the overall template does seem quite analogous to Code Geass and but in reality, they are nowhere near as close in terms of style and substance. The two leads are Tokishima Haruto (Ohsaka Ryota) and L-elf (Kimura Ryouhei), and at first glance, they seem fairly similar to the stereotypes of your usual shounen mecha. Haruto is the pacifist from the neutral territory JIOR who was unwillingly dragged into battle, whereas L-elf is a prodigious soldier of the Dorssian military who was sent to steal the prized humanoid weapon located in same place. But there’s a catch – Haruto is free of the wishy-washiness typically associated with such characters and L-elf is a savage, absolutely brutal and to the point in executing his missions. Even in a show that has already hinted at a darker premise, nothing prepared me for the sheer trauma that I got from the unfortunate demise of Shouko (Seto Asami) in a mere episode, especially after that near-confession scene. The limited interaction between Haruto and L-elf has already revealed certain hidden depths about both of them and it’s safe to assume the string of bizarre events in the premiere is going to shape their characters in very different ways.
Production-wise, the premiere encapsulated everything that a great mecha flick stands for – fast-pacing action sequences, well-integrated CGI, lovely character designs by D.Gray-man’s Hoshino Katsura, terrific soundtrack by FMA Brotherhood’s Senju Akira and a broad range of beautiful mecha that is reminiscent of the selection from Super Robot Wars. Another tidbit worthy of note is the absolutely superb opening theme (inserted as ED this week) that is performed T.M.Revolution x Mizuki Nana who no question, are both legendary for their vocal works in anime. Suffice to say, I’m a big fan of the first episode, and while I can’t really say if the revelation at the end of the episode will achieved an agreeable result among the anime connoisseurs, I applaud the creators for having the courage to take a mecha series in a different direction and perhaps delivering an unexpected surprise.
ED: 「Preserved Roses」 by T.M.Revolution×水樹奈々 (T.M.Revolution x Nana Mizuki)