「Satellizer vs. Pandora」
Who says an anime can’t improve upon its manga counterpart? Just when I thought Freezing was going to ride out the remainder of this arc and conclude around Satellizer’s battle with Cathy, it throws in an added twist that further develops her connection to Kazuha, shows the entire Pandora cast banding together, and foreshadows what’s to come with cameos from the most powerful Pandora in the world, Yi Suna (Saitou Fuuko), and Kazuya’s grandfather, Aoi Gengo (Ono Atsushi). Sequel please.
Leading up to that anime original second half, I was a bit disappointed that Ganessa’s valiant sacrifice didn’t play out as emotionally as I imagined. I felt there was a lot more impact in the manga when Arthur was talking to her like everything’s going to be okay, only for her to seemingly pass away not too long after. Something was definitely lacking in the screenplay, which I couldn’t quite put my finger on while watching because it did have befitting background music to accompany the scene. In retrospect, I think it was simply because the segment was roughly thirty seconds to a minute too short, so it didn’t provide ample time for me to buy into the idea that Ganessa may be killed off and have that thought really sink in. I tend to get caught up in the emotions of a scene even more when I have some prior knowledge of what’s going to unfold, much like I did with the Kimi ni Todoke movie, so I came into this finale fully anticipating I’d get a little choked up, but never got the chance to.
Given that Ganessa would somehow survive having one side of her body blown off (which wasn’t the least bit censored I might add), it’s easy to see why her death wasn’t overemphasized though. Unlike the manga that used it as a chapter cliffhanger, it was only minutes later in the anime when she was revealed to be alive. The only thing I would fault the decision to do so was how it lessened the significance of Satellizer’s uncontrollable rage upon learning that someone like Ganessa considered her a comrade. However, I have to commend Noto Mamiko for bringing out Satellizer’s anger in Nova Form, as I found her pretty scary when she repeated smashed Cathy’s head against the wall and proceeded to cut both her arms off. It did reaffirm how much I love seeing Mamiko in these stronger female roles to help balance out the soft-spoken ones she’s typically cast for, and really helped make the scene where Kazuya stopped her from killing Cathy. Very well executed screenplay.
I was pretty happy about getting a glimpse of Chiffon’s gigantic claw afterward (Volt Weapon “Anti-Nova Trial Version” for those wondering), and got a chuckle out of how she refers to herself by the “Rare Monster” nickname she’s been given, before the anime original portion kicked in with the last Nova using the stigmata on Milena’s chest to locate and teleport directly to Maria’s chamber. What impressed me the most about the original material was how it added a climactic battle while adhering to the established behavior of the Nova. This includes how it used Cathy’s Nova stigmata that Satellizer was still holding onto to take over her body and use her to emit an extremely powerful Freezing field, followed by all the third-years busting out their Pandora Mode to cope with it. While Chiffon and the others were still overwhelmed by Satellizer, the fact they all used Pandora Mode addressed any potential plot holes that my have risen from not using their emergency ability. That, and it just looked cool when all their hair turned white, particularly Ticy’s.
As for the conclusion, I didn’t mind how Satellizer broke free of the Nova’s control with her own power, since it reiterated the subplot involving the inheritance of Kazuha’s stigmata, and emphasized progress in her relationship with Kazuya. All the loose ends were wrapped up nicely with the epilogue showing Cathy and Milena’s recovery as well as Ganessa’s. Last but not least, Kazuya deserves special mention for using his Freezing to inadvertently feel up all the girls. We all know how the body reacts to icy hands too. Just look at Rana. She was lovin’ it.
Back in the Winter 2011 Preview, I voiced my pleasant surprise on how Korean author Dall-Young Lim’s Freezing manga was much more than an excuse for fan-service, but had reservations on exactly how much studio A.C.G.T could cover with a mere twelve episodes. Looking back now, I must say the producers have proved that you can do a lot with twelve episodes, which includes focusing on certain subplots and truly developing them within that limited time frame. Understandably, some of the original material will be allotted less screen time to help compensate — most notably Ingrid’s backstory in episode four — but overall, this adaptation was farily faithful and even enhanced the story in subtle ways like we saw in the finale. Even “purists” who are resistant to change should be somewhat pleased, considering that it didn’t go for an anime original ending at all.
Production-wise, I actually enjoyed the throwback to what I perceive as a 1990’s animation style with basic shadows, smaller-eyed character designs, and just an overall “flatter” look (except when it comes to bust sizes). Of course, that doesn’t mean I wanted the 4:3 treatment for the complete experience on AT-X, even though it was much better than the heavily censored alternative on other stations. The much-to-be-desired contrast on AT-X didn’t help Freezing’s basic shadows either, given how much clearer it looks in its intended widescreen version, so it’s ultimately the presentation by broadcasters where most of my discontent lies. For a series that doesn’t look like it was budgeted much to begin with, it’s a bit of a shame that Freezing may have been sold short by something out of the producers’ control. To get the full experience, a rewatch of the Blu-rays is probably in order sometime down the road. This is definitely one of the rare cases where I feel better visuals could have greatly enhanced my personal enjoyment.
Twelve episodes later, I’m still sticking to my initial impression that Ichika Mitsuhiro was a miscast for the lead role of Kazuya, especially when I instinctively associate him with Takeyama in Angel Beats and his insistence on being called “Christ”. Much like I’ve said before, Irino Miyu would’ve been much better in the starring role. Outside of that, I can’t say I’ve been the least bit displeased with the all-star female cast though. In any case, Freezing will likely go down as a series that most people have difficulty seeing for what it truly is despite all the good things I’ve had to say about it, so there’s really little I care to expand upon recommendation-wise. If you like sci-fi shounen-type action with a cast of female characters who provide occasional fan-service, you can’t do much wrong checking Freezing out. It’s a lot gorier than one would expect, plus it has a dash of high school romance mixed in. You may have to refer to the manga for some more depth to the support characters, but this is an otherwise good anime that stands perfectly fine on its own. Just watch it with an open mind and spare me the childish “boob” comments.