OP: 「vanilla sky」 by ましろ 綾野 (Mashiro Ayano)
「戦端 もう一人の僕」 (Sentan Mohitori no Boku)
“Open Hostilities: My Other Self”
When it comes to story telling, there’s always a fine line between having too much exposition and leaving too much to the imagination. Avoiding the former tends to be the better bet when it’s all said and done, but when it comes to Gunslinger Stratos’ introductory episode, there’s certainly an argument to be had about how a little more exposition would’ve made it a lot better this time around. Instead, all we get is a brief glance at the futuristic world of our main character, Kazasumi Tooru (Abe Atsushi), and some of the interactions he has with his small cohort of friends. After a bit of typical school shenanigans, we’re abruptly thrown into a violent meeting with what seems to be an alternative world’s version of himself, and what we get with this first episode is an amalgamation of questions with little in regards to answers—a pity considering how much potential his world holds as a promising setting.
I mean, when you have automated systems that work with a touch of your wrist, self-boiling meals, robots that do everything, a ranking system based on genetic potential (technically money, but still), and a backdrop like this, one would hope that you would spend at least more than a few minutes on it before potentially tossing it out for the rest of the series. In the overall scheme of things, they’re probably doing things this way so we find out about things at the same time the characters do, but there’s a way to go about it, and highlighting cliche interactions, jumping all over the place, having inconsistent animation, and accomplishing almost nothing of note in a first episode isn’t it. The action made the second half better than the first, but even those were hurt by some of the things I’ve already mentioned, and there’s not much here separating Gunslinger Stratos from being just another run-of-the-mill generic series—even if it was quite fun seeing them mess around with beam sabers and doing crazy acrobatics.
Ultimately, what this leaves us with is a series that’s likely to leave almost everyone with mixed feelings and questions as to whether or not it’ll be worth watching in the long run. It was to be expected considering the difficulties of adapting from another medium and some of the staff working on this, but this was a series I wanted to be good, and it certainly didn’t meet my expectations there. That’s not to say it’s not worth watching—it’s only the first episode after all—but there’s certainly a lot of ground to make up after this lackluster introduction. The action scenes and the face-off with an alternate self are certainly things they can build off of here, and there’s definitely room for the series to grow depending on how they execute it over the next few episodes, but count me in as someone who wonders if even that’ll be enough to keep this series relevant given the other competition this season offers.
Note: There are no plans to cover Gunslinger Stratos weekly at this time.
ED: 「MIRAI」 by GARNiDELiA