OP: 「enemy」by Blank Paper
Anime original mecha: not the most common of phrases you hear these days, especially since the time Gundam IBO happened to grace the quarterly season calendars. So what do we get this fall? Not one, not two, but three anime original mechas, and one by Sunrise to boot. Alright, it’s technically Sunrise Beyond – i.e. Xebec – and more 2.5 mecha originals (since Megaton-kyuu Musashi has no simulcast and Gyakuten Sekai is cute girls doing mecha things), but Kyoukai Senki at least makes up for the gap right? Well, mostly.
Building off the handy dandy RC Preview, Kyoukai Senki is effectively the latest Sunrise kick at the mecha franchise can. At a glance there’s a lot of familiar components buried under the hood, whether that be the always fun mecha designs of Ebikawa Tanekaki, the almost ubiquitous setup of eccentric dweeby lead in Shiiba Amou (Satou Gen) stumbling across and piloting an even more eccentric mech, the mecha support staff in chirpy AI mascot Gai (Fujiwara Natsumi), and even the premise of downtrodden Japan wholly at the whim of upstart foreigners – yes, I assure you those Code Geass references all but write themselves. It’s the old school mecha style you know and love, now adapted to the modern year.
Where Kyoukai Senki starts separating from the pack, however, is coincidentally in regards to that premise. While I already mentioned Code Geass as a choice comparison it will be good to reinforce that this one will not be Code Geass: for all of Amou’s apparent smarts he’s no Lelouche, for all that Gai tries to take the comedic route he will never be C.C. Indeed outside of Japan being reduced to an extraterritorial playground Kyoukai Senki’s M.O. trends far more towards kiddy friendly Gundam than any sort of pulpy over the top thriller, as the atmosphere, characters, and array of named mecha abilities are so far more sanitized and ‘upbeat’ compared to the usual larger than life personalities which everyone often looks for in mecha stories. Mind you, still early days and all – we haven’t even rounded out the main protagonist trio yet! – but Kyoukai Senki certainly has its work cut out if it intends on going gritty over playful. After all, always takes more than a few hotheaded not-UN merc stand-ins to break the monotony of well-trodden paths.
While Kyoukai Senki may be less than impressive right out the gate, there’s still quite a bit here worthy of giving a chance. No show ever truly kicks off until after the first few episodes, and considering Kyoukai Senki has only just touched on its various parts, I fully expect the same here once introductions are out of the way.
ED: 「You’re My Perfect Mirror」by Yu-Na Fukinbara