Some background first, I really loved Sword Art Online’s first season, so friends recommended me two other light novel series, the first was Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, which I really didn’t like, and the second was Heavy Object. Kamachi Kazuma, The author of Heavy Object is behind Toaru Majutsu no Index (A Certain Magical Index) which I found to be “okay”, and Railgun, of which I am a fan. The director behind the show, Watanabe Takashi, worked on shows such as Freezing, Ikkitousen, Senran Kagura, and Shakugan no Shana. So, shounen battlers is a genre I like, but I’m quite wary about this show, so let’s see how it pans out.
Let’s start with the summary, this wasn’t a bad episode, but it was a pretty bad first episode. Where is the hook? Where is the excitement? Where’s the first impression to make us keep watching? It really failed there, and even the exposition dump in the first few minutes wasn’t terribly interesting or elegant, but I guess if your actual goal is to try and get it all out of the way as quickly as possible so you could ignore it from then on, then it was indeed the most expedient manner.
And here we get to the first “theme” I wish to discuss, which is how damn anachronistic this world is. I guess we can blame Gundam and Sunrise mecha shows in general for it, but nobility and commoners? Not very sci-fi. The “slices of alliances” is also not something that is feasible long-term, and the closest we came to it was around World War 2, which is of course a big inspiration for the show, seeing how tanks came about, obviated mounted cavalry, and changed the face of warfare forever. Objects are basically tanks. The show admits its “unmoving nature” as it reflects on humanity never changing, just changing how it wages war. We also returned to the World War 2-erasque no United Nations (and let ignore its precursor, The League of Nations, just as the entire world did back then as well).
But then we have the most archaic concept of all, the supposedly “practicality-driven chivalry”, with “clean wars” that are essentially duels between mounted noble knights, while everyone else just supports them and is handed over as cattle alongside the territory. This is about as far from sci-fi as it can be right now, and I suppose that’s why we got a not very interesting breakdown of the technology of how the Objects supposedly work, because otherwise you could’ve replaced them with huge horses, or dragons, or whatever.
Qwenthur is interesting in how he actually cares about getting rich quick, which seems to be beyond a gag, and he also keeps referring to money, such as him getting food paid for by others, or how expensive the Smart-Rounds are. Someone who wants to move in the world.
Of course, the last, and very common LN-theme is the “Generic All-Around Strength” versus “Specific-Situation Strength,” and the usual war-time theme of a human versus an overpowering Object/Tank might be a theme too, or it might just be “colour”.
There just isn’t much to discuss – we have bland “shy princess pilot”, a gag-friend, a gag-commander, and no “bang” to kick this show off just yet. I’ll give it another episode or two to show us where it wants to go, but this really wasn’t an exciting premier. “Bland” is the best word to describe this episode thus far, “workmanlike” would be a good fit, except the 2 minute infodump in the beginning did the most job there, and everything else was just to show us the traits of each character. Yes, you set up a situation before a Hero’s Journey in order to show us how the characters are forced to change, but neither the characters, nor the situation, nor the “change” at the end were handled in an interesting manner.
The art was functional, mostly sharp, alright backgrounds. The CG wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t great. At some point I did grow distracted by how much the Object’s cannons reminded me of penises. I’d say the art is “bland”, in that it is competent but uninteresting, visually.
Then we get to the fan-service. I get that you might want to contrast the two boys shoveling in the cold while the pilot is enjoying a warm bath, but panning up from her naked butt upward, and constantly lingering on the Commander’s breasts and crotch? Yes, it’s what Havia is talking about, but meh. It, again, wasn’t offensive, nor was it very alluring, like the rest of the visual design, “competently bland” is how I’d describe it.
There was one aspect of the show that I liked when it came to presentation, and that was the sound. I liked the soundtrack, the hectic background music playing both at the start and at the end (different tracks, I think) was quite good, and Hanae Natsuki who portrayed Qwenthur, did a good job as usual. Not a fan of the super meek and quiet (and dare I say “bland”?) voice acting by Suzuki Eri who portrayed Milinda (The “princess”), but hopefully that will change as the show progresses.
OP – Interesting, quite frenetic in tempo, the sound was alright. The rapid location shifts in the art worked well with the song. The song was alright, just not a big fan of it personally, I guess. The OP had some segments that really drilled down on the fanservice, of course.