July 5th, 2014.
The Framework of Ideals is Set – Release the Characters!
So, Urobuchi only wrote the first three episodes, right? Will keep it in mind.
ED/OP (not sure which one it’d end up being) – No video, so can’t comment on it. I really liked it, and the similarities to the Madoka OST vocals is unmistakable. Good stuff. Good energy, which has a good beat even while it’s somewhat… soft? That’s the best I can describe it.
The Martian contingent, can’t say I was a huge fan of their character designs. I didn’t exactly dislike it, but not a huge fan? After seeing some of the Americans, it seems that’s how we’re depicting “European stock” here. Ok. Character designs are still crisp. I did like how each of the Martian factions had mechs that looked distinct from one another – as the Lieutenant pointed out, each is its own faction.
Ok voice acting all around, solid soundtrack, which was downright awesome in the ending as the Landing Castles made landfall.
Themes, Plot, etc.:
Have you guys read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card? Not watched the film, but actually read the book? Some of these themes appear in Neon Genesis Evangelion as well, but usually later. Here, they open with them. Considering we opened with the themes, and that Urobuchi had a hand in shaping the story, I do wonder if we’ll keep exploring these themes as sole themes, alongside other themes, or branch onto other themes.
The lieutenant is the mouthpiece here. He is aware that they are turning the kids into soldiers, they are selling them the dream of power, of self-sufficiency, of the ability to protect themselves, which are all a lie in the face of the Martians’ incredibly superior standing. And he needs alcohol to quiet his conscience, in the face of his pushing the children into this path leading to death and despair, and over his helplessness at being brushed aside, at how the truth he carries within him is brushed aside.
The lieutenant gave up hope on himself, he no longer believes in himself, and thus he also does not believe in humanity. He will hide from reality with alcohol, just as humanity hides from the truth, and plays a wargame with the kids. And yet, he can still be instilled with some small measure of faith.
About the plot, I wonder when and how the Martians got to Mars. As someone living in Israel, and in whose mind Asimov’s Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun are still fresh, 17 years after reading them, I’m not surprised at all at the mock separation into “a new species”, just look at fights over religious doctrines…
Also, why didn’t the Moon Knights go back to Mars? Are their ships only capable of making landfall? Couldn’t they have been brought back? “Godsfall” is such a great name – the engines of heaven fall down upon the earth, the great Ophanim (wheels) crashing down in sheets of earth. Or is it the plight of the celestial body, the moon, itself? Regardless, that bit was pretty awesome. But 15 years, a new “impact”, 2014, we’re getting close to Neon Genesis Evangelion territory again.
But, what sort of story is this? Is this a mecha story of the Gundam-political sort, or is it one of the personal-psychological NGE sort? Will mecha truly matter that much, even though they probably will to some degree since they’re on the key-art?
And that brings us to the final set-piece. The protagonists. Two earthlings. One indebted to Martians but treated like scum, and the other not blinking a bat at incoming missiles, seeming not to display emotions. Does he suffer from PTSD, with something happening to him in the past? They will surely meet, and contrast, and compare. That fits more into the Gundam into Sunrise style of mecha shows than it does to the truly personal NGE style, but hey, they might explore themselves via the other.
It was a nice touch, to end on a wish for peace, from a future generation, even as the current one messes it all up. Adults looking down on children, as helpless to change their situation. Kids who grow into adults seeking fame and war. No wonder they need alcohol to get through the day.
I thought it was quite a solid episode – mostly because we’ve covered so much thematic ground that I’m curious where they’ll take it now. The downside is we don’t even have any characters, not even in broad strokes. We have the lieutenant who’s a mouthpiece for ideas, we have a boy that’s feeling loyalty, home-sickness, and is trampled upon, and that’s that. No actual personalities, and writing those isn’t Urobuchi’s strong suit – but he’s only writing the first 3 episodes, leaving roughly 21 more for characters to form in the framework of the world and ideals he’ll weave.