Ten Things I Learnt Watching Star Driver 25*

SPOILERS ABOUND

"Hold on, The Cheat, we're going to the mooooooon!"

“Hold on, The Cheat, we’re going to the mooooooon!”

  1. Is this the banner child for SPACEHOMOLUSTBROS B4 HOS? That loving gaze trading all on their lonesome with ROMANCESUNRISE is only slightly less pregnant with meaning than THIS scene (warning:slight exaggeration)
  2. TAU MISARU THAT’S NOT A KICKU!! PUNCH would have been more satisfying from a thematic perspective if they didn’t blow their wad back in ep23. All they did was reduce the impact dramatically, but with some Lagann varnish to soften the blow (no pun intended). Good job by the animation team on finally having a different victory stance for Tauburn, because it’s a damn good one we have here.
  3. “I CAN STILL SEE IT!” Sunsets? Rainbows? OR TEH THREESOMES?
  4. Sugata got royally shafted by this series. If the plan all along was to have him NOT fight Takuto, running counter to everything the show has been suggesting/ foreshadowing, there has to be a better way of handling his role in the final episode than reducing him to a MacGuffin, a walking plot device. A GIANT walking plot device. He had practically no involvement in any inter-personal conflict besides  the fluff dojo scenes, and I consider the “possession” episodes a red herring, since the plot points were never followed up on (a common problem on this show). He was a damn spectator in the climax, and he was arguably more of a damsel in distress than Wako was (more evidence Takuto is actually the fulcrum of the triangle, not Wako, all you salivating female fanfic writers). The poor dude got absolutely no love by the writing team, and he’s arguably the most sefless character in the whole series if we take actions as the sole judge.
  5. Did he plan the Lagann robot arm cross? Or is that the standard giant robot AI behavorial template for all super robot shows? I have a fond image of Sugata doing a Lagann marathon to psyche himself up for the noble sacrifice.
  6. Wako. What can you say about effing girl? She’s so self-absorbed it’s AMAZING. It’s practically the end of the world, and yet her monologue just shows how vapid a character she is. Now, I have no idea if this is due to poor writing or that she was intentionally written to turn out this way (taking the series in perspective, I suspect the former), but that old chestnut about otaku writers not able to write believable female leads strikes again. In any case, it just shows Sugata and Takuto that they should find other pastures, considering how in-demand they are with the femmes on the island.
  7. That brings us up to Keito. Now, I love her lovey-dovey characterization in ep24 (some hated it, calling it character assassination), but then I enjoy having a character in this show acting unequivocally out of love and love alone, no matter how misguided or one-sided. And YET. Episode 25 takes the transition too far and reduces her to a blubbering mess, completely unrecognizable from the clever, perceptive (she’s the only one that seems immune to the Clark Kent Secret Identity Syndrome) and at times Machiavellian character she has been for most of the show. Considering how badly treated the rest of the cast was in ep25, that the few minutes of development time devoted to them has to be taken in this direction is simply galling. A lot of fans were simply reduced to making King’s Pillar jokes about what REALLY attracts women to Sugata for them to be bought to such a simpering state. Heck, even Samekh is making the euphemism work…”It’s huge and blue from lack of release!” Ahem, anyhoo, we come to….
  8. ..the rest of the cast. Considering what happened to Sugata, the rest get even shorter shrift. There was no point having any of them around beyond being punching bags for Head’s narcissism and throwing Captain Obvious infodump one-liners on what is happening on the battlefield. One of the faults of the show is the almost total focus on the one-on-one combat duels, and whenever we get the chance for a mass orgy battle, it’s almost always a disappointment. That’s no exception for the “Cybody puppet” fights, which degenerated into a bunch of Cybody finishers and then a subsequent feeding to the Worf Effect machine that is Samekh. After Samekh is dealt with by Tauburn, we get no closure with any of the sidecast, as clear a sign of contempt from the writing team as any. All this wouldn’t be so bad if people didn’t watch SD primarily because of the FABULOUS array of characters and their interactions, and less because of the quite frankly boring Cybody duels.
  9. The duels are a prime sticking point in the craw of the fandom, because they tend to be repetitive, padded out, reusing stock animation excessively and probably the sole reason how this sole got its prime Sunday 25 ep slot, which in turn meant the show couldn’t really push the limits in terms of creativity. Even here in the finale the Zero Time fights were REALLY rough around the edges, and degenerated into the standard aping of Lagann’s “pencil scrawl” effects as an excuse to skimp on the animation. It’s clear they blew almost the whole budget of the episode on the Tauburn/Samekh fight at the end.
  10. For an episode where Tauburn played the most important role, it’s sad that he’s just the vehicle for the classic shouting shounen lead. Every powerup seems pulled from the poverbial ass of Willpower!(tm) speeches, all done with much better outrageous flair in Lagann. If you were expecting some clever tactical gambit with Tauburn being crafted to mutually annihilate Samekh, it clearly will never happen in shows like these, one of the accepted perils of watching Japanese anime targeted at the younger demographic…supposedly. The joke is that Star Driver was written for yaoi female fans.
  11. Was that fight worth it? Taken in isolation, probably HELL YES. Huge TRACKIN’ LAZOR spam (death peacock laser spam at that) and Macross Plus homages (and some say Mai-Otome) is always OK in my book, but I was disappointed that none of my pet theories about Tauburn showing any significant King Cybody-slaying properties (considering its unique status), or that it was specificially designed to operate optimally out of Zero Time came to fruition. Ah well, the least of the disappointments in this list.
  12. Samekh doing its best Cape Canaveral impression is my favorite moment of this ep, odd that it may sound. The only way it could be better is if it did a Grendizer and flew off like a saucer, which given the cult-like leanings of the Crux and their Raelian focus on the Departure, as well as the suggestive upper torso of Samekh, is actually pretty probable.
  13. Methinks the Japanese have no idea what the word libido really means. Given that a certain robot show thought human souls=Tang juice, it’s just par for the course. *cough*
  14. Point 8 rears its ugly head again. What happened to Fish Girl and Mizuno(s)? They practically just walked out of the story. Now, some will give me the usual spiel about SD being post-modernist, adventure of life!, central theme of apprivoise from the literal and figurative prison of the island (which in turn was a prison for Cybodies) etc, but considering how much more enjoyable the fluff was and how badly the serious elements developed (save for the allegorical treatment of Fishgirl’s Sam stories as well as the layered meanings of the school play), it’s a huge copout, especially since a lot of fans were expecting a Maiden reunion. My pet expectation of a reconciled Keito and Wako doing their best Macross karaoke duet (again) didn’t occur.
  15. Now that the point of post-modernism raises its ugly head, early hopes (or fears) that the show was Utena for the 00s seems completely misplaced. Besides FABULOUS costumes, the similarities were pretty cosmetic, and it’s highly likely it would not be a symbolic imagery-laden incomprehensible mess (relatively) given its timeslot. I really don’t see the point of complaining about episode 25 in this regards, and SD has shown its really best with a lighter touch when it focuses on characterization, and it’s excellent with mood and ambience, like ep24 demonstrated. One of the strengths of the show is its fantastic visual approach, and its very strong use of colour is especially…*DONS SHADES*…stellar.
  16. This show is especially horrible at conflict resolution, I’ve seen more mature treatment in sentai shows. It’s just evidence on the tomb of SD being a post-modern grey edifice, when we have Head, a completely creepy old fuckwit in a child’s body who’s only possible love is his own reflection (or painting, if he ever did any) and as clear a villainous role as we can get. The only bit of colour his life ever had (ironic considering his vocation) is that short period where he was a seducer of the innocent and snared his best friend’s fiancee, leading him to lose an eye. To relive those days where he actually felt alive, over and over again, he’s perfectly willing to kill off 6 billion humans, as cartoonishly laughable a motivation as it gets. And now that we have our dramatically mandated son->daddy physical interaction (again), things are magically resolved? Naunce this is not. Adding insult to injury, Head’s last line in this show was in a cliche dialogue that would not be misplaced in a certain series starring a gutsy ninja. I thought the duel of the figurative/literal Peter Pans (an emotional midget that really doesn’t want to grow up and uses magitek to forestall that, and another that only looks to the future while carrying that shounen spark of youth perpetually in his heart) wasn’t a bad idea as a standalone theme, but the writing is so hackneyed in its shounen ways it was always doomed to failure. If it was introduced mid-season, or even by ep 20, it might have a fighting chance of proper development.
  17. To keep stomping on the bad writing trail, how pathetic is Kiraboshi as an organization when it has no idea what Samekh is or does? How on earth does Head know, considering he doesn’t even have the lore of the true mark family bloodlines? Does he have a Basement Exposition Scroll like the Itachi clan has in Naruto? With the exception of Sugata and Head, there doesn’t seem to be anyone possessing the full picture before episode 25. In addition, why doesn’t Sugata know about the properties of Sinpathy? And what was the big idea about suggesting the SEELE concept with the shadowy backers? All that came to nothing, so why would they plow in so much money (mainly through the Adult Bank, doubly ironic since the Crux seems to be a youth brigade with a secret handshake) without knowing the ultimate payoff? There is also zero handling on how the mark system works and why the Cybodies chose this way of interacting with the humans of the world. Were they true automata or were they genuine lifeforms that regressed/fell into a turpor? Sorry, your questions won’t be answered. This show has enormous problems with the writing, and I think one comment I read about “dummy data structures” is the best explanation. We have a lot of plot “stubs” embedded in this show, but it’s just brainstorming placeholders that are never developed upon.
  18. So you think it’s all hate and no love? Not really, Kanako was AWESOME in this ep. Not only did she already show her stuff in episode 24, we’re treated to her UNSHAKEABLE conviction in the Kiraboshi project, quoting the statutes and being the focal point of the the mass rallying cry. “SCREW U, CREEPY OLD FUCKER, THIS IS WHAT MY YOUTH REALLY MEANS!” That woman LOVES the bonding concept of the secret club with its secret handshake, and that makes her the greatest anime girl with seaweed hair here in my camp, no contest. My personal theory is that Takashi only pretended to like Simone so he could get the gig of rubbing oil on Kanako. You have to admit, it’s quite a plum job.

*OK, so my abacus is broken, sue me.

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