Friday, April 8, 2011

Infinite Ryvius Anime Review

Infinite Ryvius
Bandai Entertainment
Complete Collection - 26 episodes
650 minutes - 6 discs
$59.98 (2005) $49.98 (2006)
ISBN 669198210334
English/Japanese Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Goro Taniguchi
Studio - Sunrise
TO BUY: Infinite Ryvius

Synopsis: In 2137 AD a massive eruption from the sun flooded the solar system in a sea of plasma.  The effect is called the Geduld and exhibits intensely high pressure/temperatures at varying levels (similar to pressure/cold in deep sea diving).  The year is now 2225 AD and despite the Geduld phenomena mankind has populated the solar system with space travel being commonplace.  Many seek careers as astronauts and schools have been set up in orbital training stations.  One such station is the Liebe Delta. 

Kouji Aiba is training on the Liebe Delta to become a Level 2 pilot along with his flight training partner Ikumi Oze.  Kouji's childhood friend Aoi Housen is also on the station learning to be a flight attendant along with his brother Yuki.  The Aiba brothers hate each other due to their parents difficult divorce and Yuki's resentment of his older brother Kouji.  Yuki often loses his temper and beats up Kouji. 

During a school break the Liebe Delta was sabotaged and began submerging into the Geduld where it started disintegrating due to the crushing heat/pressure.  In a desperate act the remaining instructors sacrificed themselves in an attempt to save the students.  Ultimately the space station was destroyed, but the 495 students were saved by the discovery of a mysterious deep-dive vessel hidden within the station's structure. 

The students are stranded aboard the Ryvius deep within the Geduld and must discover its incredible gravitational power to survive the constant attacks by clandestine military vessels attempting to capture the ship (formerly known as the "Brattica"). A smaller ship and giant robot (called the "Vital Guarder") are found to house the majority of the Ryvius' offensive and defensive capabilities. Attempts are made to seek rescue, but each is met with failure as the Earth politicians falsely label the Ryvius as a terrorist vessel.   

Pushed to the brink and desperate to find safety the students on the Ryvius must deal with their situation.  Some rise to the occasion, lash out at others, fall victim to self-preservation anxiety, or attempt to control the people around them. All must cooperate in order to survive. 

Who is the strangely dressed girl appearing on the ship like a phantom? Can the students survive each subsequent battle while their forced society strains closer to the breaking point?   

Pros: Lots of extras including mini-episodes titled "Infinite Ryvius Illusion" on each disc ("Together with Neya" shorts are hilarious), good production values (no overt CG used) and tons of plot/characters, satisfying ending

Cons: Neya's character is completely random and confusing for most of the show, Kouji is a stereotypical anime weakling (like Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion) and his plight can be frustrating at times, brother-sister love backstory for one of the characters (a common theme in many Japanese anime), zero nudity

Mike Tells It Straight: Complex, emotional, and pronounced Ri-vy-us, this show is essentially Lord of the Flies in space.  Well-received by Japanese audiences when it first aired back in 2000, it gained a lot of attention due to a fusion of American urban culture into it's soundtrack (R&B/hip-hop/J-pop) and graphics (graffiti).  Possessing an ambitious cast of characters (nearly 500 total) with complicated motivations and backstory, this show forces you to sit down and really pay attention in order to enjoy the series.  At times it was painful viewing Kouji's lack of strength and constant beat downs, but the ending was worthwhile.  The whole Neya/Vaia sub-plot was downright confusing, but I liked how the space battles were methodical and slow (adding more realism). I'd give this a cursory recommendation if you're looking for character-driven sci-fi -- it's good quality, but definitely not for everyone. 

TO BUY and Recommendations:Last Exile Summer Wars