Thursday, November 28, 2013

Chrome Shelled Regios Anime Review

Chrome Shelled Regios
Kokaku no Regiosu
Complete Collection - 4 discs
600 minutes - 24 episodes
$29.98 (2013) S.A.V.E.
$64.98 (2012)
$59.98 (2011) Parts 1-2/ea.
ISBN 704400095542
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Itsuro Kawasaki
Studio - ZEXCS

Synopsis: In the far future the planet is an inhospitable wasteland - the air is toxic to breathe, the world is a desert, and giant insect-like creatures called Contaminoids roam the surface.  Humanity is forced to live in massive, migrating cities always trying to stay one step ahead of oblivion.  Different types of cities , also called Regios, exist - academic (research/schooling), trade/resource-building, and primary cities with large populations.  Resources are scarce and a loose set of rules exist for the times when cities encounter each other - if they are like-type cities they can battle and the winner appropriates resources from the loser.  The combatants are military artists living and training within the cities.  Each city is controlled by an Electrical Spirit, an electronic lifeform who guides the movements and functions of the city.
Two massive, roaming cities meet to have a battle
Military artists are able to produce a powerful energy called Kei which allows them to manifest a variety of offensive and defensive powers.  Each artist is equipped with a DITE to channel and amplify their use of Kei.   Some create fire, energy beams, thin micro-filament lines able to cut or cling, barriers, and specialists called Neni Operators who use telepathy across great distances (psychokinesis including moving objects).  These Kei users are the greatest defense against the Contaminoids and the most powerful, called "Heaven's Blades", reside in the proto-city Glendan.  They can battle massive Contaminoids alone or in concert.
A massive Contaminoid lands on the outer shell of a city
The DITEs used by military artists are transformable into different types of weapons - swords, guns, axes, maces, micro-filament generators, and almost anything the user can imagine.  Depending on the quality of the DITE the user's Kei can be amplified by many degrees. The DITE is activated by saying the word "Restoration".  The most powerful DITEs are used by the "Heaven's Blades" of Glendan and are the crowning achievement of the technology.  Only the most elite and powerful Kei users are able to earn the title of "Heaven's Blade".  It is quite an accomplishment and recognized among all cities.
Nina befriends the Electrical Spirit of Zuellni
In the academic city Zuellni a new year begins and a new batch of recruits enter training.  One in particular seems promising after intervening in a fight between two students.  His name is Layfon Alseif and his intent is to become a regular student.  Upon observation of his skills Nina Antalk, captain of the 17th Platoon, recruits Layfon into her group.  Zuellni has many platoons which compete against each other to become stronger and prepare for inter-city confrontations.
Felli takes an uncharacteristic interest in Layfon who is completely clueless
The 17th Platoon members are:
  • Nina Antalk - Captain and strongest member of the platoon, she uses a pair of DITE which become modified batons, and she is incredibly driven.  She has an acquaintance with Zuellni's Electrical Spirit (named Zuellni, of course).  She wants to win at all costs and cannot tolerate weakness in herself. 
  • Sharnid Elipton - A smooth operator with the ladies and as the team's sniper.  He appears to be laid back, but is equally driven to protect the city as Nina.  His DITE take the form of twin pistols and he practices a form of close-quarters martial gunfighting.  He is the oldest student in the platoon and has history.
  • Felli Loss - She is a Neni Operator and the younger sister of the Zuellni's Student Council President, Kalian Loss.  Neni Operator's process massive amounts of information in order to wield their psychokinesis powers and the effort overrides many simple physical functions, like smiling.  She appears to have a bland and uncaring personality, but her Kei specialty saps her ability to express simple emotions.  She takes an instant liking to Layfon although her personality renders her incapable of showing him.  
  • Layfon Alseif - The newest recruit and a true mystery.  He hails from Glendan and wished to avoid the military arts for his own reasons.  Despite his best efforts he is thrown into joining the 17th Platoon and participating in inter-platoon competitions.  He genuinely cares about his teammates and will do anything to help them.  His skills are incredible and on par with a "Heaven's Blade".  With the addition of Layfon the 17th Platoon quickly rises up the ranks to become the premier group in Zuellni.   
  • Harley Sutton - He is the DITE engineer of the group and highly skilled at his craft.  When Layfon joins Harley works tirelessly to design a DITE able to channel the massive amounts of Kei that Layfon emits.  
Layfon unleashes his Kei powers during an inter-platoon match
If a city is destroyed, whether by Contaminoids or other disaster, then its Electrical Spirit becomes displaced and wanders almost like a ghost.  These spirits wish to find a new home and will latch onto Kei users who are intensely driven.  They are incredibly dangerous and can also interfere with other Electrical Spirits.  What is the origin of the Contaminoids, the Kei users, and "Heaven's Blades"?  In Glendan a girl named Leerin misses her childhood friend, Layfon.  What are the secrets of his past kept from the 17th Platoon and will they threaten to destroy Zuellni itself?
Nina recovers after overexerting herself training.  She feels inadequate
compared to Layfon's overwhelming power
Pros: Nice animation and computer effects, slick character designs, interactions between the characters were interesting - especially Felli (she was easily my favorite character) and Layfon, some neat powers, good sci-fi premise with the roaming cities, monsters were cool and the series didn't fall into the repetitive 'monster-of-the-week' cycle, a lot of intriguing questions
The 17th Platoon gets some R&R at the pool - Nina, Sharnid, Layfon,
Harley, and Felli.  Too bad Felli doesn't know how to swim!
Cons: Weak ending without any real plot resolutions, too many unanswered questions, the short scenes of either a movie or past events were confusing (again without any plot resolution), some of the characters were a bit weak/whiny, the Contaminoids didn't play as large of a role in the story (and weren't explained), no second season to continue the story, light novels/manga have not been released domestically
This guy's name is Dickserio. No, seriously! He only gets brief screen-time
and is never fully explained like many other sub-plots in the show
Mike Tells It Straight: I'm highly ambivalent towards Chrome Shelled Regios after watching it.  On one hand I liked the characters and story, but any enjoyment I got from the series has been overshadowed by a profound disappointment with the ending and current series status.  The ending was terrible and lacked any proper resolution to the story.  Instead we are given an ending worthy of a footnote in a grander story to be told at a later date.  This date is unknown at this time as the anime series has no second season or any hint of plans for one.  The series itself is based on a prolific set of light novels with a few [apparently] successful short manga spinoffs.
Felli is hilarious!  She's always getting mad and kicking things really
hard (usually Layfon's shins).  Poor refrigerator!
None of the printed material from the series has been released domestically and the anime essentially stands alone.  It's a shame because a lot of neat concepts and even more questions are presented in the series which are disappointingly left unanswered.  What are the Contaminoids?  How did the world become a desolate wasteland?  What is the origin of Electrical Spirits?  Where does Kei come from?  All of these questions arise from the series, but none of them are answered.
This guy stars in flashback/movie (it's unclear exactly what they are)
sequences which are interspersed among each episode
The saving grace of this series is the characters and their personal interactions.  Each character has their own history and drive to be the best.  It's fun to peel back the layers of their stories.  I particularly liked Felli as a character due to her outwardly cold attitude which was betrayed by her true personality and feelings for Layfon.  They were absolutely hilarious together!  She reminded me of Ruri in Martian Successor Nadesico (must be the white hair).
Something's up with Nina after she meets Leerin
I saw a lot of potential in this series and actually enjoyed it up until the last few episodes.  The confusing flashback/movie sequences were really distracting and truly serve no purpose in the series (unless they get explained in a subsequent season).  The Contaminoids reminded me of Blue Gender and it would have been great to get a history on them.  Apparently another dimension exists which has creatures like the Contaminoids?  I have no idea!  This series was amusing, but the lack of an ending was frustrating, especially without a second season to further elaborate the story or having a manga to turn to.

I could have lived without this goofy scene near the end.
What is this - Eureka Seven all of a sudden?
TO BUY and Recommendations: