It has always been the aspiration of the Central Tanegashima High School Robotics Research Club to complete the GunPro1, a fully functioning giant robot. For years, the members of the club have contributed to its progress and it is now Akiho Senomiya's goal to finally make the dream of all the past club members become a reality. However, things are not as easy as they seem as the club lacks the funding for such a huge endeavor. Aside from that, the only other club member, Kaito Yashio, shows no interest in assisting his childhood friend and instead indulges in playing mecha-fighting games on his "PokeCom."
As Kaito is in the middle of wasting his days, he receives an indecipherable message and hears a voice that seems to be drowned out by the noise of static. He searches for the source, only to realize that it came from Airi Yukifune, an AI which only exists within the augmented reality system accessible via the PokeCom. Robotic;Notes follows the story of Kaito as he discovers a peculiar report in Airi's database, one that would have disastrous consequences in the future.
I was really looking forward to an anime adaptation of Robotics;Notes, the third visual novel written by Hayashi Naotaka-shi for the collaboration of 5pb. and Nitroplus, because previous two series came from it were really neat with ChäoS;HEAd being a rather promising start and Steins;Gate being just stellar. So no wonder I have a lot of things to tell now.
Robotics;Notes begins with our protagonists, Yashio Kaito and Senomiya Akiho, the only members of school’s robotics club, trying to save the said club from shutting down. And that’s a huge step down from Steins;Gate in terms of a story. I mean, Steins;Gate had university students as
main characters who invent and mess up with crazy gadgets, and all Robotics;Notes has to offer is yet another clichéd story about saving a school club. Ouch. But to be fair, one can still pull out a good plot from that, and Robotics;Notes has an interesting start despite me being biased against its premise.
The plot of the series starts off with Yashio and Senomiya entering some sort of Japanese Robot Wars tournament. It’s a great hook for the series and it made me change my initial opinion of the show. I’m pretty sure that the idea of crushing and smashing enemy robots with your own one is appealing to every geek, who is interested in technology. We are all children when it comes to this. If you liked playing around with screwdrivers and other instruments, disassembling stuff and building simple mechanisms when you were small, then you understand the overall feeling that Robotics;Notes is trying to show you — the technology is awesome, and through it you can make miracles come true like a bloody mage.
The first half of Robotics;Notes serves mainly as an introduction of the characters, just like in Steins;Gate.
Yashio is a good male protagonist to me. He has a lazy attitude but essentially is a nice and caring fellow who just doesn’t want to show it off. Sometimes he lacks character because of that but I think that’s fine in general.
Senomiya Akiho is a cheerful, merry girl. She is really important for this story because she is the key to the mood Robotics;Notes is trying to pull you in. Senomiya absolutely loves robots and never stops talking about how classy they are. Actually, it’s a double-edged sword, because, depending on a viewer, she can either be irritating or having a certain appeal to her.
Of all other characters I want to mention Furugōri Kona, resident computer fairy. I mentioned in my Steins;Gate review that I liked how Hashida Itaru was a pretty nice depiction of a geek. Furugōri is exact opposite, a walking stereotype: a shut-in, a fujoshi and speaks in slang full of memes. The thing is, she is probably my favourite character here, maybe because of her over-the-top behaviour and facial expressions or maybe because she has a certain drama to herself. Nevertheless, I think Furugōri’s antics are the funniest part of the series.
So, yeah… Enough praising here. You’ve probably seen my rating and are now wondering why it is so low after all I said. Well, both Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes have a good first half, but while Steins;Gate in its second half becomes one of the best anime series I’ve ever seen, Robotics;Notes follows the wrong way and starts to fall apart.
The plot becomes bloody nonsensical. A lot of threads are left forgotten and unresolved, and I think that I should put part of the blame for this on the blokes who wrote script for the series because it feels like they did a bad job in condensing several routes of the visual novel into one big story. But there are things I can’t see any excuse for. Some events of the past that the characters constantly mentioned in a vague way are never fully explained. What a tease. Other big events happened during the course of the series just don’t get enough attention in my eyes. Major things going in Tokyo? Yep, it looks totally important because all description I get is about thirty seconds of footage and a couple of posts in bland name Twitter. The world is in turmoil? Casually mentioned in the news and that’s it. I just can’t sense the scale they want me to feel. It’s like spending all day wasting time in your house, watching the telly and so on, and then some fellow suddenly shows up and tells you that boom, you saved the world by doing nothing. That is wonderful but just doesn’t feel like a major accomplishment, does it?
Most of the characters lost their appeal to me in the second half because they just stopped being relevant to the main plot. It’s just like they are written in for the sake of one single scene or for the pure purpose of exposition. The antagonist is also meh because he lacks any motivation or traits that could have made him a memorable villain. Just what is he going to do after he succeeds? Why is his plan so overly complex and relying heavily on rather small and obscure details? I guess I’ll never know.
And another thing. As I mentioned before, what defined Robotics;Notes and made it likeable to me in the first place is the sense of awe it gave to technology and constructing stuff. I loved that message, but then the creators completely screwed it up with inconsistency and technobabble. Sure, there is a lot of technobabble in ChäoS;HEAd and in Steins;Gate, but at least it is believable to some extent. And here we have magnetic monopoles — red glowing thingies that just fall from the sky for unexplained reason. There is a friendly neighbourhood PhD in physics, whom I went to the same school with. When I told her about this concept, well… I’ll never forget those cold eyes of a person with murderous intent so strong it can make you die of fear. No, seriously, you cannot write a love letter to science with plot devices like monopoles that come out from bloody nowhere. It sort of undermines the whole message that technology can make miracles in good hands and save the world in hopeless situations because it turns out that to create technology you need a really miraculous event to happen first. Ridiculous.
Robotics;Notes is major disappointment for me. Akin to ChäoS;HEAd and Steins;Gate, it was rather promising in the beginning, with Robot Wars, urban legends and augmented reality quest bits, but unlike those two, its story had too much build-up leading out to literally nothing, so it just collapsed by its own weight.
my main impression: whoever came up with the original concept as well as the script writers for this anime need a really good editor, who can wrangle their ideas into something that actually hangs together structurally and makes sense. because there were plenty of ideas here, quite possibly too many, and the result is a hodgepodge of giant plot holes held together by spit and enthusiasm.
i can't remember the last time i watched an anime that was so meticulously produced, so overall pretty, so well animated and orchestrated, and found it such an unholy mess on the inside, which ultimately left me unfulfilled.
there are two main stories here; one consists of a high school's robotics club trying to put together a giant robot, the other is pretty much at the other end of the spectrum: saving the world from mysterious villainy. the first part is decently executed (love the battle bots!), but it soon takes a back seat to the second one, which is sadly not executed well at all. i liked the twist, which i did not see coming, but i didn't like the hurried exposition explaining it all. the pacing of this story is all over the map; IMO 22 episodes are enough time to handle it much better.
animation/art: production IG, need i say more? it's beautiful. so much detail, and characters even change their clothes and hair styles several times! backgrounds showcase tanegashima (an island off the south coast of kyuushuu), where japan's actual space facilities are located -- i want to go!. smooth animation, good cinematography. i have no complaints here; it is a joy to watch.
sound: my reviews tend to lack good notes on sound because, while i know good music when i hear it, i don't have a knowledgeable vocabulary to convey its nuances. i like the BGM here, i also like the OP and ED songs (i'm becoming a fan of itou kanako; a strong, non-cutesy female voice). the voice talent is decent -- shinichiro miki is wasted as sawada, morikawa toshiyuki does a fair but kinda bland job voicing kimijima (for which he probably should not be blamed), and nazuka kaori steals the show with her interpretation of fraukoujiro.
characters: great visual design, sub-par personalities.
1. senomiya akiho, super-enthusiastic president of the robotics club with a serious inferiority complex about her older sister misaki who first had the idea of building a giant robot for the famous anime "gunvarrel" 9 years ago.
2. yashio kaito, whose sole interest at the start is playing a giant-robot battle game, at which he excels. otherwise he doesn't seem to care about anything, doesn't want to do anything, and basically just lays around, only moving when aki drags him around.
3. daitoku junna, a moe blob with a fear of robots (she has reason).
4. hidaka subaru, megane guy with delusions of bishounen/liberace grandeur, heavily into robots, serious to a fault
5. fraukoujiro / furugoori kano, shut-in, geek, gamer, genius programmer, fujoshi, equal-opportunity lecher
6. yukifune airi, AI interface
that doesn't sound so bad, you say? well, it's not bad bad, but it's just... there isn't enough character development here. we get a bare bones skeleton for most of them, and while we might find out a secret or two, we don't really get to know these people, and they feel almost generic (except that their character design is very good). except furugoori, who is quite a unique character, albeit bordering on caricature.
aki and kaito both drive the show; everybody else feels like an extra. aki bulldozes ahead on the robot-building side, while kaito investigates the odd occurrences that start with an alleged ghost. he becomes a little more interesting as time goes on, but i had a hard time warming up to him because he is just not innately curious (unlike me, *wry grin*), and keeps dragging his feet, almost lackadaisically stumbling across serious secrets, and showing little intellectual curiosity. he frustrated me a lot until fairly late in the anime when he grows a pair. his saving grace all along is that he does care about those he considers his friends, and he will act to help them, often quietly behind the scenes. i am happy to say what little romance this anime involves is actually well done, no typical stupidity involved.
i can't talk about the villain(s) without spoilering, but that's probably my biggest disappointment -- we get no good villain. there is no proper motivation for the villainous intent, and frankly, most fights between good and evil just bore me; i prefer conflict between good-yet-flawed characters, dilemmas that make me think. don't get that here. oh, and i could have done without the parrot ex machina intervention at the convenient moment; i actually laughed -- not what i should feel moved to do in a life-or-death situation
so where the heck did the monopoles come from? is that ever explained and i just missed it?
in short, i enjoyed watching it, but the pay-off didn't materialize, and the 7 is primarily there because the production is so good, and i average all values to get my overall score. i don't think that i would recommend it to my friends.
Okay, so Robotics;Notes. I admit it. I am a big fan of Nitrosplus and their works. Hell, remember Steins;Gate? That scientific thriller was one hell of a ride. When I heard that they were going to do another anime adaptation of the science fiction genre, I was very excited. No, I was ecstatic. However, after completing this series, it left me nothing of what I originally had hoped for. Don't get me wrong. I don't like comparing other works from the same company much especially since neither has close resemblance. However, the experience that came out of this series was worlds apart.
Now, regarding technology...
of technology can do wonders. In today's world, technology has provided us with so many new innovations for our common lives. In fact, without technology, our lives would not be the same as many of us know as of today. Perhaps one of the most interesting technology we may be curious about is the idea of robotics. Yes, robots! It's a mechanical unit with artificial intelligence that is programmed by a computer system that can make our lives much easier. It is automatic. It is useful. It is futuristic. Who knows? In maybe about ten, twenty, or thirty years, our world may never ever be the same again. If there's one change though, robots might be a word that would come to most people's minds. Evolution is inevitable and technology evolves every day.
In the world of Robotics;Notes, robots has become a fascinating phenomenon. By its tagline, “What would happen if you really tried to make a giant robot?”
Robotics;Notes is an anime series with production handled by Production I.G that began airing on noitaminA (Animation written backwords) during the Fall of 2012. The series is based off of a Japanese visual novel developed by 5pb who are known for their previous science fiction works such as Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate. The series takes place in 2019 on a southern island known as Tanegashima in Japan. In a futuristic world, technology has evolved and people have become interested in robots. One such group of people known as the Robot Research Club is keen on unlocking its secrets, exploring the ideas of robotics, and make the most of it.
Now, the series is a standalone anime. It is NOT a prequel or sequel of any of Nitroplus' other works. Despite being in the mainstream and having highly successful ratings, Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes has little similarity beyond one or the other with the exception of a cameo character and some references.
The majority of the series takes place at Chuuoutanegashima High School. (how the hell do you even pronounce that?) It is here where the Robot Research Club do their daily activities. Unfortunately though, the club does seem to suffer a bit of...uh, population in terms of membership. As a matter of fact, its status is weak and it's up to its two members (Akiho Senomiya and Kaito Yashio) to save it.
For the first half of the series, Robotics;Notes gives off a slice-of-life feeling where the atmosphere is very lighthearted, casual, and occasionally can cause some snoozing reactions. Luckily, we have Akiho and Kaito to maybe wipe out some of those boredom. For one thing, I found these two protagonists very likeable to watch especially in regards to their interactions and dialogues. Their personalities doesn't seem to match well though. On the surface, Akiho seems to be a very enthusiastic girl who wants to explores ideas (namely robotics for the club). Her goal is to make a giant robot for the world to see and hoping that dream will become a reality. She also seems to be a big fan of GUNVARREL, and surprise surprise, that's about robotics as well. On the other hand, there's Kaito. Unlike Akiho, he only seems to be interested in spending his days playing games, namely the fighting game Kill-Ballad. He is unenthusiastic but continues to stand by Akiho's side for a specific reason.
The club only has two members from the beginning. It's hard to make the most of it for the duo especially if they want to convince others to join their club. For that, they must earn other students' respect, support, and rights. Perhaps the best way to accomplish this task is to make a name for themselves at school. And hey, what better way to do it than making a giant robot?!
The way these two start off from the beginning is a bit frustrating to watch. Their lack of progress puts Akiho on stress especially with their club in danger of being closed. Trust me though, I want them to succeed. But that's a lot easier said than done because not only does the club seems to lack members, but also funding as well. There does seem to be opportunities presented that could help with that but one must win the rights for it.
Speaking of opportunities, by the first few episodes, viewers might be turned off with its themes and the presentation. In fact, this series can even be labeled as slice-of-life at many occasions by the way it seems to progress its episodes. It's no surprise though as Nitroplus' other works tend to follow a similar trending; shows starts off slow, gets intense, and concludes with a definite finish.
Luckily, that intensity and progression gets under way later on. Like an invention, the series progresses itself through its themes such as actual robot combat and later on, even conspiracy from the government. It also gets more emotional as well especially regarding Subaru (another student at the school) and his father. Furthermore, there is a lot of mysteries developing seemingly behind the scenes. For one thing, Kaito seems to have discovered something out of this world in the form of a young girl trapped in his game tablet. It opens up a strange boundary towards the mystery field as viewers may want to know who she is, what's she's there for, and why she is there in the first place.
Unfortunately, the series itself does drag quite a bit. Even I found it boring at many circumstances. Robotics;Notes just seems to drag itself way too slow with its slice-of-life feeling. As a matter of fact, each episode seems off balance. The “let's build a robot to make our names known to the world” genre has becomes stale after so many episodes. Furthermore, the mechanics behind the construction of the robot is almost nonexistent or mentioned very briefly in one of the beginning episodes. The series' all so likeable duo also becomes a bit repetitive to watch as there seems to be little to no development between Akiko and Kaito. As a matter of fact, the duo continues live on their daily lives as if there's almost nothing going on and about. Their relationship remains intact but we want to see more than that. We want to seem the two succeed and accomplish what their goal – building that robot of their dreams and showing it to the world to make a name of themselves. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen or at least far too slow in progress. Well, I guess the ending of this little duo was cute. But marvelous? Hell no. Finally, I would say that although R;N makes a way of seemingly foreshadowing events, it is stale. At the very least, it didn't give me that thriller like feeling.
However, the theme of robots and technology remains intact. To add to this package, there is also a very peculiar girl who speaks and acts like a otaku of the modern days. Her name is Frau (real name is Kona Furugōri) and she's one girl with a genius mind. Behind that head of hers though lies a somewhat tragic past especially related to her parents. Furthermore, her character develops a bit and becomes one of the pivotal moments during the latter half of the series after an unprecedented event. With the help of her new friend, she finds hope in this world of technology.
Speaking of hope, there seems to be more of that later on for the Robotics Club as well!
The club recruits some new members and gets their interests through. In fact, even Kaito becomes interested in some of the phenomenon going around especially regarding one of the mysterious factors he discovers on his game tablet as mentioned earlier. Because the series has 5bp and Nitroplus involved, expect some correlations. In fact, a cameo from its highly successful anime series Steins;Gate makes their debut later on as well as various references. It's science all over again! Duhuhu
In terms of visuals, Robotics;Notes only maintains an average stance of artwork. The school has its posture that looks like an average looking school rather than some viewers may originally expected; a possibly advanced academy with super technology. No, it's just a normal school with normal people. Ichirou Tatsuta handles the art direction who is known for his work in other titles such as Ghost Hound, Shiki, and Usagi Drop. The characters themselves also look mostly normal and to themselves (with a little peculiarity added to Frau). Chikashi Kubota (Anohana, Shinsekai Yori, Corpse Princess) is responsible for the characters' animation designs. He gives most of the series' characters a soft touch of lightheartedness rather than making them stand out too much. Most of them gives off that natural look with some technical attributes here and there such as Airi. Ah, that cute little thing..
The soundtrack and music of the series stands slightly above mediocre. The OP song, Junjou Spectra by Zwei, for the first half is very catchy with its montage of characters as well as some of the technology dealing with robotics. The second OP song drops the ball a bit but still gives off that technical outlook. The overall OST of the series is lighthearted with some emotional melodies played during some of the more melancholic scenes. It's hard to take it serious at many variances because the series feels like a slice of life with everything moving slowly. The soundtrack has that slow feeling as well. It's boring.
Overall, enjoying Robotics Notes for me was hard. The series starts off slow and has that slice of life feeling. That feeling follows throughout the series despite some of the intertwined arcs presented such as conspiracy, robot building, and the mysterious girl in the game tablet. The duo of Kaito and Aki are fun to watch at first but it might be hard to take it too well after so their ever-so-slow development. In fact, there is hardly much at all despite them being the main stars of the show. Their personality collides often and makes it seem strange to watch them interact at times. Luckily, robots exist in the show that gives the title its meaning. Technology plays roles too especially with the mind of a young genius girl. There is also minimal fan service that gives the series a more innocent outlook on the futuristic world as opposed to a dark dystopian setting five or ten years from our time. Ultimately though, R;N stands only barely at a '6' for me. If it wasn't for a certain cool 2D girl with her cool pixel hair style, I probably would of snoozed through this. Duhuhuhu...
Now I do have to wonder though, what would you do if you had a giant robot?
A short warning: This is kind of long and I'm a bit of a potty-mouth (I tried to take the cursing out, but some might still be in there). Also, please leave some feedback, especially if you don't like the review. All criticism is appreciated.
The setting is basically this: The Robotics Club at Central Tanegashima High School want to build a huge mecha, and the series follows its members in their struggles with funding and other stuff. Pretty basic. Obviously there's more under the surface than the characters just going at it with spanners, including a mystery slowly being revealed about a conspiracy that would
severely endanger a sweeping majority of the people on Earth. It's pretty far-fetched and we're never given a proper explanation why the plan is in motion any way. The series is very episodic and each episode usually focuses on one of the side characters and how Kaito fits in and helps them.
To begin with some negativity, my main gripe with the series, is that it feels so very standard. Generic is another word I could use, but it feels too negative. Robotics;Notes takes what you find in most series nowadays: A cast of rather quirky characters that compliment each-other's quirk/weirdness and go with it. It embraces the stereotypic tropes usually associated with anime and doesn't shy away from using them.
A positive to be found is that the animation is of very good quality. It's not Makoto Shinkai level of quality, but not much out there is. I'm far from an artist myself, so that's about all I'll say about it. One of the few good things with the series.
As far as the voice acting, it's mostly solid. Fukuda Nobuaki stands out as "Doc" in an emotional episode at about the middle of the series. Most others are good, but not outstanding. Part of the soundtrack stand out, but others are pretty run-of-the-mill pieces. Sound department ends up being a little above average, all things considered.
To the characters:
Akiho (the female protagonist) is super energetic and ambitious, while Kaito (male protagonist) is when the series begins depicted as a sloth and generally disinterested in doing anything but playing Kill-Ballad (an on-line fighting game with mechas) which he apparently is one of the top people in the world at. As the series goes forward, Kaito's character is all over the place. Junna is what I like to put in the category of "moe-blob. Basically, she's a throwaway character that's in the series to be cute and once or twice pop into the main plot-line for an episode or two. Contrasting her is Subaru, ambitious and helpful dude, who was told by his father to stop building, and competing with, robots. Then there's Kona, the epitome of stereotypic nerds in Japanese culture; She's a shut-in; almost entirely communicates in memes; is incredibly perverted and is generally pictured as a bit of a nut-case. That said, she does have a back-story that ties into the main story which is intriguing for the peculiarly short time it's given to develop. There's also the obligatory crazy director guy who's completely obsessed with boobs, and has a parrot that's trained (or is just damaged for being around him too long) to chant along in his craving for beholding boobs, as well as the oddball teacher who seems to be the most stupid and unreliable person on earth, but ends up being a person you should count on. You know you've seen these character types before if you've watched more than a couple anime.
A big problem the series has initially, is the fact that it takes a long time to get going. It starts with an in medias res scene, with the group starting up a big mecha and getting it started. After that we're showed the lives and struggles of Akiho and Kaito in their strife to get the robot working. They get some more members shortly, but the two are unquestionably the main characters. So, basically, the first episodes are for introducing the characters and the basic plot, which is usually fine. The problem is that the main characters aren't really that interesting, and neither is the main story to begin with. Viewers who stick around will have a passable series to watch, but there's not a whole lot keeping you in attached to the show or its characters. Let's see why:
The characters, with focus on the main characters:
Kaito - the series main protagonist, mind you- is an extremely bland and terribly boring character. He rarely shows interest in doing anything at all and seems to be sticking around "just because". In the beginning, coming off as eternally sceptical and non-committal, though at times showing intense caring and emotion, Kaito is a character that's all over the place, everything at once. It's not that he breaks out of his usual behaviour once or twice, it's that he doesn't have a starting point. Which is something you can say about the series as well.
Akiho - sharing main protagonist duties with Kaito - is a very energetic character who strongly believes in herself and her vision of building the robot her sister started building years previously. I can see her being a character that splits the audience, like a Haruhi. Infectious and happy-go-lucky personality that can alienate some viewers and enamour others.
The most glaring problem with the side-characters is that they're used mainly as plot devices. Characters pop in and out of relevance when it's convenient to the story, and few are consistent throughout the series. So, even when there are scenes that are supposed to evoke emotional responses, we as viewers haven't been given enough to care about the characters and their fates. Every scene should get some sort of reaction or give you something as a viewer. Tons of scenes and some episodes could and should have been cut out to give the viewer more information and background.
The story, which takes the back seat to introducing the characters. The mecha launching stuff in the opening moments of the show is a set-up for other things to happen in the second half of the series and the main story takes a few episodes to even enter the series. The story is told very episodically, in fragments between the episode-long character arcs, where you get more information about the characters and at times ending that characters arc entirely. Like seriously, what ever happened to Subaru's dad going at him for still being into robots? Did he just chill out after Subaru picked one apart in front of him? It was never very clear in the series, or at least not given enough time to appreciate what the arc ultimately did for the character (nothing at all).
It does pick up a considerable amount later, with some emotional episodes and big events and twists. The middle part of the series is easily its best. Though, with the characters being horribly, infuriatingly uneven, it's hard to fully enjoy the series. Also, some scenes are so ridiculously improbable and out of the blue that any seriousness it's trying to get across gets lost.
Now, I've been ragging on it a lot, but honestly, Robotics;Notes is an enjoyable show at times. It's passable as a watch, but if I were to decide on it being good or bad, I have to go with bad. With the story presented, the show has the potential to be a great show, but there are like six episodes dedicated to the story when the disappointing endgame rolls in, filled with deus ex machinas.
To summarise: The series does a poor job at getting the attention and sympathies of it's viewers to begin with and the pacing is way off from where it should be to tell a story that you, as a viewer, should become invested in. Main characters aren't able to carry the show on their own, and as a result the show is pretty flat in the end. It's almost fun how much we're meant to take for granted without any explanation at all. As such, it fails in doing what any series striving to be considered a serious work should do: Make the viewer care. It certainly has some sweet feel-good moments, but they hardly weigh up the series' shortcomings. It's a good try, but in the end it fails more than it succeeds. It falls short of the line between good and bad, and as such, I won't recommend this series to anyone. Maybe I would recommend an aspiring storyteller to watch it, just to know what pits in writing and storytelling to avoid, and that's certainly not something you would want written on the back of the DVD-case.
Hairstyles are very important to character design. Did you know they made an entire anime about how great twintails are? Why do anime fans like twintails so much and what, if anything, are the defining characteristics of these double-ponytailed ladies?