The new series is set in a near-future world where the boundary between human being and AI is vague. A rapid biological evolution, similar to "Cambrian Explosion," is caused by one incident. This incident turns into the genesis of a new jostle for supremacy, and the influence of the evolution goes beyond biological framework and spreads to various kinds of materials and technologies. The era of massive evolution involving diverse existences, such as human, machines, and biotechnologies, is coming. Characters fight an existential war in such a world.
It doesn't take a genius to know that sometimes having a variety of sorts is needed for some shows, and Juushinki Pandora is a prime example of mixed-media projects that both passes and fails to resonate with us viewers. I wouldn't be lying if I've ever said that the MAL score here reflect this (but by no means a true indicator), but for what it's worth, it takes a while to understand what this show is truly about.
An original anime by the creator of Macross, Shoji Kawanori, who's known for his brilliant mech designs and creations, falling under the production of a sub-par studio? Let's
A post-world 2038 (in 20 years time) Neo Xianglong (which to my view it looks like Shanghai) where humanity has advanced it's age and AI was existent. But years prior, a major incident happened (the Xianglong Crisis) that enabled creatures known as B.R.A.I to be evolved with the suppressing of the quantum reactor, a device which not only powers the city of Neo Xianglong, but also the device which wrecked the entire city back in the day, all by one person, professor Leon Lau and his obsession with the quantum reactor.
And now, with that same reactor falling in threat to external parties (and the feud between enemies and allies alike), Leon Lau and his Pandora team which powers mechs that operate on the same quantum reactor, dubbed the Hyperdrive (which brings people into unconsciousness and gives them the special power to transform their mechs (formation Terraroid) and defeat enemies), in an effort to oppress external forces from wreaking havoc in the rebuilt city. (And WOW that's a long breath of info)
Honestly, as far as originality goes, I don't think this is the type of show that will suck in viewers from the get-go (and that becomes more apparent when it's a 2-cour show). Knowing Beatless-type shows that stump on the storytelling (and made even worse for a lack of subbing teams), I'm afraid to say that: Yes, it is an original project, but it will probably take about 8-10 episodes to understand the gist of what's going on.
The characters are really diversified and that piques me more to understand the world surounding these interesting people:
Leon and Chloe Lau:
This weird legitimate brother-sister "family contract" is always at the forefront, even with the issues and threats, it takes precedence over everything, making sure that both are accountable to each other. Other than its weird antics, I'd guess that that's what holds the bonds of the both of them together, ensuring that one does not die out 1st with permission from the other.
Jay Yun and Cecil Suu:
The backbone forerunner commanders of Neo Xianglong, ensuring that the quantum reactor is protected at all costs. Though the history between them and Leon is scarred due to the Xianglong Crisis, nevertheless (you could assume) they're the masters of Neo Xianglong, knowing that external threats will barr them off from controlling the city and ensuring longevity and protection to what's already founded off the remains of the city.
Queenie You and Wang:
Both are martial artists, taught by the same teacher, that is until Wang betrayed everyone so as to go out and have a killing spree, which left Queenie scarred of her heart and memories of her and him, the feeling of needing power and accumstoming it for revenge. That's when the B.R.A.I revoltuon happened and that was the source of power that they (Wang) craved for, to be the cultivator of humans, and mercilessly lost (SPOILER ALERT as of Ep 6), and Queenie could rest her past in oblivion.
The Pandora team (Kane, Doug):
The smut professional and the proud imbecile, they eventually worked around with Leon to form the Pandora team that specializes in the area of the Hyperdrive, something that no other team has that could morph into specialized mechs that are the equivalent of Gundam mechs, with the actions of class.
Something that I'm not fond of is having side characters that come into the picture for various reasons then fade into the limelight for the exact reason, and so far this series hasn't reached that point yet, but the characterisation is passable for now.
Art and animation:
Knowing the mixed-media initative (Jap-Chinese), I'm actually pleased that Satelight went the extra mile to replicate something like a futuristic Shanghai with the buildings and whatnot. And though the core build of the structure will always be the Japanese media (as in anime production). TBH, the art looks decent but there are some good spots, only few and far in between. The animation...yeah, it brings back memories of every mech show with CGI that I honestly think is not bad (but still will turn heads off) amidst the action sequences and such. Overall, it falls between the good to decent range.
This is my very first exposure to BUMP OF CHICKEN, and the OST sounded good, I'm honestly impressed. Now, that's not to say that everything else falls into the same judgment. The action sequences and the subtle interactions glide the way of showing the intense action of the series...but sadly that's as good as this series will ever be, through the musical representation.
Juushinki Pandora is NOT a show you can say it's full-fledged, and yes it does have its weaknesses. Combine that with people that say are hard (even myself) to watch this RAW (or at best Sub), it is no wonder this show continues to fly under the radar, not for good reasons. For now, the urge to keep on watching is there, and not to worry, I'll come back with the final review summary at best. If you want to watch this, read the Wiki explanation of the plot (and NOT MAL), and see whether it matches your taste for mech shows.
All right, Satelight, no, Kawamori-san, let's review.
The production gods haven't been kind to your shows of late. Sure, I enjoyed Akagami no Shirayuki-hime, but you had nothing to do with that, did you?
First Aquarion Logos, which probably should never have been given the Aquarion title since you decided to abandon two series' worth of lore and screw around with kanji. I know, it's fun, but I'd rather have watched "Chihayafuru but in the calligraphy club" than that mess you called Aquarion.
Then Macross Delta, which was supposed to be about... what, exactly? There were countless opportunities to connect with the audience (or more specifically, me), and
all of them were squandered. How you ever managed to get Japanese fans to sell out the live Delta shows/concerts, I will never know. No, wait, it was probably the exclusive merch. "I went to a live concert for a lousy show, and I got this lousy T-shirt! Hurray!"
So, like those two giant robot shows before it, Juushinki Pandora was an exercise of thinking, "Well, maybe it won't be so boring next episode." So I kept going. And going. And finally episode 21, I just concluded, "Kawamori-san doesn't have a damn clue how to write or direct a decent story."
This isn't new. Shoji Kawamori isn't exactly known for storytelling prowess-- Escaflowne became a mad dash of collapsing story arcs towards the end, Basquash couldn't figure out what the hell to do with itself in cour 2, and even Macross F and the first two Aquarions' first halves were "fun but ultimately meaningless compared to the end" episodes. His forte is, and has always been, giant robot design.
But this show, with its incessant posturing dialogue (how I wish I had a time machine so I could throttle the inventor of kabuki), its consistently pointless story, and dreadfully cliche characters... Just. No. No amount of awesome mecha (and the ones that show up here are uninspiring) would be enough to save a show whose sole existence is apparently to sell more toys. I find Kamen Rider more inspiring (live-action Japanese kids' shows tend to be horribly directed), and that makes me sad as a Macross and Aquarion fan.
So, I'll drop yet another mediocre series in this season which, aside from a few thriller/action series renewals that I will never have the stomach for, is a sea of mediocrity. I'm fine with that, I'd rather watch reruns than be bored to tears every week. Maybe I'll pick up Yama no Susume, though I'll have to watch the first 2 seasons first.
In the year 2031, geeky main character screws up the world and created intelligent machine creatures of rapid evolution! How's that for a hook?
Kawamori's latest directorial sci-fi creates a mystery amidst a "war" against an enemy of the state, and the beasts created by our main character, Leon Lau. Already, there is a sense of surprise and sympathy for the main, who receives the end of a batting stick because his beloved technology put mankind in a big crisis - The Neo Xianlong Crisis.
It's "surprising" because it's amazing how much he screwed up, and the B.R.A.I are amazing. The series doesn't start off at
school, or maybe in someone's local standard home. How does Leon repent?
However, I believe it's called Pandora, referring to Pandora's box - while chaos, evolving machine beasts called B.R.A.I, comes out of the box, there is also the possible power to bring miracles, and Leon wants to use his Quantum technology to make life better. He creates the Hyperdrive to equip with the MOEV, and that's where we have Kawamori's signature: the variable combat machine that can change into a bipedal form.
Pandora is probably difficult to clutch with a loyalty on a same level with core mainstream anime, but it really shows Kawamori Shoji's style. I say this because we keep revering the flashy, angular aggression of our most famous, "unforgettable" shows that, for one reason or another, makes us cry and moves our minds.
The CGI is a bit wonky compared to Macross. Think maybe Macross Zero and the duels of Frontier and Delta; because Pandora's low visual setting, I suppose it's hard to follow with the eye, compared to the skies of most Macross dogfighting. However, the action scenes are interesting, especially when the MOEV's hyperdrive is triggered. Then, it actually gets a bit "gutsy".
Many of the characters, particularly on the Pandora team, have suffered a tragedy brought on by the Crisis. Their activities come in close contact to the main antagonist, Mister Gold and his group. The team itself being a harmony together - a mood-maker, a quiet beauty, a cranky young lieutenant, a cheerful girl, a composed (and very stubborn) mayor and her contrastive high-strung adjutant, a vulgar but responsible and caring veteran soldier, and a nerdy man. Also, one of the characters has to carry himself as being a bit of a burden.
Again, the B.R.A.I are amazing, one of the highlights, their accelerated growth bringing their physiological qualities to the limit.
Pandora is also packed with a radio series, a gag comic and a novel centered on Queenie, Leon and Chloe's pasts. To quote Queenie's VA, Kanazawa hana, "martial artist which carries anger and sorrow deep in her heart."
Please enjoy sci-fi. For now, it's too early to suggest Pandora's qualities at their peak. I hope I'll change my score for the better.
FULL Non-spoiler review here: https://glculturetree.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/gutsy-science-and-doug-loves-the-pussy-about-jushinki-pandora/