The 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.
I've always had a soft spot for shows where some nerdy guy suddenly becomes an action hero. So once again here I am, writing a review for a show that I really liked and almost nobody watched.
Story - This is a show about a genius scientist and his pals fighting monsters and bad guys with crazy science powers. However, there is also a plot that is actually pretty interesting, and it does sort of manage to work in the backstories and motivations of our 3 main heroes: Leon, Quinny, and Doug.
Art - I think the most memorable quality of the art is how colorful it
is. I personally thought it looked fine, but I could see someone calling it overkill. The animation is pretty decent for the most part, although I noticed a few problems towards the end.
Sound - The soundtrack is serviceable with a few noteworthy songs thrown in during important scenes.
Character - In this 26 episode show, every character is given some time for development, and I found them all to be likable. I could see someone making an argument for how Chloe was underused in the plot. But she's cute, so who really cares? I sure don't.
Enjoyment - I feel like the best way to describe this show would simply be "fun". It can get serious at times, but it never forgets to give its audience a good time. I'm not sure if I'd watch it again, but I certainly enjoyed tuning in for it every week.
Shoji Kawamori, the creator of the much beloved Macross series of the 80s and 90s, has created another flick to his name, the latest project called Juushinki Pandora, an omage to his works of past of the sci-fi-mecha genre which as of late, has seen much flack due to the many issues with his directorial work.
Oh...how the mighty have fallen. To be fair, the honest takeaway is Shoji Kawamori's mech designs which still look good...at the expense of other areas of the show that quite honestly, isn't a good sales-pitch anymore going forward.
Juushinki Pandora is set in an alternate universe where human beings and AI,
or much rather, the B.R.A.I, which are machine-made beasts made out from the cause of biological evolution, was spearheaded from an unforeseen explosion by one man who goes under the name of Leon Lau. Formerly a scientist working on the time-space mechanics to maintain mankind through the quantum reactor (which is mainly used to regulate time-space control), his ambitious work came with a high cost, one that would take a long period of time to assimilate the full extent of the damage that is the Neo Xianglong crisis.
Fast forward some years after the crisis, and Leon Lau is called back from exile to help the city of Neo Xianglong (after the rebuilding) to combat the events that have once happened with his major blunder, and also to deflect the evil forces that have culminated to this day, just to see mankind perish under their egoistic dreams and ambitions to see a new breed of mankind under the control of B.R.A.I. Together with the Pandora dream team of Queenie Yoh and Doug Horvat, the trio must pilot their mechs, with their souls beaming across the time-space mechanism that gives the mechs power and push back evil forces to maintain what's known as the "Last Hope" of mankind. (And yes, that' the main English subbed title of the series).
1) Going through 26 episodes seem like a horrendous waste of time, but it comes with the trade-off that for about 80% of the series, it's primarily based on the world-building, built between the connection of mankind and B.R.A.I, and the direct consequences that of the result which happened prior. The wonky part is that the storytelling isn't done by Kawamori himself, but at the hands of Toshizou Nemoto, who did the overall series composition AND script of Macross Delta and the Towa no Quon movie series (so for people who have watched Macross Delta, your shots are fired), so the whole show felt like a chore to go through THIS MUCH where improvements to cut unnecessary filler could be a wise choice and bring this down to a max of either 16 to 24 episodes.
2) As if the production staff ain't competent enough, we have another series of misfires: Director Hidekazu Satou, with the incompetent works of Aquarion Logos and Nobunaga the Fool. Having Kawamori-san as the chief director is heartening enough for anyone who wants to venture into the series, but having Satou-san helm this project is off-putting to say the least (at least that's from Kawamori's perspective). The stories that this series strings out pale in comparison to many 2-cour shows that take advantage of the runtime to showcase everything it needs to and succinct to the point, honestly, if it can be dumbed down to just storytelling juxtaposition and pure action scenes alone, I can live with that.
Overall: just another failure on Shoji Kawamori's part to entice more viewers to his legacy of mech-based anime (of which his forte haven't changed since then, to draw mechs).
The Pandora team main fighters: Leon Lau, Doug Horvat and Queenie Yoh.
All 3 of them have their problems and issues that when merged as one, serve as the main driving force for them:
Leon Lau, having to lose a colleague (Dr. Long Wu), his aide in working together to understand the quantum reactor and its various reactions, now striving to understand through the entire process through the many various illusions of Long (which form Sieg the final boss) to question the many purposes and intentions of evolving mankind.
Doug Horvat, primarily a fighter and sniper of the best you could find around, amidst his crude and good-looking personality lies a past that he is tempted and forced to face: the love of a scientist, Dr. Emilia Vally, so much so that the tainted relationship forces them to enclose questions within each other for the sake of building the both of them forward.
Queenie Yoh, the story of clans and promises, the many rivalries she has from young, starting with Mr. Gold (and then Wong) and the foreboding that the clans' past have all but been wiped out with numerous betrayals and backstabs that both sides have come to lament about each other for the growing-up years, until this moment with the help of B.R.A.I to harness power unimaginable.
The Pandora support team: Cain Hasan Ibrahim, Glen Din, and Leon's (adopted) sister Chloe:
Despite appearances, Cain is as calm and collective as you would expect an army general to be, deep down to the point and not wasting any effort in getting things done. Along with comrade Glen, who is a crude fighter and the "don't think twice on actions" guy, his devotion and loyalty is the most annoying part, but yet serves as the resting point for everyone to mock and joke at.
As for Leon's (adopted from Long) sister Chloe though, she holds him dear as to everyone like they are a family, more than just a fighter team. Along with the idiosyncrasies of the "family contract" (which forebodes good intentions at the ending) of which there are many unlisted and vaguely conceived (just between Leon and herself alone), she makes for a good sibling to be taken care of and lead on with her brother's consistent fight with cooking Leon's favourite and go-to twisted snack Mahua and the like.
Neo Xianglong's pilot team: Jay Yun, Cecille Sue (and Fiona for the 2nd cour)
For the most part, I thought that Jay as a commander, he relegated his skills well and was able to discern situations to the best of his ability. Along with the Princess Cecille, keeping the city of Neo Xianglong afloat with the many controversies that it has, because with the city itself being an area that is loft for B.R.A.I to manifest, enemy advantages are aplenty, so the city's protection falls under their heavy shoulders.
Fiona herself is pretty much a human-spirited catalyst waiting to happen, the series of happenings that foretell the future of mankind. Essentially, a plot-mover and nothing else.
Overall, characters here display their usual cliché-ness, and needs a lot of work to be refined with.
Art and animation:
For once, while the overall production was good, Kawamori's parent company Satelight took some liberties at trying to envision his idea come to life in anime form, most notably the China-Shanghai reference of Neo Xianglong (Kawamori DID went to China for an interview and proposed the idea as the background art and animation) and the B.R.A.I designs, which are done by Hidekazu Satou and the mech designs by obviously Kawamori himself.
Whilst the animation quality really took a substantial hit by dropping some frames here and there (especially with the action scenes), I'd say that at least it's on par with past Kawamori's works. The pacing however is quite messy and sometimes stuff just don't mesh well together, but that is forgiven (a teeny-weeny bit) due to the story progression with the overall feel of the series.
This is the first time I've ever heard to BUMP OF CHICKEN (aside from favourites such as Sangatsu no Lion, Kekkai Sensen), and it still holds up within the 6 months of just showcasing the same OP and ED, just broken down into the usual verse and chorus within the songs, and they sound good for the most part. By far the best part of the show.
For anyone still living on the promises that Shoji Kawamori would promise whatever he tries to cook up, please don't. This anime is the result of his work, and judging from everything, is still an awful misconception that this would be anything groundbreaking of today's standards.
This show is completely average all around, with nothing to spare. Not something I would recommend, but with a few screws loose.
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/