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.
But while Evangelion is christian, we can say this anime is the Atheist Evangelion, since they use evolutionary theory, chaos theory and string theory instead of bible and catholic lore to tell almost the same story, with almost the same structure, but with a nicer ending.
Juushinki Pandora can be pretty bad and boring sometimes, but its concept overall is very entertaining and kept me until the end.
Also, the characters are cool and interesting and I like the world-building. The sniper's subplot is amazing.
I'm only upset this could be prettier. The animation sucks. Like, it really sucks. Overall,
the technical aspects of it are pretty lame. And the fanservice is dumb as fuck.
I'm a bit of an oddity when it comes to watching anime. I judge a show based on how well it immerses me into it's world and how deep the story is. When I watched this, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story was fairly deep and wasn't very predictable like other animes I've watched. The art style was interesting and well executed, with the 'quantum' effects really hitting right how it should. The sound, while not particularly special, was used to further emphasize the emotional impact of scenes and the mystery of the quantum realms. The characters were a little typecast at times, but despite
their personalities being a bit trope-y, it never felt forced.
The main thing is that this is a slow-burner story, not some long adrenaline high like most mecha animes. Theres more time spent on creating the world and telling the story than mech-versus-kaiju fights, which makes the fights hit a little bit harder. It's pacing is slow and methodical, but that isn't a bad thing.
If you go into this expecting action and excitement in excess, you will be disappointed. However, if you go into this with a goal to experience a story deeper than "we have mechs and there are monsters to kill", you might find yourself enjoying this a lot more.
Going a little deeper, the lore explaining the quantum mechanical 'magic' that goes on in this story resonates surprisingly well with actual quantum theory, although handwaved a fair bit to make it more digestable for the common audience.
The only real complaint I have is the way they ended the story; it was a bit abrupt and felt like it was forced into a direction different than the story was heading up to that point. It still closed everything up nice and neat, but it felt a little bit like a deus ex machina. The ending dinged my score of the story a little bit, I would have scored it an 8 for story otherwise.
If you like an intellectual story that forces you to think a little bit instead of vegetating on the couch (or wherever you watch anime), then you would probably like this.