In 2014, aliens revealed themselves to request trade with humanity. In exchange for limestone, they would provide a consciousness-controlled general-use robot known as an "Exoframe." Cheaper than an aircraft, tank, or firearm, and easy enough for anyone to operate, the "Exoframe" spreads change throughout the world in the blink of an eye...
First things first - it’s a full 3DCG series that half the time (the humans/downtime) has like 8 fps, I can tolerate it, but I won’t be surprised if some people would literally have their eyes bleed from this. However, the parts that matter (mecha fight scenes) run much smoother, have very impressive choreography and the level of detail that simply isn’t possible for the traditional animation (hundreds of accurately portrayed shell casings flying around with realistic physics).
With that out of the way, I imagine 9 out of 10 people would know this exists because of the Gen Urobuchi’s name in the
credits. Short answer is - yes, this is a “real” Urobuchi series, by which I mean not Aldnoah.Zero Season 2. It's speculative fiction (aka maximum hardness sci-fi) that asks and answers a simple question that most mecha series just ignore: “how can our modern world evolve into one where bipedal mechs are a practical and ubiquitous war machine.” Because, you know, legs are an obvious weak point, the higher your war machine is the easier it is to spot and shoot, and the whole idea of mechs is stupid. The answer this show offers involves aliens and economics. If I had to compare it with something, it would be the film Arrival, but instead of grammar it’s about (not very) giant robots. The format of the story is a historical chronicle showcasing six incidents every one of which changes the status quo concerning the place of the mechs in the world. Naturally, every incident involves fighting that, like I mentioned, is pretty fun to watch.
Now here’s the weird part: the whole “series” is basically a prologue to… what exactly? I don’t know. It’s pretty clear-cut - every episode is essentially a character trailer for the four main cast members and one antagonist, they even have the names of the characters as the titles, yet somehow these six episodes are supposed to be the whole anime. Imagine the first episode of Fate/Zero as the entire Fate/Zero. Like, yeah, you introduced the world and a bunch of actors, I’m hooked, now show me the actual story. What do you mean, it’s over? How? What.
Anyway, 8/10 for an hour worth of Gen Urobuchi writing.
Obsolete is your standard war story full of sarcasm and indifference.
What's different here however is the format. 6x12 minutes.
It doesn't leave you with much space to tell a grand story or express ideologies.
Anyone who's hoping for character depth or such will be let down.
The staff did everything in their power to make this a coherent piece of work but they were heavily restricted by the episode count and it shows.
Limestone? Aliens? It doesn't matter to us humans according to Mr. Urobuchi, and there's really no time to explain them anyway.
The core of this product seems to be "Give a man a
fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he'll wage war on his fellow men with fishing rods"
What we get here are pieces of war history. How it started and... that's it. There's no end, or climax.
The individual episodes all follow key events of this futuristic war, the background of the fractions and some people involved in the conflict.
In each episode you will get new characters who drive the story and drop a few lines of lore. The rest is mindless action with dubstep. Oh right. Skrillex did the music.
While the sound engineering and effects were great, the music was offputting as hell. Jungle dnb or tribal would've been more fitting considering where it takes place.
They went overboard with screen effects such as smoke, but the shading was really lacking. The action itself looks well done, but with not enough contrast it looks bland.
The art is... fitting I'd say. silky smooth 4fps cgi we all hate, with a realistic touch. It's sad that this level of mechanic detail needs cg because all the decent animators are busy with gundam.
It gives the whole show a very cheap feel. Pair that with how short it is, and the 4th wall breaking "Just like in my japanese animes" and you're left wondering why they're doing this exactly?
So is Obsolete supposed to be above anime, some higher form of entertainment? Is this how they meant it? because I'm sad to say it's subpar. Or the opposite?
We tried to make something akin to anime, and almost succeeded at times! yes, that seems more correct, sadly.
Honestly this show could've made it as a toy commercial. I'm not sure how many people will it reach if it's on a paid.youtube.service.
Don't you want the largest possible audience for your product placement, instead of those 10 people who paid for youtube premium or whatever it is?
The exosuits look cool. The story seems interesting, the execution is so-so, the runtime is the downfall of this show really.
Moral of the story? War bad. Humanity bad. 12 minute format bad.
CG in anime has always been a bit of a contentious issue, and even a meme, since there have been so many shows that have miss-handled it to the detriment of the story they're trying to tell. I personally have seen very few shows that were fully, or mostly CG that I thought were enhanced by the addition of CG, but fortunately that is beginning to change.
Obsolete is one of the first fully CG shows that I have not only enjoyed, but felt was enhanced by the use of CG. True, if the right style and quality of 2d animation were used, an
equal or greater effect could be achieved, but for depicting such complex machinery and frequent action shots, the CG excels and is even pleasant to look at. The visual style is completed with detailed and beautiful backgrounds that look like they were painted rather than rendered.
The story of the show is relatively simple, but that works in its favor in this case. Rather than trying to tell an extremely complex narrative, Obsolete focuses on a sort of snapshot take on the effect that the arrival of alien technology on earth has on the world, and warfare specifically. Each episode follows a different character and a different event in the world, following the introduction of EXOS - powerful exoskeletons built by the alien "Peddlers", who have no interest in earth and its people save to trade these suits in exchange for limestone. And some of the insights its characters have are quite interesting and thought provoking.
At this stage, I'm not sure how many episodes there will be, but I certainly hope there are more. Underneath the episodic feel of the first six episodes, there are many underlying themes and now even characters and events that seem likely to tie together in future episodes to give the show a more meaningful finish, but even if it remains episodic it's still interesting enough for me to continue watching.
I recommend this show to anyone who's interested in military, SciFi, or even just seeing an unusual take on these two genres, with a side of fascinating social commentary.