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...
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So is Obsolete supposed to be above anime, some higher form of entertainment?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.
How much did they beg Urobuchi to put his name on this? Did he even write for this? This was a 8/10 premise with a 4/10 execution.
He also wrote Rakuen Tsuihou which was ok even if it was 3DCG so how did this one end up like this?
Do not waste your time on this awful series.
His name is the only reason someone would ever turn their eyes to this mess that supposedly tries to capture the atmosphere and style in Gyakusatsu Kikan. A very flawed movie but with a very interesting setup that simply didn't get enough time to express itself.
The moment you
see YOUTUBE ORIGINAL on your screen you can expect this soulless and cheap show to give you the same feelings as Youtube Rewind.
The premise sounds interesting: aliens just sell their second hand ancient tech for simple limestone to humanity. These are exoskeletons (EXOs) that are magically compatible with human anatomy and consciousness. Then I watched the series.
- From here on spoilers -
Machines from the sky that solve and create all new problems. Get it? DEUX MACHINAS. Pandora's box. Prometeus's 2nd fire. If it's first contact why do the machines look specially built for humans? Even 5 fingers on their hands. Are the aliens humanoid? They broadcast in 5 languages to humanity. Teams of 5 soldiers. 5 main characters ( 4 protagonist + 1 antagonist). 5 is a somewhat symbolic number in this series. First time you see the mechas they are numbered 51. Area 51? Too bad the running time for this won't get into it. You'd think they will explore the massive changes to human society? Not really, just a few newscasts and some talks between some soldiers. Then horribly shot action scenes and oddly inserted timeskips.
You have such a good conflict which they absolutely waste to focus on badly animated CG mecha fights:
Rich countries are extremely suspicious of the exoskeletons as they fear that they are actually some trojan horse that brainwashes their users into eventually serving the BORG (Human Instrumentality Project). Private security firms get in the business fast. Poor countries immediately use them in agriculture, transportation and of course weapons. Will they build Wakanda? Oh no this levels the economy in a bad way but they are really the good guys fighting back. Some kids appear and somehow you are supposed to care for them cause they are child soldiers. There is no time and no scene that can make these kids sympathetic. 'Au contraire'. BUT WAIT! There is a subtle hint that the supposedly charismatic scarface Major that can remotely control the EXOs may be infected by the mind virus from the EXOs and makes his loyal minions the same. You think they will make of this some kind of great reveal or some eerie and creepy ending like in Childhood's end? No, the kids grow up and save some other kids from another corrupt officer in some desert. Pan to the face of the grown up kid, now a soldier. Is he mind controlled, is he a stoic hero? Is that girl that is not drawn like a girl in love with him? Oh you didn't know that was a girl? (Marvelous character design)
Don't know, we get the end credits and I'm dropping this show. What do you mean "it's the last episode"?
The art in this show is terrible. The low framerate with zero smudges to interpolate the frames will hit your brain like broken neon lights. The mechas and military equipment would look great if they were 2D but in motion are a sore for the eyes. The background art is terrible. Horrible color grading, bad contrast. How can you mess that up when the story happens in so many different places, yet they all look the same? The character design is terrible. The eyes are all dead. Unbelievably there is a girl in the series but good luck making her out of the cast.
Nobody has long hair so they won't animate its movements. I wish I was making this up.
Funny enough the mechas move more lifelike than the humans.
The cinematography is terrible. They don't even try or care. There are almost no good shots in the series. The shot composition and simulated perspective are bottom of the barrel.
While the sound design and effects are ok the music is terrible: Skrillex. Monotonous and badly directed. Ugly.
You are supposed to care about the characters. All that's missing is someone telling you to care for them. You can't. There is no time, no build up to it.
I did not enjoy this show and I bet most won't either. It won't grow on people since it has no artistic merit. It's not even funny like trashy harem series. It's supposed to be serious but you can't invest in the characters because of the horrible characterization.
Why did they make this show? What was it really trying to say? What was its point? Humans will forever be in conflict? Don't trade with aliens?
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.
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.