In this school fantasy story set in the distant future, creatures contaminated by pollution have overtaken the land, forcing humanity to live in isolated mobile cities called Regios. One such city named Zuellni is a self-contained school in which freshman Layfon Alseif has just enrolled. Layfon reluctantly joins the 17th Martial Arts Studies Unit led by the third-year student Nina Antalk and embarks on a series of adventures.
Since there were no reviews for this series, and I happen to be the fan that I am, I decided to write my first MAL Review here for Chrome Shelled Regios ~ Sit back and enjoy it, and while you're at it, Getcha Popcorn Ready.
[ Note: I may edit this over time. I'm sure I'll feel I left something important out AFTER I post it, haha! ]
Chrome Shelled Regios is a Light Novel Series spanning [ As of now ] 15 Volumes that have sold millions in Japan, many of which have been translated into Chinese as well. It has spawned a number of manga adaptations that tell the story from different views and expand on certain events, and even spawned a 24-episode Anime series airing in the spring of 2009; with a possible season 2 being discussed. The anime has even been picked up by Funimation to be released sometime in the next year in English.
Set in a Post-Apocalyptic, School, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Harem [ Kinda? ], Shounen-style setting, Chrome Shelled Regios [ CSR ] brings alot to the table that can be overlooked quite easily by fans and critics alike. Praised for originality in certain aspects [ Weapons, known as DITE - Regios, the movable Cities - Electronic Fairies, those who move the Cities ] and yet scorned for other aspects [ The Harem style, some characters falling into typical roles, a sometimes hard-to-follow story, and in the anime's case a botched ending to Season 1 ] CSR is really a Love It/Hate it series.
Either you're going to fall in love with it, or you're going to hate it. In all the reviews and people I've talked to, there doesn't seem to be much middle ground. So, while being critical on my points, I'm going to be showing you why this series is a "Love-It" for myself. In this review, I'm going to point out where the series succeeds and where it may have some short comings – but let me start out by saying, it's really something you need to test out for yourself. Hopefully I can interest you enough for you to do just that!
[ Topics to cover: Storyline, Characters, Originality, Artwork, Music and Animation ( from Anime ), Overall Rating ]
[ Note: Ratings are based on a F to A+ rating ]
[ More Notes!: This Review is for the series as a whole, but is aimed specifically at the Light Novels. Animation and Music, however, are from the anime to make this review somewhat complete for both adaptations. All of the sections, other then these two, are based on the Light Novel's material. ]
CSR has an amazing story that grips on tight and never lets you go. From the opening chapter of each Volume to the final word, CSR has never dissapointed or failed to make an impact. This effect is present in the Light Novels and anime alike, as said anime takes it's plot from Volumes 1-7 of the Light Novel with a modified ending. From the aspects of a school-setting to Platoon Battles between students [ Military Artists ], to the fact they live in a world they can no longer step into due to it's pollution and the beasts that roam it [ Filth Beasts ]. The current story isn't what makes it so amazing, however. The power of the present story is all thanks to the pasts of the characters and world alike that is revealed throughout the volumes that makes it so great.
From Layfon's shady past to the truth about Leerin, to the history of Nina and how she came to be where and who she is now. All of these aspects slowly revealed in the story make what happens currently that much better.
The one downside to the story is it can sometimes feel overwhelming. At one point in Volume 5 [ or was it 6? ] A massive amount of information about the history of the world and crazy revelations about what's going on is smacked upside your head pretty quickly. Just like Nina [ who is the one learning all of it ] you find it's abit hard to take in and understand. Luckily, over time the information revealed becomes easier to understand, but at first it's hard to swallow.
STORYLINE RATING: A-
What can I say here? Layfon Alseif, the main character, is my favorite all-time from an anime/manga/light novel [ second only to Zidane Tribal from Final Fantasy IX, but that's a game .. ]. He's thrown into a type of character that alot of people have seen before, however; " I'm super powerful, but I don't want to fight, I seem careless and dumb, but I'm just hiding my true badass self ". This type doesn't sit well with some people, which is a reason the characters may get some dislike by some. However, at a closer look [ more so as the story develops ] you find that Layfon has one of the more unique histories that form a more complicated-personality than seen at first glance.
Other characters, such as Felli Loss [ The Psycokinetic User of the Group ] and Nina Antalk [ Captain of the 17th Platoon ], are two complex characters that also take some heat by coming off as typical girl-characters. Felli comes off as a "Tsundere"-type to a point, while Nina is the typical female-fighter " I want to be stronger, I'm not girly, I'm strong now but still get saved by the male lead ". Both characters, however, again have histories that unravel themselves to show a unique side to the cast.
Leerin Marfes falls into a similar girl role as those above, being the typical "childhood friend to the main character that has romantic feelings for the lead but isn't really noticed". Once again, however, the story develops her to be a character with perhaps one of the more unique histories and someone pivotal to the story. I won't spoil any specifics, though.
The last two characters I'll touch on that complete the main cast, are Sharnid Elipton [ The Sniper of the group ] and Harley Sutton [ The DITE(Weapon) Engineer ]. Sharnid falls into the Flirtatious and at times perverted role seen in more series than I have the ability to count [ I only have so many fingers ], but his portrayal is done in a way that makes the role seem fresh and new. His past also is revealed over time, and it [ Like the others; I'm sounding like a broken record, right? ] makes his character more complex and unique as the story continues. As for Harley, he's the commonly seen male supporting character that is a childhood friend of and in love with the female lead [ Nina Antalk ] but is never noticed. Despite this, he turns out to be one of the more likable characters, having a portrayal that makes you want to root for him all the way through.
CHARACTERS RATING: A+
Still with me? Good! If so, we're onto what concepts from the series stand alone and just how original CSR can be/is. Starting off has to be the most widely displayed concept; Regios. The mobile cities that the entire population around the world live in to survive. These cities are all that is left of human civilization in this post-apocalyptic setting, and they are the only thing standing between their populations and a painful death in the outside world. That's not what truly makes them something Original, however. What does that for them is the Electronic Fairy. These beings are what control and move the Regios. Without these Fairies, the Regios would stop moving and shutdown; Dying. We see what this is like in the story, as Regios without their Electronic Fairies are discovered .. and it's not a pretty sight.
Next up would be what Regios help protect against; Filth Monsters. Born from the pollution of the world that would kill any normal humans within moments [ without protection ], these monsters feed off the pollutants and [ when they can ] humans. Portrayed simiLar to insects and beasts, not only are these monsters large in number but hard to kill. We see in the story the difference in power between humans, Military Artists, and then High-Level Military Artists like the " Heaven Blades ". Humans have no shot against these beats, while a large number of Military Artists can take down some low-level Filth Monsters swarming in small numbers through alot of time and effort. High-Level Military Artists [ like the Heaven Blades of Grendan ] are able to solo even high-level Filth Monsters, however.
So how about the weapons? DITE are somewhat unique items that take smaller forms of their weapon form, or look like a small box or item. When Kei [ The special energy used by Military Artists ] is transferred into the DITE, and the command " Restoration " is spoken, they change into weapons of various types. The colors of the weapons also make a difference in durability and strengths/weaknesses.
Overall, the many aspects of originality are similar to alot of other things, but they do make them seem like one in a million.
ORIGINALITY RATING: B+
This is something I have fallen in love with, so to say. The outfits [ specifically of the various Heaven Blades uniforms ] are some of if not my favorite styles I have ever had the chance to see. The characters themselves are done very well, with each character being unique and seeming to match their personality [ Felli comes off as beautiful yet stoic, Nina as strong and somewhat "manly" while having a womanly side, Leerin as the kind somewhat girly-girl ].
Aside from the Heaven Blades Uniforms, I love the DITE in the series and even moreso the eyes of every character. I think the eyes are some of the best styles to come out of anything, and I can feel the emotion of the characters by one look at the eyes. Overall, the art doesn't disappoint -at all-, and is also unique enough to stand out among others.
ARTWORK RATING: A+
[ Anime-Specific ]
Many say the music for the series is a 90's Nintendo reject, overly synthesized and all that. At times, I could agree – but overall I think the music is fitting. When the battles are raging and the tension is rising, the music helps to really set the tone for what's going on. Yes, it could use some work, but overall it doesn't disapoint. Specifically vocal tracks [ done by the visual kei band formed for the show, " Chrome Shelled " ] are really great. However, only one of their songs make it into the show [ Silent Talk, Episode 22 or 23 I do believe ] while the Endings are still done by them as well. To hear the rest of the songs [ Named after the light novels! ] you have to get the Soundtrack they released earlier this year.
MUSIC RATING: B-
Despite being wonderfully done and loved by myself, I have to be reasonable here and say the animation is nothing to get excited about. The strong point of animation comes during battles and with Kei effects, which truly are amazing and well done. The animation for normal scenes however is nothing too great – but not bad, either. Very neutral throughout in terms of quality. I do love it, however, and the battles are what make it for me. If this gets to a Season 2 as I hope, I believe a higher budget will help.
ANIMATION RATING: B-
As I made clear earlier, CSR is my favorite series. The light novels are some of the most enjoyable reading I have ever had the honor of doing, and the artwork for said novels is amazing. The story and characters remain special to your heart as you read, and no matter what happens you feel a personal connection with everyone you come across. Sure, there may be times the story goes over your head for a little bit and times where the harem-feel may bug you, but no matter the shortcomings CSR finds it's way to your top lists.
I should also note this series takes some heat due to the way the anime was done. A lot of the story [ when compared to the light novels ] was left out of said anime. The ending to the anime was also changed around, due to the fact the series was only expected for 1 season [ and while there is an opening for season 2, the writers wanted to end that season in a way that the season stands alone ]. Should there be a season 2, I believe a lot of these issues will be resolved, and the story will include a lot more from the light novels. I can only hope!
Like I said, it's a "Love it" or "Hate it". You'll either fall in love with the series as a whole, like myself, or you won't bother to watch past the first episode or read past the first chapter. I can only hope this first review of mine has helped you in some way, for the better rather than worse, and that you decide to give Chrome Shelled Regios a shot. I did, and now I can't put it down.