Sep 7, 2009
Cheesyhoboe (All reviews)
Zone of the Enders: Dolores, i happens to be one of those unfortunate titles which get a bad rep for reasons which don't pertain to its actual quality. This is mainly due to fans of the (excellent) Zone of the Enders PS2 games who prefer the darker tone of the rest of the franchise as compared to the more upbeat and humorous Dolores, i. If the former is what you're looking for, then you'd rather be watching ZOE: Idolo, but by doing so, you would also miss out on one of the most delightful and unique mecha series ever conceived.

Generally, mecha shows tend to fall into two categories: Boisterous and outrageous (think: TTGL) or grim and serious (think: Gundam). Dolores, i is one of the few series which doesn't quite fit into either. It has the lightheartedness of a super robot show and the realism of a real robot show without the utter absurdity or relentless angst that usually accompany them. In fact, Dolores, i subverts many of the typical cliches you would come to expect from a mecha show. There's no whiny teenage protagonist here; instead, you get James Links, a grizzled, middle-aged working class space trucker and the father of two fully grown working class children, who compose the rest of the main cast along with the the title character, Dolores. Dolores is the star of the show and may make or break the series for many people; she's a rosy pink mecha with the personality and naivete of a sheltered teenage girl, and yes, she talks. Her antics contribute to much of the humor of the show and her development as a character, while not particularly original (think: I, Robot) is still quaintly executed and ends up being surprisingly moving. This is bound to be too silly to some people, but it's a fresh idea in the series and is actually quite charming in practice.

While Dolores is a great character on her own, the rest of the main cast is just as excellent and is undoubtedly one of the best things about this show. The aforementioned James Links is a fresh of breath air, and is one of the most down to earth and sympathetic main characters I've ever seen in this genre. He's an everyman with a sense of humor, but also a man down on his luck, bordering on alcoholism and trying to keep the fracturing relationship between him and his children, Noel Links, an affable and tomboyish construction worker, and Leon Links, an image-conscious salaryman lacking self-assurance, intact, who blame him for their mother's death. His luck appears to get even worse when on a trucking job, he is framed for murder by space pirates attempting to steal his cargo. But when the cargo turns out to be an Orbital Frame (read: mecha) named Dolores, who holds a message for him coming from his long lost wife, Rachel, his goal in life shifts to finding the woman he presumed to be long dead, with his children going along with him being forced to by unfortunate circumstances. This journey takes them between all sorts of destinations in Earth and Mars, all while being chased as fugitives by police as well as a mysterious organization seeking to recapture Dolores and strengthening the bond between the main cast, whose internal struggles are relatable and whose growth as characters are soundly satisfying.

The plot isn't a work of genius, but it serves well as a vehicle to move the characters from scenario to scenario and manages to reach a thrilling climax and conclusion. The show moves at a perfect pace, never staying on any scene for too long and achieving a perfect balance between comedy, action and drama. The show has a charming and genuinely funny sense of humor without becoming too childish or absurd. The action scenes are directed and choreographed well enough, but aren't particularly outstanding. They get the job done, but make no mistake, this is not the show to watch if you're looking for pure action. Don't expect sterling production values, either. The animation and soundtrack are just about average, meaning they're nothing worth noting, but they're also not bad enough to be distracting. The animation is acceptable and the soundtrack is used appropriately without being memorable. The art fares similarly; it's unimpressive, but the character designs are still attractive and the mech designs are eye-catchingly sleek.

In conclusion, ZOE: Dolores, i is a fun, tongue-in-cheek mecha show with a heart and a sense of humor which isn't completely brain dead. It's a solid show from all angles and comes as an easy recommendation to anyone yearning for a good adventure romp. Very under appreciated series.