Okay, so Robotics;Notes. I admit it. I am a big fan of Nitrosplus and their works. Hell, remember Steins;Gate? That scientific thriller was one hell of a ride. When I heard that they were going to do another anime adaptation of the science fiction genre, I was very excited. No, I was ecstatic. However, after completing this series, it left me nothing of what I originally had hoped for. Don't get me wrong. I don't like comparing other works from the same company much especially since neither has close resemblance. However, the experience that came out of this series was worlds apart.
Now, regarding technology...
The world of technology can do wonders. In today's world, technology has provided us with so many new innovations for our common lives. In fact, without technology, our lives would not be the same as many of us know as of today. Perhaps one of the most interesting technology we may be curious about is the idea of robotics. Yes, robots! It's a mechanical unit with artificial intelligence that is programmed by a computer system that can make our lives much easier. It is automatic. It is useful. It is futuristic. Who knows? In maybe about ten, twenty, or thirty years, our world may never ever be the same again. If there's one change though, robots might be a word that would come to most people's minds. Evolution is inevitable and technology evolves every day.
In the world of Robotics;Notes, robots has become a fascinating phenomenon. By its tagline, “What would happen if you really tried to make a giant robot?”
Robotics;Notes is an anime series with production handled by Production I.G that began airing on noitaminA (Animation written backwords) during the Fall of 2012. The series is based off of a Japanese visual novel developed by 5pb who are known for their previous science fiction works such as Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate. The series takes place in 2019 on a southern island known as Tanegashima in Japan. In a futuristic world, technology has evolved and people have become interested in robots. One such group of people known as the Robot Research Club is keen on unlocking its secrets, exploring the ideas of robotics, and make the most of it.
Now, the series is a standalone anime. It is NOT a prequel or sequel of any of Nitroplus' other works. Despite being in the mainstream and having highly successful ratings, Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes has little similarity beyond one or the other with the exception of a cameo character and some references.
The majority of the series takes place at Chuuoutanegashima High School. (how the hell do you even pronounce that?) It is here where the Robot Research Club do their daily activities. Unfortunately though, the club does seem to suffer a bit of...uh, population in terms of membership. As a matter of fact, its status is weak and it's up to its two members (Akiho Senomiya and Kaito Yashio) to save it.
For the first half of the series, Robotics;Notes gives off a slice-of-life feeling where the atmosphere is very lighthearted, casual, and occasionally can cause some snoozing reactions. Luckily, we have Akiho and Kaito to maybe wipe out some of those boredom. For one thing, I found these two protagonists very likeable to watch especially in regards to their interactions and dialogues. Their personalities doesn't seem to match well though. On the surface, Akiho seems to be a very enthusiastic girl who wants to explores ideas (namely robotics for the club). Her goal is to make a giant robot for the world to see and hoping that dream will become a reality. She also seems to be a big fan of GUNVARREL, and surprise surprise, that's about robotics as well. On the other hand, there's Kaito. Unlike Akiho, he only seems to be interested in spending his days playing games, namely the fighting game Kill-Ballad. He is unenthusiastic but continues to stand by Akiho's side for a specific reason.
The club only has two members from the beginning. It's hard to make the most of it for the duo especially if they want to convince others to join their club. For that, they must earn other students' respect, support, and rights. Perhaps the best way to accomplish this task is to make a name for themselves at school. And hey, what better way to do it than making a giant robot?!
The way these two start off from the beginning is a bit frustrating to watch. Their lack of progress puts Akiho on stress especially with their club in danger of being closed. Trust me though, I want them to succeed. But that's a lot easier said than done because not only does the club seems to lack members, but also funding as well. There does seem to be opportunities presented that could help with that but one must win the rights for it.
Speaking of opportunities, by the first few episodes, viewers might be turned off with its themes and the presentation. In fact, this series can even be labeled as slice-of-life at many occasions by the way it seems to progress its episodes. It's no surprise though as Nitroplus' other works tend to follow a similar trending; shows starts off slow, gets intense, and concludes with a definite finish.
Luckily, that intensity and progression gets under way later on. Like an invention, the series progresses itself through its themes such as actual robot combat and later on, even conspiracy from the government. It also gets more emotional as well especially regarding Subaru (another student at the school) and his father. Furthermore, there is a lot of mysteries developing seemingly behind the scenes. For one thing, Kaito seems to have discovered something out of this world in the form of a young girl trapped in his game tablet. It opens up a strange boundary towards the mystery field as viewers may want to know who she is, what's she's there for, and why she is there in the first place.
Unfortunately, the series itself does drag quite a bit. Even I found it boring at many circumstances. Robotics;Notes just seems to drag itself way too slow with its slice-of-life feeling. As a matter of fact, each episode seems off balance. The “let's build a robot to make our names known to the world” genre has becomes stale after so many episodes. Furthermore, the mechanics behind the construction of the robot is almost nonexistent or mentioned very briefly in one of the beginning episodes. The series' all so likeable duo also becomes a bit repetitive to watch as there seems to be little to no development between Akiko and Kaito. As a matter of fact, the duo continues live on their daily lives as if there's almost nothing going on and about. Their relationship remains intact but we want to see more than that. We want to seem the two succeed and accomplish what their goal – building that robot of their dreams and showing it to the world to make a name of themselves. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen or at least far too slow in progress. Well, I guess the ending of this little duo was cute. But marvelous? Hell no. Finally, I would say that although R;N makes a way of seemingly foreshadowing events, it is stale. At the very least, it didn't give me that thriller like feeling.
However, the theme of robots and technology remains intact. To add to this package, there is also a very peculiar girl who speaks and acts like a otaku of the modern days. Her name is Frau (real name is Kona Furugōri) and she's one girl with a genius mind. Behind that head of hers though lies a somewhat tragic past especially related to her parents. Furthermore, her character develops a bit and becomes one of the pivotal moments during the latter half of the series after an unprecedented event. With the help of her new friend, she finds hope in this world of technology.
Speaking of hope, there seems to be more of that later on for the Robotics Club as well!
The club recruits some new members and gets their interests through. In fact, even Kaito becomes interested in some of the phenomenon going around especially regarding one of the mysterious factors he discovers on his game tablet as mentioned earlier. Because the series has 5bp and Nitroplus involved, expect some correlations. In fact, a cameo from its highly successful anime series Steins;Gate makes their debut later on as well as various references. It's science all over again! Duhuhu
In terms of visuals, Robotics;Notes only maintains an average stance of artwork. The school has its posture that looks like an average looking school rather than some viewers may originally expected; a possibly advanced academy with super technology. No, it's just a normal school with normal people. Ichirou Tatsuta handles the art direction who is known for his work in other titles such as Ghost Hound, Shiki, and Usagi Drop. The characters themselves also look mostly normal and to themselves (with a little peculiarity added to Frau). Chikashi Kubota (Anohana, Shinsekai Yori, Corpse Princess) is responsible for the characters' animation designs. He gives most of the series' characters a soft touch of lightheartedness rather than making them stand out too much. Most of them gives off that natural look with some technical attributes here and there such as Airi. Ah, that cute little thing..
The soundtrack and music of the series stands slightly above mediocre. The OP song, Junjou Spectra by Zwei, for the first half is very catchy with its montage of characters as well as some of the technology dealing with robotics. The second OP song drops the ball a bit but still gives off that technical outlook. The overall OST of the series is lighthearted with some emotional melodies played during some of the more melancholic scenes. It's hard to take it serious at many variances because the series feels like a slice of life with everything moving slowly. The soundtrack has that slow feeling as well. It's boring.
Overall, enjoying Robotics Notes for me was hard. The series starts off slow and has that slice of life feeling. That feeling follows throughout the series despite some of the intertwined arcs presented such as conspiracy, robot building, and the mysterious girl in the game tablet. The duo of Kaito and Aki are fun to watch at first but it might be hard to take it too well after so their ever-so-slow development. In fact, there is hardly much at all despite them being the main stars of the show. Their personality collides often and makes it seem strange to watch them interact at times. Luckily, robots exist in the show that gives the title its meaning. Technology plays roles too especially with the mind of a young genius girl. There is also minimal fan service that gives the series a more innocent outlook on the futuristic world as opposed to a dark dystopian setting five or ten years from our time. Ultimately though, R;N stands only barely at a '6' for me. If it wasn't for a certain cool 2D girl with her cool pixel hair style, I probably would of snoozed through this. Duhuhuhu...
Now I do have to wonder though, what would you do if you had a giant robot?