Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Aquarion Season 1 Part 1|
Genres: Television, Anime & Manga, Animation
The newest creation from Shoji Kawamori, the legend behind Macross Plus and The Vision of Escaflowne, featuring an original soundtrack composed by Cowboy Bebop?s, Yoko Kanno.When the Shadow Angels invade after 12,000 years... more »
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Aquarion - Anime Series with Familiar Themes, Awesome Animat
Mark | East Coast | 04/10/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Aquarion: Season 1, Part 1
I watched this series before reading a single review on it. The first thing I thought of when I saw it was, "this is like a better animated version of Voltron!" Sure enough, I see many references to Voltron Voltron - Defender of the Universe - Collection One: Blue Lion and also Neon Genesis Evangelion Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Collection.
In fairness, younger generations of mech anime fans will likely not be familiar with Voltron, but they probably will be familiar with Evangelion. And let's face it, it's younger generations who are normally drawn to these types of Anime.
Yes it's true, this story isn't terribly original. Yet let's be fair here, the theme of post-apocalyptic survival is very common. Some great anime was created based on a common formula. Did people not see Independence Day simply because the War of The Wolds already covered the theme of aliens attacking the planet earth? No, they were two separate works that dealt with a common theme for two different generations and in two different ways. I think the same can be said about Aquarion versus Evangelion and Voltron.
While this isn't great, I can look past the predictable story lines and enjoy this as entertainment alone.
The merging sequences have some very campy erotic overtones. Since brother and sister are often in the merged groupings, this was perhaps not well thought out. Not to mention, it takes 3 people to perform a merge, another unintended message?
Will the human race survive? I'm sure if we want the answer to that we will have to buy all the parts to this series.
Visually the animation was really pleasing to me. I couldn't help but wonder how much better Voltron might have been if the CG and animation effects available today were used in its creation. In fact, the images of the mechanical flying machines fighting and merging during fight sequences approach 3D and HD clarity. While I was less blown away by the actual human characters, overall the animation and effects are top notch.
The other thing I really liked about this set was the volume of episodes included in this modestly priced set. Too often these anime series are priced similarly for 4-6 episodes. Here you get 13. I don't know why but these seemed to run longer than the listed 26 minutes to me. So in that sense this was a very good value. And let's face it, in general existing fans are going to be the ones buying these sets.
The included box that holds the first three volumes in this set is nicely animated too. But as usual, I was slightly envious to see the art on the Japanese versions was more appealing. The front image on this box just doesn't do the artwork justice.
Conversely, the included pencil mat has awesome art that probably would have made a nicer cover. This is a cool extra that you rarely get with Anime series.
If you like anime and cartoons like Voltron and Transformers, this is a nice series that is entertaining and well put together. If you're looking for more mature, refined and original anime, there are many other options for you besides this.
Entertaining but derivative anime from Kawamori--the show ho
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 04/26/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Created by Shoji Kawamori who was behind such classic anime series as Macross, Escaflowne, "Aquarion" has a interesting premise and is entertaining but borrows signficantly from other Anime shows including Kawamori's own previous creations.
When the Great Catastrophoe treatens to engulf the remains of Earth's population a race called the Shadow Angels awaken and pick off the remains of humanity. Our only defense are a group of humans who fly mecha (Vectors)called the Elementals. The discovery of Apollo a young man living in isolation who manages to use one of the Vectors when a pilot is injured to fight off the evil human hungry Shadow Angels gives hope to the Elementals. They believe he might be savior they've been foretold about a reincarnation of the Solar Wing who will help bring their struggle to an end and victory.
The series lacks the spark, depth and creativity of Kawamori other series and while the show is nice to look at with often visual stunning designs, the stories and characterizations are often lacking in depth and detail. The main characters are pretty shallow without much development which I found a bit disappointing as well. The first two discs were more a chore to sit through than a join while the third disc hinted at some potential by develing into what happened 12,000 years ago that forced the Shadow Angels into hibernation.
What saves "Aquarion" from the junk heap of derivative Anime is the beautifully rendered backgrounds and character designs. By the third disc of this series (it runs 26 episodes and half of those episodes are available on this the first set of the show)"Aquarion" perks up and Animae fans may find just enough meat to keep them interested in gobbling up this series.
The show itself looks marvelous with bright, bold colors that postiviely pop. Audio is extremely active as well with a nice use of the surround speakers particularly during action scenes. Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio it looks quite nice on widescreen TV sets without the black bars being too large if you want to watch it on a standard set that has a 1.33:1 aspect ratio. I should note that the first set I was sent wouldn't play in any of my players. The shows would start but the images would quickly dissolve into pixels going through fits and starts throughout the episode and randomly skipping around. Luckily, I was able to obtain a alternate first disc that didn't have constant pixelation and jam up my DVD player.
The extras are all located on the third disc of the set. We get a brief interview (about 5 minutes) with creator Kawamori, a 20 minute Q&A session from the Toyko Anime Fair where Kawamori and the voice talent discuss the series and four short featurettes that focus on the themes of the series. Finally FUNmation includes a cool looking pencil board within the case that your kids will enjoy almost as much as the series itself (when you aren't explaining it to them).
Overall, "Aquarion" was initially disappointing to me. While the premise was solid it wasn't as well developed as I had hoped relying on cliches of the genre and elements of other Kawamori created series to carry the first two discs. By the third disc, however, things perked up because we got to examine the past of the world we were thrown into in the very first episode. Personally, I'd like to see this developed further but I am unsure of how far this has been taken because I haven't seen the last 13 episodes of the first season."
TOTAL EVANGELION RIPOFF BUT NOT BAD
Tim Janson | Michigan | 08/22/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Aquarion or Genesis of Aquarion is the product of Shôji Kawamori, the man who created Vision of Escaflowne as well as much of the Macross series. Aquarion is yet another giant Mecha series that ran for 26 episodes on TV Tokyo in 2005. This boxed set presents the first half of the season, 13 episodes on three DVDs. Aquarion combines traditional 2D aniamtion with 3D animation taking over during the mecha battles. The look is seamlessly rendered and simply dazzling. The battles between the giant war machines are the highlight of each episode.
Aquarion has drawn unflattering comparisons to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Certainly the themes and plots are similar, perhaps a bit too similar: Global Cataclysms, using teenagers piloting Mecha to battle beings known as Angels... Kawamori certainly won't win many points for originality but this sort of copying of plots goes on all the time in Anime and Aquarion can stand on its own.
The "Great Catastrophe" has killed two-thirds of the world's population and awakened the Shadow Angels from a 12,000 year hibernation. The Shadow Angels subsist on the life force of human beings called prana. The Shadow Angels harvest the prana by capturing humans with giant machines guarded by mecha known as Cherubim. To combat the Shadow Angels, the organization called Deava recruits special teenagers known as Elements or Element users. They are trained to pilot three advanced warcraft known as Vectors. The three Vectors can then merge together to form Aquarion. Aquarion has several different forms it can take on with each Vector becoming the lead depending upon what form they merge into.
The Elements are a diverse lot. There is the snobbish and elitist Sirius and his younger sister Silvia; there is soccer star Pierre; friendly but bad luck-prone Reika; and Apollo, the orphaned, feral-like young man whose incredible abilities astound his fellow trainees. Apollo may, or may not be, the reincarnation of the great hero Apollonius, also known as Solar Wing, who helped defeat the Shadow Angels thousands of years ago but is still loved by Toma, the leader of the Shadow Angels.
Each episode has the same basic outline. The first half has the students generally training with Deava commander General Fudou or the other commanders. This is the time we get to explore the personalities of the main characters. Silvia is the reincarnation of Celiane, Apollonius' lover many millennia ago and this leads to all out verbal and physical battles between she and Apollo. She cannot believe that he is truly her reincarnated lover. This constant bickering does become tiresome after a few episodes and thankfully other characters are explored in depth as well.
The second half of each episode has three of the team responding to a threat from the Cherubim soldiers and merging to become Aquarion. While merging, the three members all experience what can only be described as a sexual orgasm of pleasure. This is a bit weird and one would think HIGHLY distracting in the midst of a battle.
Aquarion's visuals are stunning! The mech battles are earth-shattering and the 3D animation brings it all right into the viewer's lap. In almost each episode Aquarion has to find a new way to defeat the Cherubim as the enemy mechs are constantly adapting to Aquarion's attacks.
Aquarion is enjoyable although the familiar pattern of each episode can get boring after a while and you can't wait until the next mecha fight begins.
Interview with Director Shôji Kawamori
Panel discussion with the Japanese cast members from the 2005 Tokyo Anime Expo
Jesse D. Watson | North Dakota | 05/21/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"But being exceedingly Japanese is not a bad thing necessarily. :) I do have to question, however, whether a western audience would appreciate it, though.
Japan loves giant robots. That is no secret. They also love teamwork, romance, woven plots that extend across hundreds of shows...
Here, we see something of a synthesis between Evangelion and Escaflowne, but beyond that, we see culture stretching all the way back to Japan's first giant robot animes.
It is a little difficult to explain succinctly, the amount of "Japanese-ness" (or at least pop-robot-anime-Japanese-ness) present here. Just because you like Evangelion does not mean you'll like this! Even if you liked Escaflowne, you might not.
One thing I can promise you, however, is that if you're interested in Japanese culture, and interested in seeing what they see, and are a scholar like myself, you will enjoy it, at least, from that perspective.
All the social motifs of friendship and teamwork--everything from this to, say, kendo, which is where it first became practice to shout the title of your "attack" as you executed it.
This is a peculiar form of entertainment from our perspective. If you're willing to accept that, and experience it, I welcome you to. It is also somewhat of a commitment, a rather long series.
So caveat, emptor. Read all the reviews (not just mine!) and think before you hop in.
As far as the animation, it's excellent; the character designs are fun, the dialogue (in Japanese at least!) well written and recorded (there were a few lines I found especially captivating and poetic, which I paraphrase--"Time and distance are products born from an uncertain heart").
After the first few episodes, actually before the first episode even concluded, I was almost certain it would receive a five-star score. Its particular culture, however, and all that comes with it, as well as the somewhat plodding nature of the story, reduce the rating for me. Others might be even more critical. I have not perused other criticism written on the show."