I haven’t felt this awe-struck by an anime for quite a while; possibly not since…well, not since I last watched any of my favorites from Gainax. See, as apparent by FLCL being my favorite anime in general, I absolutely love zany rush-inducing anime that are heavily stylized like this. And in some respect this is the spiritual successor to Gurren Lagann with it being directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, and these 20 minutes are a good reminder of his ability at making these kinds of shows.
The setting is pretty bizarre and high concept-like; sort of like if you put the extravagant epicness of Gurren Lagann and made it about as zany and cartoonish as FLCL‘s setting. An authoritarian school (complete with analogies to fascism and nazis in the beginning,) with power-up suits and students actually dying as punishment from acting out of order? The setting is so fantastical with how horrible the school is that it doesn’t even matter that this is supposed to be a school where students can beat the living shit out of each other.
The characters are pretty out there too, for better or worse. Ryouko is the typical shounen badass; her side-kick is an inhumanly optimistic genki girl who tries to befriend Ryouko in the midst of the chaos, and then there’s the huge disciplinary officer and his colleagues. It almost seems parodic with how cartoonish the characters act; at the moment this only adds to the fun factor and all, although I would hope they get less one-dimensional later on.
Right now the story seems to be set up as some sort of ladder-climbing structure where Ryoko will just plow through each of the 2- and 3-star uniform wearers until she reaches the Student Council President. There must be more to the story than that though, since (if I’m not mistaken) Imaishi said himself earlier that they originally wanted to make the story all about action, but then later decided that they’d rather do something more character-driven. There’s also the matter of how Ryouko defeated the 2-star boxer rather easily, which gives me the impression that she’d be able to match up against one of the 3-star uniform wearers.
The animation itself is a little limited at times with the use CG, but honestly that didn’t bother me at all. With this being their debut project Trigger probably didn’t have quite the same amount of funding as they did with Gurren Lagann (reminder that Trigger is basically the same team who made Gurren Lagann under Gainax,) but I’m glad they “cut corners” a bit so that they would still have plenty of money to go into the excellent art and the actual fight scenes. And although noticeable, the limited animation doesn’t even look bad at all—it’s stylized and implemented well enough that it doesn’t harm the presentation in the slightest.
Earlier this month I felt a little let down once the costume design fro Ryouko’s Goku uniform was revealed due to how stripperific it is. Not really for any sexist reasons or anything, but simply because the costume just looked terribly asinine. After I actually watched this episode however I actually quite liked it. Perhaps because I was already awestruck from the whole episode beforehand, and everything about the show is pretty silly to begin with. But then again, fanservice seems to have bothered me less and less over the past year anyways, even in cases like this where a case certainly could be made for Ryouko’s costume being objectionable. Interesting how the costume was formerly her fathers though; I have to wonder what was going to through his mind when he designed it.
Seriously, just one episode into this and it already seems like a very strong contender for my personal anime of the year. I can’t wait to see the BDs of this sell like hotcakes.