Posted by psgels on 10 July 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews

I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to realize, but a common theme of a Gonzo-series seems to be subtle jabs towards aristocracy. The best example of this is Trinity Blood: in that series, the Vatican is an important party, and yet the Pope is a shy and incapable 12-year old boy and women have been appointed at high-ranking functions. Or take Hellsing: a series about a bunch of blood-thirsty vampires who justify themselves through the queen of England.

But also some of their other series show similar themes. The shinsengumi in Peace Maker Kurogane aren’t necessarily royalty, but they were a high-ranked organization, back in those days; and infamous for their immoral acts, and there they’re portrayed as the good guys in that show. The less subtle attempts can be seen in anime as the Seven Samurai and Romeo x Juliet, where the enemies are basically the aristocrats. Now I also understand why the setting in Special A was so overblown, since that too was a way to mock the upper classes.

The series where these themes are the strongest is without a doubt Glass no Kantai. At heart, it’s a space opera and a satire of the aristocracy: the entire series plays throughout the eyes of the aristocrats, and shows how in a futuristic setting, the nobles have taken back control over the democracies. It shows how they dress up in ridiculous clothes and act on their own selfish ideals, without much consideration for others. The pope may not be a twelve year old boy, but the guy does have a daughter, the emperor is gay and a shotacon, and the series is full with those kinds of references to make the aristocrats look ridiculous. Of course, it never tries to be a comedy.

This is indeed all behind a serious story. Like mentioned above, it’s a space-opera and shows how one of these nobles leads a rebellion for the common people. Throughout the series, we get treated to a healthy combination between space-battles and large-scale politics. The interesting thing is that there’s hardly any attention for small-scale politics, and there’s hardly any focus at the common people (again, this has probably been done to show how little the lives of common people mattered to your average aristocrat).

The storyline is a pretty interesting one, and it evolves as the series goes on. The problems with this series lie in the storytelling, however. The entire series is full of small inconsistencies and left-out scenes that feel like riding over a bumpy road with broken suspensions. They break the flow that the storyline is trying to create. The best example of this is the concepts of “air”. This series has actually managed to create quite an ingenious galaxy, where there aren’t any planets, but rather small chunks of land on which everyone lives, and which can be linked together. I personally loved this idea, but it’s as if the creators didn’t spend enough time to flesh them out and think of how these chunks of land would retain their atmosphere. The result that some random places in space suddenly contain air, and while others don’t.

And there is of course the animation. The animation in this series is horribly inconsistent, and ranges from pretty to downright abysmal. This series is like Hatenkou Yuugi or Kiss Dum: there’s a project with potential, which gets held down by one or more very lazy staff-members. In the case of Glass no Kantai, I think that te producers are to blame. They didn’t realize that creating an anime takes this much of an effort, and as a result the rest of the staff had to rush through their work in order to get their work done in time. As a result, this series lacks polish, since there was no time to check for any bugs or inconsistencies, which resulted in beauties like this one. It’s not that Glass no Kantai was held down by a small budget, but rather the time-constraints that worked against it, and a good producer should be able to have known this.

Despite this mediocrity, though, I liked Glass no Kantai. It had a clear vision, which is something that can’t be said of, say, Dragonaut. And the storyline, how botched up it may be, does come together in the end. It’s interesting: the past two series I’ve watched definitely had their flaws, and were at times tedious to get through, but their final episodes did end the series with a great enough climax; something which definitely can’t be said for every other series.

Storytelling: 6/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 7/10
Setting: 9/10

5 Responses

  1. Avatar Denizen says:

    huh, sounds interesting, as do the other few anime you mentioned.

    I might check this out, especially if there’s a decent amount of QUALITY to spot.

  2. Avatar jk says:

    “and women have been appointed at high-ranking functions.”

    And this is a jab at aristocracy…how?

  3. psgels psgels says:

    JK: because in the current vatican, there hardly are any women. At least, if I’m not mistaken about that one. ^^;

  4. Avatar Autonomous Monster says:

    But… the Vatican isn’t an aristotic instition. It’s elective. :/ The woman thing sounds more like your usual case of japs not knowing the first bloodly thing about Christianity (not that I hold it against them :D )

    And Hellsing… true, they’re a bunch of rabid psychopaths, but for the most part they’re rabidly psychopathic in the defence of the country. Innocents (protestant innocents; from the way ecumencial relationships are portrayed in the seires youd think the thirty years war never ended) are not harmed. The only omnicidal one in the bunch in Alucard.

    Samurai Seven I’ll grant you, but Special A? Admittedly they were all rich toffs, but the focus (and the ridiculous setting) was around the tops seven students in the school, making it a meritocracy.

    That said, I’m a subject of Her Royal Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, so maybe I’m biased ;)

  5. Avatar Paj says:

    This series is awesome. .. but I still have to question where you find the jab at aristocracy. .. when I was watching this I thought it had more of a robin-hood feel cross with some philosophical teaching. . .addressing the issue of women. . .for such a sci-fi that uses hi- technology to have manual labor and clothing and stuff kinda got me thinking that the setting was not thoroughly thought out. . .Like how can some guys who are flinged into space die when they were obviously alive yet when the hero/heroine are tied to a rope and flung out into space survive?

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