Posted by psgels on 17 August 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews

Sunrise and mechas go together like cheesecake and… well, cheese. They’ve been producing their mecha-epics for decades now, ranging from the immensely popular Gundam and Code Geass to the lesser known Overman King Gainer and Zegapain. Still; call me crazy, but out of all their mecha-epics I’ve seen so far (barring Escaflowne, if that one also falls under the genre), my favourite is this rather obscure game adaptation of the Zone of the Enders.

I’m surprised as well to see how well this series turned out. It’s in no way the most sophisticated series out there, but it really does a lot of things right where a lot of the other Sunrise shows have fallen horribly. It’s some good old-fashioned entertainment that hardly ever has a weak or dull moment, never drags and provides plenty of interesting situations, action and characters.

What stands out the most is the cast of characters. Anyone who has been bothered by the immense amount of shows that star whiny teenagers will rejoice: FOR ONCE we have a series in which the lead characters isn’t in his teens, twenties or even thirties! James Links is 49 years old, and even his kids are fully grown adults with their own careers now. I believe that the amount of series that can boast the same can be counted on one hand.

The creators really make use of this opportunity to develop the lead cast into a varied and lovable cast of characters. The story here is about a bunch of characters who are involved into the main plot because they were dragged into it, but because they all had different jobs at the start of the series, they all stand out in their unique talents and the series really makes use of every characters’ specializations and experiences. The lead cast, because they’re all adults, also have rich and inspired backgrounds and this makes it very easy to relate to them in the decisions they make throughout the series.

This series also has a lot to offer in terms of science fiction. This show takes place in a setting in which Mars has been colonized, and the creators don’t forget to spend enough time to flesh this setting out a bit, like explaining how the politics work between the Earth and Mars, how people grow food, what’s up with the atmosphere, the smaller gravity and how people travel between the two worlds. It’s not ridiculously complex, but it is believable and really gives this series a great backdrop to work with. And really, this was the first series I’ve seen that took care to address the matter of deceleration when it comes to high-speed outer-space travel. That definitely was a nice touch.

And the soundtrack! While the OP is a bit… weird (DANGAAAA! Give me more DANGAAAAAA!), the rest of the soundtrack is truly excellent. It was composed by Hikaru Nanase, who most people will probably recognize as the woman who made the soundtracks behind Noein and Requiem of the Phantom, and she again works her magic in this series, with especially one of the best EDs I’ve listened to in a long while. The animation is nothing special, but it does enough to bring the characters alive and not get in the way of anything.

There are a few small flaws here and there, but nothing that really should get annoying. The creators did a wonderful job of keeping the cheese under control, but there are a number of minor scenes in which the cheese becomes a bit too aggravating. A few of the characters are a bit too stereotypical and lack depth, but these cases are mostly about minor characters and scenes. The main storyline is a strong and entertaining one, and even the final battle is a very engaging one, rather than your typical dull Sunrise ending. Zone of the Enders is yet another example of why game adaptations don’t suck.

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

5 Responses

  1. Camario says:

    I’ve never heard of this one, but you’re certainly doing a good job at seeling it. I’l check this one out.

  2. Elvenwarrior says:

    Oh man, I really enjoyed this show when I watched it a while back.

    The characters were just so much fun and the mecha action and drama was good so I also enjoyed the action.

    I really liked all of the characters especially the main family and Rebecca and the main character in the trucker father is still one of the most memorable characters out there given his age and the unique type of story they can tell with him due to it and still make him a cool lively action character.

    The scenes where he’s got the parenting book that reads like one of those old Goofy instruction manual cartoons (like the ones for driving used by a lot of driving schools, or the ones that aired during cartoons for all sorts of activities or multimedia system setups) were classic and utterly hilarious.

  3. what's this says:

    Excellent series. Made me cry. *sob*

  4. tazman0208 says:

    Haha I can see what you mean about the cheese. In episode 23 the cheese gets a little out of control, heck if pople knew all it took was a badass speech to stop a war they would be teaching military commanders how to give’em at the academy.

  5. weez says:

    I almost quit after ep 4, but the prequel to 5 showing that tool of a son finally getting his head caved in kept me watching. Basically was that way the whole series rooting for the badguys to kill off a family of borderline retards. Also, cop cars and sewers in an orbital space station really? I mean seriously this isn’t TMNT in NY it’s a freaking space station…Most of the robot fights involve the bot expositioning exactly whats going on and the moron in the driver’s seat parroting the computer like he’s playing jeopardy or something and the viewer wondering if that guy is def/blind as well as retarded.

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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 09:02 PM)
    One-Punch Man’s pilot was almost adapted flawlessly. It straight up uses the manga panels as it’s main storyboard, but added just enough new touches to improve the action instead of ruining it. Now let’s see how they animate the mosquitos and all the lasers for the next episode.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:57 PM)
    And that’s why Madhouse is one of the few respectable studios left. I thought that they will be seriously diminished after Masao Maruyama took some of its key members and funded MAPPA, but One-Punch Man showed that they are still one of the best in the business.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 08:51 PM)
    @Kaiser The anime industry isn’t advanced enough in CG to make it look good, is all it is.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:51 PM)
    @K-off: Your not wrong, it certainly looks poor but some of the old gonzo animated stuff was far more woeful looking. Stellvia, which was done by xebec was another example of old anime cgi which was quite ugly to look at. Just as I prefer traditional effects in film I also prefer traditional animation techniques to cg.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 05:42 PM)
    Lately, the use of badly integrated cgi have been making my eyes sore,from the obviously cgi background characters in Asterisk to the overly fluid mech movements in Aldnoah. I still remember the shitty cgi piano hands in Kimi no Uso.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 6. 2015 12:04 AM)
    On the note of good balance between humor and drama- I think BoJack Horseman is an example of a show that executed that almost perfectly in both seasons. You are laughing one minute and amused by the hijinks and silliness and the next minute you are actually moved and shocked by the honest introspection. Too be honest BoJack is more a tragic character then a goofy one, and his struggles are deeper and more existential than they have any business being in a show with anthropomorphic animals.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:56 PM)
    The changes in the setting actually made me more excited for season 3 then what I felt the past few weeks, since now the plot needs to move forward from the cliffhanger and hopefully this translates to more cohesion and refocusing on what mad the show great in the first place. I’m pretty sure S3 will also be a blend of episodic and arch story elements tho. Overall a few ups and downs but still a great show.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:52 PM)
    The finale also had some of the most overall arch story elements featured in the season. Earth joining the Galactic Federation is a big deal story-wise from now on. Also the use of a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” (not the Nine Inch Nails one clearly) was a nice fitting yet surprising touch. The throwback to Mr. PB after the credits was a good idea, but felt flat in it’s actual execution.
  • Bam
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 11:49 PM)
    I thought R&M had a pretty good finale. The episode achieved what was missing from most of season 2, and that was a balance of randomness and meaningful bits. What made Rick Potion #9 and the previous season’s finale and general tone great was a sense of humor that was combined with more sincere drama and character developments; a sort of sweet melancholy.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 09:51 PM)
    @K-off, not having too much trouble with the interface but I still cannot create categories.

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