Posted by psgels on 6 July 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews

Fafner in the Azure is another one of those series where a bunch of teenagers pilot to save the world. Unlike a lot of other series of its genre though: this series is actually aware of how many things are wrong with that, and actually provides a number of very good reasons for it, making it one of the core themes of this series, up to the point where this becomes a character study first, and a mecha series second.

If this show does anything right, it’s the way in which it explores its themes. This series is about so much more than just the atrocities of war: it’s about using children to fight for you, it’s about existence, and how other life forms view humans. The villains, the Festum, seem like your average brainless monsters at first, but as the show goes on they take on a very interesting role in the entire series. This show, is inspired. It knows exactly what it wants to do and delivers one heck of a tragedy.

As a character study, this series also really delivers on its characters. The cast is quite big, but this series makes sure to give everyone the time and opportunity to show off his character and develop. Soshi is a great main character to make this happen: he has presence as a main character, but at the same time he also gives his co-stars plenty of opportunities to stand in the spotlights. This doesn’t just go for the major side-characters, but also the minor ones: every named character has a very clear and inspired purpose in this series.

It’s a series that’s wonderfully crafted together. Now, it does use some techno babble at times, so some of the twists that depend on this may come a bit abrupt on this, but heck: this is the kind of series that looks generic on the outside, but has so many great ideas on the inside. If you’ve never watched a mecha and would like to know what the genre is about, this is a very good one to start with.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Well told, nicely paced, very good delivery of its plot twists, though a tad too much techno-babble at times.
Characters: 9/10 – A really well developed cast all around, ranging from the main to the side-characters.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Made in a time when 2D and 3D really did not mesh well, but the animation and visuals still are solid and look quite good.
Setting: 9/10 – Tons of great ideas and inspired themes and backgrounds.

Bokura no
Bonen no Xamdou
Star Driver

21 Responses

  1. Alec says:

    Back when I first watched it, The Gundam Seed-like appearance of the characters really distracted me.

  2. karry says:

    Probably the worst mecha series ever created. Mecha designs are godawful, story makes little sense, and characters get annoying VERY quickly. Not to mention their behaviour is hardly befit children, or humans in general. Once more, psgels taste is just beyond common sense.

  3. KanaKana says:

    Such memories ! An epic anime, glad to see your review. Hope you’ll watch the Right of Left OVA, a true masterpiece !

  4. Pax says:

    Ah! If I remember correctly, and I am sure I do, this is the first mecha anime that I completed, back then I did not care at all for mecha but I enjoyed this anime quite a lot, so of course for me it has a spacial place when it comes to mecha anime.

  5. hairgreenmore says:

    the OVA is much better, much much better

  6. hairgreenmore says:

    the OVA is much better, much much better

  7. CY says:

    Told you, you would like it! :D
    The Right of Left prequel is very nice too (and it made me cry too… Meh…) but the movie sequel, “Heaven and Earth” really warps everything up.
    P.S: Really enjoyed Angeala’s songs. XD

    @Karry: If u dislike her taste, why are YOU here?
    The presence of you here IS just beyond common sense.

  8. ayra says:

    so beautiful!!!
    any1 knows where i cant watch or download the movie? i means”Heaven and Earth”?? plzzz i want to see it so0o0o0 bad!

  9. ayra says:

    i means i can watch or download >>>>> ;P

  10. Frost says:

    I seem to disagree with you a lot lately… I didnt like this at all and dropped it about 8 episodes in

    Its completely stereotypical teenagers with mechas in secret island or whatever, plus the emo moments etc… Cant stand that crap anymore

    And the character designs are exactly like Gundam SEED (I know, same author)

    If I wanted to watch a good unknown mecha series, Id watch Zegapain instead, thats MUCH better than this since it actually provides new ideas with the whole quantum computing stuff

  11. Tan-Tan says:

    I’ve been dying to watch it, but the GS art kept on putting me off.

  12. astrocurrent says:

    This one has special impact on me. It’s weird. It has such obvious and many defects, and I love it for them. Very fragile on the outside, tough and tenacious inside. It sure is a Xebec’s production. And it grows on me.

    It does have some threshold needs to be crossed over before viewers can enjoy it. The first 12 EPs are stiff and obscure and perhaps a little irritating and boring. But everything comes to light and entertaining when it goes on to the 13th, when the original story writer Tow Ubukata takes over the writing position. Nobody understand his characters better other than himself. The character development is simply charming. It’s interesting that Psgels mentions Soshi. It’s impossible to enjoy the series if you dislike Soshi. How much evaluation and praise one give to the Fafner series varies with how much one favors Soshi. And after finishing the whole series, then go back to the first 12 EPs, viewers probably would find them become enjoyable as well.

    I don’t think the OVA is better than the TV series. It is cleaner, and much more straight forward. But it doesn’t have the bitterness that I love in the production in the TV. But it is a very completed piece and the animation is much better and smoother. Enjoy.

  13. astrocurrent says:

    Oh, and I don’t know if anybody notices already, Fafner could be a very interesting comparison piece with Gundam 00 the movie.

  14. hairgreenmore says:

    @astrocurrent doesn’t have the bitterness?? The [SPOILER]

  15. psgels psgels says:

    Um, hairgreenmore: that was a really big spoiler that I didn’t really appreciate.

  16. astrocurrent says:


    Judging from the “spoiler” mark, I guess I didn’t make myself clear about what I meant by “bitterness”. I was talking more of the production and storytelling technique, not the story itself.

    I love the Fafner franchise as a whole, and the RoL OVA plays a big part of the whole series. It’s interesting to see how many things have changed from the parents’ decade to the time RoL’s story take place, then successing to the TV. The difference and in-heritage. That’s one of the factors makes the series alive.

  17. RUSERIOUS? says:

    Fafner is really good and one of my fave mecha before, it’s kinda dark and deep at the same time…

    The art itself is really similar to GS, but doesn’t weird me out of it… ^^ another Xebec series have similar artstyle… it was called Heroic Age..

  18. Yue says:

    The amount of ego in these comments are amazing. Nearly all ‘my opinion > your opinion’ comments.

    keep up the good work psgels.

  19. Zetatrain says:

    Wow, I’m actually a bit surprised that you liked this considering it has teenage pilots and quite a bit of angst.

    Saw it quite awhile ago and I loved it but damn it can get very depressing at times and the ending theme kind of underlines that fact.

    As for the character designs looking like Gundam Seed’s, I too was wondering why the hell Atherin was in this and it’s not just his character design, though I found this to be more hilarious than annoying.

    Really looking forward to the movie sequel

  20. david says:

    I see a lot of people comparing this to Gundam Seed, but what caught my attention was the idea of this being a “character study first and a mecha anime second.”

    Now that reminds me of Evangelion, one of the most important animations of the 90s.

    So, how does this compare to Neon Genesis Evangelion? As a fan of Eva for its character development and psychoanalyses, would this be likely to interest me?

  21. VyseLegendaire says:

    It seems that this type of show – kids/teenagers get thrust into a massive alien-supernatural plot to save the world – manage to be very polarizing in almost every instance. I can’t remember much of any instances where this wasn’t true – Eva, RahXephon, Xamdou, Fafner, and more. That said, I have to say I really like this show, and I recently saw the movie with a proper translation and felt it did a great job of fanservice and tying up some loose ends.

    I think all anime fans should know about and see this series, sure many of characters look too similar to tell apart, but you do care when they’re forced into harrowing situations. Not to mention, this might be the only show that can stand up to Evangelion in the competition of epic metaphors for growing up in modern Japan.

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  • 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.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 08:56 PM)
    Eh, I’ve updated myself now on the onepunch manga and also the manga for yuruyuri, I can cross the shows off my list now. I forgot to mention onepunchs first episode crammed in the first volume.
    I stopped reading though around chapter 30, it was decent fun for a bit but I’ll be continuing with it in small doses.
  • k-off
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 08:19 PM)
    @Aidan Yeah? Well I at least have to hand it to psgels for continuing to pay for the site. By the way, is WordPress still fucked up on your end, or is it fine now?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, Oct 5. 2015 04:57 PM)
    @;(: Actually that was probably a bad word choice on my part, I meant that the humour in those episodes didn’t always work so well for me.

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