Posted by psgels on 25 March 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Robotics;Notes



After the complete disaster that was Guilty Crown last year, Production IG had to make up for something. They did so with Psycho Pass, that really was one hell of a ride. As for their other 2-cour Noitamina-series this half year, Robotics;Notes… it’s a bit more difficult. And don’t get me wrong: this is in no way as bad as Guilty Crown. It’s much better, but also very difficult to judge. This series is really ambitious… it just doesn’t work.

I actually liked Robotics;Notes in its first half. It had this ambition, yet at the same time it spent a lot of time fleshing out its characters and focusing on believability. It might sound weird to see this from a series that has a large robot on its promotional material, but that’s the point: one of the subplots in this series offers a bit of a deconstruction of Giant Robot building as it takes a look some of the issues of teenagers piloting these things that most other series tend to ignore.

Then there is a subplot about solar storms, a subplot about miniature robot fighting, a subplot about an evil conspiracy, and that list goes on and on. This is what I mean by the ambition: in the first half this show balances all of these subplots together that at first sight don’t seem to have anything to do with each other. This build-up for me was the best part of this series, and it’s always a question of what this show will focus on next… in its first half.

And then its second half comes, and it’s supposed to weave all of these subplots together… and it kinda fails. A lot. In many ways. There are some things that you’d think are related to each other, which actually totally aren’t, and the ones that are related to each other are brought together in such a shoehorned way that it breaks all suspense of disbelief that it has previously built up.

The show basically tries to run through a checklist of all stories that it needs to wrap up, without any care of making them flow into each other. Because of this entire subplots are conveniently forgotten until they are relevant again without much reason. But granted, the stories that it try to tell have some good concepts and ideas behind them. the character-development also works well enough and it has still enough to make it worth watching. And then the finale comes. I have no idea what happened, but things totally go wrong. All of the build-up just gets thrown out of the window and the show turns into a cheesy mess of plot devices. Talk about a let-down.

So yeah, solid show. Bad ending. That makes it really hard for me to recommend this series, because this series doesn’t just have a bad ending, it’s got a bad ending that invalidates much of the earlier build-up. Watch this if you want a different take on Super Robots. But then again, there are enough shows that also do that.
One-Sentence Review: Robotics;Notes is a very ambitious series that juggles around all sorts of stuff, which works well in terms of build-up, but not in terms of pay-off.
Suggestions:
Bokura no
Birdy the Mighty Decode
Dennou Coil

5 Responses

  1. Scruffy says:

    I have to agree with you in that the second half of this show simply does not work plot wise. The thing is they managed to populate Robotic;Notes with a group of characters that felt genuine, but plot wise things just failed.

    I think what was most disappointing about Robotic;Notes more than other shows of the season was that I was invested in the characters but the story they were involved in just seemed uninteresting, even though the end of the world was involved! I saw someone comment that Steins;Gate ending, which was primarily about saving the life of one person (Makise Kurisu) felt a lot more intense than RN which had most of the worlds population in the balance.

  2. starry says:

    It’s such a disappointment compared to Steins;Gate. It felt like it never went anywhere or escalated to the level that S;G brought to the table. By the time the last couple episodes were airing, I was wondering if I was watching episode 12 or episode 22. And the pacing was an utter mess.

  3. YourDream says:

    I actually enjoyed this show a lot with the exception of the last three or four episodes. The slice of life beginning was quite welcome, and things getting interesting with the Kimijima kou was a fine way to increase the tempo of a show that was pretty slow before it. Things got pretty interesting when those synthetic legs malfunctioned, and while the ending was quite awful, I don’t think it ruined the series. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody though.

  4. AzaKana says:

    So much potential with all the sci-fi materials (and S;G possible cross-over), wasted to an abysmal ending. It started slowly but surely, climax was with Mizuka and Frau arcs. Then there was the final arc. A true big deception for me.

  5. HunterWulf says:

    I can’t really hate R;N but the ending was really a downer, i had higher expectations of it, all i can say is that it lacked IMPACT .. compared to Psycho Pass and Zetsuen no Tempest (where everything comes together wonderfully) Robotics;Notes failed to do that.

    Examples, where did the Monopoles come from !!? (they are a blatant deus-ex-machina in every sense of the word .. god that comes down from the sky to solve everything, i thought they will be explained later .. but nothing at all), then there is the goal of Kou and what really motivate him .. we never got any reason for all the chaos he caused .. “I just want my plan to succeeded” doesn’t sound like a a good motive to kill 5 billion people.

    Also .. who are the committee of 300 .. were they a lie by Kou or were they the good guys (like the girl from JAXA and the guy who worked with Misa) !!? nothing explained again .. what about Kona’s mother, was she killed, how !!? .. who killed her ? .. is she still alive ? .. where is she if she is alive ? .. etc etc

    There are just so many of sub-plots and threads that are just created, hyped then left hanging in the air and never resolved or explained .. that damages the overall series value and enjoyment pretty badly (despite it having a lot of excellent moments and a great start).

    It seemed the series creators had the same mindset as Aki, explanations and consistency don’t matter as long as you have guts, strong emotions and scream your cheesy ideals from the top of your lungs .. sorry .. if you want to see how this is done right .. check Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure .. which despite the bizarreness and over-the-top emotional acting of the characters it remains consistent and explains things whenever possible without leavening behind tons of unresolved matters.

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  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:54 AM)
    The episode was alright and felt dense as I watched it, but in hindsight only really moved the plot forward incrementally. Lancer not untying Tohsaka as soon as he killed Kirei and then not killing Shinji when he clearly had the chance left a bad taste in my mouth. That and Shirou’s heavy plot armor at this point is becoming reminiscent of another famous anime dual-wielder. Not a compliment.
  • Bam
    (Monday, May 25. 2015 05:46 AM)
    UBW 20 felt like another rendition of Eva 26 (Take care of yourself), complete with character analysis, battle with one’s Jungian Shadow, and loosely Buddhist ideas of self-actualization. It even featured the repetitive monologue shots that fade to black (with “I saw Hell” instead of Rei’s “Sky. Red, red sky”). It never went as far as Eva with “which way is up?” type of Soliloquy, but that’s probably a good thing.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:48 AM)
    Ashura was an excellent example of how to through anime illicit and emotional response in an honest, non-melodramatic way.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:46 AM)
    @Bam: I’d be more than happy to take a look at some of those shorts anytime.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:44 AM)
    @Emma: there’s a lot of European animators that got active in the last 10 years or so that are really reinvigorating their animation scene, and every now and then I get introduced to some fabulous shorts.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:40 AM)
    @Emma: no I don’t really mind gory ‘for the fuck of it’ violence, I even like it in some grindhouse type of works, but I just don’t think it’s always effective as a shock factor. Live-action is the most sympathetic for obvious reasons, but there are animated works that do elicit a deep response. Probably because of circumstances but also the details of the in-between animation, which can induce certain feelings of disgust.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:39 AM)
    *here and there
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:35 AM)
    @Bam: I really wish there was more arthouse anime now to give some kind of a balance to everything thats out these days.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:33 AM)
    Now I like my exploitation every so often, but yes Bam I really do wish that adult and mature storytelling could be better associated with truly, more pure mature themes.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, May 24. 2015 05:25 AM)
    I get choked up over Bergmans cries and whisper and Autumn sonata, I look back on a work by Key and Jun Maeda and wonder, think of how silly it looks to me now.

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