Posted by psgels on 29 June 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews

Storytelling is hard. You can’t have a storyline that is about a bunch of characters watching paint dry: there needs to be some storyline, some sort of conflict to make things interesting. It’s an intricate balance that you need to find. Put way too much emphasis on the conflict, and you get Valvrave the Liberator.

Valvrave is a series that likes conflict. Every episode is geared to shock twists not really uncommon in a bad soap opera. Characters yell and screwm with drama, and things quickly devolve into this train-wreck of events that favors sensation over suspense of disbelief. The plot in this show tries to adhere Murphy’s law, and when it can’t it’ll just shove in some sort of plothole or -device. Because of all of the overacting the character-development also doesn’t really work because everyone just keeps acting outrageous rather than relatable.

For a while though, it was good. This show got so ridiculous that I just kept watching for my 20 minutes of brainless action per week. If there is anything that this show is good at, it’s eliciting emotions due to how over the top the plot went, and it didn’t seem to take itself seriously either. So of course near the end, it drops all that and starts to play its own story straight. The shocks are just there to shock, rather than to entertain as it tries to take itself so seriously. And that’s where it falls apart so horribly. The characters can’t hold the plot together without the comedy, and the twists… are totally inappropriate and devolve into pointless sensationalism.

Oh yes, they’ll get people talking about it, but not in a good way. There still is a second season due this Fall Season, and in all honesty, with the hints given it can return to its ironic self, but knowing the guy who wrote this it’s just going to devolve into an even bigger trainwreck. I really need to put more thought into what series I drop and keep watching, because this… wasn’t really worth the watch. It’s an easy page-turner, but totally not good storytelling!
One-Sentence Review: As long as it doesn’t take itself seriously, this is mindless bombast and entertainment; when it does, it falls apart completely in this sensationalist trainwreck.
– Mai Hime
Infinite Ryvius (an example of how to do such a storyline right)
Macross Frontier

29 Responses

  1. sup says:

    You’re taking this anime too seriously^^”

  2. Deadlights says:

    I completely agree with this review. This show really was a waste of my time.

  3. kiryuu says:

    See I’m not the only one that was reminded of Infinite Ryvius with this one..

  4. Souther says:

    “So of course near the end, it drops all that and starts to play its own story straight. ”

    Thanks for proving that you’re somehow incapable of noticing how the show continued doing many ridiculous and exaggerated things right down to the season finale.

    There was plenty of comedy in the last couple of episodes, even if it was mixed with melodrama. But melodrama isn’t true seriousness, it’s just something you do to change the status quo and raise the stakes.

    So the fact you believe, wrongly, that the show became totally serious proves that your judgment and observation skills are weak.

    • Deadlights says:

      @Souther: I believe that Psgels is right about the show “dropping everything near the end”.

      At the start, Valvrave never took itself seriously. The writers recognized how stupid and over the top the show was and never tried to hide that fact. No, they completely flaunted it in the viewers’ face and because of that the show seemingly started off as a parody, a deconstruction of its own genre you could say.

      Then the second half came and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Psgel’s statement that “the show started to play its story straight”.

      Yeah Souther, you’re right, the show still did have comedy mixed in with its melodrama. It still had its oddball moments and yeah, I’ll admit that the show didn’t completely go all serious. But that doesn’t disprove the fact that the show still tried to play its story straight.

      Like I said, the show started off as a parody and then it just dropped that mindset with episode 10. The show started trying to give us an explanation for its ridiculous over the top story. It started trying to bring its themes and characters and it just didn’t work. Everything was a complete train wreck. Nothing, not even its absurd moments, were executed or timed well. Shock value was just for pointless shock value rather than to entertain as Psgels also brings up.

      Seriously, do you really think Valvrave threw in a scene of sexual assault as entertainment value?

      In all due respect, Souther, don’t take this as me trying to trash your opinion. Because I’m not, opinions are opinions, and I’m just trying to make a point here.

      However, I do want to bring up that you shouldn’t personally attack Psgels or anyone else just because their opinion doesn’t meet yours. It’s childish, to say the least.

      • TheUltimateReaper says:

        I’m not convinced Valvrave ever changed, in fact, I think the people that only thought of it as “fun” were fools to begin with. Valvrave is Valvrave a “I don’t give a shit and do what I want” kind of show, at least that’s how I’ve always thought of it.

      • Souther says:


        Do you really think the sexual assault changed the tone of the surrounding scenes? The answer is no, unless you weren’t even looking or suffer from a bad memory.

        Rewatching the last episode, I do not think the show’s overall mindset has changed at all. They simply pushed the melodrama button a little bit, since the series needed to move the story forward, but that’s a different thing altogether.

        It’s not like people never died or suffered in the show, right from the start. That’s hardly been absent. But even the darkness is not truly serious. You have a Dorssian invasion using IRONS as a weapon and a drill that kills people with poison gas, that’s defeated by an autistic girl who screams SUPERMARKET and pilots a purple robot with a magical girl rod.

        Psgels thinks stuff like that means they took everything completely straight and serious, which I find to be false and easily proven wrong by just a cursory examination of the last episode.

        But whatever, keep up the poor work.

        • Deadlights says:

          @Souther: Still, I hated how the show tried to explain its plot and characters.

          See with shows like FLCL and Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure, the show never slows down to try and explain all the WTF moments we saw earlier; they leave it up to the viewer’s imagination and I like that.

          Valvrave actually tries to explain some of its stupidity and that didn’t work for me.

          Plus, as ridiculous as FLCL and Jojo are, they at least have compelling characters; plot points and twists are actually well-executed.

          Valvrave didn’t have any great characters and it had such messy execution, timing, pacing, direction, etc! It was so fundamentally flawed that I just could not enjoy this show no matter how ridiculous it was.

          Honestly though, we’re never going to change each other’s opinion so let’s put this argument to an end. Unless you really have something to say then, by all means, say it.

          • Souther says:

            There are plenty of explanations in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure that are pure BS or WTF and wouldn’t stand up to any serious criticism of the show, but I digress.

  5. TheUltimateReaper says:

    Valvrave is a bad drug, I’m going to keep taking despite a few bad trips, because it’s hard not to be entertained overall. At any rate, compared to something like Guilty Crown this is quality gumbo.

  6. Rihan says:

    I loved this show. For me it was the 2nd best show of the season after Titan. Nothing better than an entertaining trainwreck

  7. Jetson says:

    And you are a proven asshole!

  8. Rihan says:

    And lol at that first scene in the final episode…Did Saki just get NTR’d by L-Elf?

  9. mistress_kisara says:

    I love the show’s craziness and over the top antics! I’m definitely watching the 2nd season

  10. Raye Peneber says:

    I’ll probably be around for the second season. Vulvarape cracks me up, 10/10 pun 7/10 show.

    Yeah, it’s medicore and the twists are lame. Still, I like to balance out my anime diet with all sorts of shows. Also, this blows aku no hana out of the water. Really surprised you didn’t drop that ugly POS.

  11. jonas says:

    “But what matters an eternity of damnation to one who has found an infinity of joy in a single second?”
    — Charles Baudelaire

    Take Valvrave´s bells and whistles away, and you´ll find that this show and Aku no Hana deal with the same themes.

    As for the pointless sensationalism, here´s a fragment of Les Fleurs du Mal (the basis for Aku no Hana):

    It’s Ennui! — his eye brimming with spontaneous tear
    He dreams of the gallows in the haze of his hookah.
    You know him, reader, this delicate monster,
    Hypocritical reader, my likeness, my brother!

    Pericles Lewis puts it more clearly as: If only we had more guts, he suggests, we would all be rapists, murders, and arsonists. Our evil arises not so much from the enticements of Satan as from the most typical of modern vices, Boredom. Baudelaire here celebrates the evil lurking inside the average reader, in an attitude far removed from the social concerns typical of realism. Rather, he wallows in evil in order to snatch away the veil of polite manners that turns too much poetry into cliché and high sentiment.

    • Exoray says:

      Um, have you even read Les Fleurs du Mal? Just because something features a scene of sexual assault and showcases the darker side of human nature doesn’t mean it’s as deep or thought-provoking as Baudelaire. If it did, 90% of all hentai would fit in that category. Valvrave’s themes hardly stem from Les Fleur like Kasuga’s antisocial reclusiveness or Nakamura’s misanthropic views of her peers. Valvrave is just silly.

      • jonas says:

        A. That Baudelaire´s quote is the main concept behind both shows (and many others).

        B. For antisocial behavior and misanthropy, just look at the valvrave pilots.

        C. Even if both shows work with the same core issues, they deal with them in different ways.

        D. Baudelaire considered himself part of the decadent movement, and aimed not at a political, or sociological analysis but at a poetry that could express the new experiences. In other words he would describe things in the most vulgar manner as entertainment.

        • jonas says:

          Also Baudelaire was an art critic, and he argued that critics should not judge a work of art on a moral basis.

          We know rape is a horrible thing, but when a work of fiction uses it, even in a frivolous manner, we can´t condemned said work because of that.

  12. WatcherZero says:

    While I dont agree with the shock twists which I likened to Lelouch I think the show actually improved a lot in the last two episodes, the response to the rape was adult with her using it to emotionally dominate him and him so ashamed and willing to make amends he proposed to her. Theyve also dangled some more Magia questions in front of us. While halfway through I was willing to give up this series I think the ending has convinced me to watch the 2nd season.

  13. Mormegil says:

    I enjoyed this series up until rape was used as a mere plot device.

  14. Hogart says:

    For me, the problem was simple: I was never given anything interesting enough for me to care if they stuck the landing or not. It’s not so much that it’s “bad” writing as it is incredibly lazy writing. With so much going on, but none of it mattering, the trainwreck effect sort of fizzles. I at least need a Lelouche factor to get through this kind of pomp, but Valvrave lacked that crucial element.

  15. ServantOfPriss says:

    This show is funny.

    In a morbid sense.

    But it’s not good. At all. It’s a fucking mess. Really, the only reason to enjoy it is what telenovela “twist” they’ll come up with next. It’s like The Room.

  16. Ogre1945 says:

    This has really been a mecha soap opera with a lot of unrealistic twists but actually, I honestly felt the show had a fairly basic yet ultimately adequate form of storytelling underneath all said twists and turns.

    Each of the main characters had their moment in the spotlight to establish their own personalities, the new pilots had a standard reason to get into the giant robots, and it was gradually revealed that the main villain knew more about the secrets of the plot until he finally made his move at the end of the season. I didn’t find any of that to be so horrible, though I also wouldn’t consider it great. Just relatively alright.

    Even if Haruto himself was normally boring to watch, his interactions with L-Elf, Saki and Shoko were consistently entertaining while simultaneously making them gradually feel more distinct and interesting as characters than than the protagonist. I’m still more interested in seeing what will happen to them than to Haruto, but I’d count that as a positive on the character front.

    The series had a pretty warped sense of ridiculous humor that kept me from getting too serious about the whole ordeal. The one serious misstep of dissonance I’d call out would be the rape scene, which did not work for me and came across as mildly offensive, but I think the last two episodes effectively stepped away from that into less controversial territory.

    My verdict is that Valvrave is indeed a mess and not a very good show but also not nearly as awful as it has been presented here.

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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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