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.
Suggestions:
– 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:

        @Deadlights:

        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
    (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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