Posted on 15 February 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews, Soukou no Strain


Soukou no Strain is a science-fiction mecha series. There are two types of mechas in this story. Gambits and Strains. Strains are superior to Gambits in every single way, but suitable pilots are rather rare, since in order to pilot a Strain, you need to possess a unique device called a MIMIC. This has been linked with you since your birth. If the MIMIC breaks, you’ll lose the ability to fly a Strain. The story centres around one of these Strain-pilots: Sara Werec, sister of the famous talent, Ralph Werec.

Soukou no Strain has been a series with its ups and downs, but it definitely turned out as one of the better ones of this kind. The fact, however, does remain that the first episodes introduce a rather significant amount of strange plot-points, or unexplainable events. Some events also are way too coincidental for their own sake, and you’d certainly want to avoid episode 7, which is basically one huge incoherent fanservice-fest.

Still, in comparison to countless mediocre anime, this one manages to rise above them. This is because at the moments when it has to, Soukou no Strain really delivers. It isn’t afraid to kill off a number of characters, and through the course of 13 episodes, it actually manages to develop Sara and her companions into very interesting and likable characters. Some of the dramatic scenes are amazing, and especially the final episodes lack any sort of incoherent storytelling that was plaguing the first number of episodes. Add a few very interesting plot twists along the way, and you’ve got yourselves a great anime.

In terms of OST, this anime definitely delivers. It comes accompanied by a few very strong stringed-instrument-tracks, perfect for the setting. I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the graphics, though. The CG looks nice, but the character designs are not far from horrible. One bright point, though: the final episode fixes this nasty bug, and it finishes the series with some great animation qualities. I just wish I could say the same about the other episodes.

Overall, I’m recommending this if you don’t mind the action. Okay, the show has its flaws, but something says to me that it doesn’t care about these, and that it would rather ignore them so that it has more time to focus on the really important things. After all, it had to stuff quite a large story in only 13 episodes, something which is never an easy task. Still, it succeeded, in my opinion. It’s a great series, I had my initial doubts, though these were removed on the way by some very strong episodes and plot twists.

Posted on with categories: Soukou no Strain

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Short Synopsis: And Soukou no Strain has finished, with the big battle between Sara and Ralph.
Good: Whoa, some actual good animation this time; Suddenly, the entire ED makes sense.
Bad: Like most endings, even though exciting, the ending was predictable.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10

And I’ve finally finished this rather interesting series. I’m glad I watched it, as it had some really good points. But more on that at my actual review of the show. One thing that immediately stroke my eye for this episode was the huge animation quality. Or rather the huge sudden rise in animation quality. It seems that the animators went all out to give this series a great ending. I just wish this show did the same for the rest of the series, but it’s a great addition nonetheless. ^^;

Regarding the actual ending, it was surprisingly focused. Series can go three ways with their endings:
– The main characters and side-characters all finish their own story at the same time. This most often happens when the main characters have different goals than the side-characters. Usually, I tend to like this sort of ending more than the others as it has a degree of unpredictability that the next two don’t have. This usually means the most rushed of the three options.
– The main characters and side-characters all work together to accomplish their final goal. This usually makes for more of the cheesy endings, where everybody suddenly sees the light and does the exact same thing.
– The side-characters take a step back, so that the main characters can focus on their problem. This usually is the most predictable of the three options.

Soukou no Strain went with the third option. While it definitely was predictable, it could have been far worse. Sara is striked by Ralph during her fight at the beginning of the episode, which means that she has to be brought back to the space-ship in order to get her Strain fixed while Ralph floats into space due to another one of his heart attacks (or something that looks like it). Because of that, it allowed for one more quiet moment with Lotti. Surprisingly the argument between Sara and Lotti was completely over, and this scene was entirely used to create a moment of rest before Sara went to confront Ralph. Usually, before the final fight in a similar situation, we have characters going all emo. It’s nice seeing a twist like this. It prepared nicely for the scene that was to follow.

The final fighting scene must have been a great treat for the ones into action. It was pretty intense, though like mentioned before, it also was predictable. Still, I actually enjoyed the ending, mainly due to the atmosphere in the end, and one very clever idea by the creators. It seems that the ED, which I always took for granted actually showed the scene of Sara and Emily, walking on a beach, after having defeated Ralph and landed on earth. I was wondering why nobody showed up, but that explains everything. It’s a nice touch.

Finally, one final nice touch was Ralph’s necklace. It seems that he never actually took it off. (not sure if we saw this on previous episodes, though) I loved it when Sara finally acknowledges Ralph as her brother again. Sayonara Soukou no Strain. You’ve had your ups and downs, but I’m sad to see you go.

Posted on 7 February 2007 with categories: Soukou no Strain

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Short Synopsis: Second-final episode! Ralph launches his attack!
Good: Awesome episode. The confrontation between Sara and Ralph was well worth the build-up.
Bad: Physically, things didn’t make any sense, but who cares!
Overall Enjoyment Value: 9/10

This is it. The second-last episode. It’s here where anime have to stop joking around, and deliver the things they’ve been building up to, since the final episode rarely is the best episode of the series. In Souko no Strain’s case, this turned out awesome! This definitely is the proof that we’re dealing with a solid series here, which knows what it’s doing throughout the series.

This episode definitely was a roller-coaster ride from start to finish. I feared that Ralph wouldn’t manage to spark my sympathy, but these worries weren’t necessary. He definitely was so much fun to watch when he realized that Emily abandoned him because she saw him kill someone. Still, I’m wondering something. I originally thought that Ralph attacked the ship in the third episode because he wanted the second Emily, but now it seems that her existance was a complete surprise to her. If that’s the case, then why did he attack the ship in the first place?

Another character died as well, the purple-haired woman (I still don’t know her name). Even though she started out as a character who lacked development and fleshing out, I do have to say that her death made some impact. Especially how it got torn to pieces, even though she stopped being any harm to any character. It’s a cruel world we live in. Oh, wait, that saying doesn’t work in this setting…

Also, now that the final episode is only one week away, it’s time to ask the usual question again: how will this one end. Looking at the nature of this show, there’ll probably be a few more deaths. Ralph will die in any case, but who’ll go with him and who’ll stay alive? This episode ended with Ralph and Sara about to face each other in their Strains, which means that we’ll first have a mecha battle between the two of them, which is followed by some kind of twist. Also, don’t forget that Lotti, Lavinia and the others still have a part to play in this.

(Small note: whoa, I actually managed to beat Random Curiosity for this entry in terms of post-time. That’s something I never expected. ^^;)

Posted on 1 February 2007 with categories: Soukou no Strain

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Short Synopsis: Ralph’s story gets continued, and preparations are made for the finale of this show.
Good: A very interesting plot twist over at the Deague-ship. Even though this episode mostly showed preparations, it was well worth watching.
Bad: The first half of the episode was extremely dialogue-based, which meant a whole lot of trouble for me to understand it.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 7,5/10

Ah, finally Souko no Strain is back. And with this episode, I totally understand why the explanation of the previous episode felt so incomplete: it was meant to be continued into this episode. When Ralph held the dying Emily, who begged him to save her sisters, she showed him something like the back-star gate. I have no idea what that might be, but she also showed him the story behind the Emilies. Afterwards, a piece of stray debris hit his eye, causing the scar he bears now.

Also, if I’m not mistaking, it was Deague who first discovered the Emilies and started experimenting on them. That’s probably why Ralph ended up working with them. At one point in time, a majority of the Emilies blew themselves up, leaving only the ones in the Strains who fought Ralph, the doll-Emily and the Emily who was stored in the academy of the first episode. Deague wanted to retrieve the only two Emilies they had left, and that’s why they needed Ralph, because they recognized his talent. This story still sounds a bit vague to me, though at least it makes a bit more sense.

Meanwhile, over at the Deague-ship, an interesting development happens. The purple-haired lady actually manages to escape from Ralph, who seems to have a heart-attack. I’m not sure where this came from, though it did give her the chance to push the self-destruction-button of the ship, and flee along with Emily, in order to reach the space-ship Sara is on. This can become very interesting for the final two episodes. :)

Oh, and on a side-note: the background music is starting to get more addictive every time I hear it. The use of violins and cellos really worked well in this episode.

Posted on 11 January 2007 with categories: Soukou no Strain

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And finally, Soukou no Strain continues after its new years break. This episode was all about Ralph and Emily. It explains why Ralph did what he did, and the secret behind Emily. Ralph also did something incredibly reckless. Especially Ralph and Emily’s backgrounds were very interesting to see.

Again, with this being the raw version, I didn’t manage to pick up everything. What I think happened was that there once was an alien race, aka Emily. It consisted out of a number of girls which were exactly alike, and basically, they were all linked with each other. (As in, when one feels pain, the others do as well). This explains why Emily felt the same as Emily.

Anyway, the Emilies were quite advanced, as they had the technology to build spaceships. Then, at one point, they were discovered by the humans. Since humanity is evil, it realized the potential of the Emilies, and started to experiment with them. If I’m not mistaken, it’s because of them that people were able to build Mimics. In the end, the Emilies were totally controlled, and used to power certain variations of Strains. I’m not sure why this ended up to be Ralphs enemy, but the fact remains that he was sent on a mission to defeat an enemy base, full of these sorts of Strain-like things. Obvioulsy, he knew nothing about it, and when he found out, the shock drove him crazy.

It seems that all of the Emilies were there, killed by Ralph, except for two of them. One Emily was being stored in the school we found Sara in during the first episode. The second one had her mind transferred in a mimic, to later become the doll Emily. Her purpose was forgotten, and she was discarded as a useless Mimic. For some reason, she ended up on the same spaceship Sara was in. When Ralph killed the last one of the alternative Strains, it broke and revealed the girl. She begged him to save one of their remaining sisters, aka the Emily on earth. I’m not sure what he did after that, but it made him end up with Deague. If I had to guess, it was to get his hands on a special type of Strain which would make it possible to attack the place where Emily was kept. What Deague gained from it still beats me.

In any case, Ralph went to rescue Emily, with perhaps a bit extreme methods. He had been so emotionally wrecked that he stopped caring for human life, other than that of Emily. We see that during this episode as well, when he’s even starting to get problems not killing Emily herself. Still, I’m not yet sure what was behind his attacks in the third and fourth episode. Based on the later episodes, he didn’t know that Emily was so special, otherwise he would have just taken her in episode 8. Also, what are these goals he’s been after that required such intricate planning? Is he planning to destroy humanity because of the things they did to Emily? (I hope not, by the way)

In any case, in this episode, something similar happens when Melchisidec starts experimenting on the Mimic-Emily. Of course, this would evoke bad emotions with Ralph’s Emily, so she starts begging for him to save her. In the end, he kills off the entire crew of Deague. Quite reckless indeed. He’ll be screwed if some technical failures suddenly turn up.

Posted on 23 December 2006 with categories: Soukou no Strain

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Great aftermath. Really great aftermath, though it wasn’t as good as episode eight. But then again, this episode didn’t really feature any new revelations, it was just about the reaction of the different characters after what happened during the previous episode, specifically focusing on Lotti and Sara.

This episode was basically taking all its time to build up to its climax. Lotti has found out that Sara Cruz is actually Sara Werec, brother of the infamous Ralph Werec who killed her brother, and more recently, Carris. This episode showed yet again how similar the two of them are. Both of them had a big-brother complex, both of them had to say goodbye to him, both of them lost him, and both of them decided to take revenge and ended up in the top-tier of their class.

The best moment of the episode definitely came when Sara said that despite her love for her brother, she’d kill him no matter what. Especially when you compare this to Lotti, who knows the pain of experiencing your brother getting killed. I’m suspecting she never saw that anyone would ever kill her own brother.

Posted on 21 December 2006 with categories: Soukou no Strain

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Hahaha! Never, EVER did I have such a hate/love relationship as with this episode. This episode really contained some of the most amazing scenes this series has yet to offer. Yet, unfortunately, other parts of the episode made me want to poke my eyes out out of agony.

Let’s start with the bad part, seeing as it covers about the first eighteen minutes of this episode. While the previous episode was just like an ecchi comedy, this part got turned into a dating-sim. Seriously, those who’ve been reading more of my blog know that I really hate this genre, and this was no different. We got to see Carris, making an idiot out of himself while Sara turned deredere more and more with every scene progressing. And, of course, the kiss which got interrupted at the last possible moment by a random phone call couldn’t be missing. There were some interesting parts, fortunately. All of the scenes in which Sara and Carris weren’t present were pretty interesting to see. Especially when Lotti was involved.

But then the last two minutes of the episode arrived. Seriously. In only two minutes, my opinion of this show changed from annoying to decent to good, and at the last thirty seconds to awesome! Seriously, it’s almost like the creators heard wishes to kill off the obnoxiously annoying Carris! Not only is it great to have him gone now, his death caused some great reactions to the people around him. When you combine this with the fact that Sara ran into Ralph again, again unable to kill him and that Lotti saw all of this from a distance and starts yelling at her afterwards, this really was one of the best episode endings I’ve seen in a while.

Another great part in this episode was when Emily actually starts talking back to Sara. It was in my opinion, the major turning point in this episode from bad to good. Seeing someone who has been unable to talk or even move show her feelings was surprisingly touching to see. I’m now really looking forward to the next episode, as it’s promising to be an actual great one. Not only will Sara find out that Carris suffered the same fate as Cedric, but her cover of Sara Cruz has also been blown now that her real identity as Sara Werec has been revealed. And let’s not forget that we won’t be bothered the most annoying character in this show anymore. :)

Posted on 7 December 2006 with categories: Soukou no Strain

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Okay… remind me again. This was this extremely intensive show where the main character’s three best friends were murdered by her brother in the first episode, right? It’s a science-fiction show, right? Well, I hope I am, as this episode looked more like an ecchi-comedy. I do hope that this show is going to find its focus soon.

Okay, it’s not like this episode wasn’t funny. In fact, some parts were really hilarious. I loved Lavinia’s over-romantisized fantasies, the sudden explosion and the random facial expressions. But at other times, it really felt like the creators were trying too hard to get some laughs, and the fanservice was just too much.

The best part of the episode, though, really was Emily. The moving one, I mean. I loved it when she stole Ralphs clothes in order to get access to a transport vehicle and escape from his space-ship. I also never expected to see some male fanservice in this show. :P At the end of the episode, the mood turns serious again as well, when one of Lavinia’s plans goes wrong, and the non-moving Emily ends up in a garbage truck.

Posted on 30 November 2006 with categories: Soukou no Strain

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This was a very fun episode. The major part just consists out of the characters having fun with each other, after which Sara seems to finally understand the meaning of teamwork after a small mission where it seems that some Tumors have remained after Ralph Werec’s attack. Still, not all events made as much sense as I hoped them to be.

You’d wonder what happened to the Gambits who survived the attack. Such a minor cleanup mission would have been a perfect mission for them, no need to call out the highly important Reasoners for such a small job, isn’t it? I’m also wondering a bit where on earth the pigeons came from. Though the most annoying one is during the fight scene. During its climax, we see Sara’s hair wave along with the wind… What wind? There’s no air in outer space, or there must be some kind of very, very strange cooling system inside a strain.

Okay, enough about the bad things. The episode was a really good one, in my opinion. It really was meant in order to flesh out the different protagonists a bit, and I have to say, that this succeeded. This episode contained some of the funniest moments in the entire series, for example when Lotti got angry at Sara for once AGAIN ignoring her strategies, or when Melchisidec started to chase Jessie.

Carris also is slowly turning better. Okay, he’s still the annoying standard main love interest, but he’s actually slowly getting a personality. Also, when he asked Sara from who she learned to dance that well, I felt that for the first time, he actually did something good for this anime, as it clearly reminded Sara back to her times with Cedric. I also really liked Lavinia this time, when she was ambushed by the Tumors. Great scenes. :)

Posted on 22 November 2006 with categories: Soukou no Strain

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With the eventfulness of the previous episode, the current episode had to be some kind of intermezzo. And indeed, it takes a step back in order to focus on Sara’s relationship with the new team she’s been assigned to. The episode begins with a battle simulation, and there it becomes clear Sara really doesn’t know the meaning of “teamwork”.

Still, even though this episode took a step back, it still featured a very powerful climax, as Sara finally finds out that Isabella died. Remember the girls who assaulted Sara on the previous episode, well, it seems that they’ve convinced themselves that Sara was the reason that Isabella had to die. Sara really has to endure her heaviest beating thus far when they call her to some kind of abandoned section in the space-ship. Especially their leader, Marietta, goes mental on her. At least, until a deus ex machina makes sure that Lotti stops her. Still, I’m believing that Lotti’s meddling isn’t doing much good. Okay, she managed to stop Marietta for the moment, but it didn’t remove her grudge against Sara, and without a doubt she’ll be thinking of something even worse to do to her, until Sara herself does something about it.

Emily turned into a nice surprise. You would suspect that she’d animate and come to life after she’s been activated, but things just turned out the opposite direction. Even though she’s a major character, she is and remains a lifeless doll, somehow related to the Emily Ralph abducted in episode one. Ah well, it does make her the perfect friend for the ever-silent Sara.

One thing I didn’t like about this episode? Carrisford. I mean, he’s so incredibly bland, he meets all of the stereotypes, and now he’s also trying to become our main character’s love interest? At least Cedric had a bit of depth, but Carrisford is just the epitome of clichés. I hope he dies soon, that way, he’ll be at least a bit useful to the story.

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