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I've already mentioned this season's mecha anime are pretty decent, but it just wouldn't feel right without Sunrise putting up a fight. Valvrave the Liberator is their new mecha anime, and it's definitely identifiable as a Sunrise anime.
This is me covering for Vagish again, so I'll start off by saying that I'm no mecha expert: more to the point, I have close to 0 experience (that I remember) with the Gundam franchise. Whatever I may have seen in my youth has long since disappeared from my memories, which in some ways can be a blessing, relieving me of any bias when judging new mecha anime from Sunrise. That said, I could tell straight away where the inspiration came for Valvrave the Liberator.
I've been assured, that the beginning of the episode is very Gundam. The enemy enters the base and immediately start a mission to take down their opposition. A surprisingly brutal start to the series, even for something like Gundam - all that blood wasn't expected - yet a premise that even someone like me can recognise straight away. With an invasion carried out by a group of youths happening in the background, our attention stays with the "good guys" and we're introduced to a rather big cast of them.
Leading our young group of protagonists is Haruto. A guy who tends to run away from confrontation and conflict, yet somehow manages to be completely honest with Shoko, a girl seems to be infatuated with. Haruto continues to cling to peace, not wanting to until he unknowingly meets - for the first encounter at least - his opposite number, L-Elf who clearly comes from different circumstances as proven by L-Elf's bullying of Haruto.
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What starts off as Gundam, turns to Code Geass in a more evident way later on. A possible Seed Destiny death of Shoko, triggers Haruto's timely and much expected manning up. This involved throwing away his humanity to activate his mech and then to come back to life from being stabbed in the heart by L-Elf. The execution in the scene was nothing short of a Code Geass mini-homage and somewhat expected, considering who the creator is. One thing is for sure: the staff are trying to merge the two to give us something fun to watch.
The bloody elements of Geass are evident with the lack of censorship and liberty Valvrave the Liberator takes with its action scenes. It even went to an extreme when the invaders took out the scientists, and one of them continued to fire a gun at them. Even so, it primarily rests on the very familiar Gundam plot, and brings in Code Geass at times, to round it out. The ending that we saw after the OP - no ED this episode, just an OP at the end - was pure Geass, to the point that calling it a rip-off isn't out of the question.
Valvrave the Liberator's first episode feels like a crossover of two Sunrise franchises, for better or worse. The fact that it's a very familiar setting, doesn't change the fact that it was a well-executed, enjoyable series with predictability and lack of originality as its biggest flaws. It'll have to balance between the two series it's drawing inspiration from and that too will be a hurdle to overcome. Nevertheless, there are areas where Valvrave sets itself apart.
Not even considering the fantastic animation, there's a big cast of characters here. Not just from Haruto's side ARUS, but Dorssia as well. We're briefly shown a wide range of characters from the school who will likely participate in the inevitable battles, and we're also shown a few of the enemy. A big cast such as this one can be fun and interesting to watch, and we have yet to find out about most of them.
- Why does the Valvrave software have a random anime girl on the dashboard?
- So in en exchange for using Valvrave you become either a vampire or zombie. Quite a bad trade-off.
- Serious note: Valvrave the Liberator will have a second cour (season) airing this Fall.
Valvrave the Liberator Episode 02 Preview
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