RogerBW's Blog

Kuromukuro 13 May 2017

2016 mecha science fiction, 26 episodes: AniDB, vt Black Relic. In the near future, a UN research station at the Kurobe Dam is looking into some ancient artefacts… and enigmatic aliens start to invade Earth.

The CGI used in mecha anime is finally coming of age: the giant stompy robots we get here (and there are quite a lot of them) move like proper giant stompy robots, with a good sense of inertia, and their rendering style matches the characters and background. The fighting sequences, of which there are quite a few both on the ground and in the air, are excellent, moving fast but always making it possible to see what's going on and giving a sense of position. (And the environment is very important in these fights: picking up weapons, falling off ledges, other stuff that should always matter but doesn't in shows where the animators don't have the budget to do it.)

Yes, all right, there's an Ancient Mecha that is Earth's Only Hope, but it's quickly reverse-engineered to allow Earth's forces to field a few more units. There are influences from Evangelion, particularly the heroine's reluctance to get back to piloting once she's seen the deaths that were caused by it… but this goes in its own direction rather than just copying that series.

The other end of this plot involves the heroine and her school friends, including the military-otaku who's keen to film these strange alien invaders; and while it stays light-hearted, in its way this is just as much a serious look at combat stress and child soldiers as Schwarzesmarken was. Sometimes the pace gets a little slow in these school sections, but it's worth it for the resolution.

There are lots of characters, and they all have their own goals and stories and foibles. Sure, Yukina's the heroine, but her mother has a significant part to play too; and the aliens have some surprises of their own. OK, maybe it could have done with a slightly shorter run and a little less padding, but this story wouldn't have fit well into 13 episodes.

There are unanswered questions (V engure tbg gur vzcerffvba gbjneqf gur raq gung gur jubyr nyvra vainfvba flfgrz, vapyhqvat vgf pbclvat bs vaqvtrabhf yvsr gb npg nf vgf jneevbef, zvtug jryy or n Orefrexre-fglyr frghc tbvat ba vgf cebtenzzvat jvgu ab yvivat unaqf ng gur pbagebyf nal zber) but this is a story that comes to an end – a sequel would be possible, but I suspect the mecha here were too ugly to sell many toys.

This is my favourite mecha show since RahXephon (2002) and Gasaraki (1998-1999).

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