Normally I don’t have the time or the patience to watch several episodes to see if a series is worth watching. In 2010, I only watched about three TV series from beginning to end, The Prisoner remake, Mitsudomoe, and Star Driver. All three I had watched for different reasons, The Prisoner was an interesting show to me and I wanted to see what a modernised version was like, Mitsudomoe was out of curiosity and Star Driver was a recommendation from my favourite anime reviewer JesuOtaku. While I found something to like in all three, Star Driver was the only one I could easily talk about and complain about as well.
Since the show is ongoing, I’ll try my best to avoid spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen it. But be warned that I might give stuff away to explain my points.
For those who have never seen it, Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto (Star Driver: The radiance of Takuto) is an anime series produced by Studio Bones (Cowboy Bebop) and is directed by Takuya Igarashi (Ouran Highschool Host Club). It’s about the high school life of Takuto, as he also fights against an evil organisation called the Glittering Star Crux on the island called Southern Cross. He has to prevent the Crux from breaking the seals of four island shrine maidens, which would allow them to control giant machines known as Cybodies on a plan to take over the world. Takuto controls his own Cybody called Tauburn, and has the title “Galatic Pretty Boy”. He is good friends with Sugata, a wealthy and skilled fighter with a powerful Cybody that is so powerful that using it could kill him, and Wako, a kind and friendly girl who is also the South Shrine Maiden. It later becomes apparent that there may be a love triangle, although it hasn’t really progressed far and there seems to be over a dozen girls who have all fallen for Takuto anyway.
I actually enjoyed the first half of the show, it had a great opening and ending theme, really awesome mecha fights, a likeable set of characters and a good sense of humour and drama. The only main problem I found was that it seemed to have a monotonous pattern each episode, which simply went: Highschool comedy, Character Development, Glittering Star Crux Development, Battle Sequence, Victory for Takuto, Resolvement & Conclusion. This was the exact same pattern for twelve straight episodes, and it was the thirteenth episode that was the first to have no fight scene at all.
One minor issue I found was with the character called the “Fish Girl”, she was a Maiden who was hidden by everyone on the island and had her seal broken during the first episode. She had her own song which is enjoyed by many to the point where it was recently released as a single, and she was an interesting character who looked like a suitable love interest for the series’ villain. But at the seventh episode they decide to let her leave the island and as of writing this entry, she has never even been mentioned since, and since this happens another character later on, it’s safe to say that “Leaving the Island” is the shows equivalent to writing a character off in the series. The Fish Girl may still be important, but if she hasn’t been mentioned for eleven episodes I don’t know why should expect her to reappear.
Despite those two issues, the few characters I hate, and the small nitpicks in individual episodes, I enjoyed the first half and I’m glad I saw it near its original run. However, as soon as 2011 began, everything changed. The first problem immediately struck as there is a new opening and a new ending sequence. Now, 9nine, who produced the first ending theme, are a good group and I liked the original ending theme, but what logical reason was there to completely change the opening and ending themes to be done by them. The opening in particular, changing it from the “simple is best” opening which was very colourful, simple in design and fitted the theme, to a fanservice opening consisting of naked girls, fast editing and throwing all the best characters into the sequence, while I can get why the opening is full of fanservice, IT STILL ANNOYS ME THAT THEY CHANGED IT.
The next change was the episode structure, which focused more on character development and the Glittering Star Crux, reducing the High School sequences and battles. Now while it is refreshing to see the series go out of monotony, it brings new problems. The one thing people liked about this show was the battle scenes, which were in colourful enviroments, looked really cool, and had a great composition to back. As of writing, they have now reduced the battles from one per episode to when they feel like it, with some episodes substituting for some minor non-mecha fight or serious character development. Now all I’m thinking “Is this Evangelion all over again?” because now it looks like the writers have took the one thing I enjoy in this entire series and dangle it above my head going “Do ya want it? Do ya want it?”.
However the thing I hate the most begins at Episode 17, and out of the blue, two brand new bad guys (well…girls) enter in called Madoka Kei and Kou Atari and immediatley become rivals of Sugata and Takuto without having an inkling of backstory or explanation of who they are, this is 17 episodes in and episode 18 doesn’t explain much about them either. This is an unbelieveably poorly written character introduction and I’m surprised no one who comments on each episode has mentioned this, I thought this was a simple rule of storytelling: When you have new characters, answer the question “Who are they?”. There are many good ways to introduce a character, and no matter how late you are if introduced well the audience can understand him/her and include them into the story.
For example, Kagura from Azumanga Daioh, first introduced in Episode 6 and became a main character in the series in Episode 10. We are told she is very atheletic and why, she is relevent for the episode and in Episode 10, we can recognise who she is and we are shown more of her character, and as the series continues we gradually understand her to the point where she’s the main character. Death Note definitely know how to introduce characters late, they had more than ten characters introduced late, each having either a good explanation of who they are and some having important backstory to give an understanding of their motives, most notably Teru Mikami, a Kira Supporter and Villain introduced at the end of Episode 31 and had a back story at the start of Episode 32.
I’m sure that the two will be explained eventually, but after two whole episodes with very little of their characters being developed, they shouldn’t have been there to begin with.
Well the show isn’t over yet so I can’t complain too much about it until I’ve seen all that is meant to be seen. Maybe I’ll give an overview once I’ve seen the final episode but for now that’s all I have to say.