Robotics;Notes part 1 review

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I have to begin by getting my main opinion out the way first; the highly anticipated Steins;Gate successor, Robotics;Notes… was a letdown. The opening of the story was nothing short of mediocre. It had me worrying for the first few episodes that I really was in for just another high school ‘save our beloved club!’ anime. And although the plot took a few unexpected paths towards different and admittedly, very unique ideas, it just wasn’t executed in a way that kept me interested. It could have been handled a whole lot better.

screenshot_6_26648Set in a futuristic themed Japan in the year 2015, Robotics;Notes follows the story of two main high schoolers, Aki and Kai as they desperately try to save the long-running Robot Research club, following its downfall in popularity and interest. However, parallel to the story which follows Aki’s efforts to build a giant robot in time for an Expo, Kai stumbles upon something a little more serious and sinister; locked data files which contain information related to various plots that could ultimately wipe out the human population, and possibly the entire world. Talk about a juxtaposition of storylines. Either way, Aki’s club-saving activities were boring and predictable for the most part, whereas Kai’s side of the story was full of confusion, secrets and conspiracies. I would have much rather seen the latter side of ideas shine more brightly throughout the anime.

In all honesty, saving the robot research club was a mere hindrance on the potential that this had. It was disappointing to see all the most creative themes go to waste in such a muddle of quite possibly too many ideas. Plus there is a hell of a lot of scientific babble. Maybe I’m just not clued up enough on the subject, but sometimes it felt like it was totally made up and I felt as if I was left out on something. There was nothing to cling and relate to because it was almost as if everything was skimmed over with a few lines of dialogue. The lack of depth and information often made it hard to understand ‘the point’ in many things. Such as the seemingly genius handheld devices that everyone was waltzing around with.. and these monopole things… I have no idea. But anyway…

roboticsnotes1This anime had a great idea. A great idea related to end of the world conspiracies, the lost and forgotten files that lead from one clue to another, discovery after discovery. It was an opportunity for a riveting adventure with plenty of twists and turns. But it felt sort of… watered down. One of the main problems overall was the lack of character development. Sadly, Kai himself was an issue throughout the anime. Kai entered the story as a typical game-obsessed boy. He stood nonchalantly in every scene, throwing out comments in a monotone voice whilst constantly tapping away at his handheld console. He was the too-cool-for-school borderline delinquent. Despite his moments of redeeming comedy, he was overall very bland and sometimes infuriating; particularly when his main discoveries appeared to lack any emotion at all. I was screaming in my head: “Kai! You’ve just found a damn file that hints at the end of the human population! Can you at least act a little concerned!? Or excited!? Or SOMETHING?” His toneless attitude overran every big event and made it seem as if nothing really mattered, almost like he had accidentally tripped over a life changing discovery, shrugged his shoulders and continued onwards.

I suppose the bottom line is, for the part of the story I was actually interested in, I could’ve done with a half-decent character who actually had a personality. On the other hand, Aki was obviously the complete opposite to create a clash with Kai in some attempt to show some variation. But in the end she just became the typical annoying, overbearing, loud and hysterical high school female. It was nice to have a girl with some drive and independence but I can’t give any further compliments. The side cast were much more interesting, although lacking their deserved screen time I found the more secondary characters to be colourful and enjoyable when interacting with either of the mains, particularly the young programmer who speaks almost entirely in online slang.

582434-robotics_notes___01___large_02Moving onto the main and possibly only real pleasing part of the anime, the visuals, plus any other trailing details. Coming from Production I.G, it was no surprise to be watching one of the brightest and most beautifully animated series that I’ve ever seen. As the production team involved in well-known titles such as Kuroko’s Basketball, Attack on Titan and Neon Genesis Evangelion, any watcher should definitely be ready for extensive attention to detail throughout every frame. Particularly in the mecha robotic constructions, obviously a big part of the anime, it was nice to see all the creative diversity that had come together to bring all the metallic sci-fi contraptions to life. Despite my dislike for the characters themselves, I have zero complaints about their overall design and artwork; all the characters suited their personalities but I suppose they can’t exactly be called ‘unique’ or anything alike. As far as music goes, I honestly can’t comment. If there was any music at all, it obviously went straight through one ear and out the other because it went completely without notice. I’m a strong lover of music and soundtracks and believe that it can play an enormous part in setting scenes and vamping up the emotions within a story. The lack of it here is another thing to be slightly disappointed with, but never mind.

It has to be said overall that the anime was 589942-robotics_notes___05___large_04purely lacking. I have felt myself struggling throughout this entire review to pinpoint things to mention and of course, that comes down entirely to what I just watched. There just wasn’t exactly a lot going on that made me want to talk about it. I’m left at the end of part 1, kind of wanting more but at the same time, not knowing whether I can honestly be bothered. This is simply because the pace is very slow and very muddled. There are a lot of scenes that just appear to drag on and waste time and even if the show was to pick up within the second half, I believe that it’s a little too late, right?

Being the next show in line after the monumental Steins;Gate it was hard not to compare and that has undoubtedly played a part in the bitter disappointment as the series concluded. Although I can’t say overall that it was a bad story, those with an interest in sci-fi and mecha should definitely give it a go, however if you’re coming in with high expectations after Steins;Gate and possibly Chaos;Head, don’t. You will set yourself up for a letdown, so come in with a fresh mind and try to enjoy the anime for what I viewed it as; a mediocre, slightly confusing but occasionally charming story. With a lot of spit.

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