Sunday 3 April 2011

Anime REVIEW: Star Driver - Takuto of the Radiance

From acclaimed anime studio Bones (responsible for Eureka Seven, Soul Eater, Fullmetal Alchemist and much more) comes Star Driver, a story of super robots gone fabulous. Star Driver tells the tale of Takuto Tsunashi, a young boy who arrives on the remote Southern Cross Isle. The island has a dark secret though, as a group of masked individuals known as the Glittering Crux Brigade are attempting to release a hoard of mysterious mecha known as 'Cybodies' from an alternate dimension known as Zero Time. To do this they must first break the seals of the four maidens of the island. Takuto has a secret of his own though, as he soon reveals himself to be the 'Galactic Pretty Boy', a legendary fighter who defends the maidens with his own Cybody, Taubarn. Takuto not only becomes popular at school, but soon enters a complicated love triangle with his two best friends - South maiden Wako Agemaki and Sugata Shindō, Wako's fiancee and pilot to the most powerful Cybody of all, Samekh.

With so many great things to say about this series, it's very difficult to decide where to begin. The story is very much super robot, explosive over the top action with little regard for logical sciences - but there's so much more to it than that. The Cybody action is only one segment of the series, Star Driver is also at heart very much a series about romance, comedy and school life. Unlike other animes which have tried to combine two seemingly contrasting genres and failed, Star Driver has succeeded. I want to say its like Ouran High School Host Club meets Gurren Lagann, but to make that comparison sells Star Driver to short (and to be honest, the narrative isn't particularly like either) but that's the kind of image it visually presents. Takuto is desired by both his friends and enemies, as is in some ways Sugata. While this and many other things (such as an interesting play performed by the main cast as the Drama club) are equally as focal as the main plot, what's at stake in Star Driver is never lost, nor is the plot spoon fed to the audience. There are plenty of plot twists, and revelations are kept to themselves until the very last minute (but with plenty of hints for people to draw their own conclusions before the big reveal).

Takuto's transformation into the Galactic Pretty Boy is a striking sequence, with more things in common with a Magical Girl anime than a Super Robot one, but somehow it works. With a flowing coat, dual hair and knee high boots, the only way to describe the Ginga Bishounen is fabulous. Not to be outdone, the Glittering Crux have their own 'unique' look, with costumes featuring feathers, masks, suspenders and various levels of bondage (and with aliases like 'President', 'Window Star' and 'Scarlet Kiss', it seems rather appropriate).

But what probably drew me to Star Driver in the first place were the robots. Star Driver already had its fair share of unique designs with the Crux's wardrobe of choice, but it doesn't stop there. The Taubarn isn't like any mecha you've seen before - it has a plume on its head, a tiny waist with huge hips and pointed high-heeled feet. It looks more like its about to strut down a catwalk than engage in a massive sword fight, and the majority of the other Cybodies in the series also follow suite. The battle sequences are extremely interesting, operating outside the real world in Zero Time, where the scenery is extremely reminiscent of the final battle from Gurren Lagann. The action is explosive, but in a very different way - there are times where Taubarn seems like it's dancing as much as its fighting.

In short, Star Driver is nothing short of brilliant. It maintains a level of being both equally serious and light hearted, each character is unforgettable and the art is simply stunning. Even the opening/ending themes, along with each maidens' unique theme song are fantastic. It is without a shadow of a doubt one of the best anime series I have ever watched. Even if you aren't the biggest fan of giant robot animes, there's enough here relevant to other genres that will keep you watching.

No comments: