Anime Meta-Review


Argento Soma


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1-6 of 25
  • type: TV
  • grade: watchable
  • genre: mecha
  • source: digital fansub
  • form: sub
  • made: 2001
  • Review created: Wed Jul 4 14:57:33 EST 2001
  • mod: none

It wasn't that long ago when giant mecha shows were nice and simple. A secret organisation with huge mecha would show up just in time to beat back the terrible alien invaders. But things are more complex now, as shown in this anime series.


It all begins when a university research student wants to give a present to a female friend of his. Note she's not his girlfriend because they have a `complex' rather than romantic relationship. However she's been really busy on something important, and his attempt to discover what it is simply get him dragged in as well. It seems that the local loony professor wants he and his `friend' to help him in the project. That project being the investigation of a giant bio-mech alien. Unfortunately, even before the authorities can come and interfere the project goes explosively wrong, and the alien is revived and escapes. And then things begin to go even weirder.


Normally I'd give a lot more synopsis than the above...but in this case I can't really work out how to do it. Not only does it risk spoilers but it would demonstrate that I don't understand it that well either. Put simply this show is determined to be mysterious, enigmatic and complex. It's in no hurry to explain what is going on or what direction the story will take. In other words patience will be required to enjoy this series.

The important thing is how it ends up. Effectively the alien mecha gets drawn into the rather sad story of a rather strange young girl. When her story starts to turn sour, not to mention with the arrival of a hostile alien mecha, it intervenes. Meanwhile the researcher gets recruited by some mysterious group, changed, and recruited as a pilot in an elite human mecha squad. The mecha's being, of course, to fight against the alien mecha as they try to carry out their own mysterious purpose.

So in essence the show has the incredibly familiar elite military mecha unit being the worlds only defense against the powerful alien mecha. On top of that is the fact that the young girl gives them some degree of control, although decidedly imperfect, over a very potent alien mecha. At the same time the ex-researcher, now star pilot, has both a hatred of the alien mecha and a leading role in some shadowy plot. It's a weird mix of old style foundation with new style symbolism, psychological confrontation and convoluted plot.

As to whether it's any good, well, it's really hard to tell. The feeling I'm getting is that, despite some good sections, it's not quite managing to pull it off. The show simply doesn't manage the gravity and intensity needed to make the show suitably `mature'. The plot seems to jump around quite a lot, and it feels more like poor scripting rather than by design. The characters, and their interaction, simply doesn't seem deep enough to be interesting. I can see what they're trying to do, and they're skilled enough that it's not bad, but I think the ambition may be bigger than their skills to manage it.

In a similar vein the mecha design, and action, is somewhat lacking. `Our' alien, called the `extra one' in the show, is an interesting but weird design that calls forth image of a huge shambling beast. However the human mecha and craft are boxy and uninspiring vehicles with little visual charm. They also seem remarkably ineffective when it comes to the crunch. The remainder of the alien mecha look sort of like people in body suits and are remarkably unimaginative. Even a certain show that pioneered psychological and complex mecha series knew that the underlying design and action still needed to be top notch.

The animation itself is reasonable enough. The characters look a little bit cartoony and the level of detail is not that high. The general design, and mecha design and animation, is somewhat careless and lacks a strong sense of personality. The motion animation is not that great and the color and linework is decent but unlikely to impress. The show occasionally calls forth a very nice `subtle' scene, especially in relation to the young girl, full of lovely atmospheric attempts and symbolism, but they don't tend to mesh with the rest of the show. The voices are quite variable and the music is moody, but unremarkable, backdrop stuff.

Other Reviews

None of my regular sources have a review for this title. For that matter fan-sites are rare and sparse as well.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:15 WST 2009