It might well have the director of Gundam, and the music of Yoko Kanno, but this strange mecha series has no shortage of problems either. In many ways it's sort of interesting to watch in order to try and guess what the creators were actually aiming for.
The story is set in some weird version of the future, where large portions of the earth are polluted or devastated. Even worse is the fact that Earths core has begun to eject strange bio-tech relics. These look a lot like huge metallic frisbee's, but some of them also `revive' to create huge semi-sentient mecha. The other relic, rising slowly from the depths, is the immense and somewhat mysterious relic `orphan'. A group of humans have colonized it and begun gathering mecha which they call grand cher. They also believe that orphan is actually a spaceship that will eventually take them to the stars, incidentally sucking up all energy on earth in the process. They've got the full on `evil empire' thing going, being autocratic, militaristic and obsessed with the rise of orphan. There's also various signs of a struggle for power and control amongst them.
Meanwhile on the surface various people have begun to work against the threat posed by orphan. One group have constructed `Nevis Noah' which will act partly as an arc, but also (hopefully) as a tool to drain the energy from oprhan. In addition one young girl managed to empathically link with a revival to form a very different sort of mecha, called a `brain'. This seems to have impressed the perenially dim military who suddenly decided that should have mecha's as well. Meanwhile the rest of Earth, well, seems largely absent from the story. When they enter it's generally as ignorant and/or selfish fools who cannot understand the importance of this battle.
The first thing to note is that the mech's may be big but the pilots emotional problems are even larger. There's a bunch of stable pilots, true, but being so they fade into the background (even if one is a main character). Instead we have various rebels from one side or another, multiple frustrated children or negligent parents along with the expected politics and philosophy arguments. They're the most undisciplined military force i've ever seen and attempting to decode the tangled relationships would take much more time than I care to give. Everyone seems related to everyone and be borderline psychotic about it. And no combat is so important that it can not be interrupted by a bit of character drama. And some of this character drama is just so contrived, over-acted and over-dramatised as to make you wince. And the lead male has all the empathy, and tact, of a brick which manages to inflame every situation.
Then again, considering they're at war for Earths survival, in theory, they're very social about it. Neither of them seem willing to attack the others single base even though it's location is known. I guess the mecha pilots are all off doing their own thing or demanding some time alone. This was confirmed when the chief scientist of the bad guys was accepted as a guest at a research conference...at which they were discussing ways of stopping orphan! Both sides seem content to sit on their bases and wait to see what happens. As a result it all feels very casual and sort of meaningless.
The mecha combat adds to this feeling. It feels more like a bunch of arguing kids than a war. There's an awful lot of leaning out the mecha and chatting to one another. And while there's lots of firing there's actually a very low number of hits. Indeed it often seems that people only `die' when the story demands it. It's also unexciting mecha combat, and the mecha themselves look strange and visually unattractive. They also move by levitating or teleporting, leading to strangely static battles.
Indeed the technical design for the whole series is just strange. While the mecha look odd other items like planes or Novis Noa (think ship with a pyramid placed on top) just look incredibly weird. There's a lot of mention about B-plates, Organic Engines, Energy Orb's and other `science', but try as I might I couldn't put it together. I got the feeling that they're doling out bits and pieces that will only make sense at the end of the series. What's more the decision to make the mecha semi-sentient organic creations, which must have seemed like a cool idea, has some negative consequences. It means that `human' factors are less important. Repairing, re-arming, supporting and even piloting are lot less important when the mecha itself is alien and sentient. Effectively they're like alien war vessels with human passengers...so why do we care about the passengers?
In Essence it seems hampered by clumsy writing and either a loose directorial hand and / or poor plotting. This ain't brilliant stuff any way you look at it. And the `feuding egos' thing reeks of gundam without managing to acheive the same scale that made gundam worthwhile. The cast, meanwhile, is huge but large parts of it are not very interesting. The animation is quite reasonable but nothing fantastic. There's occasional computer assistance, nice `launch' effect actually, but it's fairly minor. In effect it looks like good quality TV animation in a fairly classic style (not unlike some of the Gundam OAV's). The opening, full of giant naked women flying around seems desperate while the ending is close-up stills of flowers...neither of which seem to have much to do with the show. The music is quite good but seems strangely directionless, with opening, ending and background music not having a strong image or even working together that well. The voices were quite loud and strident to my ears.