Normally, when I review a title, I try not to look outside of what shows on screen. I don't really want to know production details, or previous history because it flavors both how you watch and how you describe. However, with this piece, watching gave rise to a question I just had to have an answer for.
The initial setting is the steel womb of a high tech hospital where monsters are being made to order. More specifically we get to meet Rion, a blond haired teenager, who awakes to both immense personal power, amnesia and confinement. However with the power he has gained freedom, and revenge, become possible. But as his memories return he finds he has been prepared for a much larger role.
The world, and the minds of many people in it, are under the influence of a dark force. A force created by humanity but one that has turned on them, declaring itself a god. The hospital itself is working on the project of making more powerful, and loyal, subjects for this new world. However there is one last hope, a final defence left by the original creators... if only Rion can work out what it is, and survive long enough to use it.
... it's a game. That fact is so obvious that it repeatedly taps you on the side of the head and taunts you. The animation, which I'll discuss later, definitely yells out "console" engine in its limitations. And it is limited, this is some dated looking stuff. But that could be alright, I've never cared too much about the look as long as the story and character was enough to keep me entertained. Heck, "Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles" is done using a copy of Halo, and that stuff is hilarious and full of character.
This... this isn't. It has this really simple and incredibly linear progression. It has endless sequences of "power" battles, where two character glow and spark and attack each other with visual filters. We are possibly supposed to be awed by the special effects, which anyone who hasn't been living in a cave isn't going to be. Or even more likely these video clips are our reward for having played the game up to that point, since they generally take the form of "boss mobs". Except we haven't played the game. In fact it's almost exactly like looking over someones shoulder as they play, and most of us know how boring that is. The anime is even broken up into "levels", each with 1 boss mob. There's even a "power up" room, for no discernible reason, where the main characters gets some color coded power capsules. It is so damn corny and predictable.
So, can you enjoy the experience? Strange as it might seem the answer is an extremely weak yes, but you do have to work at it. You have to be able to ignore the ever-present flaws in the animation, the simple script and character and some fairly ugly (and excessively ornate) environments. However if you can manage this then you can sort of drift through the experience without too much pain. It's still never going to be much more than average, and will look increasingly dated as time goes by.
Thus my rating was going to reflect an external factor, namely the intent of the creators. If this was a bunch of people who tried to make an animated movie, but sort of stuffed up and made something too gamey to really be good, then I'm willing to cut them some slack. Especially because, at some point in time, this animation might even have been exciting enough to make up for all the screen time it dominates. On the other hand, if this really is the animation ripped out of a game and re-packaged (and re-scored) to make a couple of freebie bucks on the side then I have no sympathy at all. It didn't take much web-searching to find out that this is exactly what it smells like, a PS2 game and a whole heap of sticky tape. It might have been a really deep plot and superb animation for a PS2 game, but as an anime they knew it would be average (and somewhat tedious) at best. Especially if it was released in 2004 which some of the sites seem to suggest.
The animation is pretty much what you'd expect from a PS2 game. Some of the background environments have quite complex textures, but they can't animate those. Thus they tend to rely on visual effects, such as shaking the virtual camera or an effects overlay, which can actually be surprisingly tiring on the eyes. By the end of this DVD I'd seen all the "white sparks" I needed. The characters themselves are significantly lower in polygon count and move stiffly. Faces are limited in their expression and you can see the seams when a limb bends. The "stages" are generally cramped and dark, almost certainly in order to reduce view distance in the game. I assume this stuff has been re-rendered, and even touched up, for DVD but the design constraints of the original platform are still evident. Computer animation also dates unusually quickly, and that is definitely a factor here. The voices are decent (I've watched one series after another with Takehito Koyasu in it, so boy did he sound familiar) but the script has little for them to work with. They get character dramatic scenes but they just come out of nowhere. The DVD has been re-scored, leading to there being a whole bunch of song credits, but it certainly is kept in the background.. I didn't notice much personality in the music (or even much music) at all.