This series is a complex and mature hard sci-fi epic full of lots of detail and just as many characters. It will take a good number of episodes to become comfortable with what's actually going on, so don't trust this review too far.
It is a goodly time into the future. Mankind has expanded into space and technology has continued it's steady advance. Yet it seems there have been no `magic' scientific discoveries. And at the same time the complexity of being human, and dealing with others, remains as complex as ever. This is something that tends to come to the surface in the dangerous, and socially claustrophobic, environment of a space ship. And indeed space has become even more dangerous with a huge, and disruptive, plane of energy that now blankets our solar system.
We enter the story as we follow two brothers seeking their navigators certification in space. But don't be fooled, not only are they very different people but they actively antagonise each other. A childhood female friend tries to work with them, but she definitely has her work cut out for her. There's no shortage of other characters, with a surplus of weird, involved in the story either. To make things more interesting there's a group seeking vengeance, for some past event, who sabotage and endanger the training station in an attempt to capture it. Add in a mysterious and enigmatic alien figure, looking like a young girl in a weird outfit, and there's lots of mystery and crisis to go around.
Okay, this is really bad form. But I just have to share a sentence that popped into my mind and said something about this show. The phrase being "Shinji's in space", referring to Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. The reason for this being that there's a major focus on people acting rashly, misunderstanding each other and having clashes of will and ego. Add in a mix of panic, stress and the odd introverted moment and it all feels more than a little melodramatic. Like the namesake there are times you want to lean into the screen and give them all a good slapping.
Don't get me wrong...I respect this willingness to be complex, convoluted and cryptic. However the story is so busy, full of characters and confusing shots of random technology, that these emotional outbursts seem to come from nowhere, have little basis and less resolution. The presentation of these events also seems to play them up. And it quite likes the whole `flawed character' concept...and as a result applies it left, right and center. It's not bad, but a little bit of restraint might have made it easier to follow and accept.
The same is true of the story itself. Vital information needed to set the scene and explain the action is only given after the event. Often in an entirely separate episode. Characters are introduced into the story at break-neck speed, without introduction, and without any indication of which are core or support characters. Likewise there's lots of rapid cutting, events and techno-babble which will require a patient viewer to make any sense. It's very busy and sort of tiring to watch. And then there's the alien girl, somehow linked to the main character, who utters something cryptic and vanishes again.
Still, it's not like there's all that many good sci-fi anime around, so an ambitious attempt like this is quite welcome. While it's trying a little too hard to be arty and mature it may well settle down once it gets into the main story. Certainly finding more of the background would help a lot. I suspect the story is going to end up with the young cadets being forced to crew the ship which incidentally forces them to mature and understand one another. It's a familiar direction, but there's certainly lots of characters and strange stuff to fill up the time.
The animation is...interesting. It's pretty good in technical and scene complexity and effects. Lots of lovely animations of space hardware and assorted electrical fields, explosions and gas clouds. It's all quite attractive. The characters are fairly simply represented which makes telling them apart occasionally challenging. There's a group of `toughs' on the station who provide some physical action, though heaven knows what they're doing there. Even so action is rare and and motion animation is general quite simple. Like many other space shows there's a lot of sitting at control panels and flicking switches. The voices were decent, but played fairly straight and sounding quite similar, while the music was fairly minimal.
None of my regular sources have a review of this title, so far.