Sunday, December 20, 2015

[Ended] Comet Lucifer

Pros: For the Genre archetype it channels, it does a great job
-Story is decent, if predictable
-Characters are not shallow
-Actions pretty good

Cons: It really didn't NEED to channel the Mech genre.
-Story is very predictable, just in small segments
-Characters aren't all that deep either

My Opinion: For a long time, I thought maybe I was over-reacting, branding this as a Mech anime. It kept feeling like there was...something off about just calling it that. Of course, the show then promptly broke out in what amounted to an all out Mech war, so that went right out the window. But I never did kick that feeling of something out of place, and now that the series has concluded, I know what it was, why I kept coming back to this, where I've dropped other Mech anime, especially the last two Gundams I was aware of and started watching.

This show didn't NEED Mechs. At all. In fact, there were any number of other ways they could have everything they wanted, and left the mechs behind. The mechs just add a layer of ridiculousness to the show that gets in the way. At one point, one of the characters even refers to the whole transforming mech thing as an Exoskeleton-something-or-other. That would have been totally better than giant mechs, a human-sized or just larger than human sized exosuit. It would have made more sense too, than tiny pebbles-snake to mega-mech. I never understood why the non-human-made mechs were a thing in this show, and it was never really explained either. Clearly, that's not their original or real form, they just present that way for...reasons. Mostly to appease some marketing studios demands that fans will absolutely love it more if there's giant robots in it.
...I wish I could say they were wrong, but they're probably right.

As far as the story goes, it was predictable, in segments. No, I couldn't see how the show ended coming from the start, but I did see pretty much every major plot development coming before it got there. The show's base ideas that are presented in the story are good, and interesting, if at least only to my tastes. But the show never really capitalizes on them. I suppose that's my biggest complaint about the show, other than the apparently need to have Giant Mechs: It never really dwells on things long enough, or explains things adequately enough.
Listen, I understand that a lengthy scientific explanation puts people off, but not explaining anything at all, just makes everything cheap. If you have no rules to restrict you and make you innovate, then you could pull a magic mc'guffin out of a hat at every turn to fix all your problems. The show does that. All the time. It's really annoying, because they could have done the exact same things, but if they hadn't just magically pulled them out of thin air, and had actually taken some time to do some setup and foreshadowing, or even just a brief explanation, it all wouldn't have left behind such a sour taste.

At the end of the day, the show does it's job. It's interesting, and it doesn't just focus on the Mechs and Mech battles like you'd typically see from a Gundam franchise show. It actually has characters with some depth, some backstory and personal motivations, and the story itself isn't bad. But beyond that, everything has this sort of...shallow feeling to it. Like it could have been so much more.
Come to think of it, they even ousted the end credits for some Slideshow stuff to show story developments after the last climactic battle...
I wonder if this show got budget cut at some point. Maybe there's a manga or some light novel or such out there somewhere, that actually took its time with things. At time of writing, I haven't been bothered enough to check.
[Aside end]
I'd like to think that we can aspire to greater lengths than just 'does the job, passes the time'. I was tempted at many times to say, 'good to check out if you wanted to see what it's like when mech anime actually have decent story and characters'. But that's the wrong idea isn't it? That implies that this show was held back by featuring mechs. It could have been magic, or focused more strongly on the stone/crystal based lifeforms idea, or advanced flipping dimensional technology. Why are the Mechs so bad?
The answer is as simple as this: When you feature the mechs, you are always and inevitably tempted to just throw them into a fight whenever things get tough with the plot and story, rather than properly sitting down and thinking out a good idea. It's far too easy to just say 'fuck it, MECH FIGHT'. That's the problem with Mechs. Mech fights inevitably get boring, because they are robots. They come to the table preset with what they can use, and inevitably use it up, if not in one battle, then in the next. Which means you constantly have to think up new things to put on the mechs, and reasons for those things to make sense. All of which could have just been hand-waved away with literally magic, and you could have focused instead on character or story development and motivations.
When you put the Giant Mech in the room, it sucks all the power out of everything else that is there, because it's just too impractically huge.

Impartial Opinion: The story could have been so much more. At the end of the show, it just feels like the whole plot was suddenly put on crack to make it wrap up in time, and so many things are just completely glossed over and never explained. The characters are all basically great ideas, but never fully fleshed out enough.
All told, this entire show feels like everything is suspended in some weird limbo between two states of completely great, and incredibly mediocre.
If there is an original source to this anime, I'd recommend checking that out, because if it goes past where this ends, it may end up being pretty great. If this show itself is original, then it's a resounding meh at the end of it.
There was a lot of good build up in the show, but the ending is just...very unsatisfactory. We don't get to spend any time with the resolutions of any characters arcs or personalities. Any of them. Everyone is either dead or severely glossed over.

Which reminds me, In case anyone thought from the massively colorful and playful art style of this show that it pulls punches with violence all the People die. In sometimes very bloody ways. It's just...most of the time everyone is crammed into a massive tin suit that COMPLETELY protects them from all harm, all the time. Either that, or people actually do die in those things and they never felt like telling us about it. Maybe I missed it. Eh.