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Valvrave the Liberator Review: Slower Pace Would Be Appreciated
Prior to Nobunaga the Fool last year, I hadn’t watched all that many mech/gundam anime series since Gundam 00 back in 2009. I will outright admit that a mech/gundam anime done right is my guilty pleasure, but sadly this genre tends to be all over the map in terms of how good they actually are. You have good anime like Gundam Wing, and then absolutely abysmal series like Gundam Seed with Gundam 00 somewhere between those two. After finishing Valvrave the Liberator, I’d say that I would put it (as far as ranking goes) between Gundam Wing and Gundam 00.
Valvrave the Liberator takes place in the distant future where humanity has colonies beyond earth. Earth has been divided into three factions: ARUS, Dorssia, and JIOR. The story focuses on a JIOR colony known as Module 77, which is primarily focused on a typical Japanese school. The main character, Haruto, attends the school on Module 77. Without warning, Module 77 is attacked by Dorssia in an attempt to steal a secret weapon being developed by JIOR known as the Valvrave. Valvrave is a strange humanoid machine that looks like it is armed for war. In a desperate attempt to survive and seeking revenge, Haruto jumps into the cockpit of the Valvrave and is presented with an unusual question: “Do you resign as a human being?”. In order to operate the Valvrave, Haruto must answer that question and be prepared for the consequences of that choice.
While the vast majority of the storyline is pretty standard fare for a mech/gundam anime, Valvrave the Liberator finds a way to add an element of mystery, conspiracy, and the supernatural into what would otherwise just be a very pretty looking hybrid of a high school and mech/gundam anime. The power the Valvrave comes at a terrible price, and this is conveyed quite well over the course of the series. That said, there were times where it felt like there could have been more character development and depth instead of constantly progressing the story. An anime that takes more than two seasons to tell its story result in a more deep and meaningful story, and Valvrave would have benefited from a slower pace.
To make matters worse, there is a lot of things that are not explained anywhere near as well as they should be. There is several scenes which appear to take place after the end of the series, but none of it gets any proper explanation or much of anything beyond simply being there as an odd way to advance the story in a way that feels needless. I didn’t really see the point in showing what happens after the fact if they are only going to use brief bits of meaningless dialogue to go back to the present day. These scenes would have felt more meaningful if Valvrave the Liberator had taken the time to tell that story over the course of an episode or two rather than rushing to the end.
Visually speaking, Valvrave the Liberator looks incredible. The animation is top notch and the visual effects are great. Obviously there is lots of CGI, but it is nowhere near as obvious or strange looking as it used to about a decade ago. Often battles in space in other series are depicted as being chaotic and it is hard to follow what is going on at times, but this is not the case with Valvrave the Liberator. From the design of the characters, to the detail of the backgrounds, and of course the impressively drawn Valvrave and all the visual effects used for its attacks, Valvrave the Liberator paints a very pretty picture to look at while the intriguing story unfolds.
While it may not be a part of the Gundam series, Valvrave the Liberator is a very entertaining mech/gundam anime in its own right. It takes elements of Gundam SEED without dipping down into excruciatingly terrible and pointless teenage drama filler. Really, Valvrave the Liberator seems to take a lot of the stronger elements of this particular anime genre and then add its own unique flavor to the equation. It may not be the best mech/gundam anime out there, but it certainly is worth watching for those that are interested.