The year is True Calendar 71. Humanity has moved 70% of its populations to space colonies known as “Dyson Spheres” (no, they are not styled after vacuum cleaners), and on the neutral colony of JIOR, at least, things seem to be at peace. However, teenage agents from an aggressing force invade the colony and the academy found there in search of some sort of secret base.
Haruto is a milquetoast high school student – he can’t commit himself to anything, it seems, and everyone else around him his taking notice. His friends are egging him on to confess to the girl he likes before she is taken by someone else, and after a confrontation with one of the invaders, who calls Haruto a “Halfsie” (I presume because he is all talk and no action), he decides to take the dive and tell her how he feels.
In the middle of his confession, however, the main force of the attackers arrives and launches wings of half-humanoid mech fighters at the colony to break in and take over. There is pandemonium on the academy grounds, and in a last-ditch effort to save the technology being developed in the secret base from the infiltrators, a scientist sends the colony’s lone super-special mech unit to the surface via an elevator, which appears before Haruto. After suffering a personal loss, Haruto swears revenge and climbs aboard, despite the urgings of his fellow students that it’s too dangerous. After struggling to get the mech to function, he answers its prompt – “Do you resign your humanity?” – with a “yes,” and the unit springs to life. It takes a sample of his blood and he’s off into the sky to save the day. However, what exactly are the ramifications of the Valvrave’s prompt?
This show looks pretty. The character designs are nice, the technological designs are cool and interesting, and the animation is really well done. Its background music? Overdramatic in places. Voice acting? Okay. Characters? Interesting enough so far. What I found particularly of note was the focus on social media and the increase in connectivity and communication made available by technology. While this was dealt with in Durarara!! a fair amount, the openness of its permeation in the high school environment is something I imagine is all too relatable to the current high school experience (cell phones were a lot scarcer when I was in high school). Also interesting is the idea that piloting a mech comes with a cost… but this is also an idea core to the concept of Bokurano. Space colonies? Typical Gundam. Infiltrating a neutral colony to suss out the location of a secret base and destroy the technology being developed there? That’s even MORE specifically Gundam (0080, at least). And let’s not forget the inclusion of the “I’ve never piloted a mech before, but for some reason I think I should be able to, and as if by magic, I can” trope. Also, Haruto’s logic before agreeing to pilot the mech implies the “correct” answer for his answer to give is NOT the answer he actually gives. Maybe it was a quirk of language. For a pilot episode, it’s largely standard. It’s saved only by a couple plot twists I’d rather not reveal here (the credits are NOT the end of the episode. If you miss what comes after, you miss a lot), but my initial excitement for this show has dulled quite a bit.