Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Review: Aquarion (2005, 2012)

Aquarion (2005, 2012) is a Japanese science fiction anime about the continuous battles between humans and the Shadow Angels. Twelve thousand years ago in the past, humanity was under the control of mythical creatures known as Shadow Angels, immortal winged beings with supernatural powers and advanced technology. One day, Apollonius, a Shadow Angel, fell in love with a female human warrior, Celiane. By becoming a fallen angel, he joins forces with the humans to free them from their oppression, by using the legendary flying robot, Aquarion. Each season has 26 episodes.

First Season: Genesis of Aquarion

Eleven years prior to the story, known as the "Great Catastrophe" destroyed significant parts of the world and killed off many of its inhabitants. Along with the disaster came the return of the Shadow Angels. They began invading human cites on Earth to harvest human beings, dubbing them as "the wingless ones", to extract the prana (life force) from the harvested humans not only to serve as energy and nutrition to them, but also to feed the legendary Tree of Life.

To fight against the Shadow Angels, young people with special powers called Elements from around the world were gathered and trained to pilot the "vector machines", three ancient ships that together form mankind's ultimate weapon, "Aquarion". They also discover the Elements can ultimately unite the vectors into one of three formations and can use Aquarion to defeat the Cherubim. The story primarily focuses on Apollo, who seems to be the reincarnation of Apollonius. The people become convinced when he single-handedly unites the vector machines into the Solar Aquarion formation and defeats the enemy, thus recruiting him to join their ranks.

Second Season: Aquarion EVOL

12,000 years later after Sousei no Aquarion, mankind on planet Vega are threatened by a new enemy by the planet, Altair. The female population has mysteriously died to a disease called the Curse of Eve on Altair. They send Abductors (much like the Shadow Angels) to Vega to retrieve female inhabitants and search for the true Eve who can save their planet.

Meanwhile, the story of Apollon and Sylvie have become a children's story called "Skies Of Aquaria". DEAVA, the Aquaria Academy, trains young men and women to use Aquaria, but they cannot ever merge because of Guize stones, blocking an "unholy union" between genders. The story follows Amata and Mikono as they enrolled in DEAVA and fight the Abductors. With his help, he combines the Vectors with female and male pilots into one single robot, the legendary Aquarion.

There is also an OAV (2007) and movie (2007) adaptation of the series.

Sousei no Aquarion was a fresh idea with an epic ending. I enjoyed the characters and how they overcame their challenges and fears on their own. The action scenes were great and well-designed. Although it didn't have a happy ending, it felt complete with the "we've saved the world as martyrs" theme.

Meanwhile, It is still hard to believe that Aquarion is back with a second season. When I heard the news (I am one of the few who watched the original seven years ago!), I had to publish this review. I really enjoyed Sousei no Aquarion and thought the studio would take the franchise to the next level. What would happen 12,000 years later between the reincarnations of Apollo and Sylvie?

After watching the second season, I felt disappointed with the entire delivery. Since the characters are much younger in the sequel, I realized the producers were aiming for the teen demographic.The plot felt cheesy, characters seemed more immature, the acting was somewhat robotic, and the ending left little to desire. Although first season characters make cameo appearances in latter episodes, they did little to help uplift Aquarion EVOL into a masterpiece worth praising. I also thought the directors rushed the ending hastily with no complete closure on the relationship between Amata and Mikono. Nevertehles, to my knowledge, the curse of another 12,000 years of ill-fated love and conquest has been broken.

As for the music, both seasons have good music soundtracks. You can hear an English rendition of the first season's opening theme in the sequel. Overall, I highly recommend the first season, and viewers should skip the second season altogether. Although viewers will discover the true identity of Toma's lover in the sequel (was this the main purpose of the show? If yes, why were viewers forced to endure the Amata-Kagura-Mikono-Zessica love triangle every week??), the rest of the episodes are not worth watching because of the bad acting and poor plot development.



First Season Opening Theme: Sousei no Aquarion" by AKINO


First Season Ending Theme: "Omna Magni" by Yui Makino


Second Season Opening Theme: "Kimi no Shinwa ~ Aquarion Dai Ni Shou" by AKINO with bless4


Second Season Ending Theme: "GekkĊ Symphonia" (Moonlight Symphonia) by AKINO & AIKI from bless4

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