|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
This one's a bit of an oddball. Zone of the Enders: Dolores offers up some original ideas and treatment of the mecha genre which carry enough hits and misses. Rather than being a young teenage boy whisked into battle with a mecha, our lead James Links is a middle-aged man with former service in Earth's military. Rather than angsting over war, James struggles with trying to reconnect with and find the estranged members of his family. Rather than James being in control of the mecha, said mecha's AI is in control and behaves like a naive, innocent teenage girl. Rather than focus on war, this series focuses mostly on James trying to reunite his family and learn more about the mecha he pilots and interacts with.|
Essentially, Zone of the Enders: Dolores juggles multiple storytelling approaches and styles in its focus on James, Dolores and his family. It carries a light-hearted mood in many instances with its comedy and adventure. The former involving the naivete and antics of Dolores away from battle and James's struggles to reconnect with his estranged children who are now grown up, while the latter involves the Links' family trying to get to Mars to reunite with mother/ wife Rachel while on the run from UN Space Forces due to a crime that James was framed for from discovering Dolores. The mood has some serious tones at points with elements to the futuristic world of the series such as the hostilities between residents of Earth and Mars, the origins of Dolores and the mysterious sinister party trying to acquire the mecha. It attempts to tell a family drama with the Links family where they learn to forgive one another for past mistakes and come together once again.
As you can see, this series gets a bit too ambitious with the story it wants to tell. On the one hand, James and his family are a likeable bunch for great chemistry and they get enough depth and development where you can buy the bonds that improve with them as they press on with their journey to Mars. On the other hand, many of the sci-fi/ mecha elements to its story are quite cliched as they are rehashed from past anime titles and it fails to effectively blend its comedy, action, mecha and drama (when not involving the Links family) genres into an enjoyable title for many folks. The series fails at trying to be funny in many instances because of Dolores' behavior feeling forced and clashing with the serious elements the anime attempts to tell at points. This also kills the drama element since we can't take Dolores seriously as a character due to her behavior, being mostly unstoppable unless the plot requires her to be in peril for a plot twist to come along and some of the major foes faced by Dolores and the Links family being so crazily evil that they are also hard to take seriously as threats. Dolores also kills the mecha element to its storyline because it doesn't effectively blend into "super robot" or "real robot" elements of the genre as the series lacks the grand, over-the-top action of "super robot" anime yet its plot isn't taken seriously enough to be a "real robot" title. The action also backfires here from a combination of the mentioned issue of Dolores being mostly unstoppable, said scenes mostly just there for padding (until a major threat comes along in later episodes) and the show's visual presentation being subpar with action sequences and rough use of digital animation for character designs and movement.
As it is, Zone of the Enders: Dolores has some unique elements for a mecha title and does do well with its developments on the improving bond of the Links family. However, the presence of Dolores' character and the cliched elements of sci-fi and mecha anime that are pushed in this series creates a bit of an overambitious mess that Sunrise was attempting to spin together with the Links family's drama. Compared to Sunrise's work on past mecha titles and franchises like Escaflowne, the Gundam franchise and Armored Trooper Votoms, this one was mostly forgettable for me.
Last updated Wednesday, January 08 2014. Created Wednesday, January 08 2014.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site||http://www.vap.co.jp/zoe/tv/index.html|