|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto
This series was giving me a number of vibes connected to Code Geass and I don't mean that in a good way. Star Driver appeared to be trying to mix around the classic archetypes of super robot anime, slice-of-life high school comedy and the over-the-top elements of Code Geass. If the series ran for the most part as a comedy like Gurren Lagann where it didn't take itself seriously, then I would have found myself liking this series quite well. Instead the series tries to take itself seriously yet with the many eccentric traits of the characters, it comes across as rather awkward and hard to take seriously just like Code Geass and is bogged down by quite a good number of issues in its plotting. Many episodes tend to run in a similar setup: |
There are some elements to the plotting of Star Driver that did work well for me and kept me from dumping it much earlier on. The series does do well at fleshing out and developing the bond between Wako, Takuto and Sugata showing that the three come to greatly care for one another, even as they are aware of the complicated situation they have to overcome with the Glittering Crux and their love triangle. Marino's character arc even lays out some heart-wrenching and deep-seated issues with her that are not as apparent with her on the surface.
On the visual end, Star Driver does have clean artwork delivering a decent amount of detail on mecha, character and scenery designs; as well as having its moments of fluid animation during fights between Cybodies. There are some noticeable occasions where the visual quality can drop quite a bit, particularly in some scenes during the middle and last episodes.
If you could put up with and enjoy the bizarre and over-the-top developments of Code Geass, then you might be able to enjoy Star Driver more than I did. Otherwise, be prepared for a mostly mediocre romp that tries to blend together the elements I mentioned above yet comes across as hard to care for because it doesn't cover its major elements and is hard to take seriously when it tries to be so.
Last updated Thursday, May 19 2011. Created Thursday, May 19 2011.
Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto
why am I reminded of The Melody of Oblivion maybe because it makes NO sense on the first watch?
Last updated Friday, November 12 2010. Created Friday, November 12 2010.
Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto
(All episodes watched--twice):|
Here's a show which never really bothers to explain it's basic premise--as late as episode 11 some of the comments in the synopsis above were still news to me--and yet manages to be a fun show to watch. The first time I watched episode one, I had a hard time keeping up--indeed my thinking was WTF is going on? The 22nd Cybody? South Seal? Galactic Pretty Boy? Masks? Cybercaskets? The synopsis explains far more than the episode itself did. Fortunately, before long I didn't mind not knowing all that much. This show is kind of bizarre, in a fun way, and has a healthy sense of humor as well. Indeed, Star Driver is funnier than more than a few shows which devote themselves entirely to comedy. it's a fight-of-the-week show, but the fights between Cybodies are colorful, imaginitive and well animated. And they don't last all that long; the main plot takes up the bulk of the show. This is actually pretty awesome; while it can be confusing it's also clever, has plenty of style, and is a neat show which I decided I would gladly watch even if I never made complete sense of it.
Basically, some secret organization, 'Glittering Crux', which is composed of teenagers on a semi-remote island, has gained control of strange mecha, called 'Cybodies'. What exactly they hope to achieve remains a mystery; they are definitely the villains, but they don't seem determined to take over the world or anything like that. Indeed, with time you sort of come to like them. Glittering Crux almost seems like more of a club for teens to show off and fight for status and admiration, sort of like if they were racing hotrods or something like that. They don't completely understand these Cybodies themselves, and are having problems. A boy named Takuto washes ashore, and he happens to be a brilliant Cybody pilot himself--he has somehow gotten the title of 'the Galactic Pretty Boy'. There's no explanation of how that happened, it just did. before long we settle into a series of duels between Takuto and his Cybody, 'Tauburn' against Glittering Crux pilots (only one can activate at a time). When a Cybody fight takes place, the show cuts to the chase and it goes swiftly without pussy-footing around. But nobody gets killed or seriously injured, as the fights take place in an alternate reality called 'Zero Time' (since real-world time stands still while the matches take place). Where did this fantastic technology come from? Who built this elaborate secret facility? Again, no answer. Whatever the two sides are fighting over, it doesn't seem personal enough that they would kill or seriously injure each other in the real world, which is sort of novel and fun. Although we eventually learn that things could get very serious, this seems like more of a intense game than an out-and-out war. It's sort of a mix of sci-fi and fantasy. There's definitely a lot of technology involved, as we see each time a Glittering Crux pilot enters the 'Cybercasket' and is transported to the cockpit of a Cybody. But magic seems to play a part as well; there's the business of the four maidens--girls with some strange power that Glittering Crux would love to get it's hands on. They already hold one of these girls, but release her after awhile; again, no explanation. I guess they had gotten everything they wanted from her.
A good deal of effort is put into character development and background, and over time a rich cast of interesting characters develops. The Crux people at a high level meeting and relaxing in a lounge in episode nine cracked me up. They are not evil fools, they have brains and wit to them, unlike ordinary villains. At one point a Crux member mentions that her green-haired superior, Kanako, "really does have world peace in mind". It made me wonder (in a good way), who are these people? Who can be trusted? The title of episode 11, "Personal Uses of Cybodies", amused me and left a strong hint of a clever and unorthodox episode ahead. It's strange that a show which made so little effort to explain it's basic premise keeps me entertained as much as it does. It would be nice if Tauburn's transformation sequence varied a little now and then, however.
In episode twelve the term 'Star Driver' is mentioned for the first time in a long while--still not much of an explanation, though. Nothing more than a vague hint of what it means is provided, though. More revealing is the line "It's been decades since the Ancient Galactic Civilization legacy was discovered here". The implication is that the Crux is trying to manage alien technology, not necessarily for evil purposes. Indeed, I got the impression from one scene that their goals may be loftier than Takuto's. Also, they definitely know that he is the GPB; again, maybe they haven't tried to kill him because they really are not criminals at heart. Most shows force-feed you an explanation of who is good and who is evil, but Star Driver lets you decide for yourself, though that may be due to the lack of background explanation. Kanako takes Takuto/Tauburn on in person this time; she should not be underestimated. I love the way this show keeps numerous plotlines moving with colorful characters; I soak it up gladly.
Episode 13 cracked me up. Since the two sides aren't trying to kill each other, the show can have a funny tone; and the writer(s) have the necessary comic skill. It often seems as if the first half of an episode is largely comedy, then in the second there's the usual fight of the week. In episode 18 I was reminded yet again of the wealth of character development that goes on here, as we learn that one of the 'bad girls' still harbors childhood dreams of becoming an Idol--it was a riot. Also good was what happened to Takuto and Sugata at the karaoke place in episode 19. I love the way this show plays around with strange plot twists which come out of left field.
Episode 22 was unusual in that it was basically entirely about a high school play that some of the characters are acting in, and there was no fight of the week. The moral to the play escapes me, but it was great fun nevertheless. I marvel at the writing skill of whatever person(s) are behind Star Driver. This is a high quality show which doesn't cut corners.
Still, as the 26 episode mark approached, I didn't see tensions boiling to a climax. It almost seemed as if the day-to-day experiences of the characters were so much fun that little attention was being paid to developing a long-term plotline. Sort of a mecha slice-of-life show. The fact that not much of an explanation of exactly what's going on had ever been provided made it all the more difficult to see a climax approaching. Has Takuto really located his 'father', for instance? The father seems to be identified, but don't ask me why that made sense or what it implied. Ultimately, Star Driver ended much as it had begun: in a confusing, vaguely explained manner. That is, an average conclusion for what had been a deliciously fun series. The quick 180 turn by Glittering Crux members was corny; and understanding why things worked out the way they did will take more than one viewing, which kills a lot of the suspense. So, (Spoiler)Sugata was somehow possessed by Leader? How, again, did that happen? I didn't notice any hints, much less a scene of it obviously taking place. The whole business of Maidens and Seals and Stages and whatnot was never clearly explained, so it was virtually impossible to understand exactly what was going on. Questions like 'what exactly is a Galactic Pretty Boy, and how does a person become one?' are never answered. It almost makes me wonder if what we have here isn't another story from an incomplete manga that has been given a slapdash conclusion by someone other than the mangaka. Or, maybe the original plan had been for Star Driver to be a three season show, then it was suddenly ordered that it had to wrap up after only two. Or maybe the assumption all along was that viewers would have already read a certain manga. Still, even though I didn't know exactly what was happening (and why), the gist of the climax was obvious and fun to watch. Star Driver was an odd show, which began without much of an explanation of what was going on, and ended without much of an explanation of what had happened; but man, it was fun inbetween! The most sincere form of flattery I can give shows of this sort is that I watched them twice.
P.S: I get a laugh out of the station breaks where (sometimes) a chorus sings out the words "Star DRIVER!" much like in Gunbuster long ago.
Catch Benio's montage at the Kendo Girl Scrapbook page!
My favorite line: "I'm here to check out the Galactic Pretty Boy's ass"
Last updated Saturday, March 21 2020. Created Monday, October 11 2010.