|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Vivy -Fluorite Eye's Song-
Vivy: Fluorite Eye's Song was among the Spring 2021 season's most anticipated titles with its premise involving the songstress android, Diva, being tasked by a futuristic A.I. named Matsumoto to prevent an apocalyptic future where machines take over humanity. Many of the storytelling tropes involved with Vivy are familiar territory for fans of sci-fi stories involving android sentience, human treatment of androids, time travel, and apocalyptic scenarios. But what makes this series stick out strongly is the strong character focus offered up with its titular character. Throughout the century that her story is told, Vivy's character undergoes a good deal of changes personally based on her experiences interacting with other androids and humans, that make her gain increased sentience that shapes her to take actions against her original programmed purpose of entertaining humans at an amusement park. The anime has its gradual touches it shows throughout its run to show the evolution of androids with the gradual changes in their appearance and behaviors in their interactions toward humans, as well as foreshadowing important details to come regarding cases that Vivy becomes entangled in or things not seeming as they would appear with key events leading up to the machine apocalypse. The presentation's also easily among the major highlights of the series, and perhaps among anime titles for the year thus far, sporting gorgeous and well-animated visuals, fluid movement that is nicely shown during the anime's action scenes, and a great soundtrack that helps compliment the emotional highs of the series and the singing element that is key to Vivy's identity. |
There is a minor stumble with Vivy's storytelling near the end of its run and much of its storytelling isn't new territory as far as what it dabbles into regarding robots within a futuristic world. But in spite of this, Vivy still does a great job with exploring the gradual development of its titular android character as she becomes more human-like in her behaviors throughout her adventures as she comes to better understand relations between humans and machines. I wouldn't be hyperbolic to say this is easily among the best anime I've had a chance of seeing for 2021 thus far given the strong storytelling and presentation it has to offer up.
Last updated Thursday, July 01 2021. Created Thursday, July 01 2021.
Vivy -Fluorite Eye's Song-
(Rent- or Watch+)|
(All episodes watched):
Vivy was the first show of the 2021 Spring season whose first episode left me feeling that this would definitely be a neat anime that I would most certainly watch to the end. I had already watched at least five others, none of which came close to exciting me like this one did. This was one of those rare shows which, if I had to choose between watching only this one or every other show of the season except this one, I'd have been tempted to go with this one. I took many notes about the complex scenario but didn't come up with a whole lot of criticisms to make, because I basically couldn't think of anything wrong with it. It's as if this show contained more quality than the other five combined did. Despite (or maybe because) of her being an android (or, an 'AI' as they are called here), Vivy has a more interesting and likable personality than most human characters do. She is the first 'Autonomous Humanoid AI', that is, she looks like a real woman while other AIs are clearly not. The thought occurred to me that while she's an android, Vivy behaves much like a typical citizen of Japan would. She has a ganbare philosophy in that she wants to improve her talents (she hasn't drawn a whole lot of spectators yet) to earn a place on 'The Main Stage', the number one performance venue. Nialand's central computer, 'Navi', seems to be designed to discourage her from doing that. Her only serious fan as of yet is a little girl named Momoko. And then she meets Matsumoto in a clever scene set in virtual reality, and, by being able to predict the future, he persuades her to join his 'Singularity Project'. Before long this Idol android is racing to prevent acts of violence. This struck me as a sophisticated show telling a genuinely intriguing story, which is, needless to say, unusual. This was a cool first episode which did pretty much everything right and left me eager for more.
But episode two seemed different, somehow. It was basically an episode long battle between Vivy and Matsumoto against an anti-AI terrorist group, TOAK, which resulted in a skyscraper being demolished. The fact that for all the destruction no one gets killed, and the terrorists are remarkably well trained and equipped, were hard to buy. The cyber tactics Vivy and Matsumoto used sort of reminded me of Ghost in the Shell. But I got the impression that despite the lack of fatalities so far the series as a whole had taken on a somewhat more grim and violent tone than episode one had suggested would be the case, and I was not sure I liked that. Maybe the problem is that the enemy now seems to be flesh-and-blood humans rather than renegade AIs. I wanted this show to be about Vivy's cleverness and optimism, rather than be a shoot-em-up sort of anime. Matsumoto wants to make the fewest possible changes to history, even if that means lives that Vivy could have saved are lost. Perhaps the first warning sign was when it became clear that Momoko, Vivy's only fan in episode one, would not be an ongoing character. I had figured that Vivy would be an unlikely hero--an AI and a singer who must undertake a James Bond sort of mission to prevent a cataclysm, either by herself or just with a little girl's help. The implication was that they would need to use cleverness rather than brute force. But once she had her 'combat program' installed Vivy was a pretty kickass fighter, not the underdog I was anticipating.
Vivy thought she was finished with this business of altering history, but in an unusual touch in episode three Matsumoto returns 15 years later with another event that he needs her to prevent. We do have no less than a century to work with, after all. This time a space station for tourists is involved. Vivy suspects that things are more complicated than the simple scenario that Matsumoto presents, and she makes a new human friend (which sort of explains what happened to Momoko). The tendency of this show to jump back and forth between past and present is cool in some ways and confusing in others. In the end of this two-episode arc humans again dodge harm while only AIs get killed, which, again, is kind of hard to believe. The whole premise is that massive harm to humanity must be prevented, but we are getting the feeling that it has already been decided that other than in episode one flesh-and-blood people getting killed or seriously injured is out of the question. Even TOAK terrorists tend to escape virtually scot-free. My interest had already fallen off a good deal on what had seemed such a neat show back at episode one. I guess it went off on a somewhat different direction than the one I had expected back then.
Another problem is that this show didn't seem to stretch the envelope as much as I had expected on questions like 'what does it mean to be human?' and 'can an AI be just as good, just as human, as a human is (or even more so?)?' It had looked like we'd be getting an unlikely heroine--an AI who is in some ways better than we humans ourselves. But that didn't really happen, instead the show has been more about the various problems that Vivy is presented with and how she solves them, not about herself. I think that was a regrettable mistake. And for all the talk of AIs becoming equal or near equal to humans in intelligence, her determination to simply carry out the mission that she had basically been born with (make people happy by singing) didn't seem very intelligent to me. Wouldn't Artificial Intelligence imply an ability to change one's mind? And, when you think about it, the whole notion of AIs rebelling someday didn't make all that much sense. Why is 'excessive evolution' bad? Despite being supposedly set a century or so in the future, it seemed as if AIs haven't really gotten all that much smarter than computers are today. Or maybe they just think so much like humans do that there's not all that much that is unusual and interesting about them. This show didn't really deliver a novel concept of what the personality of a future AI might be like. Whatever the case may be, it had gotten to the point where a new episode almost seemed like more of a burden than an opportunity for enjoyment.
At the beginning of episode seven Vivy has no memory of Matsumoto and the things they did together, due to a 'reboot', apparently. I didn't recall this happening and wondered if I had missed an episode somehow. If this is so, wouldn't it be just as easy for him to recruit a new helper (there are more than a few AIs of her quality around now)? And the fact that their memories can be virtually erased at a stroke kind of undermines the idea that AIs are as intelligent and have the same sort of feelings as humans do. Episodes in general became confusing and hard to follow. The high technology bewilders me, and I have a hard time keeping track of who's who and what their motivations are. I don't sense one critical conflict which must be resolved, instead a series of minor ones (the public must not hear of an AI committing suicide!) come along and Vivy and Matsumoto fix them. Their personalities don't seem to grow much, instead wild action is supposed to excite us. I found it tiresome and was tempted to quit altogether. This had seemed like such a neat show back when it began, but I guess it is not the sort of show I thought it was.
In episode 10 Vivy, now retired and on display in a museum, is informed that the Singularity Project is a success and there's no more need for her help. But with four episodes to go, that can't quite be correct, and sure enough it isn't. I noticed that she had been 'donated' to the museum, which implies that for all the talk of AIs being equal to humans they are still considered to be nothing more than the property of human owners. Vivy is still loyally attempting to accomplish the goal that was programmed into her when she was created. I sometimes wonder if we humans have any more free will than Vivy does. Aren't we basically programmed to reproduce ourselves, and that's that?
Why couldn't Vivy sing her signature song when she needed to? What was this business of 'putting her heart' into her singing? I had only a general understanding of what was going on at this point, probably because the plot hadn't seemed worth the effort needed to keep track of everything. In the climax We find out why Vivy hasn't decimated TOAK over the years: They're actually the good guys! That is, TOAK has a 'moderate' wing willing to cooperate with her. I found this hard to buy. I have already largely forgotten just how Vivy turned the tables in episode 13. Unusually, episode 13.5, the final one, is a 'special summary' of the series as a whole, as if the makers had a feeling that some viewers might need such a thing to make sense of what they had just watched. Thankfully, it isn't just film clips pasted together but also has narration by Matsumoto. But it didn't enlighten me all that much; I found that I had indeed understood the basics correctly, yet my interest in this show had fallen off precipitously after episode one. The notion of re-watching it seems like something I would dread having to do. I was left wondering: how did a show which had so much going for it manage to wind up so disappointing?
Last updated Thursday, July 08 2021. Created Tuesday, April 06 2021.