Sunday, 3 October 2010

Star Driver - Episode 1

When some unknown boy washes up on the beach of your island, it probably goes without saying that there's more to him than meets the eye, and so it proves as the first episode of BONES' Star Driver opens with just such a boy named Takuto Tsunashi washing up on the shore like a piece of pretty driftwood.

Luckily for Takuto, he just so happens to be washed up in the midst of a conversation between the show's other two main characters; one of the island's four maidens Wako Agemaki and her "sort-of" fiancé Sugata Shindo.  While people washing up on the shore usually means they've lost their memory or some such, Takuto shows no such problems - in fact, the only reason he ended up in that state anyway was because he missed the ferry over to the island and decided to swim it instead to make it in time for the opening ceremony of the school he's due to start attending, which in turn marks him as a mysterious transfer student instead.

After a first half that is pretty typical high school anime stuff, the whole episode is turned on its head once mention is made of an "abandoned" goldmine - An area which appears to be anything but abandoned.  Instead, this underground lair is filled with people in daft-looking masks spouting jargon, making crazy things happening and seemingly using another of the island's four maidens for whatever nefarious ends they have planned.  With that phase of their plan complete, it seems that Wako is the next important piece in the puzzle of their scheme, and a mixture of her kidnapping and pure coincidence soon leads to Takuto being captured as well.  Cue more jargon, some giant robots fighting complete with transformation and action sequences that make Pineapple Dance Studio's Louie Spence look positively heterosexual, and, well.....

...wait, what the Hell is going on in this show?  It's only episode one and I already feel mired in things that I don't understand, a sense of confusion that only feels all the more jarring after the sudden change in gears from comedy school setting to giant robots and people with masks jabbering about Cybodys.  I'm sure this sense of confusion is kind of the point, and that all will be explained in due course, but I can't help but feel that this plunge into "the science bit" was a little too sudden - had it come at the very start of the episode it might have worked, but in jerking us out of our previous sedate reverie it just feels wrong.

Still, that said the series looks impressive enough visually even if a lot of the costumes, masks and mecha designs look like they came from an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical, while this opening episode as a whole felt a bit like a clumsy mish-mash of Code Geass and RahXephon in places.  I really have no idea where this series is headed from this opener - all I do know is that my head hurts after watching.  I need to go and lay down...

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