Final Review: Aquarion EVOL

Sup guys. This is why this show is awesome

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Aquarion EVOL is an original work by Shoji Kawamori and Satelight, the staff behind Macross Frontier and Basquash! as well as the original Sousei no Aquarion from 2005. Aquarion EVOL began premiering in Japan in January 2012 and ran until June 2012. Personally, this was my #2 title coming into the Spring 2012 anime season, only falling short behind Bakuman 2 (maybe Chihayafuru but I have yet to finish it) when it ended in Winter 2012 and only behind Fate/Zero 2 in Spring 2012. During the season, my reactions and enjoyment between Fate/Zero 2 and Aquarion EVOL fluctuated to the most ridiculous levels. With the Fate/Zero review I posted yesterday, now it’s time to see if Aquarion EVOL can best it after coming so far. I should also note that for the longest time, the show played the game of whether it was a sequel to the original Aquarion series or a completely new show. The staff only made this more confusing when they initially posted that it was set 12000 years after the original Aquarion and later removed that tag. I’ll state it explicitly, yes it is and watching the original Aquarion series is the only way to enjoy this one to the fullest. You do not need to watch the 2007 follow-up OVA nor do you need to watch the crappy 2007 movie. This franchise should also not be confused with the 2002 Aquarian Age series, which has no relation to this show. WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! While the original Sousei no Aquarion was licensed and released in the US by Funimation Entertainment, Aquarion EVOL did not receive a simulcast nor has it been acquired by a US licensing company.

Aquarion EVOL is what Sousei no Aquarion really wished to be back in 2005. It’s a show with far more interesting characters despite a much slower start. The first 13 episodes or so of the show is basic character development with each being some unraveling of new unions/attacks after the rule of forbidden unions between boys and girls is broken. It also takes the time to bring out a little bit of some of the cast members who end up playing much longer term roles along with decent plot continuity unlike the original series which was mostly one shot episodes. Better yet, it throws in some nice romance and drama, which the original Aquarion series barely touched on. Aquarion EVOL really began to take off after episode 14 as the mysterious link and plot holes of the original Aquarion series began to gradually unfold. The series does one fantastic thing after another by making you think you know what’s going to happen next yet completely pulls something completely out of the blue to prove your theory wrong. While some may argue that it becomes all too coincidental, people forget that the Aquarion franchise has always done the most ridiculous things, meaning the sky shouldn’t even be the limit for its ridiculousness. Luckily for EVOL, it decides to at least back it up with some good reason at times rather than forcing the audience to accept it. Furthermore, wrapping up the mysteries of the true Apollonius (i.e. FUDO) as well as the Solar Wing and who Apollo really was made a huge difference in this show with an already more intriguing cast. The one pitfall about EVOL though is it falls into the same trap as the original Aquarion of failing to pull the trigger on important characters (Sirius in the original series and Zessica in EVOL). As for the conclusion, Aquarion EVOL…I’m sure many people realized that EVOL is capitalized for a reason as well as realized it’s LOVE spelled backwards…Yes it is indeed the name of the final Aquarion form, which should have been obvious to everyone from episode 1. I should also note that while the ending is as cheesy as the original series, it wraps things up very nicely unlike its prequel….also Andy actually does union with a girl and got his first union with Mix at the end despite being trolled all the way through episode 25.

Art and animation are solid in this show and exceeds both the prequel’s general quality as well as many of Satelight’s more recent works. The mechs are still drawn a bit old fashioned and closer to their 2005 counterparts, which is really my only major complaint. I was hoping they would look much better given some of the nice ships drawn in Mouretsu Pirates and AKB0048, the other two major titles Satelight is working on this spring season. Backgrounds are nice and detailed and characters are colorful and not disproportionate. They also don’t have hearts on their heads or eyes all the time….like a certain AKB show…I’ll get to that when it ends in July/August. Fluidity of this show was great as expected as it really continues to show Satelight as a top animation studio despite have ufotable around this season working on Fate/Zero 2.

There are 2 OP themes and 2 (major) ED Themes. Akino from Bless4, the original singer of Sousei no Aquarion’s OP themes returns to do OP1, ED1, and OP2 for EVOL with Yui Ogura taking on ED2. OP1 and ED1 are classic like Aquarion themes and easily the better pair than OP2/ED2. OP2 is different and unique from any of the previous Aquarion themes giving it a much more upbeat and chaotic tune and fitting for the series. Sadly, the full version of the song is terrible and TV size is only okay at best. As much as I love Yui Ogura and better yet Gabriela Robin composing for her, ED2 on the other hand is also only okay at best for TV version, mostly held down due to the scratchy voice at the end of the song of Yui trying to hold that final note. The full version is a very nice and soothing song to listen to and almost typical Yoko Kanno music too (I wonder why…). As for the soundtrack, most of it is reused from the original Aquarion series with a few new tunes chucked in to match the different setting. The inserts are also nice have with Sousei no Aquarion and Go Tight both making appearances once in the series. Was hoping Sousei no Aquarion to reappear amid all the conflict in the final episode but they decided to chuck it as the final ED theme for some good closure.

Enjoyment? This has been one heck of a wild ride. Aquarion EVOL was something to look forward to given its so called “new setting” set 12000 years after the original series. Obviously, the 12000 number was far too coincidental. However, the series didn’t really strike me until a few more episodes in after they got past the typical “boy meets girl” scenarios and resolving any misunderstandings. After a certain point, the series began to be a weekly must watch title and managed to hold that all the way through. A very nice accomplishment on Aquarion EVOL’s part after the “what the heck” and troll type ending the prequel provided. Not saying that this series didn’t troll though. In fact, it trolled to the max in a good way too.

Overall, you may as well consider Sousei no Aquarion and Aquarion EVOL one entire series. There is eventually so much overlap that it has to be considered a 52 episode series and it’s quite the watch. It’s not your typical mecha show nor is it groundbreaking like Neon Genesis Evangelion. Aquarion is in it’s own league as it should be. It’s a fun show if you “open your mind” as Fudo Gen/Zen would say it. You really can’t be closed minded when watching this otherwise it ruins the fun this show has. Also, this post is very inspirational: http://thecartdriver.com/20-reasons-to-watch-aquarion-evol/

 

Fudo and Shoji Kawamori trolling Aquarion even 12000 years in the future.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0/1): Initial setup is much more generic than the original Aquarion.
  • Character Personalities (1/1): Characters are 10x more interesting than the original series
  • Character Development (2/2): While back story is lacking for a bulk of the characters, we do learn why most characters have the element powers they do or why they act the way they do…that’s better than hearing the whole Apollonius and Celiane story over and over again. Ties up a lot of loose ends in the original story, which is a big plus.
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): We got a bulky cast…some of which really just drop out of the show’s running after some time only to come back a little bit later for a few minutes. Memorable? sure. Useful? I think not.
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): Sluggish start and the whole Amata’s parents thing ended up being so dull and rushed. The curse of Eve was never really explained and got shafted too.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1.5/2): Aquarion was show born without reason…It at least tried to explain plausibility for its ridiculousness though, which I wholeheartedly approve.
  • Conclusion (1/1): Cheesy as all heck but gets the job done in a really nice fashion. Ties up a lot of loose ends from the original story.
  • Total: 7/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (2/2): Nice and very detailed everywhere.
  • Character Designs (1.5/2): A tad rough on the element suits, but the overall characters are far more colorful and interesting looking than what we had in the previous series.
  • Fluidity (2/2): Beautiful.
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (2/2): Mugen punch back in style (Cluster Mugen, etc…)
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1.5/2): Satelight’s better works. It is a step down from Basquash! mostly due to trying to match the original Sousei no Aquarion’s style. Mecha designs could have easily been improved.
  • Total: 9/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2.5/3): OP1/ED1 were great. I personally prefer ED2 over OP2. Inserts were all fantastic and filled with great memories.
  • Background Music (2/2): Fantastic and filled with nostalgia. Yoko Kanno continues to impress.
  • Sound Effects (2/2): Good.
  • Seiyuu (3/3): Well done cast that very enjoyable to watch from beginning to end. A bit on the whiny side but overall a very nice lineup and well done performance. Yunoha could have had more lines in the latter half given her “importance” in the first half of the series.
  • Total: 9.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (2/2): Aquarion fun as usual. Fudo Zen making the show all the more enjoyable with his riddles. Not so much Godspeed Magician this time though.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (2/2): Given how subpar the last two anime seasons have been, yes this was definitely a weekly anticipation.
  • Presentation (1/2): First half takes time to build and doesn’t really pick up until episode 9-ish or so. Uphill from then on though.
  • Re-watchable (1/1): Yes. While maybe not immediately, it definitely will be a few years down the line once you gradually forget some of the interesting tidbits of the show. Heck, even the original Aquarion managed to do the same when re-watching it prior to this airing.
  • Recommendation (1.5/2): For Aquarion fans is a definite yes. For mecha fans? It will really depend on what you’re looking for. The show is filled with a lot of sexual innuendos and subtext that it may turn many people off who are looking for interesting dogfights or pew pew/serious action.
  • Value (1/1): Considering this was missed by simulcasts and licensing companies as well as requiring the prequel series to fully understand the story, yes it’s an underrated gem.
  • Total: 8.5/10

Preliminary Score: 7/10

Final Score: 9/10

The show needed more of this…

Comments are closed.