Final Review: Robotics;Notes

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.

Robotics;Notes is the third series in 5pb’s franchise of science adventure titles with the notorious “;” that takes place in 2019, 10 years after the events Chaos;Head and 9 years after Steins;Gate, both of which had received anime adaptations. Unlike its predecessors, Robotics;Notes is not co-developed by Nitroplus meaning it will lack the same dark mystery aspects and take on a more light-hearted approach and indeed that is what it did. Robotics;Notes premiered as one of the 2 NoitaminA titles in Japan during the Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 season and was animated by I.G. Productions. It was simulcasted and licensed by Funimation.

As stated above, Robotics;Notes takes on a more fluffy approach than Steins;Gate or Chaos;Head due to the lack of Nitroplus in its original visual novel work. As a result, going into this show with the proper mindset is crucial as one can not directly compare this with its predecessors. Robotics;Notes kicked off last Fall with a bunch of cameo references, mostly to Gundam, other mecha titles, as well as of course its “prequels.” To many this may seem like a turn off either for not getting the reference or just being “yet another silly high school romantic comedy.” On the other hand, it could also be argued that it tries to set itself apart from the get go to make sure that it’s not going to be all dark. Regardless of how you view it, Robotics;Notes has one major flaw: it takes too long to get its act together. The story keeps the mystery like development with the whole Kimijima Kou reports fiasco that are gradually unveiled in the series, but it fails to show any sort of urgency as to why this is such a crucial piece of the plot each time. The mystery is there and it may keep one’s attention of “wanting” to know what the resolution behind all this is, but in reality the mystery itself is not all that interesting. In fact, like Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes goofs off for the first half of the series, resulting in a major turn off. The latter half unsurprisingly gets more “serious” as the mystery is gradually unveiled and resolved but it doesn’t leave the same emotional impact that Steins;Gate did. It doesn’t have to be dark like Steins;Gate or Chaos;Head, but without an interesting mystery, this is nothing more than a high school romantic comedy with some sci-fi elements thrown in.

With all those negatives, the question now comes to what are Robotics;Notes strong points? Well, unlike many romantic comedies, the romance is actually resolved albeit a bit sudden. But that raises the following question as to why one should even watch this then? That brings me to my second point: the show is quite down to earth for a science fiction show. It keeps 90% of the elements with reason, allowing the story to flow in a much more believable fashion. It’s also a reason that makes the conclusion of the show much stronger, which many visual novel adaptations fail to do properly.

Art is pretty generic as are the character designs. The shadows are done quite nicely for this show but that’s about it from an artistic stand point. Animation is overall basic and in general, I.G. Production has not been on my hot list as of late. Despite doing BOTH NoitaminA titles, Robotics;Notes didn’t realy stand out in any sort of way. 5pb/Nitroplus games have always had some interesting art and I’m not sure why that didn’t quite translate into the show unlike Steins;Gate.

Both OP themes and ED1 are average while ED2 is amazing. As expected the Itou Kanako themes win out in pretty much any 5pb/Nitroplus title and it’s a shame they didn’t use the one from the game as they are almost always better themes. Regardless, I also wished that Itou Kanoko had done more than just the second theme. Background music is average while sound effects are above average. Seiyuu is from the game, which was generally average.

Enjoyment? As said earlier, the main problems with Robotics;Notes are its abnormally slow buildup and uninteresting mystery. Generally speaking, it’s mystery is on the level of Hyouka and its development was no better than the recent Kami-sama no Memochou. Recommendations wise Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Steins;Gate are better. Outside of a “dark” mystery, Dai-Guard covers the robot building aspect better while Angelic Layer covers the more fluffy aspects of the show.

Generally speaking, Robotics;Notes is a fair time waster. It’s not an outstanding show due to lack of hooks and Steins;Gate can easily take its place. Not to mention that there are multitudes of sci-fi adventure titles out there that are much better. The one thing that does differentiate Robotics;Notes, however, is it’s slightly more realistic and down to earth approach. No aliens, no time machines (though it technically does happen 9 years ago), and a relatively normal group of high school students. It’s not bad like Chaos;Head’s finale but Robotics;Notes first half is basically the equivalent of that.

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Cameo references is a bit shaky
  • Character Personalities (0.5/1): Aki can be a bit annoying. Kai is your standard protagonist….and we have Mr. Fabulous.
  • Character Development (1/2): Generally shallow
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (1/2): I barely remember half of the main cast
  • Pacing: (0.5/1): Slow start. Latter half is okay
  • Reasonable/Plausible (2/2): Very down to earth
  • Conclusion (1/1): Decent
  • Total: 6.5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1/2): Generic
  • Character Designs (1/2): Generic
  • Fluidity (1/2): Stale
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Fair
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (1/2): Pretty much the new standard for I.G, which is rather disappointing.
  • Total: 5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (2.5/3): OP1, OP2, ED1 all average. ED2 is fantastic
  • Background Music (1/2): Average
  • Sound Effects (1.5/2): Above average
  • Seiyuu (1.5/3): Average. No one really stood out.
  • Total: 6.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (1/2): Had a few funny moments mostly from Aki being an airhead.
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0.5/2): Generally none except for a couple weeks. Mystery was uninteresting.
  • Presentation: (1/2): Very weak hooks.
  • Re-watchable (0.5/1): Depends on the mindset.
  • Recommendation (1/2): Higurashi, Hyouka, Angelic Layer, Dai-Guard, and obviously Steins;Gate
  • Value (0/1): Generally none.
  • Total: 4/10

Preliminary Score: 7/10

Final Score: 6/10

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