Vandread

Rating: 3½ Rampages Hibiki looking serious

Synopsis:
Life sucks for Hibiki. Intergalactic society has broken into civil war between males and females; he's stuck on the assembly line for war mecha, relentlessly teased by his co-workers and unable to pursue his dreams of building his own mecha one day. He finally decides he's had enough though, and attempts to break in and steal a mech for his own purposes; this turns out to be a bad idea, thrusting him into the middle of a fever-pitch space battle that brings him face to face with the enemy and launches him into an adventure that will change his mundane life forever.

Review:
Gods, but this be a silly show. I think Vandread wins the award for best opening line in a series..."WOMEN ARE DEMONS!!!" That one line was all it took to send the whole club to the floor with laughter (and the images that followed of these horrific demon women eating the livers of men kept us all there for the rest of the show ^_^), and clue us all in to the kind of show we were watching. While the idea of a world full of nothing but men (ye gods, you should have seen the elf's face when she heard two men in the show talking about having a baby together...it was both priceless and frightening at the same time) has been done before in shows like Saber Marionette J, this time around the whole thing works much better as a setting as the characters act much more believably. The men have never even SEEN a real woman, much less had carnal thoughts about them, which makes the interactions very amusing. For example, after being captured, Hibiki wakes up with his head pressed up against something rather soft and supple that he's never seen before, so he does the sensible thing and pokes at these strange things and says "...what the heck is this?" at which point the woman whose arms he's in wakes up, noticing he's poking her breasts...Or the male doctor who, upon noticing the computerized exam table is non-functional states, "I guess I'll have to do this my way..." and flexes his fingers over his female patient. There really is no end to the lewdness of this show, it doesn't just ooze innuendo, it sprays it around like a fire hose.

I can see some women being turned off about the fact that the women are portrayed as being all rather vain and obsessed with beauty, yet still dress as if they have men to impress (well, unless they all have really horny lesbian lovers...and no, we're not letting Havoc within ten lightyears of their planet) but really, it's all in good fun. Keiji Gotoh must be mighty busy these days, what with Gatekeepers AND Vandread both being out in the same year. Speaking of Gatekeepers, anyone who liked the quality of the CGI in that show will be very happy to see that level maintained in Vandread's excellent animation. Right from the slick and stiletto-like Dread fighters the women pilot to the ludicrously weapon-laden mecha the men use, the computer animation is expertly done. As for the characters, the interaction here is almost as great as in Nadesico, though the ditzy heroine, Dita, doesn't hold a candle to Yurika's flame. The music is as good as in gatekeepers and Nadesico before it, and both opening and closing songs suit the show very well (though the opening song sounds rather retro for something this new). The story is mildly formulaic, but interesting enough to keep things going. Of course, there is a crisis that pits the crew of the newly revamped colony ship against a vicious enemy and the men and women have to work together, that much is just expected, but it's the hilarity in each episode that brings us all back for more...well, that and the endless supply of cheesecake. ^_^ Great, completely filthy fun for all ages, this is a show with its head firmly placed in the gutter, and innuendo applied with a sledgehammer. Dita looking like a ditz...what a surprise.

Herself the Elf sez: It's so nice to have a gender-wars premise treated realistically...if you have a society of all men who've never seen a woman and have no idea what they look like, they're obviously going to start having relationships with each other. That's evident in this show, but it's not made into a big deal; it's just what they do. Same thing with the girls; they have lesbian relationships, and what's really refreshing is that when they do meet men, they don't all instantly become heterosexual. Some of them find the men interesting and start chasing Hibiki, but others are quite happy with their girlfriends. I just love the male (and bishounen!) doctor's take on one pregnant crewmember: "She appears to have some kind of parasite infecting her."

The only thing that I don't like about this show is the sinking feeling I have that Hibiki's gonna end up paired off with Dita in the end. She's like a full-grown woman with the mind of a 5-year-old; she's got the ditzyness of Yurika without the brilliant strategy skills, and ends up with no redeeming qualities whatsoever unless you're a pedophile. She's precisely the kind of sweet, innocent, wholesome, genki and completely brainless (but well-meaning!) girl that is so idolized in Japan, and she just makes me want to puke. -.-;

Availability:
Has been licensed by Pioneer. Release date unknown.


Vandread: Second Stage

Chaos' Rating: 3 Rampages

Episodes seen: 1 of ?

Synopsis:
Picking up where the first season left off, the virtually all-female crew of the Nirvana (with it's additional compliment of 3 males) races back home to save their respective planets from having its populations "harvested" for body parts. Along the way, they pick up a mysterious new female passenger who instantly starts creating love triangles.

Review:
Chaos sez: I loved the first season of Vandread, and was really eager to see the second season once I heard the fansubs were coming out. Well, after catching the first episode, I'm left with mixed emotions.

It's good to see things picking up right where they left off. There are references to events that occurred in the previous season, and the character dynamics are still progressing as the males & females continue to interact with each other. The CG space battles seem to have improved too. What left me uneasy was the introduction of another female at the end of the episode, who immediately glomped onto Hibiki.

Argh! For so long they had done so well in not sinking to use the Tenchi Masaki plot device. All through the first season, it was easy to see where the Dread pilots stood with their affections for Hibiki: Dita had a crush on him; Meia had grown to respect him; and Jura...she just seemed to enjoy the fame that came with the novelty of being around a man. My hopes are high that this won't degenerate into another series of Ryoko/Ayeka-esque squabbles.

Availability: Available fansubbed.

Updated 26-10-01