January 16, 2013

Vividred Operation Ep01

So there's really only one show that I'm even mildly excited about this season, and that's this one, Vividred Operation.  As I mentioned in the previous post, nobody has the faintest idea what's going to happen with it: it could be great, it could be stupid, it could be stupidly great!  Well, no matter how it shakes down, I'll be doing episodic reviews for it, probably on Saturdays.  It airs on Thursday, but there's that whole work thing to think about... I'm not as young as I used to be, alas.  I don't have as much energy, as much hair, or as many teeth as I did when I was a kid.  So let's take a look at this here show, let's see what we're being given to work with, shall we?

The City of Townsville! unknown moniker, and something seems a little out of place in it... like, maybe, the enormous tower in the center (thanks for pointing that out, Muppet!) that simply dwarfs everything in the vicinity?  Seriously, look at that thing, it's easily five times taller than the tallest structure nearby, and maybe twice as tall as the skyscrapers in the background.  In an earthquake-prone country, no less.  Can you imagine the number of zoning ordinances that had to be eased so it could be constructed?  Pilots flying into City must hate the thing with a passion, too.  Plus, it's clear that the powers that be are somewhat lax with their security methods.  To whit...

...there's this young woman, standing on the safety railing on the very top of the tower, watching the sun come up.  Completely unbelievable... I mean, there's not a single iPhone or camera in sight, and there's no way one of today's callow yoots wouldn't be recording this to post on myfaceinatube.com... with the camera held the wrong way.  Kids these days, I tell you.

Oh, so it's going to be THAT sort of show, huh?  Technically, she is wearing pants.  Lil' Miss Wallenda up there is, apparently, a member of O2STK, and nothing she does while on-screen clarifies her reason for existing. 

Yup, it's gonna be a good show for me.

The City Island of Townsville Izu Oshima!  Now, I don't usually like to just directly lift commentary from the subtitles, but in this next case I can't help it... it's too darn perfect.

"The future everyone dreamed of."  Ah, Japan, how I love you.  I don't even need to be clever when you do things like that for me.  This is our heroine, Akane.  She's in middle school, and the entire Production Staff should have a seat over there. 

In the background, you can see the Manifestor Engine, a device made out of pure phlebotinum that harvests energy from the sky, enough that the entire world's power needs are solved forever.  It sits on an artificial island in the middle of Sagami Bay, and right here I desperately need to take the writers to task.  Y'see, they called it "Blue Island."  Blue Island?  BLUE?  When every anti-nuke, anti-oil, anti-coal environut in the world would have to call their doctors after four hours at the very possibility of such a thing?  Let's face it, the correct name would have to be Green Island. 

The device that Akane is riding is the world's only flying bike, which she's named "Doggie."  She uses this splendiferous device to deliver newspapers... and it turns out that she's a ridiculously good shot, able to throw a newspaper into a mailbox slot while on the move.  She's also afraid of heights, but I'm sure that won't matter at all to the plot.  She's got a younger sister named Momo, who appears to be the level-headed one of the two.  This is important, because Dad is dead, Mom is somewhere that isn't with the family, leaving one member of the family left to introduce.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Gendo Ikari apparently has to take part-time jobs to make ends meet between Evangelion films.  In this job, his name is Kenjiro Isshiki; he's the inventor of the flying bike that his granddaughter Akane rides... I dunno about you, but I'd've killed for one of those growing up.  Alas, there has only been the one because he's a rather accomplished inventor... his was the mind behind the Manifestor Engine, y'see.  Now, you'd think that little creation would be enough that a grateful world would gladly keep him well-stocked with Rei clones and lil' Evas, but no such luck.  He is poor, spending all his money on research equipment... and taking the family on the ride with him.  He is the Most Interesting Mad Scientist In The World.

"I don't always drink beer, but when I do, it's usually something better than that Dos Equuis swill."  He's got something brewing in his laboratory... something better than that Dos Equuis swill... though other than looking like a computer power button, there's no indication of what it might be.  Whatever it is, he's got to get it done quickly... he even says so, and if you can't trust that face, who or what can you trust?  While the kids head off to school, he makes sure his door is locked, settles into his high-end desk chair, and...

...and suddenly, we're in a different anime altogether.  This one is, apparently, a fantasy, since that's the only way you're going to see three F-22 Raptors in the air without at least one of them crashing.  It seems something out there is threatening Green Blue Island, something not from Around Here.  Almost immediately, it blows the three Raptors out of the sky, probably by making the pilots use their oxygen systems.  The Defense Force for Green Blue Island is put on high alert, and a warning is sounded for the City Island of Townsville Izu Oshima.

Back in our regular scheduled anime, Akane helps out the younger kids by taking a baby bird they found and trying to put it back in its nest.  That's very nice, if a little impulsive, of her, considering that she's afraid of heights and all.  Why in the world would she even think of doing such a thing?

*sigh*  Somewhere in Japan, I hope the police are trying to track down the whereabouts of the Production Staff.  After she gets rescued from the tree, she's told that her friend Aoi, who has been ill these past few months, will be allowed to move up in grade with Akane, as opposed to repeating said grade.  Ah, social promotion, what would we do without you?  Shall we meet Aoi?  Why yes, lets!

Very prim, very proper, quite polite, this is the bestest friend in the world to Akane, and she can't wait to get back to the City Island!  Fortunately, her flight is ready to go.

Did I neglect to mention that her family name is Futaba?  Yup, she's the heiress to, apparently, an incredibly wealthy and powerful company... I'm betting they had something to do with the building of the Manifestor Engine, though that's pure speculation on my part.  Oh, and this tiltrotor also runs on power from the Manifestor Engine... useful thing, that.  While Aoi texts Akane to let her know she's almost home...

...back in the other anime, this thing appears and blows another three F-22s out of the sky.  The Mayor of Cyan Island, while discussing the attacker with the Prime Minister, mentions the term "Alones," and that perhaps Ikari Isshiki was right after all, seven years ago.  Hey, anime?  Could you, y'know, explain yourself once in a while for the benefit of those of us without a copy of the script?  Meanwhile...

...in his dark lair, Ikari Isshiki and his plush ferret, which totally isn't a metaphor for anything, are feverishly working on... something.  Just as the news of the Alones reaches him, and he must have a copy of the script somewhere because he knows what Alones are, he completes his project and presses the Enter key.

Oh those wacky kids, they wired the keyboard with C4 again!  That's such a great practical joke!  But then again...

...if it's so funny, how come ain't nobody laughing?  Hope Gendo got a good paycheck, because this is the last episode we'll see him in.  He's dead.  Akane cries.  Momo cries.  Gendo doesn't do anything except begin to go into rigor mortis, because he's pretty much dead.  The ferret asks why everybody's crying. 

Okay, the explosion knocked the brains out of Ikari and blew them into the plush ferret, which, I might mention, is getting more and more difficult to claim isn't a metaphor for anything.  But he's managed to complete his life's work!  The Manifestor Engine was merely a byproduct of this incredible research, which is only now finished!

A replacement key for a Prius!  This key, whatever it is, is something that only Akane can use.  Wait, back up for a second... his entire life's work, all his research and designing and engineering, it all comes down for use by a middle-school girl who wasn't even alive when he began?  How in the world does that make any sort of sense?  Before we get any sort of explanation to that question, disaster sirens begin to wail around the City Island of Townsville Izu Oshima, along with an announcement for everybody to get under cover immediately.  But first, there's some unpleasantness to deal with in the Isshiki household.

Yup, stick the corpse in the fridge.  Sooner or later, Gendo will figure out how to get back into the anime, right?  After that bit of housekeeping is completed, Momo retreats to the underground bunker portion of the house, saying that she and Akane did swear to protect it until Mom gets out of the hospital.  Akane nods, the Ferret does whatever it is that plush ferrets do (getting... more difficult... to keep... metaphor... at bay....), and...

...the other anime rears its ugly head again.  This time, six F-22s try attacking the Alone, and only one of them is shot down in the first second of the battle.  That's progress, I suppose!  One of the pilots is female, and will undoubtedly become a major character soon.  Or die screaming in a crippled Raptor.  One of the two.

Akane and plushyferret make a run for the Manifestor Engine while the "combat" is going on, because that's what plushyferret said to do.  As they travel over the sea, plushyferret has a flashback... a flashback to seven years ago...

...when Akane and her Mom were involved in an industrial accident at the test site for the prototype Manifestor Engine.  An accident that wound up with them both hanging from a broken walkway high above the floor, while Gendo could only watch helplessly.  Now we know why Akane is afraid of heights, and why Mom is in the hospital seven years later... and, coincidentally, why we know about the Alones, because the accident appears to have been caused by one.  End flashback, and now...

...it's time for the Navy to be overmatched.  Almost immediately, the JMSDF Kongo (hull number 173) goes kablooey, leading the Kirishima (174, above) to pee itself in fright, and the other ships begin to cook off like so many popcorn kernels.  Of course, with all the explosions, missile launches, fighter planes, and GIANT WALKING ALIEN DEATH MACHINES, you'd think that'd be enough to keep everybody away from the vicinity of the action, right?  Nope!  Here comes Aoi's personal tiltrotor, a-waltzin' through the area.  Taking it as a personal affront, and who could blame it, the Alone decides that nobody that stupid should be allowed to live.

Boom!  The alien starts throwing energy beams around like tasty nummy marshmallows.  Except for the glowing red part.  And the whole exploding part.  And the "oh god oh god we're all gonna die" part.  So, really, nothing at all like marshmallows.  If marshmallows are like that where you are, please let me know, so I can avoid your location like the plague.  Australia, I'm looking at you... everything else down there seems to try to kill you, after all.  As another death marshmallow zips in towards the civilian plane, the female F-22 pilot sees what's going on and shakes her head sadly, knowing that everybody on board is going to die because the pilot is Ray Charles and the co-pilot Stevie Wonder.  At least Aoi is going to die with good music playing.  And screaming.  Lots of that.
But no!  Walking in the courageous footsteps of WO Sakio Komatsu, the female F-22 pilot flies her plane into the path of a glowy marshmallow and Ka-Blammo!  No more F-22, but Aoi gets to live another day.  Except for the Death Machine that's trying to destroy the Infinite Power Supply.  Oh, and the tiltrotor is on fire.  And out of control.  And headed right for the Manifestor Engine.  If you look carefully, just beneath theend of the F-22's left wing, there's a cloud that looks kinda like a duck.  Oh, and the female pilot ejects just in time.  Of course.

As the plane zips by, Akane somehow manages to see Aoi sitting inside the fuselage, and declares "This is bad."  Well, thanks for clearing that up.  She immediately accelerates her flying bike towards the Engine, while Gendo Plushyferret opens the security doors leading to the express lift.  One kilometer up, she guns it out of the elevator, only to find...

...that'll buff right out.  Any landing you can walk away from is a good one.  Any landing where you can still use the plane afterwards is a great one.  This one appears to be... um... fair.  Aoi survived, but nobody seems to care about the pilots.  Ain't that always the way?  They pull off a friggin' miracle, and then are left to die, strapped into their crushed and mangled cockpit.  Typical.  Akane moves in to rescue her friend, but then realizes "oh wait, I'm on the edge of a building 3000 feet in the air and I'm afraid of heights."  Sorry, Aoi, you're on your own.  And then the rear half of the plane falls off the Manifestor Engine... and Akane freaks.

Of course, love conquers fear.  She rides her hoverbike down after Aoi until they smack into the ground some 20 seconds later.  You wanted vividred?  There it is!  No, something even better happens as soon as the two of them get close enough to grab each other's hand.

They're hit by the Alone's glowing red marshmallow of doom and disintigrated.  Shortest anime series ever.  No, wait!  Something even BETTER than that occurs... the replacement Prius key fires up and... cue the transformation sequence!

Tah-dah!  Magical girl, reporting for duty sir!  Oh, and she's not afraid of heights anymore.  Which is good, because they're flying.

Or not falling, which is pretty much the same thing.  It turns out this is all thanks to GendoFerret's greatest invention, the Vivid System.  At this point, I need to admit that up until that great reveal, I thought the title of the show was pronounced "Vivi Dread", not "Vivid Red."  Kinda like that classic show, Vandread.  I'm not proud of this, but I at least I've admitted it.  Anyway, the Vivid System which has nothing to do with the porn film company... I hope...

ANYWAY, the Vivid System can be used by Akane and Aoi, and them only, and only it can be used to fight the Alone and defend the world.  They agree to do so, and the first episode comes to an end.  Jumpcut to black screen, roll credits.

Well!  That was... something.  The more I think about it, the more I believe that it isn't like Strike Witches at all except for the buttshots.  It's much, much more a magical girl story, at least right now... but who was the strange dark girl at the very beginning?  Will Gendo's body get freezerburn?  Will Momo ever come out of the basement?  Oh, and the Alone, too.

Let's find out next episode, shall we?  Surely!  See ya then!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:08 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
Post contains 2671 words, total size 21 kb.

1 I had a "wait, what?" moment in this episode. Momo complains at one point because they don't have any money. But there are a thousand companies in the world who would be willing to pay huge to get the plans to that flying bike. By all rights they ought to be hugely wealthy.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at January 16, 2013 10:06 PM (+rSRq)

2 Yup.  Never mind the whole Infinite Phlebotinum Engine, the flying bike should have made him rich... but then, he DOES have a radio-telescope dish in his back yard. 

Posted by: Wonderduck at January 16, 2013 10:10 PM (cymHZ)

3 Yep, it's clear that the reason they don't have any money is because grandpa spends every penny of his massive patent licensing cheques on scientific widgetry.  Now that he's a plushy ferret, the girls will live like kings!

Also, that thing that attacked the planes and ships and whatnot?  It's totally a runaway planetarium projector.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at January 16, 2013 11:05 PM (PiXy!)

4 I made the same comment, and was answered with "if that's really a spectrometer, no wonder they're broke." Ah, it's always better to watch with engineers...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at January 16, 2013 11:08 PM (pWQz4)

5 I don't know why I bothered hoping that her fear of heights would actually last as a plot device for any length of time. "Oh, I'm cured of that now." Uh... huh. Sigh.

The MST3K Mantra gets a real workout during this show, but I just don't care. The last two anime I managed to stick with for any length of time are Sword Art Online (and I stopped cold once the first arc completed, because I knew that what came next were escalations and repeats of same) and Mouretsu Pirates (best show in years and nobody can prove to me otherwise). I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high for this, but I'll stick with it as long as I can...

Posted by: GreyDuck at January 16, 2013 11:16 PM (xbP2x)

6 Oh, and you're not the only one. "Oh, it's vivid red. Gotcha." Too many viewings of "Vandread" over the years? Guilty as charged.

Posted by: GreyDuck at January 16, 2013 11:17 PM (xbP2x)

7 "A replacement key for a Prius..."

Posted by: dkallen99 at January 17, 2013 11:27 AM (2lHZP)

8 Ow, my sides hurt from laughing.

Posted by: Tom Tjarks at January 17, 2013 04:25 PM (T5fuR)

9 Marketing is getting ready to sell USB drives that look like the key.

Great idea, developing the only means of defense and keying it to a middle school girl who's afraid of heights and so hard hasn't shown the slightest hint of fighting skills, unless she means to bean the aliens with newspapers.

The one thing that bothered me about the whole tiltrotor thing is they pointed out that it ran off of UncleFester Engine energy, and I said "Then why does it have turbine air intakes?"

The other thing is that Ospreys have carbon fiber fuselages.  They wouldn't break like that.

Posted by: Mauser at January 18, 2013 03:12 AM (cZPoz)

10 Watching the helicopter manufacturing process and Ospreys being built made working at Bell Helicopter a wonderful time.

Posted by: Tom Tjarks at January 18, 2013 08:27 AM (iVQxO)


"Then why does it have turbine air intakes?"

To pressurize the cabin?

Because it's a conversion from something that did burn distilled dinosaur, rather than something designed from the ground up with an UncleFesterCo plant?

(Don't "Engineer's Disease" questions belong on another blog?)

Posted by: Mikeski at January 19, 2013 12:47 AM (DU6Ja)

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