Saturday, April 27, 2013

Valvrave the Liberator, or in Japanese called Kakumeiki Valvrave, is a mecha anime series produced by Sunrise, with Kou Matsuo as the director and Ichiro Okouchi as writer. It aired on April 12, 2013.[1]

This is a lengthy review and summary observations based on the three episodes that have currently been released, and some other information gathered around the interwebs, so there are spoilers written here... you have been warned

First impressions:

Valvrave the Liberator is like a remix of various mecha, it borrows concepts from a few mentionable gundam serie; namely 00 Gundam and Gundam Seed, it also takes a bit from Code Geass.

Most of humanity have now migrated to space, alliances and treaties have brought forth three distinct factions that divide the world:
As shown above, Dorssia dominates over former Europe, ARUS (Atlantic Ring of United States) dominates the Americas and part of Africa and Europe and finally JIOR.

JIOR: home town of the main protagonist and a faction that has declared neutrality over the ensuing conflict between Dorsia and ARUS. the current meaning of JIOR has not been disclosed, or i didn't catch it. It is shown that JIOR dominates over the massive Dyson Sphere. JIOR has enjoyed prosperity due to it's neutral stance.

As it seems, Dorssia can be briefly described as a Nazi by another name [2], using words such as "Blitzendegen" (Blitz being flash and Degen meaning rapier) and using German based code names (L elf: L - 11, Q vier: Q four... etc.). Dorssia from a recent history perspective can be seen as the axis powers of the recent world war two

ARUS resembles the Allies in our recent history, being composed of the Americas, Africas and part of Europe, not much has been revealed about their motives in the anime but they seem to want to be allies with JIOR.

Dyson Sphere: [skip this rant if you like, it's just me ranting about science fiction]
A thought experiment created by a physicist named Freeman Dyson. he explained in one of his papers that a civilization that has a continually increasing demand for power would eventually have to create a network of satellite power stations that capture all of the sun's energy.
Valvrave has created a highly distorted model of a Dyson sphere. the original concept of the Dyson sphere describes a series of satellites, some habitable some are not floating in an orbit that might exceed the one of at least mercury. Valvrave has created a solid sphere so close to the sun. Left: Valvrave's model of a dyson sphere Right: a more feasable model of a solid sphere 

Valvrave's design is a love it or hate it case in which first impressions generally dictate how people come to appreciate the Valvrave's design, from this point onwards in the review Valvrave - 1 shall be abbreviated to vvv. Personally I love vvv's design, it has a fearsome alien-samurai-insect combination, it's components, are common elements in mecha[3]. I won't go deep into the armaments and capabilities of vvv, that would make it into a whole other review[4], I will only touch on the interesting observations I have made:

 1. Contract: I'm going to call this feature, the contract. since it allows the user access to vvv for the price of the user's humanity. I think it's a better alternative to Protagonist falling into cockpit route[5]. (will be explained further later)

2. Phase Shift Armor: vvv uses a similar system to the Phase Shift (PS) Armor that is featured in the Gundam SEED series. The features of PS armor is that it changes color when powered up and will use energy to grant armor resistance to any incoming solid attacks(bullets, steel swords, environtment, etc). It is also seen that as vvv takes damage, a meter increases and shuts down upon reaching 100, this is analogous to the battery limit seen on the mobile suits that utilize PS armor in Gundam SEED.

3. [spoiler] Number of the Beast 666: Upon reaching 100, Valvrave overheats and is rendered immobile, the meter then changes the upper limit to 666. Upon reaching 666, vvv ignites, performs harakiri and proceeds to demolish, much like the 00 Trans-am system with a reverse mechanism[6].

Plot and Parallelism
Here I will explain how the plot borrows from various other anime:
Valvrave and Gundam: Valvrave shares a first episode distinctive of the Gundam universe is listed as follows:

Gundam 079 -Valvrave
Set far into the future usually using a different calendar - (True Calendar 71)
Space colonies, (Dyson Sphere)
Two warring factions, (ARUS - Dorssia : Earth Federation - Zeon)
Invasion of neutral colony in search of a super weapon. (Gundam/Guntank - Valvrave 01)
Protagonist, someone who has no idea of what's happening hops on mecha, kicks ass (Haruto - Amuro)
Encounters rival (usually a char export) and comes close to defeat only to miraculously survive - (in this case Haruto gets killed then gets back up and bites L-elf : Amuro battles char but survives.)

Char Kick:
nuff said
Code Geass - Valvrave

Contract: Valvrave sets up a contract with Haruto the same way C.C. arranges a contract with Lelouch, in exchange for power, one becomes cursed. Both Lelouch and Haruto become immediately aware of the power they received  and are able to use the basics of their said power. Vvv automatically injects the user with a drug that apparently changes the user's psychology giving him ability to use vvv as well as immortalizing the pilot. The extent of vvv's effects on the pilot are not yet revealed, but it seems that the fast regeneration and body hijacking are aimed at the pilot's survival.

School setting: Both anime get the school involved and classmates of the protagonist get significant screen time.

Protagonist's Resolve/Fake Death: In Code Geass, Lelouch witnesses the apparent death of his sister Nunally (late in the anime) and vows to take vengeance changing his former goal of creating a new world. :: This happens early on in Valvrave. Haruto's vengeful resolve is triggered by the apparent death of his childhood friend, Shouko.

At this point I wont be summarizing the plot, any more GO WATCH IT YOURSELF ITS A GOOD ANIME, rather I will comment on how it parallels some other anime, namely Robotics;Notes, where great emphasis is placed on social media (apparently Twitter is really popular in both series and everyone has a smart phone of some sort), this has rarely been used in older Mecha series where only the military is involved. Gundam 00 also uses social media to a great extent.I also mentioned Robotics;Notes because, mecha series do not place emphasis on the protagonist's love interest whereas Valvrave immediately hints the interest of at least two girls (Shouko and Saki) on the Haruto.

[1] My Anime List :
[2] TV Tropes:
[3] Alien and insect: a lot of western based mecha have alien and or insect-like components ie, starcraft, halo etc.. Samurai: the original concept of a samurai is the gundam, hence the Gundam head pieces resemble samurai helmets and mask.
[4] Here in the official website of Valvrave shows its components:
[5] Bahaha I hate it when normal highschool protags just get to pilot mecha acting all bitchylike (Kira Yamato, Amuro Ray, Shinji Ikari, Ayato(RahXephon)... etc)
[6] Trans-am works by storing excess GN particles into GN capacitors(the green things around the limbs) and then releases the reserve during trans-am. Valvrave somehow stores stress and uses it to overwork the engine to unleash large amounts of power.


Love how Japanese people have trouble saying the letter L but place a lot of Ls in westernized names,

I have a strange hobby of finding anime characters that look like other anime characters, or character personalities that resemble other character personalties here are some:

[Above] Tokishima Haruto - Setsuna F Seiei: A small resemblance can be seen between the two but the main similarity is both are protagonists of a mecha anime. Personalities are completely different though.

[Left] Shoko Sashinami - Minori Kushieda (Toradora)
They look physically alike and personalities are also quite similar, they also share the same role of one of the leading females whom the protagonist takes great interest on.

[Below] Akira - Kona Furogori (Robotics;Notes)
Both are tech savvy hikikomori (Shut in) H4xorz that reside in a confined space pulling strings. not much is known about Akira at this moment except for her brother being president of the school.

 Marie Nobi - Anya Alstriem (Code Geass)
Physical resemblances they share are shortness of stature, ponytail, red down-sloped red eyes and.. flat. Both also share an IDGAF attitude and a bored expression.


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