Monday, May 30, 2011

Video Backlog: "Solty Rei"

Publisher: Funimation (USA)
Format: Region 1 DVD, NTSC, Japanese Dialogue with optional English dub and English Subtitles
Length: 26 episodes x 24 minutes
Production Date: 2005 - 2006
Currently in Print (as of writing): Yes

In the last few years, there has been a bit of a backlash (to say the least) against studio Gonzo. It was pretty unsurprising when they fell in a financial heap a while back. While they have made some very, very good shows, I must admit there is a lot of trash in their catalogue. “Solty Rei” is one of them. It’s like Gonzo had decided to make a show with leftovers or a series with a combination of other elements from their shows. In particular, the show stylistically feels like a mash up of mostly “Burst Angel” with elements of “Gad Guard”. Design elements from “Bubblegum Crisis” and “Last Exile” can also be seen, however with Kenichi Sonoda and Range Murata being the conceptual designers for the show, this is not surprising. Also not surprising me was the fact this show is a co-production with AIC. Otherwise how could they get away with ripping off BGC?

The initial episodes where pretty woeful. Do the writers think the audience is so stupid they gear the plots towards those who don’t wish to view entertainment as mindless fluff without any substance whatsoever? I like trash, but hey, I want the creators to treat me with a bit of respect and assume that I have a brain and can think above the level of a three year old. So after some rather implausible meetings and pairings of characters and a number of mindless adventures, we sort of get to the story of the lead male character, Roy Revant, and the implausible and rather predictable return of his long lost daughter. Then of course in place of real character development and well crafted drama (or even melodrama) “bad things happen™”. Then naturally our female Tetuswan Atom lead, Solty, wanders off and more “bad things happen™”. Really, really frustrating. The whole thing feels generic, from the designs, the backgrounds, the plot which could have come from any similar type of anime such as “GUN×SWORD”. Except here there is not much excitement at all.

The last third changes gear with a conspiracy developing (which the seeds were planted in the first episode, then forgotten about for the next two thirds) and I really think this saved the show for me, even though you have to suspend disbelief quite a lot. The lazy stupid writing doesn’t help the show. Roy spends about four episodes in a drunken depressive state and the plot didn’t really advance much. And even though he is a pivotal part of the show, not much effort seems to have gone into his design. In fact the character looks rather off model and ugly during the initial episodes. You also have Solty whom I can only assume the writers wanted to be a bit “moe”, but it just comes off rather lame, with her stupid “hair ears” and “cute” and naive personality. I must also mention the names of the four RUC Special Division girls was amusing (names of Japanese cars). Overall, it was a pretty mediocre show. It’s more than watchable, I’ll give it that, but it’s really nothing special. At all. We’ve seen this how countless times before, and most of those are highly superior when compared to this one. 6 out of 10.

Remaining Backlog: 24 months (it's much easier this way than listing the number of discs).

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