Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Vividred Operation (2013)

Vividred Operation is an original anime not based on any existing works, consisting of 12 episodes.  It is set in a futuristic world where world peace is obtained due to the Manifestation Engine, an engine that creates energy from the sky, basically being the ultimate green energy available.  The Engine is located on Blue Island and this is where the protagonist, Isshiki Akane, lives with her grandpa and sister.  Akane's grandpa is an inventor and one day, a giant metal alien machine called an Alone attacks the Engine.

To eliminate the Alone which poses as a threat where conventional weapons are useless, Akane ends up gaining the powers of the Vivid System, gaining a Palette Suit (aka a magical girl transformation).  The transformation seems to combine machinery during the transformation sequence but the actual end result of the suit is fully organic so it doesn't manage to pull this aspect off well.  Akane's school friend Aoi gains a suit pretty soon as well, and in a few episodes, two other friends gain their own Palette Suits.  The acquisition of this power seems to be a bit too easy.

With the power of the Vivid System at their disposal, not only are they overpowered (wielding oversized weapons) but they also have the ability to "dock".  Docking involves Akane and one of her friends, with one girl kissing the other on the forehead and they combine together to form a more adult version of the two with stronger powers and a weapon inspired by Akane's chosen partner.  It's somewhat weird to say the least.  Vividred Operation doesn't explain the Vivid System in too much detail so you're expected to just accept things as they are.  There are overlong transformation sequences which thankfully doesn't play every time, the stock footage ends up shortening in later episodes.

Characters will yell out all their attacks and even their movements, which makes it hard to take the anime seriously.  The pacing is slow and the plot is filled with cliches about friendship.  Akane will make friends with all the characters, even of course, the misunderstood villain.  The first four episodes were extremely predictable as each episode tells how another one of Akane's friends will gain the power of the Palette Suit and end up docking to defeat the Alone that had showed up.  The characters are so overpowered that it makes all their battles anticlimactic.  It seems to hit all the cliches and stereotypes of magical girl shows, to the point where the majority of the action sequences and dialogue are cringeworthy.

Vividred Operation packs in a lot of fan service, such as shots from the lower behind of the characters, their underskirts, not to mention the shots during transformation.  Nudity shows up occasionally, feeling unnecessary and too in your face.  It doesn't help that the scenes were supposed to be serious ones so it clashed with the mood.  There are a lot of suggestive undertones within the dialogue and the girls' supermoves.  A saving grace is that the animation is high quality; the anime had high production values.

Various scenes try hard to be funny via exaggerated action but it fails.  It's simply not interesting and comes off as lame.  As you get towards the end, the plot takes random turns and ends up seeming so far out from where it started.  Not that it's horrible but it feels out of place.  You're supposed to revel in the teamwork and friendship of the protagonists but it comes off as empty and hollow since their friendship isn't developed with the viewer, they already have it from the beginning.

Considering the amount of damage that Blue Island constantly gets from the barrage of Alone, and collateral damage from the weapons of the army, it's a surprise anyone still stays to live in the cities.  While it doesn't make up for the boring beginning, the last two episodes were the best in the anime with the main plot element finally revealed, escalated and resolved.  This is where another classmate of Akane, Kuroki Rei, has a mysterious link to the Alone and the reveal happened near the end.  It leads to a solid ending that is satisfying.  Overall, Vividred Operation looks pretty but the plot is somewhat lacking.  It's not a terrible anime, just uninspired.


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