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AQUARION: THE COMPLETE SERIES (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

July 16, 2009 by  



“From anime industry legends Shoji Kawamori and Hiroshi Ohnogi (‘Macross, ‘Macross Plus’, Vision of Escaflowne’, ‘Eureka Seven’, etc.) comes a unique, mecha charged anime series featuring a cool group of characters and a storyline infused with action, drama and humor!  Definitely worth checking out!”

 

Images courts © 2004 Shoji Kawamori, SATELIGHT/Project Aquarion.  All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: AQUARION: THE COMPLETE SERIES

DURATION: 650 minutes (26 episodes)

DVD INFORMATION: English (5.1 Surround Sound), Japanese (Stereo) and English Stereo.

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: TV MA

Directed by Shoji Kawamori

Series Composition by Hiroshi Ohnogi and Shoji Kawamori

Screenplay by Shoji Kawamori, Eiji Kurokawa, Hiroshi Ohnogi, Masako Okabe, Natsuko Takahashi and Yumiko Sugihara

Music by Hisaaki Hogari, Yoko Kanno

Character Designs by Eiji Kaneda

Character Design by Futoshi Fujikawa, Satoru Utsunomiya

Art Director:  Dai Ohta

Mechanical Designs: Takeshi Takakura

Aquarion Design by Shoji Kawamori

Featuring the following voice talent:

Takuma Terashima/Christopher Bevins as Apollo

Tomokazu Sugita/Eric Vale as Sirius De Alisia

Yumi Kakazu/Brina Palencia as Silvia De Alisia

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Todd Haberkorn as Jun Lee

Hiromi Satou/Carrie Savage as Rena Rune

Mako Hyoudou/Monica Rial as Otoha

Masaya Onosaka/Travis Willingham as Pierre Vieira

Nobuo Tobita/Jason Liebrecht as Jean-Jerome Jorge

Romi Paku/Caitlin Glass as Chloe Klick/ (Justin Cook) Kurt Klick

Sakiko Tamagawa/Stephanie Young as Sophia Belin

Sanae Kobayashi/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Reika

Shin Aomori/Vic Mignogna as Johannes

Toshiyuki Morikawa/J. Michael Tatum as Touma

Tsugumi Higasayama/Laura Bailey as Tsugumi Rosenmeier

Unshou Ishizuka/Brandon Potter as Gen Fudou

Susumu Chiba/Z. Charles Bolton as Baron

When the Shadow Angels invade after 12,000 years of slumber, humanity is held captive by fear and sheer alien dominance.  Eleven years after the great catastrophe decimated the world most of those left alive are scavengers, dirty and starving in the streets.

There is hope, however – Mechanical Angel Aquarion!

Powered by three souls intertwined, a rare breed of pilot takes the controls known as elements, one among them must rise if mankind is to survive.  Prophecy is being fulfilled as the end of the world approaches… Through a swirling cloud of love, betrayal, loss and destiny.  The last hope for the new century arrives and takes flight.

For anime fans, Shoji Kawamori and Hiroshi Onogi are both a legendary anime industry powerhouse duo.  The two are known for their work on the popular “Macross” (parts of the storyline is known in the US as “Robotech”)  and “Macross Plus” series.

Kawamori is also known for creating anime series such as “The Vision of Escaflowne”, “Earth Girl Arjuna” and known for his mechanical designs from Macross but also for series such as “Eureka Seven”, “Dangaio” and “Ghost in the Shell”.

Hiroshi Onogi is known for his many screenplays and writing for anime such as “RahXephon”, “Eureka Seven”, “Mobile Suit Gundam MS Igloo” and many other titles.

The two teamed up together again in 2005 with the anime studio Satelight, Inc. (a studio in which Kawamori is an Executive Director) to create the series known as  “Genesis of Aquarion” (Sosei no Aquarion) which aired on TV Tokyo from April 2005 to September 2005.  And in Japan, whenever Kawamori and Onogi team up, fans can always expect an entertaining and deep anime series.

“AQUARION” takes place during a time in the planet in which human kind is facing near extinction.  The series takes place during a time when “The Great Catastrophe” had destroyed many areas around the world with many of the humans now living on the streets.  After the catastrophe, the Shadow Angels (winged-beings that have been dormant for nearly 12,000 years have re-appeared on Earth and use humans (aka “wingless ones”) to harvest on.

Humans have become food for the Shadow Angels, who depend on humans to supply them with prana (life force) as a source of energy but also to feed their Tree of Life.

A human named Gen Fudou had excavated three advanced mecha fighters with absolute strength and the power to defend human kind against the Shadow Angels.  With Fudou gone missing, an organization known as Deava is responsible for the three machines known as Vectors and researching them and how it behaves in battle against the Shadow Angels but most importantly, how certain humans that are known to be “Element Users” can pilot and control them but can combine the vectors to create a powerful machine known as Aquarion.

Depending on which element users are using the machine, they can turn Aquarion into the following forms: Solar Aquarion, Aquarion Luna, Aquarion Mars, Aquarion Soluna and Aquarion Angel.

The series focuses on the adventures of the element users who work together and face challenges in their lives as pilots.  A lot of them don’t know their true potential and a lot of them don’t know the potential of the Aquarion, but everything changes when they encounter a young man living on the streets known as Apollo (who appears to have element capabilities)  but also a return of the man who discovered the Vectors, Gen Fudou.

Aside from the battle between the humans and the Shadow Angels, there is also a storyline about reincarnation and how certain element users may be tied to the ancient past.  We also learn about the drive of the Shadow Angels, especially with the character of a Shadow Angel named Toma who has this hatred towards the humans and we slowly discover why.

The Main Characters (DEAVA team):

Apollo – An orphan who lives with other homeless young people.  His best friend Baron had been abducted by the Shadow Angels and now Apollo is driven to save him. Since Apollo was raised in the streets, his behavior and his body odor are not exactly the best.  But he appears to have unknown talents.

Apollo ends up being a special element user who is able to bring out many possibilities with Aquarion and no one in Deava can understand how this young man can know how to pilot the ship, let alone develop so many abilities so quickly.   Apollo is thought by others in Deava to be the reincarnation of Appolonius (The Solar Wing), a Shadow Angel who defied his own kind to be with a human named Celiane.  In the process, Appolonius destroyed their land of Atlandia 12,000 years ago.  And 12,000 years later, Appolonius and Celiane are supposed to be reincarnated.

Silvia de Alisia – From the noble Alisia family and has a big admiration (almost an infatuation) towards her older brother Sirius who she believes is the reincarnation of Appolonius.  Earlier in the series, she can’t stand Apollo and most of all, can’t stand Reika (or Hong Lihua) who is the girl that Sirius tends to spend a lot of time with.  But for some reason, she starts to have images of Appolonius and Celiane.  Is she the reincarnation of Celiane?

Sirius de Alisia – From the noble Alisia family.  He believes he is the reincarnation of “The Solar Wing” and due to his training and him being far ahead in skills that anyone in Deava, his jealousy grows when people start thinking Apollo as the reincarnation and seeing the talents manifesting within Apollo.  Sirius takes a like towards Reika despite knowing his sister’s high admiration towards him.  He also starts to have images of Appolonius and Celane?  Is he a reincarnation of Appolonius?  And not Apollo?

Reika (or Hong Lihua) – The object of affection by Sirius and a girl who is one of the top pilots of Deava but unfortunately, has a weakness that becomes detrimental at times for the group.

Pierre Vieira – A star soccer player and known to be the flirt and (obnoxious) playboy of the group.  Known for donning soccer outfits and a character who is willing to go on fighting but has a major obsession that can consume and hurt him.  Also, known for his attack move, the “Burning Kick”.

Tsugumi Rosenmeier – A young woman who is an element user/pilot who happens to be very shy and has a lack of confidence in herself but is constantly being supported by her friend Reika.  When her heart rate goes up, she has the ability to explode things from a distance.

Jun Lee – The otaku of the group who loves cosplay, the resident hacker and tech geek but also has the talent of “Mind Eye Photography” and can find out the weak points of his rival.  A close friend of Tsugumi.

Glen Anderson – Part of the talented pilot trio of Deava featuring Sirius and Reika.  Glen is hurt during a major battle and is in a coma, that is until he mysteriously disappears.

Rena Rune – A young goth girl who sits in a wheelchair.  But you realize early that this girl may be a vampire.

Chloe and Kurt Click – Twins who can communicate telepathically.  Both are seen mostly observing the computers in the Deava control room.

Gen Fudou – The man who discovered the Vector machines.  He is extremely talented but a mysterious person.  After disappearing mysteriously, he returns to take the position of Supreme Commander of the Deava and also happens to know the weaknesses but also the potential of the element users and tries to make sure they meet their potential.

Jean-Jerome Jorge – Second-in-Command at Deava and thinks he knows everything about the Aquarion.  Doesn’t understand many of the decisions made by Gen Fudou and never thinks his plans out.

Sophia Belin – Deava’s top scientist and researcher.  She teaches the element users and although skeptical of Fudou’s leadership, she grows to see how he is right most of the time.  Always caring towards the element users.

“AQUARION THE COMPLETE SERIES” is an interesting series that differentiates itself from other mecha series.  Primarily that there three Vectors that the element users pilot and its only when these vectors unite and form Aquarion that we get to see a different variation of Aquarion on whoever is taking the lead role.

So, for example if Pierre is the lead (him piloting Vector Mars), his “Burning Kick” technique envelops Aquarion in fire and becomes Aquarion Mars, and speed becomes an asset.  If Siliva or Reika are the lead (piloting Vector Luna), the Aquarion becomes Aquarion Luna and focuses on ranged combat.  Meanwhile, if Apollo is the lead and pilots the Vector Sol, Aquarion becomes Solar Aquarion and becomes a more balanced fighting mecha.

The Shadow Angels:

Toma – The main protagonist who was a former lover of Apolonius and has a grudge that his partner fell in love with a human named Celiane and betrayed his own kind.  So, knowing that Shadow Angels can be reincarnated in 12,000 years, he purposely put himself in suspended animation in order to exact his revenge against Appolonius.  Still having feelings towards Apolonius, Toma’s main goal is to push the Element users and have them make Aquarion manifest into “Solar Wings Aquarion” and repair the Tree of Life.

Otoha – Toma’s servant.  She loves Toma and bares his hatred towards Appolonius and Celiane and will do whatever he wants her to do, even if it means sacrificing herself.

The following are the episodes featured on four DVD’s in this complete series:

DVD DISC ONE:

The first seven episodes feature the Deava team characters and how they discover Apollo and wonder why this orphan from the street knows how to pilot the Aquarion and why he starts to generate suspicions of being “Solar Wing” while others feel that Sirius is the reincarnation of “Solar Wing” and thus a rivalry is started.  We learn about the team and their major flaws of working together and distrusting each other, that is until Gen Fudou comes to change things.

1. “Memories of Heavenly Wings”
2. “Beast of Darkness”
3. “Element School”
4. “Barefoot Warrior”
5. “King of the Underground Labyrinth”
6. “To the Other Side of Emotions”
7. “Knight of the Crimson Rose”

DVD DISC TWO:

On this DVD, we learn about the Aquarion Vector’s merging and having to put through various tests to battle Shadow Angels sent by Toma.  We also start to learn more about the past with Toma, Appolonius and Celiane.  Meanwhile, the Deava team members slowly grow as a team and try to learn how to pilot the Aquarion effectively.  And how each element user and their special abilities can make a big difference in the transformation of the Aquarion.

8. “The First Merge”
9. “The Path to Dreams”
10. “Stars in the Sky, Flowers on the Ground”
11. “Happiness is at the Bottom of the Lake”
12. “The Time of Amber”
13. “A 12,000-Year-Old Love Letter”

DVD DISC THREE:

For the third DVD, the storyline focuses on how each member starts to discover themselves and overcome their weaknesses.  But also, we start to learn if certain Element users are indeed reincarnations of Appolonius and Celiane.

14. “Shining Shadows”
15. “Aquarion’s First Love”
16. “Black Mirror”
17. “Merge to Eat”
18. “Cosplay of the Soul”
19. “Mischief without Malice”
20. “Sound of an Angel’s Feather”

DVD DISC FOUR:

The final episodes focuses on the battle between Deava and the Shadow Angels.

21. “Crimson Path”
22. “Wings Unseen”
23. “Fleeting Wings”
24. “Heaven’s Gate”
25. “Final Battle! Atlandia”
26. “The Day the World Begins”

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“AQUARION” is a series that features cool character designs and vibrant animation.

The character designs are by Eiji Kaneda, who has graduated from hsi work as key animator for series such as “Itazura na Kiss”, “Nabari no Ou”, “Ouran High School Host Club” and now the character designer for “AQUARION”.

With its many characters, each of these characters have their own distinct look and I absolutely enjoyed the overall designs of the anime series.  As for artistic backgrounds, we mostly see the Aquarion fighting in the blue skies or space and of course, many of the planet’s surroundings from high above.  Where sometimes in an anime series, there is more emphasis on backgrounds and less on character designs, “AQUARION” is a series that tends to place most of the detail towards the characters and the mecha.

As for the audio, “AQUARION” is presented in English 5.1 Surround Sound and Japanese Stereo.  I watched the series with both languages and in a way, this is a series that delivers on both languages.  But the main difference is that the Japanese voice dubbing has many of their characters with a much deeper voice.  But nevertheless, both are well done when it comes to voice acting.

Of course, the biggest difference in the audio is that the English dub is in 5.1 Surround Sound and the action scenes are feature a good amount of LFE through the subwoofer and explosions generate nice booms through your front channel speakers.  Surrounds are also effectively used and overall, a pretty good audio soundtrack on DVD for this series.

The Japanese track is only in Stereo and for those who have a home theater setup and have a receiver capable of producing stereo on all channels can definitely enjoy the Japanese soundtrack.  This was my preference when listening to the Japanese audio.

As for subtitles, the series is presented with English subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“AQUARION THE COMPLETE SERIES” comes with the following special features:

  • Textless Songs: Viewers can enjoy the two opening theme songs and the ending theme without the text.
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertainment trailers

“AQUARION THE COMPLETE SERIES” is definitely an enjoyable and entertaining anime series. It’s strength involves its storytelling but through character development.  Unlike a series such as “Mobile Suit Gundam” or “Super Robot Wars”, there are no people who want to be heroes.  In fact, the humans really don’t know what they’re doing until Gen Fudou shows up and the group undergoes training and pushed to know their strengths and weaknesses.  Each storyline focuses on the growth of these characters.

Then you add the reincarnation scenes and it does lend to the excitement of the series and also an interesting and unique plot.  But Shoji Kawamori and Hiroshi Ohnogi who are true veterans in the mecha genre know that there are elements just overdone in a mecha series, so they went out and created a storyline that is fresh and unique.

It’s important to note that there is a two episode OAV series titled “Genesis of Aquarion” (an alternate retelling of the TV series) but is not included in this complete series nor has it been released in the US just yet.

“AQUARION” differs greatly from other mecha anime series in the way the mecha are used (there are only three mecha’s but depending on each element user’s ability, when merged as Aquarion, depending on who is leading, can bring out a different style of Aquarion) and also the storyline of reincarnation and more.

Also, a primary difference that makes this series differ greatly from other mecha series (and also gives this series its TV MA rating) is because when the three mecha’s merge as Aquarion, “merging” is almost sexual.  The pilots go through a rush of pleasure during the transformation and the characters would scream out their feelings of merging.   In fact, there are episodes that deal with addiction to merging and even pilots who have never merged going to the experienced pilots and wanting to know how it feels to merge.

But for the most part, aside from the merging, “AQUARION” is not a series that features intense violence, nudity, profanity or anything like that.  It’s probably more about the sexual innuendo that gives the series its TV MA rating.

Also, while the series does have its serious moments, there is plenty of humor and episodes such as “Cosplay of the Soul” in which Jun Lee is able to convince Deava to use cosplay as a form of communication for the pilots and learning about each other.  And of course, the rivals must cosplay each other.  So, Apollo has to cosplay as Sirus, Sirus as Apollo, Sylvia as Reika, Reika as Sylvia and of course, this episode is just all out funny as they group must go out to battle in character.  Which was quite interesting.

Another episode titled “Merged to Eat” as the pilots are scared that their partner Rena Rune maybe a vampire and start remembering incidents in which Rena would take care of their bloody wounds by immediately sucking on their wound.  A weird and dark episode but again, hilarious and entertaining.

And again, this series is all about mecha action and every episode features on Aquarion taking on various Shadow Angels but seeing the various pilots and the results of pairing three different element users and what kind of results they are able to get from various combination.  Again, an interesting concept for a mecha anime series.  And for those who have a home theater setup will like the use of the special effects and the utilization of all speaker channels.

For anime fans wanting a mecha series that is different from your average mecha series out there, you really can’t go wrong with “AQUARION THE COMPLETE SERIES”.

“AQUARION” is an action-packed series featuring a pretty solid storyline, cool characters and a unique mecha concept. Definitely worth checking out!

 






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