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  • Infinite Ryvius: In-Depth

    Posted on July 21st, 2006 by Darkshaunz - 2,244 Views
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    Darkshaunz goes Vaia Hunting.

    Score: 8.0 / 10

    Yeah, its a DvD cover, its that old.

    This week I am bringing you guys a special Insight into a pretty heavyweight title, Infinite Ryvius. It’s a slightly aged anime now, as it was created by Sunrise in 1999. It still holds many merits as an anime title even after 7 years. There’s a lot to cover with this anime, its genre itself is quite unique. This isn’t typical Sci-Fi anime fare, but it is more along the lines of Space-Survival. Infinite Ryvius stands out by blending Mech action, realistic space action and a tight character cast interaction system. However, Ryvius really hits some themes hard with artillery, but seems to whimper out with soft punches on other elements.

    Firstly, let’s concentrate on the ship itself. The Black Ryvius is what is known in the anime universe as a “Vaia”. This ship class is a mixture of rare metals, gravity control devices and also living tissue. All Vaia-class ships contain an S-Fix, or a personalization of the craft, the S-Fix is basically the main driving force behind all these ships, without it, it will not function even at 45% capacity. I’m an avid Sci-Fi fan like many, and I can tell you now that the Ryvius could have been thought out better by the anime designers…You might be thinking, why am I taking the Ship so seriously? Because the Writers have made this anime into a gritty, survival and realistic anime, which is why I am taking the main element seriously.

    The Vaia class ship comes in any colour, as long as the colour is Black.

    The Black Ryvius’s main armanent is the Vital Guarder, a Mech which is controlled by the lift ship. This is fine, as the Vital Guarder will provide the main cannon in which the anime will draw it’s Mech fare from. The Mech fights are laughably too slow paced because of the alluded realism in the series, granted this adds to the credibility of the anime as a realistic one. However, I draw the line of realism at Evangelion. The Evas were not Uber-Silly in their concept, but many will agree that Anno definitely wanted us to know that they mean business (Eva 01 berserk etc). But the Vital Guarder is lethargic at best, the crew’s frantic desperation in the Lift ship is not demonstrated effectively via the Vital Guarder. In the end, the mech fights draw out to be tired puppet bouts by both The Main Party and The Aggressors.

    Hey, Sunrise made Gundam :P .

    The Black Ryvius’s secondary armanent is the LINEAR Railgun. Yeah, Railguns are fine and deadly, but this is LINEAR. As in Shoot in a Straight Line Linear. Now the year in the anime is 2225, this is unacceptable in terms of design. Which Clown would put a Linear cannon onto a 23rd Century Space Cruiser? It lacks the flexibity to Pivot or Angulate it’s cannons to meet the enemy. It’s a redundant fire system which is only viable in an attack platform like a Submarine. However, the Cannons are used in the later episodes as Hand Cannons for the Vital Guarder. Thats still no excuse, Turrets can still provide the same power output as linear cannons, plus they look cooller.

    Turrets, God’s gift to Men.

    Let’s move on to the cast inside the Ryvius then. It’s a relatively large one, including many lesser characters who all play a role inside the main storyline. But I’ll be covering the main groups which largely affect the outcome of the anime. So up first, we have the Zwei. An Elite student body which helps rescue the Ryvius from certain obliteration within the Liebe Delta. The 3 Zwei you are most likely to remember is Heigar, Lucson and Juli. Lucson because he is LOUD!!! Juli because she is the hottest one in the group and Heigar. Heigar, to me, is the BEST Zwei member in the show…and he makes the anime pretty intense with his cool, organized and near-psychotic attitude towards the end. Plus, I think he is GAR for Ikumi Oze, which makes it interesting.

    These guys need a new look. They should try the new “SMILING” look.

    Next is Blue’s Gang. The gang is led by Saturn-born Airs Blue, a rapscallion romping on the fringes of Ryvius. His motley crew consists of a few heavyhanded guys and two sexy girls. One of the girls goes on to seduce one of the Zwei, in order for Blue to gain control. It’s important to note here that Blue manages to seize control of the Ryvius and the Vital Guarder in the later episodes. I felt that Blue’s character was not used to it’s fullest potential, he was made out to be Mr.Badass, but then they made him out to be a traitor (even though he was also portrayed to be a good person). So in this sense, they wasted a good character because the writers did not know which way he should go. I very much enjoyed watching Cliff however, this young seductress clawed her way into Charlie (a Zwei), so much so he became obssessed with her. She received the most character development out of the group.

    Cliff the sexy seductress makes sure male viewers stay, with their pants tighter.

    Now that the big gangs are out of the way, we should probrably discuss Kouji. Kouji is what is known as an Anti-Hero, not necessarily the villain, but the kind of Hero lead which doesn’t want to be one. Are you thinking what I am thinking? If you are thinking Shinji Ikari (NGE), then you would be on the right track. On a Pathetic-ness scale, Kouji would probrably score a Six. Watching him in the first 3/4 of the series is frustrating, Personally, I found it hard to appreciate his character. I always had a sense that the writers really didnt know where to take his demeanour, they were flicking in between ‘GAMBATTE’ Kouji and ‘LOLEMOSLASHWRISTS’ Kouji. Also, making audiences wait more than 20 episodes for the guy to do something worthwhile is stretching it, and he still ends up being pretty sad. He does score points for realizing how important Housen Aoi is to him, always looking out for his brother and valuing Human Life, which is admirable. But he gets 6 pathetic points for being a coward, loser and choosing a Psychotic Fina over Housen Aoi in the earlier episodes.

    This is Kouji on a HAPPY RAINBOW TRA LA LA day.

    Housen Aoi is Kouji’s special person. She’s his childhood friend basically (see Rin/Kaede from Shuffle), and also the love interest of Kouji and Yuuki. Though she chose Kouji as her lover in the anime, she does care for Yuuki as well. Housen Aoi is a pretty realistic character, and I guess many viewers are able to identify with someone like her. She’s not a chore to watch, but she isn’t exactly dynamic either. I always felt that Kouji and Her needed more time together to fully realize the potential of their characters. However, there is a very pleasant synergy between Kouji and herself, and this special relationship is sometimes the only Light in what seems to be a very Dark and disturbing anime. However, I appreciate Aoi’s character as she provides the much needed feminine touch to the anime. Like Kaede from Shuffle!, this gal is waayyy too good for a guy like Kouji (She is also number one wife material, lol).

    She gave the series a much needed woman’s touch (I’d hit it, btw).

    The other two characters worth noting are Oze and Kouze, Oze being Kouji’s best friend and Kouze being Aoi’s best friend. Conveniently, they parallel what Aoi and Kouji should have been like from the start. It’s bluntly obvious that Oze is very much in love with his Girl. They Kiss, Caress, Embrace and share all sorts of Insane-Mush moments. Sometimes, its so over the top I can’t help but laugh. At the final episodes, Oze starts being very possessive about protecting Kouze (She gets sexually assaulted), “I will protect you” almost becomes an annoyance after hearing it so many times. I am sure some of you were tempted to shout out, “God man, we get the idea, get on with it”. Of course, we feel angry towards the guys who raped Kouze…and we can see why Oze loses it, but the obssessiveness starts getting in the way. Oze also represents the complete opposite of Kouji Aiba, instead of running away and forgetting his loved ones (as Kouji often does), he gets Tactical and Obssessively Protects his girl. Yeap, its one scewed up crew!

    She gets raped. He goes Power Mad. Normal people, yeap.

    Relationships wise, I was kind of impressed with how the series unfolded not one, not two, but four main love stories. Kouji himself had a sub-romance with Fina (A crazed Titanian Acolyte). But the main one would always be between Kouji and his childhood sweetheart, Aoi. I will have to use Retsgip’s term here, which is “Push-Pull” relationship. There are times where Kouji is acts too valiant for his girl and then for some reason, completely forgets about looking after her. given his character toolset, Kouji has some attributes to help him on his way: The PATHETIC-LOSER skill and COWARD skill, so the anime struggles somewhat to gain a foothold for the two of them. The transformation of Cliff’s character after realizing Charlie’s true love for her was also a very pleasant and feel-good thing to watch. I didn’t cover much on Yuuki and Fina because their true intentions and character behaviour needs to be seen in motion, do yourself a favour and just watch as the two undergo some pretty serious changes.

    What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me…

    Don’t let the series’s large and colourful crowd fool you, however. It’s easy to ignore the Dark Ambience which slowly blankets the ship. Not just in terms of Physical Lighting (which symbolises the long drawn out voyage), but also in character-emotion lighting, their surroundings reflect their Dark intentions and Desperation. Slowly we see the inhabitants of the Ryvius extinguish their inner light and submit to their baser desires, the first demonstration would be when Kouze gets raped by three guys (we don’t see it, its not said explicitly, but we all know what happened). The second would be when Oze rules the Ryvius with an Iron Fist, literally (With the Vital Guarder’s Iron Fist). Then there’s the constant riots and outbreaks of violence within the ship, socities and bodyguard organizations prop up as the Ryvius changes controls from the Zwei to Blue’s Gang to Itsumi’s. It’s a great display of disorganization which helps outline the Ryvius’s plight.

    Housen exclaims just how Dark the Ship’s decor is (Hint: Use moar Light).

    The Soundtrack component of the anime was not as well utilized as I have hoped. I mentioned earlier, that the anime does bear down the artillery on some unique concepts, but it whimpers out of some. The music is one of these things, the soundtrack is on the whole, forgettable. This may be because we are so wrapped around the tight drama sequences in the anime, however, there are as many anime out there with similar sequences (and they pull it off spectacularly with relevant music scores). The opening is your typical J-pop fare, which I think is not suitable for the whole of the anime. They should have changed the Openings midway at Episode 13 or 14 to something more gothic or grimmer. The first and running Opening theme delivers too much “RAH-RAH Hope and Light”, but I think that they could have at least made a Second OP (Hey look even Mai Otome did it to reflect the war-like mood the anime adopted), and made it a Starker one. This would have greatly enhanced the theme the writers were trying to project.

    The OST needed a lot of work. As in change-the-OST producer kind of work.

    The anime’s main survival theme can be said to be borrowed heavily from text: William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. It is relatively pleasing to see that an anime has borrowed influence and concepts from such a complex western piece of literature. The behaviour of the inhabitants of the Ryvius greatly reflects that of the boys on the Isle. It starts off well in the Ryvius, where everyone communicates and co-operates without question in the anime, then the whole situation starts to degrade as people lose trust in each other and friends turn to foes in a blink of an eye. If William Golding were still around to see this Japanese Animation adaptation of his work, I think he would be pleasantly surprised at the whole execution. I think its to this anime’s credit that they managed to pay homage to a venerable piece of western literature so well.

    Ryvius is LOTF in anime medium. Brilliant.

    The Final Episode wraps up the series nicely. It’s a cyclical event for all the viewers of the anime. It turns out that the Ship’s S-Fix, Neeya refuses to co-operate unless she sees all those previously aboard the Ryvius again. So lo and behold, nearly everybody who was on the Ryvius ends up coming back, not as desperate survivors, but as Hero-Veteran types. We then get the obligatory Itsumi/Kouji reconciliation thing, and of course the long awaited Housen/Kouze reunion. But if you were rooting for Housen and Kouji, I think those guys chose to remain just as friends in the end (lol what a waste of 25 episodes of relationship building). We also get to see what happens in the future of the anime world, turns out the Second Geduld Phenomena did happen, and all the Vaia ships can be seen saving the Earth and the Solar System from total annhiliation. This is to point out to viewers that all aboard the Ryvius pretty much saved not just the world, but the Solar System.

    Yuuki misses his daily shot of Ritalin. Again.

    In closing, I won’t deny this series’s place in Anime History. It’s a Heavy and Solid title, unless you hole up and start nitpicking like I have, its kind of difficult to fault with this anime. The problem is, the anime seems to take itself too seriously at times, and I sometimes wondered whether the writer/directors needed to think of a career change to live action drama production (and do well). The themes are realistic and the Large cast of characters have a decent and admirable amount of depth to them. The Hero lead is also an Anti-Hero, so we are intrigued by his behaviour and we roll imaginary dice in our heads to see whether the clown will chicken out or do something valiant at last (Shinji Ikari reference here). The series doesn’t really deliver any messages to us, we are treated as hapless observers to the gruelling sequences of events that take place, and for that, it adds to the atmosphere that the whole control over Ryvius’s anarchy is truly in the hands of kids.

    Psychotic Girlfriends are all the craze in Infinite Ryvius.

    This series gets an admirable 8 for its efforts. It’s masterful handling over a large character cast, bleak and stark atmospheres and also moving episodes of events has helped embed Infinite Ryvius into the hearts and minds of many serious anime fans. Being unique in genre (Survival Anime), there are no other anime I can think off to bounce this genre off. So it’s a niche, if the directors were gambling with this niche genre, then they sure managed to hedge their bets well…It is let-down by some frsutrating viewing at times (some scenes are just too drawn out and tired) and also a very laclustre soundtrack (I expected more from Sunrise, who made the Mai Hime/Otome and Gundam series).

    Cheers all.

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