Buddy Complex has become quite the typical and hence, predictable, mecha-anime offering from Sunrise. I’m only persevering now because some of my favourite male seiyuu veterans (Hayami Sho, Morikawa Toshiyuki and Sakurai Takahiro) are in it, as well as to let me say I’ve actually reviewed a mecha anime properly so I can hopefully be done with the genre…
So onto the review following where things left off in episode 04 – Dio’s father said something upsetting so in this episode we get the background story of why that is so, through some interaction with his sister whom of course, Aoba becomes friends with. Aoba himself is now Private Second Class who has to go through the usual initiation rituals to become officially part of the Cygnus team. The war is business as usual with the Zogilians keen on getting their hands on the Valiancer machines. In the Zogilian camp, Hina gets released but suspicions remain, understandably annoying her although Bizon shows his concerns. Lieutenant Colonel Alfried is still doing his subtle villain best, so much so it riles his female boss. Oh and Kimura Ryohei voices a minor side character. Yup. A minor, side, character. Whatever job puts food on the table right?
The most jarring trope in mecha animes of this kind (aka the Sunrise kind) is the newbie’s initiation ritual. You can almost predict the scenes as they play out, which means either the scriptwriters were just too lazy to think of something else to fill this episode or they were too lazy to fight against the upper executives who insist of the tried-and-tested (but aged) formula. I am being overly critical here for what is actually a minor scene. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m fine with tropes being used as long as they get used intelligently, like weaving subplots or character growth. Aoba cleans the deck, scrubs toilets and peels potatoes. See, you could’ve predicted that too right? None of the antics or name-calling were even funny. It does however, lead cleanly (pun very much intended) to him meeting Dio’s little sister Fiona (seiyuu Yuuki Aoi doing a rather breathy 妹さん).
Fiona wants to come onboard to visit Dio but doesn’t have official permission to, as she’s a civilian. She thinks Dio feels indebted to the family, blaming himself for her plight and so wants to properly tell him that she forgives him, leaving no regrets from words left unsaid during these turbulent times. During the early days of the Zogilian invasion, bombs were dropped on the city. Dio was with the air force but his overwhelmed squad was called to retreat, leaving the city defenceless against the bombs. They lost their mother and Fiona lost the use of her legs, rendering her to a wheelchair. Papa Weinberg therefore blames Dio, hence the harsh words we saw in 04. Newbie Aoba (thinks he) knows better than anyone else what it’s like to not get to say last words and so helps Fiona get in and onto the bridge no less. What await them is Aoba’s welcome party as expected. NOBODY wonders about the permission Fiona needed!
Onto the next trope – Zogilia timely decides to attack while everyone’s having fun on Cygnus. All members are mobilised yet Fiona has time to tell Dio she forgives him. AND get off the ship. How? Both Dio and Aoba (who might just adopt Fiona as a little sister now) show their concern that she’s still onboard, voicing such concern in perfect synchrony – evidence that their buddy pairing’s not just for show perhaps. Hina returns to the battle this time around and charges ahead in a bid to shake off the suspicions placed on her. Aoba charges ahead because he sees Hina charging. Amateur falls out of formation, pisses Dio off again who had to go rescue Aoba since he just could not bring himself to attack Hina. The effects/art/graphics are old school which may be intentional as mentioned back in the debut episode review but in episodes 02, 03 and 04 there were some sleek action going on so just what is Sunrise doing? Has senior management decided Buddy Complex just isn’t franchise-money-making-material and cut the budget? Because in the last few minutes when Aoba and Dio pair up to show off an impressive new technique as they guard the Cygnus, the effects there were really good – on par with the current era’s mecha showings. It’s as though Sunrise is using their budget on the Buddy technology, leaving little for old school air shootouts.
When the Laxus and Bradyon combined, clearing the path for Cygnus, the energy created caused all attacks to be bounced off albeit only for a time limit of 30 seconds. Amazingly, the 2 pilots managed to pull this feat off in spite of being at odds with each another although in the end, Dio gives his thanks to Aoba for what he’s done for him and Fiona.
The highlight for me this week was ironically, identifying Kimura Ryohei in his bit character. And the various voice actors doing all they can to keep this show afloat with their voice acting. Hopefully, with the next episode being the mid-seasoner, we can expect things to move on in a paced manner to explain Hina’s time traveling and just why Aoba and Dio are so in synch with one another. I’m still hopeful but with fingers crossed very tightly.