Buddy Complex 13 (END)

Acception 「アクセプション」

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We finally get to the end of BC in the final episode of the “To the Future” arc. There is closure as there are opportunities as we see in the closing credits. Overall it has been a solid foundation building first season which hopefully means a much more exciting future second season because honestly, that time tunnel twist at the end didn’t really work for me as much of a twist…

The Alliance offence gets underway and I quite enjoyed that bit where Alfried blames the Zogilia commanding officer for letting power get to him, while recognising that he himself suggested the Gorgon/Garapushka be used. 1 shot uses up a whole year’s worth of Nectoribium mining and it’s true what Alfried said – what’s the point in winning a war if it means destroying the country’s resources for it?

We get the resolution to Hina’s time-traveling and where her allegiance lies as much as we see it to be the source of Bizon’s possessiveness (so many ‘my Hina’ and ‘Hinaaaa’) leading to his grand plot of revenge (as much of a fan of Sakupyon I am, there really was a tad too much screaming in this episode, hope his throat’s alright…) in season 2. Dr. Hahn’s forced coupling was menacing but of course, love conquers all. Aoba and Dio took a great risk of decoupling in the middle of their fight against forced couple Bizon and Hina just so Aoba can yet again in mid-air, reach out to Hina, waking her up from her glazed, mind-controlled state. Forced decoupling from forced coupling must really take a toll on poor Bizon physically and shock him mentally. It’s no wonder he’ll be the main antagonist in season 2.

Hina and Aoba’s coupling was to be expected and their colliding stars effect was so powerful they synchronised at over 120% (Aoba and Dio managed a new record of 90% with the new Luxon NEXT and Braydon NEXT), enough to stop the Gorgon/Garapushuka, creating a time warp tunnel. It was also enough to let Aoba look into Hina’s thoughts and memories to see that she’s been through this time cycle multiple times, being the only person still living in the same timeline over and over again. This was a twist I first and last saw in Madoka Magica which is why it didn’t really work for me as much of a twist in BC. Hina got to see how Aoba’s always believed in her and so it’s her turn to believe in him, which is why she chooses time and again to time travel and save past Aoba from warp-hole-sucked-back-into-the-past Bizon. Every time they get to the juncture of Hina going towards the time tunnel, Dio is there to stop Aoba from pursuing her yet this time, Dio doesn’t stop him. I can’t figure out what’s changed in this timeline for Dio to let Aoba go because theoretically, wouldn’t they have read each others’ thoughts every time they repeat this cycle? Then again, I ask too many questions and demand too many answers; BC is a simple shounen anime. Together, they destroy Bizon’s valiancer (but not Bizon, otherwise we wouldn’t have a season 2) and the 3 of them make it out of the time tunnel to reunite with Cygnus, Aoba choosing to forego going back to his rightful time. I guess Dio and Hina mean more to him than his family and friends huh.

The action was top-notch and the visual effects were good – it is the final episode after all. 4 valiancers going at each other just whets your appetite for what to expect in season 2. Season 1 went out with a big bang (literally) and laid the foundations for hopefully, more intricacies in season 2. Like Hina said, nobody knows the future. One can hope though.

Overall

If you’re not acquainted with the Gundam franchise, I think you’d very much enjoy Buddy Complex. It’s got the shounen themes of male protagonists who don’t get along, having to learn how to work together, fight for the greater good of humanity and be forced to grow up (coming-of-age) quickly in times of war. It’s got the shounen elements of action sequences and cool mecha with speed and power. It’s also got the girls and damsel-in-distress who gets rescued. The bad guys are also cool in their own right too. Buddy Complex is no Gundam. It may be from the same Sunrise studio but it’s clear from the very beginning that it’s its own vehicle. I was going to write BC off as a reinvention of the Gundam wheel because it just feels and looks that way. But after much thought and reading others’ positive reviews of the series, I’ve come to the conclusion that it deserves to be recognised as an original creation that’s not in the shadows of Sunrise’s overly popular Gundam series. Tanabe Yasuhiro makes his debut as a series director here and the only link to Gundam comes from Sasaki Shin (executive producer in BC) who co-produced Gundam 00. BC doesn’t even get to space. It’s set in late 21st century and the most sci-fi part of it is its time traveling element.  If anything, I daresay BC is a very very early pre-cursor to the events in Gundam 00. The buddy coupling system is unique but somehow, not new, which I attribute to the countless times we’ve seen the use of telepathy and psycho-communication in Gundam. In fact it’s arguable for the coupling system to be the base from which Veda comes from and Innovators to have naturally evolved from coupling pilots.

So what about if like myself, you’ve seen Gundam Seed 12 years ago? Would you like BC? I can’t say I’ve enjoyed the show because I had set too high an expectation for Sunrise from the very beginning. This is the very studio that defined the mecha genre and that gave us game changing series Cowboy Bebop, Vision of Escaflowne and Code Geass. Their latest original Kakumeiki Valvrave spoilt me silly too with its bombastic mash-up of tropes and over-the-top fight sequences. So I went with BC expecting to be blown away. That and because I liked the seiyuus. I forgot that it’s a show set in the 21st century and therefore, its sci-fi elements won’t be badass enough for my liking; the mecha robots won’t be kickass amazing. But if you set that all aside, BC’s not too bad. Its pacing was a bit too slow in the first half of this cour but it did thankfully pick up in the second half. The character developments were textbook for the main protagonists. We did have the bigger (i.e. adult) plot elements of internal strife, political factions, energy crisis and war. We even got the time traveling twist at the end.

That said though, BC was too… safe and traditional. It wasn’t out there enough by Sunrise’s standards and it wasn’t exciting. It’s got a bit of everything but no real focus on developing deeper into any of its plot lines. They could’ve mined more into Bizon’s possessiveness over Hina, Alfried’s stronghold over O’Keefe, Elvira’s relationship with Conrad, Mayuka’s one-sided crush on Aoba, the political factions arguing over the use of the buddy system in the Alliance, the cost of war for Zogilia, Aoba’s sense of loss being in a different time or Dio’s sense of duty towards his family and country. Any of those would’ve meant more emotional investment to this show for a viewer. It’s not even PG, it’s G. Perhaps Sunrise was trying to reach out to a new younger audience unacquainted yet with Gundam in an attempt to harvest the market, ease them into the mecha genre with a simple, not too technologically advanced or plot difficult story. It’s not for seasoned viewers unless you’re in for a bit of nostalgia and throw-back to the good old days of simple mecha fun.

I watched BC for Matsuoka Yoshitugu, Uchiyama Kouki, Sakurai Takahiro, Morikawa Toshiyuki and Hayami Sho. Matsuoka and Uchiyama didn’t really get to shine much here as they’ve barely developed emotionally since the first episode (in contrast to their roles in the same season’s Magi and Nisekoi respectively). Then I got a preview to Hayami Saori (have you seen the number of shows she’s in for Spring 2014?!) and realised she’s possibly the new Mamiko Noto.  It’s a pity that Inoue Marina, Hanazawa KanaSugita Tomokazu, Koyasu Takahiro, Yoshino Hiroyuki and Kimura Ryohei didn’t get more air time but with a second season, the possibilities are still very much open thanks to a well set-up first season of Buddy Complex. No news yet on when that is and I’m not sure if I’ll review it yet though I will probably watch it just for that sense of nostalgia of simpler anime days.

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