“Starry Night” (降星ノ夜)
Yet another highly anticipated show and while it doesn’t quite live up to the same sense of excitement as derived from Sidonia no Kishi, it’s still an impressive first episode with a lot of mystery, drama and the usual gathering of chosen teenage kids, tasked with the responsibility of saving the world. Or, their town, in this case. With a colourful cast, lovely graphics and some cool music, this is shaping up to be one heck of a season with its long list of need-to-test-run shows!
This is not so much set in a post apocalyptic world, as it is a post-mega-event-where-people-come-back-to-life-as-ghost-zombies sort of world. Seemingly overnight, a mysterious dark and distorted zone appeared, known as the Lightless Realm and it is within this zone that these creatures, which are the aberrations of human despair and chaos, are born or created and they’re known as the Admonitions. Nobody seems to be entirely sure of how these creatures are formed or why, but they’re dangerous, deadly, and actually quite frightening physically. However as the years have passed, the Lightless Realm lost its fearsomeness and people now just regard it as something that exists in their every day life, and it’s even a source of gossip and urban legends. One such urban legend is that of the Corpse; a person who hears a song late at night mysteriously dies nine days later. It might strike some as similar to The Ring story but we won’t go into that because to be frank, that was frightening as heck. So, anyways, on with the show!
The story starts out with the formation of this dark zone and six children lost within and looking for a way out. They manage to find each other just as he shadows start closing in and a giant Admonition rises above them. Fast forward a few years and what I assume were those little kids have now grown into distinct, diverse teenagers, with their own pasts and personalities, some of whom we might already be acquainted with.
The star of the show this episode was the angsty, sharp-tongued, disinterested yet innately passionate Saginuma Akashi, voiced by our flavour of the month, Matsuoka Yoshitsugu. He’s the typical intelligent natural at piloting a suit, lacks any sort of social etiquette in his stoicism and has a painful past involving the death of his family. I’m not sure how likeable he is as a person but his character intrigues me because I see him as being one of those morally ambiguous individuals, who can either bring the team together or be cast out for not being able to play well with others. In some ways he reminds me of Setsuna F. Seiei from Gundam 00. There’s that familiar angst yet intense passion to defeat the enemy but I’m not sure that Akashi is as mature, mentally and emotionally yet. Nevertheless, he’s quite a cool character and being voiced by Matsuoka is only helping to elevate his standing in my eyes.
Of course the angsty boy needs an easy-going best friend, whom he has in Namito Iwato, voiced by Maeno Tomoaki, (who voiced the lovely and sweet Yukina Kou in Sekaiichi Hatsukoi <3) and he’s just such a cool guy and the typical, laid back dude who just takes everything in stride. He’s not as skilled as Akashi at piloting his armour, but he was chosen to train to become a fighter along with him so he must have some pretty cool moves somewhere!
Every teenage-groupie show needs that one princessy, ditzy and sly female character and we’ve most definitely got her in Hazaki Emiru, voiced by the super duper Hikasa Yoko (Nobunaga the Fool, Karneval and No Game No Life), who just plays her so well. Every single lilting nuance in her voice is exactly how you picture THAT GIRL to be and I kind of love the fact that Emiru’s so – for the moment – shallowly infatuated with Akashi, because the was she acts is utterly ridiculous and a real source of fun. She’s also just a little bit real in that manipulative aspect and I can totally appreciate her whiney personality because she can throw one heck of an amusing hissy fit! Definitely an entertaining character to add to Hikasa’s repertoire.
Yuzuki Maamu, voiced by Fukuen Misato, is the resident…strange isn’t cutting it and weird sounds a little mean so let’s go with different, and kind of morbidly so. Like the others, she’s a bit of a caricature with a penchant for all things deathly and creepy and her personality totally fits her appearance with the dark hair, pale skin and bags they wouldn’t allow on a flight! Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to discovering her character a little more as she was kind of overshadowed by the other big personalities this episode. She must’ve been chosen for a reason and I’m patiently awaiting her character development over the show!
Kasumi Raika (Yahagi Sayuri), is…a tough one. She’s fought the Admonitions before and has a fairly gung-ho personality and is super keen to be out in the field, slaying these monsters. There’s a determination to her that a lot of people might appreciate but, again, like Maamu, she wasn’t really fleshed out enough in this episode to strike out at me in any fashion. I feel like she’s the usual knight character, who needs a bit of a shake in terms of authority, but will be loyal and a great fighter and even better as part of a team once she’s learnt how to be a team-player. She’s got skills, that’s for sure, and a lot of mecha shows are stint on physically capable female leads with a more I-know-what’s-what-but-I’m-not-overtly-obnoxious-about-it type of attitude.
The graphics aren’t the CGI of Sidonia, nor are they as colourful yet, as Captain Earth, but I think that the dark, muted, down-to-earth tones and the slightly less flashy fight scenes really lend themselves to the overall atmosphere of the show and the whole ‘lightless’ thing, so it’s not an issue for me at all, nor really something I’m paying attention to. Hey, before we had all this cool CGI and HD graphics, we made do and shows were still amazing so I’m not fussed on this aspect. The music itself hasn’t struck out at me yet, but that insert song by the Corpse was absolutely hauntingly exquisite and I’m going to need that in my iTunes when it’s released. I’m sure as we head deeper into the plot we’ll get some killer tunes so I’m not particularly worried~
Overall, a decent 7.5/10 – depending on how the rest of the series goes, it might even reach an 8 or 9 – for the first episode, my only qualms being that some parts of the show were almost too dark that I couldn’t really make stuff out, which, not too good for fight sequences, but oh well. This is definitely one to check out if you’re into having several main characters all working together for some kind of mysterious goal that’s bound to change over the course of the show, and if you’re looking for a mecha tinged with a good dose of soft-horror. Looking forward to the next episode!