January 12, 2013
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In the near-future, the world’s energy problems have been solved thanks to a scientific power known as the Manifestation Engine. On the island of Izu Oshima, Akane Isshiki is living a simple life with her sister, Momo, and her grandfather, Kenjirou. As Akane eagerly awaits the arrival of her classmate, Aoi Futaba, she and Momo hear an explosion coming from their home and discover that Kenjirou has somehow switched bodies with an inanimate ferret doll as the result of an experiment. Undeterred by his new form, Kenjirou gives Akane his latest invention, a strange key, in order for her to fight against a strange alien mech that is attacking Blue Island Aoi is departing from. As Aoi’s transport is hit and crash lands on a ledge, Akane and Kenjirou rush to their location, but Akane is soon struck by her fear of heights that she gained during a traumatic incident. When Aoi starts to fall towards the sea, Akane overcomes her fear and dives after her, which activates her key and grants her a special suit known as the Vivid System which stops Akane and Aoi from falling. Kenjirou explains that this system is for Akane and Aoi to fight against the alien threat.
- The first thing that I’ve noted about Vividred Operation is the vivid blue sky, and the opening scenes, which, while appearing unrelated to the actual story, will probably be of some significance later and bears resemblance to Christopher Nolan’s portrayal of Batman observing Gotham from a skyscraper.
- While the precise mechanism behind the Manifestation Engine is unknown, it appears to be a space-based solar power generation system not dissimilar to the system found in Gundam 00. In both cases, solar energy from orbit is transmitted as microwaves to receptor dishes on the surface. The use of microwaves to transmit thousands of kilowatts of power have been tested successfully as early as 1975, so I’ve no issues with this power system being seemingly unrealistic.
- Akane (centre) eating breakfast with her sister, Momo (left) and her grandfather, Kenjirou (right). The former is pragmatic and dependable, while the latter is a scientist who participated in the development of the Manifestation Engine, and presently has a research lab in Izu Oshima. He pours most of his money into his research, which is one reason why the Isshiki family is poor.
- While the Isshikis are poor, Kenjirou maintains a reasonably advanced lab. Speculation out on the rest of the internet claim that the Isshikis are impoverished because of government patents preventing them from taking credit in the project. While I’ve seen patents screw people over (especially in genomics), making this a possibility, I contend that their poverty stems from Kenjirou’s research, given that it does not appear that he has violated any patents and thus, while he cannot profit from his participation in the clean energy project, he is not liable for any penalties, either. Thus, yet another fan speculation has been casually shot down.
- I’m not too sure how Akane attends the same classes as Momo, unless she is assisting the running of the latter’s classes. Akane’s attempt to save a bird is directly related to Yoshika’s attempts to climb trees and save things in the opening episodes of a Strike Witches work.
- According to Arthur C. Clark, sufficiently advance science is said to be indistinguishable from magic. Thus, the operation of the Vivid, and how Kenjirou managers to move his conscious into a stuffed animal, are magic to us. But, as open-minded anime fans, we are willing to suspend our disbelief and enjoy the show anyways.
- Akane possesses the only Manifestation Engine-powered bike on the island. I assume that the engine itself projects energy via electromagnetic waves to receivers on everything from homes to conversion stations, allowing smaller entities, like bikes and VTOLs, to operate. The same concept has been seen in Gundam 00, with the AEU’s new solar-powered mobile suits obtaining energy from the solar systems in this manner.
- The Alone replace the Neuroi in Vividred Operation. They even bear similar structural traits, firing red particle beams and having black armour. As per usual, conventional weaponry do very little against it, necessitating the deployment of young girls armed with some hax technology. However, this time, the aliens are stated to have an objective for their assault, making things more focussed than in Strike Witches.
- I’ve now seen enough anime to draw comparisons between unlike anime. Here, Akane manages to overcome her acrophobia to save Aoi, in a scene not dissimilar to when Banagher saves Audrey in Gundam Unicorn’s début episode. In the process, she activates the Vivid system.
- This is my first ‘magical-girl transformation sequence’; the key Akane possesses apparently pulls her into some m-dimensional space and provides her with combat armour in a manner and procedure not too dissimilar to Iron Man.
- The first transformation of any series is always epic, as with the 00 Raiser’s first docking sequence and the RX-0’s activation of the NT-D. Whether or not the novelty will wear off depends on how often it’s used: in Gundam 00, the transformation sequences were animated in full each time, making them a little arduous to watch, while the RX-0 activates with increasing speed every time it requires the use of its NT-D. I personally hope that less time will be placed on future transformations (once we have met all of the major players), allowing more time for combat sequences and plot progression.
- Strike Witches meets Iron Man is probably my descriptor of this series. We’re left with a cliff-hanger now, making the next episode a much-anticipated one. I’ve noted that the fanservice here is not as gratuitous as in Strike Witches, and that’s another plus. While I don’t mind fanservice as much as I once did, the screentime is oftentimes better spent on other things. As an aside, throughout the course of this short reflection, I’ve drawn comparisons with Strike Witches, Ironman, Batman, Gundam 00 and Gundam UC. The comparisons are for amusement only and do not represent any thematic or literary significance.
We’re merely one episode in, and Vividred Operation is already living up to my expectations of a fantastic series, one that is simultaneously familiar and novel. Armed with a world filled with science fiction elements and vividly animated by A-1, Vividred Operation looks and sounds fantastic. The first episode proceeds in a very similar fashion to Strike Witches’ first episode, laying out all of the essential plot points and introducing the major characters. Of course, Akane has decidedly Yoshika-like attributes. The only difference here is that the setting is the future rather than in the 1940s, so clean, high-tech energy sources, modern electronics and cutting edge military hardware replace the magic engines and striker units found in Strike Witches. Aside from its slice-of-life elements, Vividred Operation also has a more traditional side to it, involving the Manifestation engine and the UN forces deployed to defend it. Of course, conventional munitions and tactics are useless when the Alone show up, otherwise, there wouldn’t be an anime. Thus, Akane is thrust into the centre of a new combat not at all dissimilar to the Neuroi from Strike Witches, although Vividred Operation has one advantage: humanity is fighting to defend an energy supply from an enemy that desires it, setting them apart from the Neuroi and their apparent lack of motive for their invasion. As a science fiction enthusiast, some elements, such as free energy and conscious swapping, despite come across as soft at times, are integrated neatly into this world and set the stage for an anime that is very likely to meet, or even exceed, expectations.