Vividred Operation Episode 2
January 19, 2013
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After Kenjirou instructs Akane and Aoi to undergo ‘docking’, Aoi receives her own Ignition Key, allowing her to also transform using the Vivid System. Receiving weapons to go along with their new abilities, Akane and Aoi begin fighting against the Alone whilst protecting the innocent. Meanwhile, Kenjirou contacts the head of the Manifestation Engine’s management bereau, Yuuri Shijō, in order to gain military support in assisting the girls in fighting the Alone. After knocking out the Alone’s core, stopping its movement, Akane and Aoi attempt the Docking Operation, but it fails due to what Kenjirou believes is a lack of ‘friendship power’. As Aoi worries that she might be the one causing it to fail, she thinks back to when she first became friends with Akane, who gave her a tomato on their first meeting. Meanwhile, a mysterious girl fires a glowing arrow into the Alone, bringing it back to life and changing it into a more powerful form. As the girls find their attacks ineffective against the Alone’s new form, Aoi confesses to Akane that she actually hates tomatoes, feeling it to be the reason their docking failed. Akane tells her that she already knew about that, but admired her perseverence to eat them regardless and assures her they are best friends. Reconfirming their friendship, Akane and Aoi perform the Docking Operation, fusing together to become Vivid Blue, combining their strenths to destroy the Alone. The next day, as Akane, Aoi and Momo discover their school has been obliterated as a result of the battle, Mizuha Amagi, an officer for the National Defense Force, informs them they are being transferred to a new school.
- Vividred Operation is essentially a magical girl anime, bearing all of the hallmarks of the genre, including detailed transformation sequences that make the Unicorn’s NT-D activation seem short, vocalising one’s attacks, instant expertise with an unfamiliar system and the like. For the next several screenshots and mouse scrolls, note that most of the images feature a vivid blue sky.
- A handful of individuals have probably felt that if the Neuroi from Strike Witches were to encounter modern military hardware, they’d lose far more quickly. Given that the Alone are essentially redesigned variants for the Vividred Operation universe, and that a modern fleet is struggling to repel them, it’s safe to assume the Neuroi would present a similar hazard for even the modern armed forces. On the other hand, with a bit of Forerunner technology…
- We are treated to another transformation as Aoi dons her Vivid System. She promptly uses it to save a downed F-35, contrasting Ironman, who accidentally downs an F-22 while testing his suit. The Vivid System is remarkably similar to the Ironman suits, right from its ability to provide flight, superhuman strength and uses a neat holographic display. The only difference is that Ironman suits have the arc reactor, a self-contained power source, while the Vivid System requires remote power transmission from the Manifestation Engine.
- The girls’ weapons have unusual names to them, and require unusual phrases to activate. Anime has taught us one thing about story writers’ tendencies: in cases where the best in modern military hardware won’t suffice, it seems that magical girls are always the best solution to drive plot forward. I’m not particularly familiar with other “magical girls fight monsters” genre, but it appears that Vividred Operation is doing a fine job of bringing an ageing genre into the present.
- Strike Witches style fanservice is absent from Vividred Operation; instead, more detail is spent replicating the weapons that the girls use. Akane wields a boomerang with little decals and markings that give it a Master Grade feel, while Aoi wields a war hammer. The Alone are, perhaps unsurprisingly, taken out via exactly the same means as the Neuroi; they possess a vulnerable core that disables the entire entity when destroyed. The regular army express surprise at the outrageousness of two small girls being able to do what trained men cannot, but adapt quickly and help grease the wheels.
- Aoi and Akane’s ‘docking’ procedure fail owing to a trivial point: that Aoi is hesitant to disclose to Akane that she does not like tomatoes. Akane mirrors the viewer’s reaction.
- A flashback shows us how Akane and Aoi became friends, with Akane tossing a newspaper too closely to Aoi’s vehicle, and their subsequent meetings while Aoi is in town.
- Aoi is not particularly fond of tomatoes; while understandable that different people have different food preferences, I find tomatoes to be an excellent addition to sandwiches and salads. Cherry tomatoes are awesome when eaten alone.
- Rei Kuroki, the same girl from the season’s opening episode, makes a return with an unusual bow that fires energy projectiles that allow the Alone to keep on resurrecting. Judging from her reactions and appearances, she might be an antagonist of sorts with additional roles in the future.
- The docking sequence is absolutely nothing like the 00 Raiser; expectation was that they would somehow link together, but instead, in yet another visually astounding process, Aoi and Akane defy the Law of Conservation, merging to form the Vividblue system. This nomenclature implies that Vividred might be the consequence of docking involving four entities, given that it is the namesake of the series.
- I’m not even sure what to call the entity that arises when Akane and Aoi dock. All I know is that this being wields a massive gravity hammer that can cut down even an over-powered Alone without much effort. While this is hardly realistic, it is definitely fun to watch.
- Vividred Operation solidly establishes itself as a series where story complexity and thematic elements are less relevant than brilliant visuals and a re-visitation of the magical girl genre. Thus, those who continue to lament the decline of anime will probably continue to do so, as more anime seem to be shifting towards the paradigm of immersion and enjoyment rather than the traditional complexity of plot. I don’t mind, given that I watch anime for pure entertainment value (in the same way I play FPS for entertainment): if I desired complexity, I would go read a novel, academic papers or APIs for my development projects. I deal with enough complexity on a regular basis, and I’d prefer if my entertainment was light-hearted and fun to offset the usual seriousness.
In keeping with the tradition of reprisal posts, a second post about a new anime is typically done if a second episode does something that merits discussion. In this case, Vividred Operation merits that coveted second post on the virtue that its execution confers a sense of fun when watching. I contend that the science here is at best ‘soft science’ and will abandon all efforts to view the series as such: despite being touted as a series about technology, what I’ve seen thus far is clearly a magical girl series, completed with the over-the-top transformation sequences, weapons and dialogue. Indeed, Vividred Operation appears to be written in such a way that it is sufficiently ridiculous at points to give a sense of aesthetics that ultimately comes across as appealing and humorous, without overwhelming the viewer. From the combat sequences we’ve seen thus far, it seems that this trend will continue in future episodes. Ergo, viewers will not require unreasonable neural capacity to follow; with pseudo-science that I will refer to as magic from this point onward and spectacular visuals, Vividred Operation is surprisingly enjoyable for being able to capture the feel of classic magical girl anime, emphasising simplicity and fun over things that self-proclaimed anime critics demand of ‘good’ anime.