The Infinite Zenith

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Tag Archives: Vivid System

Vividred Operation- Finale

While the crow begins rampaging with her new-found power, Kenjirou deduces that Rei is still alive within the center of the Alone she has become. With the crow taking off to head towards the Manifestation Engine, Akane finds Rei’s key, which she believes may hold the key to their victory. The crow arrives at Blue Island and starts draining the Manifestation Engine, causing blackouts all over the world. Akane and the others soon arrive at the scene, with each girl giving their remaining suit power to help Akane break into the crow. Akane manages to reach Rei and together they dock to become Vivid Red, allowing them to overcome the crow’s power and destroy her. After the battle, the mysterious being Kenjirou saw seven years ago appears, revealing Rei’s world has been restored. Promising that they’ll see each other again, Rei leaves Akane her scarf before heading back to her home. Some time after life returns to normal, Akane once again sees Rei.

  • The Alone’s unusual nature are more similar to the Angels from Neon Genesis Evangelion rather than the Neuroi of Strike Witches. Thus, we see some more (comparatively) grotesque Alone compared to the cleaner designs found in the Neuroi.

  • Admittedly, I have not had time until recently to finish the Winter 2013 anime line-up until a few days ago. Thus, I had spent the last few days catching up: the advantage of doing so is that I can watch the episodes without the need to wait a week for the next to come out.

  • While Vividred Operation may not have a particularly strong story, it more than compensates through stunning visuals and through giving viewers a sense that even where the show is more serious, it ends up being fun anyways.

  • Havoc-Grade payloads don’t do anything against the super-charged Alone: this cliché has been around since the 1950 version of War of the Worlds; this has been noted on my Strike Witches Movie review previously, where I state that the effectiveness of contemporary military hardware is related with the plot. As such, to ensure that extraterrestrial beings and another anomalies are not wiped out by period weapons, they often have capacities to shrug off our weapons, thereby giving the writers the justification for fielding unorthodox technology.

  • The last episode’s title is the series’ namesake, involving Rei and Akane docking to form Vividred. Despite lacking a Palette suit (at least, that’s what I think they’re called), Rei is able to complete the docking procedure.

  • At this point, the rules in-show themselves break down and contradict what was said in previous episodes about docking. I do not care in the slightest.

  • Vividred summons a final attack, akin to those found in existing magical girl and super sentai shows, to finish off the final boss.

  • All of the laws of conservation and physics are broken in some way, shape or form during the course of Vividred Operation. Kenjirou shadows on this, and notes that he would begin his research from scratch.

  • If there is a single point that Vividred Operation tries to bring to the table, it is that friendship is sufficiently powerful a motivator to overcome anything, and here, will dismiss physical laws to achieve a certain end. This thematic element is similar to those found in virtually every other magical girl or super sentai show.

  • The same entity that appeared before Kenjirou in the past reappears, affirming its status as somewhat similar to the Forerunners; in this case, the entity decides that humanity has passed the test, and agrees to resurrecting Rei’s homeworld.

The last time I wrote about Vividred Operation here, it was January. The finale has long come and gone now, and having had the opportunity to watch it, I can honestly say that Vividred Operation can be thought of as a light-hearted caricature of the whole magical girl and super sentai genre, featuring over-the-top dialogue, flashy transformation sequences, and unnecessarily unusual attack names. These traits are packaged into an anime with excellent animation and sound quality, resulting in a show that is fun to watch. As Vividred Operation does not attempt to take itself seriously at any point, any discussions about plot and character development is hardly relevant. For nitpickers, the plot is cliché (dialogue-wise)  and overly idealistic (friendship is capable of doing what Havoc-grade payloads cannot), if one must know. However, I am quite happy to overlook these elements because, at day’s end, the anime satisfies a single criteria in my books: it is fun to watch, and that alone makes Vividred Operation worthwhile as a means of kicking back after the daily routine of going to school/work. Vividred Operation succeeds as a fun anime, and if it was intended to act as a light-hearted parody of the magical girl and super sentai genres, then I offer bonus points for hitting the nail on the head.

Vividred Operation Episode 4

Akane, Aoi and Wakaba’s latest fight against the Alone are observed by Himawari Shinomiya, a girl who spends her days confined to her room and participates in classes through a camera. Following the battle, Wakaba begins training Akane and Aoi so they can safely dock in battle. The next day, Kenjirou discusses a recent security breach on their network and resolves to identify the responsible party: making his way to Akane’s classroom, his investigation is cut short when Akane’s misplaced baseball shatters the window and destroys Himawari’s camera. The girls go to Himawari’s apartment to apologise, and meet Himawari for the first time. Following a brief conversation, the girls decide to bring Himawari to see the sunset at a local power distribution facility, but the sudden reappearance of the Alone forces the girls transform to defeat it. Akane delivers Himawari into the facility to shut it down, but the latter finds herself barricaded when a part of the structure collapses. In a flashback, Himawari recalls how she was betrayed by her previous friend, leading to her aversions towards friendship. However, Himawari is rescued by Akane, who kept her promise to come back for her. Touched by this gesture, Himawari is granted an ignition key and joins the girls in their fight. After the Rei powers up the alone again, Akane docks with Himawari to become Vivid Yellow and defeat the Alone. Following the battle, Himawari decides to start attending classes before asking Kenjirou for his autograph.

  • Aoi is wiped out after her and Akane’s training session with Wakaba. In the foreground is Himawari’s custom camera, which distinctly has WALL-e like attributes. I’m guessing the two camera lenses allow for stereoscopic vision, but considering the signal goes through to a computer screen, that’s quite unnecessary.

  • Akane is noted to be holding the baseball bat incorrectly. That said, it’s still less incorrect than Lan’s attempts in Rinne no Lagrange.

  • In 1080p Akane’s reaction to totally wrecking Himawari’s camera is rather amusing. I get Yoshika Miyafuji vibes when I see this picture.

  • I get the nagging feeling that this episode is primarily about how trust amongst friends work: through their overwhelmingly positive attitides, Akane et al. are able to convince Himawari of the value of friendship.

  • The Alone that show up in this episode take on more alien forms than previously shown and can even regenerate after total destruction, unlike the Neuroi.

  • I find myself with less to say about Vividred Operation at this stage, primarily because the anime keeps me entertained but simultaneously does not possess any elements that might give me the opportunity to drive discussion in a different direction.

  • Vividred Operation has a unique take on the whole magical girl genre that, coupled with its resemblance to Ironman, make the series immensely fun to watch. I don’t watch other magical girl anime because they fall outside the scope of my interest.

  • Himawari’s Vivid System confers awesome funnel-like weapons that can be used as shields. While her appearance completes the Vivid team, her backstory feels a little rushed and appears almost trivial. However, this does nothing to detract from the anime’s execution and visuals. 

  • The highlight of this episode has to be Vivid Yellow’s appearance. Compared to the sleeker, more modern appearance of Vivid Blue and Vivid Green, Vivid Yellow sports an elegant Victorian-era dress and wields an awesome Forerunner-like particle weapon.

  • Himawari’s sudden change of heart perhaps demonstrates how friendship and the confidence it brings is a powerful force. She expresses pure joy at meeting Kenjirou and asks for an autograph. Her innate familiarity with the Vivid System through her hacking means that it is less surprising when she uses the commands, compared to Wakaba, who is able to wield the system without any effort.

The whole episode bears direct resemblance to the previous ones, bringing to the table the fourth member of the Vivid team. Similar to Wakaba, Himawari is again granted a key a little too quickly, but this is being nit-picking here: the episode itself was just as fun to watch as the previous ones for the transformation sequences, although they’ve cut back on combat scenes (as with episode three). Now that the entire cast is more or less present, minus Rei, whose story is expected to be explored in the next episode, things will get under way for real now and there will hopefully be more combat to showcase the visuals in this series. Of course, now that the fourth episode is out and as per my original intention, this means that the next Vividred Operation post I make will be at the half-way mark of the season, and the finale.

Vividred Operation Episode 3

Akane, Aoi and Momo begin their first day to New Oshima Academy. En route to school, Akane’s bike breaks down, forcing her to use the Vivid System in an effort to arrive on time. She ends up meeting kendo club member Wakaba Saegusa, who becomes shocked when Akane counters her attack. After Akane and Aoi officially transfer into Wakaba’s class, Wakaba chases after Akane with the intent of demanding a rematch. She collides with Momo and decides to take her to the nurse’s office. As Wakaba and Momo get acquainted, Akane overhears how Wakaba wanted a rematch to prove she’s the strongest. After her father tells her to consider what ‘true strength’ is, Wakaba formally challenges Akane to a serious kendo match, which reminds Wakaba of how fun kendo used to be for her. Just then, their match is interrupted by the appearance of a serpent-like Alone. As Wakaba comes to realise what true strength is from watching Akane and Aoi fight, she asks to fight alongside them and is granted her own ignition key. Despite Rei’s intervention, Akane and Wakaba dock to become Vivid Green and effortlessly defeat the Alone.

  • What happens when your ride breaks down half-way to school? Akane’s response is to transform into Ironman and fly there, being sighted by Wakaba in the process.

  • The Vivid system allows Akane to effortlessly repel Wakaba’s sword skills. This discussion comes late because I’ve been preoccupied with a journal publication and grant applications. The irony here is that I’ve a little more time on a weeknight to put in this episode discussion. As soon as this discussion is done, it’s time to put a presentation together >.<

  • The classic concept of transfer students is one that many anime fans are familiar with and is used as a classic plot device in many anime. With that in mind, it gives Akane and Aoi the uniforms we’ve seen much of in the promotional materials.

  • Wakaba is voiced by Yuka Outsubo, who also supplied the voice for Toshinou Kyouko! from Yuru Yuri. While their personalities are rather different, traces of similarity can be heard.

  • The most amusing part of the episode is clearly the chase through the school. Akane demonstrates that her athletic abilities are in fact real, pulling off stunts that would make the average ODST look slow-footed.

  • Wakaba has a strong sense of honour and looks after Momo after they collide. It is here she finds out more about Akane, and her resolve to the duel strengthens. I do not know if this view is shared by other viewers, but Wakaba definitely has similar character to Graham Aker; both are exceedingly good at what they do and challenge worthy opponents to duels for the sole reason of duelling.

  • The visual quality in episode three has not dropped at all: this episode ultimately ends up being more of a character-building one, and I image the trend to hold until Himawari shows up.

  • Akane’s overwhelming speed makes her seem op’d: despite not having any formal training in kendo whatsoever, Akane is able to hold her own surprisingly well against Wakaba. In fact, I would argue that Akane’s style mirrors Kirito’s from Sword Art Online. In both cases, they are able to defeat or match superior opponents on the sheer virtue of determination.

  • The only exception I have with this episode is how easily Akane and Wakaba dock, as well as how quickly all the sequences happen. I’ve become accustomed to seeing the first transformation sequence take longer, with the length decreasing as the series progresses.

  • Vivid Green wields a buster sword of some kind. This third episode continues on with the trend of simple, light-hearted fun. If the creators intended on making a concise, enjoyable series in place of a story-driven one, they’ve succeeded. Many anime critics out there would decry this series for its lack of story and complexity, but I digress: this series’ intrigue comes from its re-visitation of the magical girl genre and comes across as a satire of the genre, illustrating (in-universe) that some of the things may not have to make sense, but can happen anyways.

Episode three formally introduces us to Wakaba, the third of the four girls with the Vivid System. Thus, I’m likely to do one more episode discussion for episode four as Himawari Shinomiya is introduced. With respect to the episode itself, Vividred Operation continues to impress with both its spectacular visuals: it seems the island is always nice and clear, a sharp contrast to the snowstorm brewing outside as this post is being generated. Akane’s introduction to Wakaba is a rather amusing one, with the latter mistaking the former for a scoundrel and challenging her on the spot, only to get wiped out (think “regular ODST goes up against Master Chief). Thus, we are immediately familiarised with Wakaba’s personality as a competitive but fun person. Naturally, the chase through the school adds to the notion that, despite the threat that the Alone pose to humanity, this is still a show about middle-school girls. The combat sequences in this episode are fewer, with one hastily executed one at the episodes’ end: otherwise, the bulk of the episode is on character development. I’m rather curious to see how Himawari will be integrated onto the team, and perhaps more so, what role Rei will play in the future.

Vividred Operation Episode 2

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.

Vividred Operation

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.