On a Dyson Sphere where 70% of the human population lives, the neutral, peace-loving nation of JIOR falls victim to a vicious surprise attack by militaristic Dorssia, who attack from within with young special forces led by L-Elf and from outside with a squadron of flying mecha. Tokishima Haruto is about to confess to his friend Sashinami Shouko when fighting breaks. Shouko is killed by an errant weapons blast.
A scientist manages to deploy the experimental mecha Valvrave before L-Elf can get to it. A devastated Haruto boards it to take his revenge. After agreeing to “resign his humanity”, he easily dispatches the enemy squadron. His actions are recorded by a hacker and streamed to the world, making him an instant celebrity and a hero. When he exits Valvrave, L-Elf is there, and kills him, but Haruto wakes back up and bites him in the neck.
9/10ths of this episode is a pretty by-the-numbers shonen mecha story: weak, un-driven kid from a peaceful world is thrust into despair by the loss of someone precious, and is in the right place at the right time to take control of the super-duper brand-new mecha suit. There’s about two dozen characters and there’s only time to paint them with the broadest of strokes. What’s more important is the spectacle and style of everything that transpires around them. Still, Valvrave offers some interesting new tricks to the usually solid, sometimes stolid Gundam formula.
First of all, the modern double-edged sword of social meda rears its head early, and as the official factions war, a hacker in a dark room can influence millions. Haruto also has to deal with fame at the same time he’s dealing with terrible loss, both of his love and his innocence. Oh yeah, and Valvrave makes him lose his humanity, and not in a figurative sense: he literally turns into an immortal vampire beast of sorts. Which is very sudden and weird, but we certainly like the clashing of genres, and are eager to see where they go with it.
Rating: 8 (Great)
- For a series clearly not afraid to show blood and graphic deaths, the “romance” between Haruto and Shouko was over-tame by comparison. Then again, not even having time to say he loved her before he lost her must sting particularly hard.
- Yes, the mecha designer has done most Gundams, including SEED/Destiny and 00, the two series we’ve watched in full.
- Valvrave is suitably menacing and powerful looking, and moves with equal parts grace and fury.
- Dorssia, the evil empire where you can never get a table.
- Why the hell did there have to be five “transfer students” instead of two? At least two of those guys are extraneous…
- This is our Spring “dark horse”; the series we hadn’t even heard of but decided to jump into late. Previous dark horses include Kotoura-san and Penguindrum.