Vividred Operation Episode 1: First Operation [First Impression]
“The future everyone dreamed of – an ideal, peaceful age where science solves everything.”
With the creation of the Manifestor Engine, an abundance of resources are produced which propels the world into a state of global peace. Living in this world is Isshiki Akane, whose grandfather is the inventor of the Engine itself. When a member of a strange alien species named the Alone attack the Engine, the army and navy attempt to stop it, but quickly get taken down. Akane, heading towards Blue Island to save her friend Aoi, jumps off the top of the Engine to save a falling Aoi, and activates the power of the Vivid System – the Palette Suit.
A world where science has solved all of mankind’s problems – that’s the setting of
Strike Witches Vividred Operation, an original work directed by Takamura Kazuhiro of Strike Witches fame. It’s actually quite a daunting thing to imagine, as the struggle for resources and the entire system of inequality that exists is a constant, global-scale effort, so I’m actually a bit skeptical that everything is so easily solved by the Manifestor Engine, which looks like a huge fancy landmark in the sky and provides fuel and resources to everyone all across the world through satellites. I’m even more surprised that everything is still so peaceful – of course it would be in theory, but geopolitically as the country which created the Engine powering the world, Japan has probably been elevated straight to the center of the world stage. America Other countries may be interested in taking control of the Manifestor Engine for themselves, which is why the government wondered whether an attack on the Engine came from a foreign country. Similarly, if Japan falls, so does the Engine – and indirectly, the world’s source of power. I wonder if we’ll get more info on how exactly the Manifestor Engine works in the future, and how it generates its fuel to power cars and factories – apparently from the sky?
That’s enough about that. Our main protagonist, Isshiki Akane, is living in this peaceful world with her imouto Momo and her grandfather Kenjirou, who is in fact the Manifestor Engine’s creator. Here we have the first parallel with Strike Witches, in which the show is mainly populated by a girl-filled cast, with Akane following the footsteps of Miyafuji Yoshika and going around without any pants on. Not every girl is without pants here (either an improvement or disappointment) but the mysterious girl who opened the episode certainly is, with that familiar ass-shot from the PV. I approve :D Anyway, Akane’s a very cheerful character with a positive outlook on life, which is to be expected – however is no good with heights, which I found rather awkward considering what this show is about. Similarly awkward was the fact that Akane, Momo and Kenjirou were poor, which is strange considering what Kenjirou invented – no matter what accident may have happened in the past with the Engine, it’s pretty poor repayment to make the guy that solved the scarcity problem an outcast.
The government officials even ignored what he said about the Alone, a mysterious (presumably alien) species that were involved in the Manifestor Engine accident 7 years ago, which resulted in Kenjirou secluding himself for further research to combat them. That “something” wiping out all the army units, revealed to be the Alone are frightfully similar to the Neuroi in Strike Witches, who have an identical black and red colour palette, and red beams that destroy both warships and fighter planes – though Alone attacks are more like danmaku bullets rather than full beams. And of course, as is standard practice, the army are no match against the alien enemy, who have come to target the Engine, which is apparently merely a by-product of Kenjirou’s full research!
The run-up to the final scene was actually pretty intense – and it wasn’t really what I was expecting out of a show that’s shown us slice-of-life and fanservice so far. The “death” of Kenjirou was the first major shock, though his mind transferring into the stuffed ferret creature wasn’t exactly how I thought he’d make his appearance. The second was the race to get to Akane’s friend Futaba Aoi before her civilian plane crashed into the side of the Manifestor Engine, which was very tense indeed. Despite her fear of heights, Akane’s ability to overcome that and save Aoi (who was actually falling off) is admirable, even though she did get over it rather conveniently. And of course, the key given to her activates at that moment.
They should totally rename this series Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Akane, as we divert from the show’s similarities to Strike Witches and turn to the magical girl genre, which features many things this episode had present – including a talking animal companion, a life-changing situation for an otherwise ordinary little girl and most importantly, a transformation sequence off a gifted device. I suppose it verges more on sci-fi rather than fantasy given the methods Kenjirou used to create the Vivid System and Akane’s Palette Suit, but it does still relate to magical girls nonetheless. I’ve seen the critically acclaimed Madoka Magica and very much liked all three seasons of Nanoha, so hopefully this genre mash of a sci-fi magical girl show will be able to put its own original twist forward. Unfortunately there was no real confrontation with the Alone this time, but with one just round the corner, hopefully we’ll get lots of action-packed aerial manoeuvres next week, complete with obligatory panty shots. As a Nanoha fan would say – “Stand by, ready. Set up!”
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