This is review number two hundred and fifty five. This anime is part of the Fall 2013 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is the second season of Valvrave. I loved the first season as I kept praising how awesome it was despite a majority of people not being convinced with the ridiculous plot of the show. The anime kept being interesting enough that I was really excited to watch the second season. Life is full of disappointments though and this show is one of them. Let’s read on.
The band of students is back and they want their country to be recognized as a legit nation this time around. After crawling their way to the moon, the representatives of Module 77 is asked to visit Earth and get the hero’s welcome they surely need. Things went awry pretty fast though and instead of landing in the friendly nation of ARUS, our poor characters landed right smack dab in their enemy’s territory. The same enemy they’ve been running from this whole time. They must once again try to crawl out of a desperate situation but not until uncovering the secret behind the Valvraves.
Taking the Pants Off
The first season of Valvrave had an iffy premise. It’s pretty much a bunch of cool Gundam clichés with a bunch of Code Geass clichés forced to have an orgy together. The result was a vampire mecha anime with frustrated teenagers as its pilot. Most cynics rolled their eyes and I don’t really blame. Valvrave was a tough sell. It doesn’t offer anything deep and you’re basically watching it just for the cool mecha fights. It’s a clear sign of the seemingly lack of originality and pandering to the lowest common denominator that the industry subject fans to nowadays. I fully understand the stupidity of Valvrave but I still enjoyed the hell out of it. Gosh, it was a slow Spring lineup. I was mentally prepared to rush through the same amount of anime I got last Spring thinking most studios release a lot of anime during Spring. This wasn’t the case for 2013. The Spring lineup was a bit dull and the most memorable thing to note was that rotoscope fiasco from another anime. Then came Valvrave with its utterly hard to sell premise and its attempt to just deliver the bare bone appeals of Gundam without being apologetic about it. It was awesome and it was the highlight of the lineup for me. With the way the show introduced a lot of interesting elements and slowly forms a story to go along with the mechas fighting in space, I was seriously hoping for the second season to deliver the highlight of the Fall lineup. I was so enthralled with the first season that there is absolutely no way the second season can disappoint. Just build on what is already there, layer the hell out of that thing and then end the show with a huge f*cking bang. It’ll turn even the most cynical viewer’s head around and watch the whole thing go down. An awesome conclusion to the ridiculously epic scenario of the first season….the second season was not. I’m rarely disappointed by a show and let’s just say I’ve never shook my head in total disappointment as much as when I was watching this second season.
The first season had a bumpy premise that was eventually smoothen out throughout the course of the show. In space, an independent nation called JIOR was attacked by a military nation called Dorssia. The reason escaped me but this military nation occupied that free nation without warning. People are killed and a peaceful independent nation is now turned on its head while the rest of mankind watches. JIOR is made up of “modules” that houses a city and a bunch of people. Throughout the chaos and the sheer relentless attack of Dorssia, Module 77 was desperate to flee. Module 77 is where a school is located and majority of the occupants are students. In an unbelievable twist of fate, this module housed mysterious mechas that the students used to defeat Dorssian troops. They dislodged themselves from JIOR and then let their module float in space hoping to run away from the grip of the military nation. A bunch of students are now being chased by a military nation for the mechas they possessed. Scared but willing to fight for their life, the students decided to declare their module a country and hoping the rest of the world can recognize them. Fleeing from Dorssia and trying to figure out the mysteries of the mechas known as Valvrave was the main core of the first season. The show was smart enough to keep layering this story to make it more interesting. A complicated love triangle, a Dorssian troop with the brains and the killer instinct to guide this infant nation to freedom and a bunch of kids in a life or death situation and you have yourself a pretty damn good anime to watch. Towards the end of the first season, Dorssia adapted to the situation and managed to outpower the mechas but all the students have to do is crawl towards the moon where the area is considered a neutral territory. Before they could reach it though, the first season ended.
The second season resumed right where the first season ended. Module 77 is trying to get to neutral territory. There was no recap and you’re seriously asked to just catch up if you can. The plot isn’t that complicated so if you paid attention to the first season then you can easily catch up. My mind was racing though at the potential bomb the second season was going to drop. There were a lot of interesting subplots established and the plot points flowed pretty smoothly. Will we see a bitter end to the love triangle the first season has setup? Two people had sex. Clearly this is crucial to the story of the second season, right? Will L-elf’s trusted Dorssian friends finally get a chance to fight the guy? He shot someone in the face and seemingly spit at the trust they have built. I’m pretty sure this will be integral to the events of the second season? The ultimate question though is: can Module 77 really be able to establish itself as a real country? The amount of political elements and dirty below the belt jabs at this infant nation will surely be a wonderful setup for the second season, right? Of course, there was severe tension between Module 77 and Dorssia as well as between Dorssia and this nation called ARUS. Will we see a chance for ARUS and this infant nation to team up and crush this military nation like it was freaking 1945? I’m sure the naivety and sheer lack of experience of Module 77 with bite them in ass since one of the show’s greatest element is how frustrated youths are fighting for their freedom. Lastly, the second season promised a lot of deaths. Some deaths are teased to be so grand you will be drooling as this character goes out in a blaze of glory. There will be a lot of important character deaths, right? From both sides? Surely this show is impossible to f*ck up, right? We will see an epic ending from this show just as the first season promised, right? How exactly can you make this awesome show become cringe worthy bad?
The answer is easy. Dismantle the story and start from the beginning. Are you reading this review after the awesomeness you experienced from the first season? Spoiler alert: none of that appears on the second season. I know, right? How? Why? WHY?! Look at it this way. The first season was the first arc of the show and the second season was another arc. Arcs share the same characters as I’m sure any seasoned Shounen watcher would agree. They have different stories and they have different goals in mind though. The first season was about a bunch of students seemingly cornered like rats and forced to fight for their lives. The second season had none of that. Oh god no, they abandoned the wonderful premise and the tension the first season contained and built up because it went on another direction. Are you hoping for a huge war with the world at stake just as the first season promised? I was and I was disappointed that nothing the first season established was present in the second season. Okay, what was the second season about? It focused on the mysteries surrounding the Valvraves. Apparently, there were enough solid sh*t in that poop pie to convince Sunrise that changing gears would make the show better. It didn’t. There was nothing satisfying about the things the second season setup and now I’m going now on a long winded rant about how disappointed I am as a fan of the first season.
The story of the second season concerned Module 77 successfully docking into the moon. A bunch of important people are now tasked to meet with surviving JIORians that made it on Earth in hopes that some of them could help them make Module 77 a more legit nation. They were going to speak with a bunch of representatives from other countries and discuss the nightmare that Dorssia inflicted on them. They were celebrates heroes at this point and going to Earth can only strengthen their status. The characters are on cloud nine with a lot of people pouring out their support for them. Some pilots are endorsing various products and the healthy youthful vibe of Module 77 is giving the rest of the world some hope. Things took a nasty turn though and this little visit from Earth resulted in a confrontation of the worst kind. Basically:
Yeah, the characters are in the enemy’s territory. The characters must now scratch and claw their way out of this hell hole but not before uncovering the truth that lies deep within this military nation.
The show has three plot points that are nicely connected together. They progressed evenly despite the fact that the show decided to kill the excitement. The first one is about finding their way out of Dorssia. As exciting as this premise actually sounds, the pacing was actually pretty damn slow. The second season focused on a lot of character development that it clearly didn’t need. Most people didn’t care for the characters because we’re just hypnotized by the fact that the show has exploding innocent people in space. Anyways, this predicament they are in is an absolute mess and the characters are trying to make sure Dorssia doesn’t capture them after going this damn far. The setup isn’t like a cat and mouse chase where Dorssia is sending their fiercest cats to chase after the mouse. The approach is more subtle. The show is more focused on the various characters caught up in this unfortunate situation. A bunch of relationships are explored and a lot of fleshing out commences. As the students try their best to survive, we are given more insight about a character and their various feelings towards one another. Some side characters are given the spotlight and some of the main characters are put in situations where they’ll break down and cry. It’s safe to say that it happens a lot but not in a way that makes the show interesting. The pacing was so damn slow that it is actually a bit irritating watching so many melodrama happen at the same time. This comes at the worst time because you were expecting explosions, explosions and more explosions.
I can only assume that all this fleshing out and establishing of relationships will play a huge part for when a character dies. I mean, all this melodrama has to be of some use to the show. Dismantling the story and creating a new one is okay as long as you keep things interesting again. The way the show focuses on characters can only mean that a lot of them will die and I actually like that. It’s what I came here for. I want them to die and I want to see myself caring about them when they die. There are a lot of characters here that deserves to die and I’m glad the show is building up the hype for when it does actually come. I don’t want to spoil it but the number of deaths you’d expect from the show is not proportional to the amount of sappy drama and forced emotional tugging that the anime tried to do on the audience. Hence, this show is f*cking unfair. A bunch of kids stuck in their enemy’s territory apparently was a great idea to flesh them out and focus on side characters that meant nothing to the show in its overall run. I don’t get it. They dumped out a chance for an epic intergalactic rumble for this?
The second plot point is about Dorssia itself. While the characters are running for their lives, a few of the characters on the other side are explored as well and the political state of Dorssia is explored. Apparently, this country didn’t start out as a military nation. It was actually an aristocratic nation with a royal family ruling the place. Something happened internally that caused this country to become Nazi-ish and the show presented the unusual state of this country. This was just a piece of the puzzle though until the show revealed the true bad guy of the anime. This anime isn’t about a military nation trying to crush a small infant nation. While that premise is exciting, the anime is convinced that it can be better. How? Apparently, Dorssia is in cahoots with a secret sect that protects the secrets of the world. It turns out the real enemies are a bunch of old people in a sect. It is so mind blowingly stupid that even my open minded fairness doesn’t agree with it. Really, you halted a chance to have a war in space with the world at stake for a story about a secret organization secretly wanting to kill a bunch of kids. How does that work? The show utilized a Dues Ex Machina to make sense of the sloppy writing it had. For godsakes, you had Gundam elements and Code Geass clichés but you decided to be original AFTER you convinced people how good the meshing of these two elements can be? A secret organization just doesn’t feel right. It’s not the spirit of the anime. This anime isn’t about a nod at conspiracy theories and the shady backhanded deals that happen around the world. It’s about a show where frustrated kids are trying to say “f*ck you” to adults proving that they can be on their own. I do understand the appeal that the kids are going up against a Titan they can’t beat but you didn’t have to take the rebellious spirit of the first season out to make that point. The political discourse of Dorssia is good and all but you could’ve entertained that unexplored plot point while you have the kids die in a blaze of glory beating up a bunch of robots in space. You could’ve given us this huge twists that Dorssia isn’t all that bad AFTER you f*cking gave us what the first season promised.
The third and most important plot point of all is the revelation of the Valvraves. In the first season, they were sort of like kind of a vampire thing. They bit their pilots and turned them into neck biting sadists. Apparently, the vampire angle doesn’t work so the show wanted to explore on it some more. To be fair, this was a decent plot point. There were nagging questions in the first season that this plot point tried to make sense of. Why did Dorssia attack JIOR? Why are the students the only ones capable of piloting a Valvrave? Why did it need to bite its pilot and why do they bite others as well? Who is the girl in that Valvrave mecha that talks to the main character? How come they are only a handful of Valvraves? How were the Valvraves created? That and so much more. This is seriously the only pay off I got from this second season. The revelation of the secret sect that runs the world, Dorssia’s attack on JIOR and the students becoming sort of like kind of a vampire makes this final plot point interesting. I mean, did it really need to stray away from the vampire angle? No. I honestly don’t think so. It’s even more annoying when this plot point took up most of the time that should’ve been given to awesome concluding battles against the awesome characters of the show. I’m fine with a stupid vampire premise but its revelation doesn’t really make the show that much better. I honestly don’t care what the students are. You didn’t have to sacrifice the first season’s great build up to entertain this garbage. It doesn’t make the anime experience that much more amazing. In fact, it’s a bit anticlimactic. Who really gives a sh*t if they aren’t sort of like kind of vampires? There’s so much more the show could’ve f*cking done than waste time on an element of the show that barely even elevates it beyond mediocrity.
To be fair though, this was the one good thing about the season. The revelation of the facts surrounding the Valvraves was intriguing in a sense. If you block out all the things from the first season and treat this show as a new arc then you’ll see how smart the buildup was. Everything about the show goes back to this important plot point and I love how the anime tried to make sense of it all. Let’s not get carried away though. This show still sucked but I appreciate the pay off this plot point gave me because it was the only decent thing I got from it. The backstory behind everything and the slow build up towards more shocking revelations was brilliant. It was a smart move on the show and I do appreciate that. I also love the interesting implications behind the revelation of the Valvraves. The pilots believed they were given a gift from above but it turns out to be a curse. I love that little plot twist and it did make the show more interesting. With that being said, I’d like to bash this show some more.
I think this show tried to expand but it failed miserably. It wanted to be more than what the first season established. It wanted to show the audience that it does have some value beyond the clichés that it feeds off from. The show tried to make the story more profound by incorporating dramatic themes and building up on a character’s importance on the show. It tried to be more than what it can actually be. I do sense that they show did try but it just did not work. Maybe if you had more episodes to work with then you could’ve made a more profound experience out of the story but with only twelve episodes there no way to do that. I actually see no problem in the first season. It was fine the way it is and it build up an intense cliffhanger that made my mind race. Sunrise made the best Spring 2013 anime out of all the shows in that pack. Their over ambitious attempt to make this anime more meaningful is a pretty dumb move. I came into this second season expecting a f*cking war with a lot of characters dying. I wanted a Gundam experience where you don’t really give a sh*t about the story as long as two people in their robots fight to the death. The show robbed us of that experience and it’s really off putting to sit through something that disappointed you thoroughly. To be fair, there were mecha fights at the end but it’s really not enough to save the show from the quick sand it buried itself into.
Characters are one dimensional just like they were in the first season. It didn’t stop the show from shoving them down our throats though. There were a lot of characters and the anime had no idea how to smartly present them so it just keeps throwing blindly hoping something would stick. I think this was one of the biggest problems of the show. It tried to keep certain side characters relevant despite having no actual part in the main story. It entertained subplots like that idiotic story of two siblings without thinking how it relates to the main story. Did the wonderful sibling bond made the show interesting? If one of them died then yeah, but no, the subplots were clear distractions. The show had no direction so the characters were hopelessly lost as well. The main character is still Haruto Tokishima. He was this kid that first rose up to fight the Dorssia and he is this undeceive bastard that soon became a hero. In the second season, his duty as a protector of the world and his basic humanity clashes wherein he has to choose if he wants to keep on protecting people till he die or if he would rather preserve whatever is left of his humanity. It’s not as deep as you’d expect because Haruto is the kind of lead that you just can’t root for. He’s that guy from Guilty Crown that happened to have a more competent character beside him to make him feel relevant. Haruto is one dimensional and the constant fleshing out for this character did absolutely nothing in the long run. A lot of events in the anime tried to make Haruto a saint rather than a hero but I don’t think the muddled progression of the story helped this poor character at all.
Perhaps the biggest and most annoying aspect of the anime was the fact that L-Elf lost his place in the show. This guy that could predict people’s plan and create nine countermoves in a second did nothing in the second season. The biggest appeal of the first season wasn’t utilized in the show. He was a victim of the fleshing out and relationship building quick sand the anime fell into. Instead of making him more awesome or maybe just subtly reveal that he’s a vulnerable human with a callous personality, the show turned him into an emo that no longer has great countermoves and keeps being out maneuvered by other people. Towards the second half of the show, the anime tried to make L-Elf this guy that sincerely cares for someone and it’s very counterproductive. The guy that would shoot a comrade to fulfill his dreams apparently is a poor defenseless kitten in the inside. It doesn’t make sense. Why waste all that amazing anti-hero personality for such a questionable thing? Does making him weak make the story better? No. It actually made it worst.
There are some interesting characters in this show though. The second season focused mostly on the Dorssians and L-Elf’s former friends are possibly the most interesting characters in the entire show. With the story about the history of Dorssia and various compelling flashbacks, characters that were once just rough teens trained like expert killers turns out to be more than that. The internal struggle in Dorssia actually affects these characters as well and the thing they’ll experience is really fun to watch. It just goes to show that not all trained killers are bad and the way the show fleshed out these certain characters is pretty well done. They’re still one dimensional characters that stick solely to the events of the show though but it was still a good effort from such a subpar show.
This was really a disappointing show. I can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if the show just stuck to the things that made it awesome. God damn it, it’s amazing how much they f*cked up on such a solid show. Instead of just layering the story of the first season, the anime dumped it out and started from scratch. It was awful. Nothing saved this show and its one disappointment after another. The comment box is below. If you’d like, maybe you can explain to me how this show can even be called Valvrave with how it tried to distance itself from the amazing things the first season accomplished. Sunirse f*cked up. That’s really the only conclusion you can get from watching this show and this is the last time I’d be hyped up by something. I don’t want to feel this huge disappointment ever again. It’s not f*cking worth it. I’ll still call the first season of the highlights of the year though and I’ll just pretend that the second season didn’t exist. Sunrise f*cked up. They managed to fail at delivering a satisfying second season to something that is fairly hard not to fail at. Seriously, it’s like failing at breathing or existing. Sunrise failed at existing. God damn.
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty much the same. The characters still had a great look on them and they still had the great distinct details of Katsura Hoshino. She knows how to make beautiful characters and that fact still remained even after how much the second season sucks. I still love the bright outfits of the characters from both sides. The cute uniform of the students and the uniforms of the Dorssians still looked pretty cool. The character design was able to capture the futuristic setting of the show but also the bright extravagance that the second season tried to feature. The mecha designs are also still pretty cool. The varieties among the robots are all pretty cool. From six armed robots to robots with giant shields, it still captured the larger than life appeal of the mecha genre and a few wild imaginations that comes with how each robot is designed. There are some new mecha designs in the second season but only a few handfuls of them. I love the design of the final mecha boss. It had some great details on it and the way it attacked on so many angles was pretty sweet. The plain colored robots are also pretty cool especially since they have this huge gun in their chest. The visuals that made the show awesome is still intact here but not utilized as much as you’d hope it’d be.
Animation is still pretty outstanding. You can’t this away from Sunrise. This studio mastered the mecha genre so it knows how to make cool fight scenes using robots. The CG styling on the robots made them look cool as they fly through the sky but the added effects of the damage they inflict during their fights makes the animation pretty complex. The use of amazing camera angles made it seem even more amazing as you feel like you’re really next to the characters as they fight in space. The way the robots interact was nicely done but I did notice the lack of awesome scenes in this show that wasn’t already in the first season. There are no new special moves and there are no new awesome fights to display. Most of them are complacent and a bit boring. It’s the effect of a bad build up and a directionless storytelling so I do understand. Normal animation is pretty great though. It has the same complicated appeal as the mecha fights. Movements are pretty complex and certain actions have some decent frame rate to them. Most normal fight scenes are also pretty cool. The show kept the brutal killings intact. There are people that are shot in the head point blank and it looks pretty awesome. Some are slit in the throat and the anime was able to make each kill scene compelling and that is a hard thing to do.
The anime’s OP is “Kakumei Dualism” by Nana Mizuki x T.M.Revolution. It’s a really loud song and I’ll tell you right now that I’m not a fan of TM Revolution. I don’t like his forcefully trying to be flashy voice. It good but not as good as he thinks it is. The song itself is about having a revolution and gathering people into a frenzy. It does match the energy of the show and I do appreciate it. The OP sequence features a nice montage of the various things from the first season and a few peeks at the stuff from this new season. I’ll tell you right now that it’s much better than the actual show.
The anime has two ED. The first one is “REALISM” by ELISA. I love this song. It has a nice aura of despair to it with how the instrumentals just create a gloomy vibe. The lyrics also have a very damp vibe to it but, ironically, it’s about clinging onto hope. ELISA has a really nice voice and I love how high the chorus was. It’s pretty awesome. The ED sequence is just a montage of a few of the characters looking serious with a nice scene of Haruto walking in a deserted place with a dead tree in the background. The second ED is “Akai Memories wo Anata ni” by Momoko Kanade. It’s still about hope and this also has a really talented singer behind it. Momoko has this really cute voice that contrasts the seriousness of the lyrics and I really like how the two play off each other. The ED sequence is about Haruto and L-Elf gazing up in the sky as they stand in a pile of burning rubble possibly from when the Dorrsian attacks. It also has a short montage of the events of the second season. It’s a decent sequence.
3/10 “Disappointing. Sunrise definitely f*cked up.”
Do not expect the same awesomeness from the first season. A lot of people hated the first one but I think the hate got even stronger with how disappointing the whole experience turned out to be. Blame it on bad writing or whatever, this show still sucked and I rarely used that to describe a show. I never imagine seeing a second season be so poorly presented though especially with the great cliffhanger the first season gave it. If you like some cool mecha fights then there are some here but everything in this show is pretty subpar. It’s one of the most disappointing shows I’ve ever watched in my journey to 1000 anime reviews.