Robotics;Notes – 04

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Robotics;Notes is slipping under the radar a bit, likely because many people find it slow – but I’m finding it’s just my speed.

Shows that don’t try too hard often give an initial impression that they don’t care that much, but the two qualities are very, very different.  There’s a relaxed quality to R;N that I find very appealing, because it lends a quite natural air to the goings on and the character interactions.  The series seems very confident in the story its trying to tell, and isn’t worried either about explaining everything right away or crowding the story with artificially manufactured “events” to make the early episodes more, well – eventful.  Everything is happening at the speed of life, and that seems fitting for a series where one of the major plot points concerns the speed at which we perceive life passing by.

“Natural” is also the word I’d use to describe the relationship between Kai and Ahiko, and I’m especially finding Kai more appealing as a main character as the eps progress.  He’s not an idiot, but quite capable – and he doesn’t make a fool of himself for no good reason for comic effect.  His breezy demeanor suits the material because like the series itself he’s not rushing things, but you get the idea there’s something deeper happening too.  There’s a strong sense that he and Aki care about each other in a way that goes beyond mere longevity of acquaintance, but it isn’t caught up the cliché of traditional teen romance.  And while they jab at each-other, it’s built on familiarity and a comfort with each other, and their relationship seems very evenly balanced.  Other shows that try much harder to create chemistry between the leads could take some lessons from this one.

There are two major development as I see it in this episode, and somewhat surprisingly neither involves Aki and Kai’s trip to JAXA.  That’s over in a flash – turns out her Dad (Koyama Takehiro)is President of the branch, and while he’s patient and indulgent with Akiho (Mom is quite the opposite) it’s clear he’s humoring her when it comes to requests for sponsorship.  There’s also no Steins;Gate connection hinted at in the JAXA visit, which will doubtless disappoint some.  With that source of potential income cut off and the runner-up prize from Robo One not slated to support the club until after Aki and Kai graduate, she’s desperate enough to try and solicit sponsorship from Mitchie’s Uncle, who as it happens is President of the company that makes Kai’s “Space Candy” – and more than a bit of a sleazeball.  One of the strengths of S;G was the wealth of entertainingly eccentric side characters, and we’re starting to see that develop here.

The first big event is the formal introduction of Frau Kojiro, who remarkably enough is even weirder than the impression she gave last week.  She’s bought a warehouse to move into, makes vague allusions to her Mother being involved in something strange and appears to be something of a cross between a hikikomori and Daru from S;G.  Nazuka Kaori (Eureka) is delivering an odd and risky performance here, speaking in halting, mumbled netspeak, but I found myself laughing nonstop at the very strange conversation she had with Kai in her new bunker.  She talks of her 1 TB of BL, and tells him to “Make a thread about it” and that it’s “time to fap”.  She’s an odd duck for sure, this one, and I don’t know how well the character will hold up – but for now, I’m on-board.

The second headline for me is that Pleiades AKA Subaru decides to actually participate in life.  We get just a glimpse of his family life – a hothead father who clearly disapproves of anything connected to robotics and has extracted a promise from his son that he’s not involved with them (thus the creation of the alter ego).  Subaru has taken quite an interest in Kai, especially given the superhuman reactions times his “Elephant & Mouse” condition allowed him to use at the tournament, and tries to recruit he reluctant (surprise, surprise) sempai to join him at the World Robo One competition in Vegas.  This (and a sneaky bet by Subaru) nudges Kai into revealing a bit more to us about his condition, which resulted (along with Aki’s) from a mass-fainting incident (reminiscent of Murakami Haruki’s brilliant “Kafka on the Shore”) that occurred four months after a rocket launch (I’m impressed that Production I.G. got a real kid to play the young Kai) that the pair witnessed along with Misaki.

That launch, it would seem, is the key to the conspiracy at the heart of this series – and the fact that it occurred on 9/11/10 probably isn’t a coincidence.  There’s also an odd incident with Kai’s Kill Ballad console, which emits a dialup ringtone and shows him an image of a girl, followed by a girl’s voice being emitted from it – the implication being that she’s trapped inside.  It’s an interesting plot and figures to get more so, and it’s worth remembering that S;G too was more focused on the characters for the first block of episodes, with the conspiracy only co-headlining later on.  R;N isn’t as flashy as that show and neither are the characters, but the overall template – and this should surprise no one – is more similar than you might think at first glance.  This is the sort of show that tends to get better and better in a slow build, and given how much I like it already that gives me enormous hope for the future.

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[WhyNot] Robotics;Notes - 04 [75786F81].mkv_snapshot_18.02_[2012.11.02_21.04.09] [WhyNot] Robotics;Notes - 04 [75786F81].mkv_snapshot_19.54_[2012.11.02_21.06.02] [WhyNot] Robotics;Notes - 04 [75786F81].mkv_snapshot_20.18_[2012.11.02_21.06.48]
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  1. L

    I guess being constantly compared to Steins;Gate isn't doing Robotics;Notes any favors (whats with all the semicolons anyway?). S;G was good, though I think people overrate it a bit too much.

    I, for one, have been enjoying R;N more than I expected. Probably my second fave new series of the three I'm following this new season (behind Shinsekai Yori, ahead of Psycho Pass). Like you pointed out, R;N seems to have a better sense of balance between characters and setting compared to S;G, which I thought was some sort of otaku-centric comedy (like Genshiken) before the killing came in.

  2. B

    the weird thing is, is that people think steins;gates was awesome and blah blah blah but that was only the second half. i recall he first 12 episodes quite boring and uneventful. so really robotics;notes is doing the same thing steins;gates is doing, slow pacing only to be picked up gradually as it goes along.

  3. I loved those early eps of S;G, and I think a lot of other people did too.

  4. l


    I did too.

  5. B

    oh thats interesting then.

  6. A

    I quite like the first half of S;G and don't find it otaku-centric at all. The dialogue was witty, and I like the interactions between the characters and the atmosphere created amongst them. I don't find S;G overrated — I guess people were shocked by the quality and impact that S;G (or a smaller studio with much lower budget) could create.


  7. K

    For me the issue is the visual novel got meh reviews. Now perhaps the anime will be better than the VN. I am taking a wait and see approach. If reviews for the anime are really good I will marathon it. But with so much else to watch this season I guess it did get a miss for now, but that doesn't mean forever.

  8. H

    Whoever the gray-haired girl in the ED is, I don't think it's that she's trapped inside his tablet. I think she's somehow invisible but has made it so his tablet can see her with its camera. So similar to when Aki was looking at all the information in the city through hers, Kai would be able to see the girl through his. And the further 'hacking' was so that he could hear her.

    I find this show really interesting to watch. It never feels slow or nonchalant. It just goes the way it wants to, and does a good job at it.

    Oh a warning: I don't know if I said last week, but don't read the wikipedia page for this show. So many spoilers in just a single sentence.

  9. H

    I thought the accident on the cruise ship was on 9/11/10, not the rocket launch (I'm a little intrigued that whichever event it was it happened about a month or less after all the S;G events got cleared up, wondering if there's any connection, I suspect not).

  10. C

    So I take it the Funimation sub translating Kona's speech to various netspeak acronyms isn't entirely inaccurate?

    It's kind of grating, though. But less so if that's really how she is.

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