Robotics;Notes – 13

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This series is the epitome of “under the radar”, but it just keeps delivering – and while the pacing may not be priority overnight, service is as reliable as it gets.

It looks as if Robotics;Notes is on schedule to be a full-fledged bust on BD/DVD, which I’m sure will disappoint the money folks who hoped it would be another S;G and please the folks who’ve been dumping on the series since it premièred.  It disappoints me too, of course, but there’s also a perverse satisfaction in seeing a series produced with many decisions that seem quite consciously anti-commercial.  This is something of a specialty of Production I.G. of course – they have their share of hits (Psycho-Pass is no doubt helping to carry R;N’s weight), so perhaps it’s a luxury they can afford better than most studios.  While this is based on 5pb’s work, of course, it really does appear as if many creative decisions were made strictly in deference to the quality of the work, at the cost of commercial viability.  It’s a shame that it so often comes down to one or the other, but I’m glad there are still producers willing to make the best series they can and take their chances.

In a lot of ways this was the most balanced episode of Robotics;Notes so far, both stylistically and content-wise.  It marked the welcome return of Frau Kojirou to prominence, started out fairly light in tone but quickly progressed to darker hues as the conspiracy came back into focus, and finished with the grimmest and most disturbing events of the series so far.  What we’ve ended up with is something like what you’d get if you had a show with a Steins;Gate styled-conspiracy plot, where the main character had been written by Adachi Mitsuru.  Kai is more and more looking like the seemingly ordinary guy (though he does have a cool wild west Pokecom holster) who’s going to be tasked with saving the world, and like everything else he does I suspect he’ll go about it with quiet determination and get the job done with a little grumbling, but not much calling attention to himself.  Main characters like that are highly unusual in this sort of series, and it’s a dichotomy I rather like.

We actually have two Kimijima Reports in this episode, the first being #4, whose reveal was deferred because of the events surrounding Doc last week.  Sister Centipede sums it up as follows:

  • Subliminal
  • Project Atom
  • Robot Rebellion

The first point, seemingly, is rooted in the final episode of Gunvarrel (more in a second).  The second is less clear – though we know it’s the name of the Committee of 300’s master plan, we don’t yet know all the details.  The relevance of the third point comes into much sharper focus with the events that conclude the episode.  Sensing the urgency of the situation despite not really understanding it, Kai sets about setting the flags for the fifth report more or less immediately, and manages to do so with a relative minimum of fuss.  And with that report come a few more scraps of information: the Earth’s magnetosphere is unstable because the sun is entering its last stages of life (though that would be defined in the billions of years) and using that, the Committee of 300 is trying to artificially create solar corona-lime phenomena.

As in any good conspiracy that still has nine episodes to play out, the answers are really just new questions. For purely personal reasons I’m quite curious to know whether the weird flags Kimijima is using to access his reports are just perversely random, or have some meaning to them; a much more obviously critical question is why the Committee is trying to enact a plan that would cause the extinction of the human race.  Seemingly, that would include them, too – the implication being either that they have some sort of plan to save themselves (and those they deem worthy) or that for their own reasons they’ve simply decided the human race (and all life on Earth) should be destroyed.  Tennouji Nae – who I still don’t trust, by the way – being present in the story implies a canonical link to the world of Steins;Gate, so in that context purely self-destructive behavior by the Committee of 300 doesn’t seem like the most logical option.

There are major developments on other fronts as well – instigated both by Frau Bow and by Aki, for a change.  She’s the one who does a critical something that clearly needed to happen – get the monopole into Doc’s hands.  He’s fresh out of the hospital but back in the shop, tinkering away, and clearly the best person on Kagoshima (among the allies, anyway) to try and figure out just what’s up with the thing.  Since Kimijima – via Sister Centipede – made it possible to get the monopole into the hands of the one who accessed his reports, it can be assumed that it plays a critical role in whatever chance there is to stop Project Atom.  Aki is doing this because she sees the monopole as a potential power source for the robot – and it may well end up manifesting as that at least in part – but the larger import is the role it will play in saving the world from the Project Atom.

And then we have Kona-chan, who continues to be one of the most entertaining characters in the cast.  Her personal life has taken an even more disturbing turn – Kai admits he hasn’t seen her in-person for “two or three months” –  and it turns out she’s been inside her bunker, shivering in the cold and rarely eating, trying to make sense of the clusterfuck that was the leaked Gunvarrel finale.  She’s managed to piece together some random images into a montage that reveals a series of Romaji letters written on the walls of an abandoned building (looks to be either a prison or mental hospital), which in turn reveal the password to a website that was linked in the comment section of the website her mother maintained in high school – the first comment on the site in 19 years.  Kai’s innocent “I’m surprised it’s still online” is clearly a critical clue here – someone made sure that site was still up – and the site itself appears to be a last desperate message from Frau-mama-sensei, which declares that Gunvarrel has been a propaganda tool and that she “had to get the word out somehow”.

Kona-chan’s personal story has a lot of traction, and that arm of the conspiracy was very elegantly constructed.  Kimijima and Kona-chan’s mother both seem to be martyrs to the same cause, killed for trying to reveal the nature of the conspiracy at work – but it seems likely that one or both of them is still alive and in hiding, trying to help Kai and Kona find the truth.  I really love the interactions between Kona and Kai – her “Let me lick your finger!” antics are still funny, but more and more they reveal the desperately lonely and unstable girl who needs Kai perhaps even more than Aki does.  As for Kai, for all his stoicism he simply refuses to leave others be when they’re in trouble, as witness the events at the end of the episode when he breaks the glass door in the entryway of Frau Bow’s building when she refuses to answer her intercom.  And thank goodness, too, as it appears she was on the verge of killing herself in despair over the backlash against Gunvarrel and the fact that someone has hacked her Twipo account, blaming her for the release of the finale and the unsettling events happening in Tokyo after a giant solar flare wreaked havoc on the city.

Ah yes, those events in Tokyo.  A “warning shot” is how I would describe them, fired across Kai and Kona’s bow – a solar flare that’s devastated Kanto, and a seeming robot rebellion in the aftermath.  Misaki can’t be reached, the city is dark, and robots are rampaging against the survivors.  If I were to formulate an overall theory at this point, I’d harken back to a very brief mention of “Project Mars” a few episodes back.  Mars, of course, is the fourth rock from the sun – a cold and dead world now.  But if the sun were to be tweaked in such a fashion as to crank up the heat, Mars might just become habitable for humans.  If the sun were to be so altered, of course, the Earth – being much closer – would be cooked like a Thanksgiving turkey and become uninhabitable in the process.  If the Committee of 300 had found a way to get themselves and their chosen master race to Mars and terraform it, the Project Atom/Mars combo would conveniently kill two birds (and billions of people) with one stone – wipe out the unwashed masses, and set up a new world where the chosen elite could start fresh and have an entire planet’s worth of resources to themselves.  It’s far-fetched, but at this point it makes more sense to me than any other possibility.

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  1. A

    I quite enjoyed this episode and felt that it had cranked up a notch story-wise…it seems like the creators have started to pull the threads together, and I am getting excited.


  2. K

    I love this series. Its way better then we were led to believe it was going to be. Whoever marketed and promoted this series did a poor job. Everyone should be watching this series the way they did S:G and yet they aren't.

    I'm still unsure how the 300 thinks killing everyone on the planet will be a good thing for them. Won't they die too with everyone else? Things don't quite make sense here with the master plan of the villians but there are still quite a few episodes left so we will see.

  3. Did you read my last paragraph, Karma? I think my notion is at least one feasible scenario.

  4. A

    Enzo. have you seen the 2nd part of Kenshin: Shin Kyoto Hen? If you're a fan of Aoshi, I highly recommend you to watch it. What a fine job these writers did for him… NOT!

  5. "These writers" is Okada Mari, who really never should have been allowed near RK. But as far I know it isn't subbed, and that's the sort of story I would need to see subbed.

    What does that have to do with R;N, though?

  6. A

    The sub ver is out now.

  7. A

    Speaking of Kenshin (pardon me for continuing to talk about Kenshin at R;N, but it's not like there is a Kenshin post here), Enzo, I know you've said that you've watched the Kenshin movie on the flight and liked it, but I can't understand how you could enjoy that when you didn't for SKH. They are BOTH horrible. Absolute garbage, they are. The Kenshin movie, which just came out in sub version as well, seems like Japanese B movie. I don't know Japanese, so there is some cultural difference I have on Japanese acting in general, but the acting in the movie is absolutely garbage. They all are a bunch of amateur non-actors and their acting make Rihanna in Battleship like Amy Adams. It's that awful. I won't even go into how they fucked the plot since it's a 2-hour movie, so there is no point complaining about that, but geez. I suppose the movie isn't so bad for a B or C movie, but the horrid acting pisses me off. It seems like whether it's hollywood (drangon ball or street fighters) or Japan, anime adaption movies are always treated like a joke; otherwise there is no other explanation for this godawful acting in every single of them. I'm not looking for Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis acting here, but just serviable acting like Tom Cruise or even Arnold.

  8. First of all, there are several Kenshin posts here that could be commented on, including the first Shin Kyoto-hen post. Second, I never saw the RK film on a flight or anywhere else so I'm not sure what you're referring to. I saw the Uchuu Kyoudai live on a flight, but I don't see what that has to do with anything here.

  9. s

    Yeah, I wonder why Robotics;Notes wasn't as hyped up as I expected it to be. Same thing with Little Busters. If Kyoto Animation announced that they were doing it, I'm sure its popularity would be much higher. But a Semi;Colon adaptation didn't catch anyone's eyes. Is it because of the high school cast, the animation studio not being White Fox, Guilty Crown, or all of the above? Either way, R;N doesn't excite me the way that S;G did, but it's still a solid anime.

    I freaked out when I saw Kona in the bathtub because (1) I hate hearing about slit-wrist suicides, and (2) that's an extreme dark shift for the series. I don't understand much of Kona's geek speak, but she's still an entertaining character who I'd hate to see leave. Besides that, I'm wondering what Misa's up to and loving the new school outfits and songs.

  10. A

    I believe that the inicial hype of R;N disappear after the first reviews of the VN came out.

  11. A

    im starting to think kona is the true end path in the same way kurisu was the true end path of steins;gate

  12. T

    Sorry, but I was not a fan. It's not bad, but it's not good. To compare, Stein's Gate was riveting from about episode 5 on, but now R;N is finally getting to the main plot at episode 13. I remember a previous debate where one commentator discussed how the scientific outlandishness of R;N compared to Stein's really ruined the show for him. I am unfortunately getting to that point as well…

    I'll finish it, but I won't look forward to it as much anymore.

  13. T

    A friend of mine just epitomized this anime "this is a mediocre story told very very well"

  14. L

    I don't mind that. I prefer average writing directed well, as opposed good writing directed badly.

    It may not be as riveting as S;G, nor does it have as interesting a protagonist (though he's still pretty decent by anime standards, plus we get Frau), but it puts a smile on my face more often than not. I judge shows by how little I facepalm throughout an ep, and this series has given me very little of that.

    Disagree with Enzo's Adachi Mitsuru comment, though. If that were true, we'd have a wishy-washy protag (with Popeye style forearms) playing baseball all day, wishy-washingly sneaking glimpses at the girls while battling some trivial wishy-washy inner demon. Ick!!

  15. L

    Loses points for the tacky "I m Geek" t-shirt, though. We all know true geeks should wear "#!/bin/sh" or "while ( ! ( succeed = try() ) );"


  16. Loses major points for Adachi bashing.

  17. A

    It's engrish, and she just so happens to be Japanese, so she gets a pass.

  18. A

    I don't care much for this show; I just want to marvel at SSY. More I watch SSY, more I think how it is a masterpiece. Forget all these other shows except for Uchuu Kyoudai. I'm sure all these other shows are good; but they all have their flaws. SSY, on the other hand, belongs to the level of Monster, Honey & Clover, Cowboy Bebop (some may question CB, but I don't care, it's the best space western anime, screw "shounen" outlaw star), and a few selected few more; i.e. absolute best Japanese anime in its history. I'll even say SSY is the best show since 2006 (since H&C ended). I'm the biggest fan of Uchuu Kyoudai, but SSY blows me away. It's a different, just like how I see H&C differently from Monster. It's so freaking sad, this SSY. I daresay, it's the best tragedy anime show. I don't care for shows like Clannad after story and Elfen Lied, FYI; I'm sure some other may like those shows, but they aren't at the same level as SSY.

  19. K

    So why are you in this thread bashing this show? SSY is a great show. Go post in that thread instead telling us the virtues of SSY.

  20. S

    I'm surprised to hear that R;N is not selling well. S;G did well commercially and they share similar elements in terms of its quirky characters, otaku humor and the conspiracies that is hidden beneath its laid-back story-telling. Psycho Pass' sales figures started out slow but picked up in the second week, so maybe there's still hope 😡

  21. A

    well lemme see, no loli, no moe (most well-sold shows); no shooting, no gore, no blood (PP).
    Just 1 loud annoying girl + 1 weirdo girl+1 side character that's barely passable as moe.
    S;G had 2 moe girls+Kurisu. No contest.

    Why do you expect sale to go up? I don't see it, but I'm sure the story of R;N is gripping for some others. But since we're talking sales, it's mostly superficial things that sell unless a show is a masterpiece. It's safe to say, R;N may be a good show, but it's no masterpiece.

  22. A

    Moe does not make a story good. The weird Girl Shifts between moe and weird, that is enough moe for me. This show is doing what Iwanted all of those 12 episode slow sci fi animes to do all along. Go somewhere. It will be interesting to see how far they go, if gains popularity, It could get a really cool sequel.

  23. A

    Well, Anon. You clearly liked this show and I don't doubt that you like it. But very few share your view and thus poor sale. It's simple as that, man. Nothing personal. Also I didn't say anything remotely close to moe making stories good. What a terrible idea to even consider such thing? Don't make stuff up, okey dokey?

  24. Poor sales doesn't necessarily equal "very few share your view". It means the ones that share it aren't the ones that typically buy anime Blu-rays.

  25. A

    BTW, do they still split and put measly 3-4 episode into 1 blu-ray disc? If so, what a thievery that would be. It'd be like filling 1-2% volume of milk into a milk cotton and selling it for a full price.

    With DVD, at least the content could take up to 20-50% (still thievery), but it'd be an outrage if Japanese studios still only put 3-4 episodes/blu-ray disc. There is no defense other than they do it because they can. And they want customers to bend a little lower, so that they can stick it a little bit deeper. Unlike films, Japanese anime can't really go extra HD or 3D to justify the extra cost for putting into blu-rays.

  26. E

    Their battles in robot tournament may be bought, but I can't imagine people buying the latter blue-ray dics. They don't have any rewatch value. The interactions between Kai and Frau might be interesting, but I am done after I watched them. This anime is way too slow. S;G, by episode 13, already has major things revealed. R;N, in the other hand, barely explained anything to us all this time. Who the hell is this Kimijia? What's with the red aurora? What's with the supernatural incident in the past that granted supernatural powers to Kai and Aki? Why would the baddies wipe out the humanity? Won't they get toasted too? There's Enzo's speculation, but is it even possible to move to Mars and continue living and breeding over there? Even if the temperature become suitable, what about the atmosphere? The neccesity of freash water? The neccesity of oxygen? The adaptation to the new gravitational force? I can't see people living in Mars yet, in the near future.

  27. B

    I'm starting to think I should have waited until this show ended to watch S;G. Now that I've seen it I have to admit that this show stacks up rather poorly in comparison. I still think the conspiracy theory in this show is interesting and I'm glad that it looks like they're finally kicking it into gear, but it's not gripping in the way that S;G's events were. And this, remember, is coming from a dude who saw half of this show before ever laying eyes on a single episode of S;G.

    It's still better than most of what's airing though.

    PS: Welcome back Frau Kojirou

    PPS: If tokyo just got hit I sure hope Kurisu is okay.

  28. H

    A lot of the precision of this show bugs me. The idea that a solar eruption is going to hit the Kanto region *only* is out and out stupid. It's like saying you could shoot a 0.22" area with a .357 gun from a distance of 150 feet without hitting any of the surrounding area. It's just not possible, even before considering the increasing spread of the solar radiation. The other half of the world? Maybe. But Tokyo without hitting Tanegashima? No chance.

    The same problem is what I see with your hypothesis of Project Mars. The idea that a late stage unstable sun could be changed to make Mars habitable. It's closer to habitable now than it would be with any amount of monkeying with the sun. And this ignores the fact that Mars is too small to ever have a stable naked human viable biosphere. In this universe Earth is being hammered by solar ionization, well that same ionization is hitting Mars, without the protection of a fairly robust magnetic field, since Mars lacks the molten spinning core that creates such a magnetic field. Any life you tried to put on Mars in that kind of situation would quickly be killed.

    But I guess if we worry about the science of anime too much, we can't get too far. It just seems like the Committee of 300 has stupid plans (but don't most anime villains?) and didn't think about it very well. The plan does make me think of a book series I just read, Wool by Hugh Howey. Some might like it a lot, as sort of a possible future of this plan.

    Otherwise this story is still fun to watch, setting aside the oddly specific parts.

  29. A

    After more or less dropping this show to deal with life and work, I just got caught up with the series. And while I like aspects of the show, and like Enzo, appreciate the understated male lead, the suspension of disbelief required at this point is just a bridge too far for me. For example, I think Enzo gives too much credit to the writers to think that the Kimijima report flags have some kind of meaning to them. They just seem… lame. Seriously, if you know the world is going to end, *this* is how you warn the world? WTF?! And never mind the issues raised by Highway. But like Highway, the show somehow remains fun to watch to me–the male lead is solid, Kona is crazy-cool and has a striking and weird, but also charged chemistry with Kai, and Kai has even acquired something of a pseudo-harem around himself without making me think he's a jackass in the process. But I soooo…. wish they had not made the conspiracy so cosmic in scale; it would have led to less whiplash in my view between a plot line focused on a school club and the importance of courage and determination and childhood dreams, and another one focused on dark conspiracies and Armageddon.

  30. Do you really think the Kimijima reports are a red herring? That would hardly be standard policy from this writing team.

  31. H

    I definitely don't think the Kimijima reports are a red herring. I think stuff in the show is happening just as they're saying it is. But for the flags, I don't think there's really too much personal meaning to Kimijima in them, just that they're difficult things that you're not going to do normally. If there were some additional meaning, the show is really gaslighting us on it and we're going to get the mother of all reveals. Or maybe there's meaning to Kimijima, like this is all stuff he wanted to do, but I can't see it making up a huge plot point.

  32. AH – was Aquafina talking only about the flags? I never said they meant anything – I only said it would be interesting to know if they did.

  33. H

    Thinking about it more, and more in response to Aquifina, I think the difficulty of the flags (and the fact that you could really only find out about them from Sister Centipede, who has only contacted Kai and Aki) is because of the nearly-omnipotent reach of the 300. It's a pretty farfetched story they're laying out, and we've seen what happens to people who leak the story (the whole staff of Gunvarrel was killed for trying it, Frau's mother framed and in hiding, Kimijima presumably killed).

    So individually, I think the flags don't really seem to have much meaning, just in a 'showing definite intent to access and believe these reports.'

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