Kakumeiki Valvrave – 04

Valvrave - 04-9 Valvrave - 04-22 Valvrave - 04-23

Never trust anyone over 30.”

– Jack Weinberger, 1965

I’m not sure which I’m finding more entertaining – Valvrave the Liberator, or the apoplexy it seems to be generating among the viewers.  And they’re both pretty entertaining as far as I’m concerned.  This show just gets more and more outrageous every week, but as long as it makes me laugh this much and flashes so much old-school animation, the more outrageous the better.  I’m not in this for gritty realism and I suspect Okouchi Ichiro isn’t either.

What makes one silly show appeal to a person, and not others?  Who knows – it’s a strange alchemy that doesn’t lend itself to easy analysis.  I’m certainly not weak for Sunrise shenanigans – I haven’t liked most of the over-the-top nonsense they’ve had success with lately – and I’m no fan of Okouchi’s Code Geass, either.  But this is clicking for me – I find it hilarious and entertaining – and perhaps part of the reason is that it’s reminding me a lot of another Sunrise chestnut, Infinite Ryvius.  It’s not entirely coincidental, of course – no studio is more self-referential than Sunrise, and the director of that show (Taniguchi Goro) was the other major player in the Code Geass franchise.  Infinite Ryvius was one of my favorite series in my formative years as an anime fan, and while it wasn’t as outlandish as this one – and a lot more overtly emo – there’s a similarity in the premise and even the look that’s inescapable for

It certainly isn’t any surprise that the outlandishly slimy Senator Figaro pulled a fast one on the Sashinami students, but that it happened so quickly and decisively is an interesting turn.  With ARUS proving just as disinterested as Dorssia in their welfare, this puts Haruto and the students in quite the pickle –  and L-Elf is only too happy to offer his services to Haruto, offering him a deal: help me overthrow the Dorssian dictatorship and I’ll save your school.  As usual he’s supremely confident that his prediction will come true and Haruto will come a-begging (a peace sign being the signal, though L-Elf has never heard of such a thing – what it means on Dorssia is anyone’s guess).  What he doesn’t count on is Shouko, who proves to be full of surprises.  She overhears Figaro’s message that the plan is to ditch the kids and flee with the Valvrave (and Haruto) on “Rainbow’s” com system – and Rainbow turns out to be Renbokouji Akira (Aoi Yuuki).  She is indeed the sister of the weak-kneed Student Council President Renbokouji Satomi (the parade of seiyuu stars continues with Namikawa Dasiuke, using his Waver voice).  Not sure what’s up with Akira, but she seems to be some sort of hikikomori, or at least someone who really, really doesn’t like to be with other people.

In any event, this is Shouko’s episode through and through.  First she manages to convince Satomi and the Council that she’s telling the truth about the ARUS double-cross by taking off her clothes.  Why does that work?  Who knows – maybe the later revelation that she’s the daughter of the Prime Minister of JIOR is the reason.  After the reveal that Dorssia has taken control of the rest of JIOR and effectively holds the students’ families hostage, she hatches a plan to use the Valvrave itself as a hostage to keep both ARUS and Dorssia at bay, and tells the students about it by climbing up on the Valvrave like Boris Yeltsin climbing on a tank (and to mix our Communist imagery, we have Raizou re-enacting a moment from Tiananmen Square).  Just to really rub L-Elf’s nose in it she flashes Haruto a peace sign.    As if that weren’t enough she proposes that Sashinami declare independence and become its own country – to which one of the assembled mob memorably replies “Our own country?  That sounds like fun!”  And Haruto apparently takes this quite literally, because he proceeds to physically rip the module holding the school away from the rest of JIOR, setting it free in space.

There’s admittedly a moment or two where I uncomfortably wondered whether I was supposed to find all that as hilarious as I did, but I think the tipoff is when L-Elf gets a good laugh about it himself.  There are holes in the logic of all this big enough to drive a Gundam through – I mean, what’s to prevent ARUS from saying “Go ahead and give the Valvrave to Dorssia, who holds your families hostage – I dare you.” just for starters.  I know it, but it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the show, because Valvrave is just unapologetic enough about all this to make it work.  And the sequence at the end where Dorssia attacks is great fun (and none of it CGI) too, especially the bit where the Dorssian fighters (which look a lot like Imperial TIE fighters) do a kind of gattai move to form a massive shield with their wings, and then blow the crap out of the ground-based anti-aircraft nests.  Sashinami as an independent country, with L-Elf hitching a ride uninvited?  Bring it on, Sunrise.  Let the detractors use the “GC” epithet all they want – if they can’t see the difference between this show and that one, they’re clearly too far gone to matter…

Valvrave - 04-6 Valvrave - 04-7 Valvrave - 04-8
Valvrave - 04-10 Valvrave - 04-11 Valvrave - 04-12
Valvrave - 04-13 Valvrave - 04-14 Valvrave - 04-15
Valvrave - 04-16 Valvrave - 04-17 Valvrave - 04-18
Valvrave - 04-19 Valvrave - 04-20 Valvrave - 04-21
Valvrave - 04-24 Valvrave - 04-25 Valvrave - 04-26
Valvrave - 04-27 Valvrave - 04-28 Valvrave - 04-29


  1. m

    This was so hilarious I swear Sunrise is doing this on purpose! XD

  2. And I didn't ever remember to include Figaro's "Call me Moses" moment in the post – that had me on the floor.

  3. k

    That was one of the best scenes in the episode.

  4. k

    I've been saying "Ryvius, Ryvius" since ep 2, it's nice that others also notice the similarities. ^^;; By the way, I thought Ryvius was a great show, and having recently rewatched it, after 14 years it still holds up very well. I don't think it's "emo" at least not in a negative meaning… I remembered it to be a lot more angsty than it actually is, and what angst it has is quite justified. (It also has some of my favorite anime moments, when Kouji has a laughing fit seeing the resident robot, TWICE. "A human-shaped robot? seriously? lololol")

    Anyway, I realize not everyone is into the same brand of silliness, but Valvrave is so blatant about what it's doing that I still don't understand people not recognizing moments like L-Elf's peace sign, the students singing the ARUS anthem, etc. as humor…

    This episode was my favorite so far, it made me laugh more than Maou-sama 5. Declaring the school independent. Of course. OF COURSE. 😀

  5. Well, I don't necessarily connote emo with a negative reaction, and I didn't mean it as such here. I love Ryvius too, and I do think it's emo – if that word has become too toxic now, feel free to use a different one. It has been a couple of years – not all that many – since I last saw it, but I think it is a pretty angsty show, on the whole. As you say though, it's justified.

  6. k

    Ah, OK – I'm not used to seeing "emo" without a negative overtone. Sure, the show has a nice amount of angst, but I think people (including me) remember it being more angsty than it actually is, because the last arc, especially the last episodes, are so intense.

  7. C

    The episode in a nutshell http://youtu.be/-9RuaB3c9FQ

  8. .

    When they said JIOR surrendered to Dorssia,at this point in the series:

    Do they mean that only the JIOR leadership on the sphere colony surrendered to Dorssia, and all JIOR-aligned nations on Earth remain free?

    Or that both the JIOR sphere colony and all JIOR-aligned nations are all under Dorssian control now?
    Just a little confused at this point.

  9. I don't think there are any JIOR aligned nations – it's not a superpower but a small independent country.

  10. H

    I thought they explained that JIOR was a conglomeration / aggregation of former East Asian countries. Basically join the US, join the Russians, or join JIOR. It's not just Japan, but it's not really big enough to challenge Dorssia or ARUS. I get the feeling it's basically Australia in a game of Risk: you can hold out there almost forever, but you're losing the game.

  11. E

    "Call me Moses?" I can really see that Sunrise is making this show stupid on purpose. But. The way the show depicts that "politician can't be trusted" is very normal. Also the attitude and the behavior of the Dorsian army. If you want to do parody/comedy, don't do it half-assedly.

  12. M

    "flashes so much old-school animation"


    Guess it's high time I blew this joint and dined on some Giant Gorg. Bless 1980s era Sunrise.

  13. H

    The show's entertaining enough because stuff happens and it's flashy and well produced, but for me, rather than making me think "hilarious" and "brilliant" and "awesome", the plot just makes me think "inane", "you've gotta be kidding me" and *headdesk*.

    I have no idea where it can go. It seems like the driving force in making this show is, at every time someone has to do something, they ask "Is it cool? Yes? Then do it!" So we have a lot of people doing a lot of 'cool' things and if it means we have to blow off the repercussions later, no problem, we'll just ignore it! That part just rubs me the wrong way, since I don't think it would have diminished the show much at all to take just a step back from that and think something, anything, through to a conclusion that would be consistent.

  14. Or, in other words, a Sunrise mecha series.

    Maybe I'm giving them too much credit, but I really think this series (which is full of old Sunrise hands in the important jobs) is having fun with their own reputation. Lord knows, many – probably most – Sunrise sci-fi series in the last couple of years haven't worked for me, but I think that quality of everyone just doing whatever seems cool at the time is quite intentional. And the result is often, in fact, cool.. I haven't (and wouldn't, certainly not the first one – though occasionally the second might fit in a stretch) used the terms brilliant and awesome, but I certainly do think Valvrave is frequently hilarious.

  15. H

    Yeah, I'm mostly hearing that from other people who think I hate the show, which I don't. Maybe part of my problem is that I have zero background with mecha series before the last year, and none with Sunrise (I think Danshi Koukousei more than mecha when I think Sunrise).

    But I contrast this with Girls und Panzer, which I do think was brilliant and awesome, while also being hilarious and ludicrous, because it set up things that were cool, but always stayed within the world. The far-fetched things there were just implausible or improbable, not impossible. Maybe I just think Valvrave reaches too far for the cool.

  16. Well, I do think it's possible that not having familiarity with what's being sent up here means the effect is sort of lost. Would Blazing Saddles be as funny to someone who'd never seen a Western? For that matter, would Danshi Koukousei have been as funny to someone who'd never seen a 4 girls @ school being cute comedy?

    That said, there are plenty of mecha fans who seem to hate Valvrave too, so it's not a magic bullet…

  17. H

    In comparison, I wasn't a westerns fan before seeing Blazing Saddles, but knew enough about it to know the setting, and it's still hilarious. So I would think I know an equivalent amount about mech series (although not super familiar with them). But comparing to Blazing Saddles is like comparing to Michael Schumacher or Lionel Messi.

    Maybe something I'm fighting with people about is that they don't quite get that I can enjoy watching it well enough, but still think it's so irredeemably dumb that I'm picking my eyes up off the floor repeatedly after they rolled out of my head.

  18. E

    Valvrave is surely the very special giant robot if Dorssia doesn't even bother engaging it in combat and ARUS is hellbent on getting it.

    But yeah. "Moses" Figaro is a total dumbass and could've taken control of the situation pretty damn fast had he used a few brain cells. And are you gonna tell me the Dorssian army isn't powerful enough to overtake the WMD-mecha by focusing all their efforts on it? I mean, saturation attacks do work.

    Then again, this could still have a turn for the Geass-level cynicism in future episodes; I wouldn't be surprised if things begin taking a turn for the horrible very soon (seeing that they pretty much isolated their module from a Dyson Sphere while being surrounded by a big part of the Dorssian Army)… I really am expecting Haruto to give L-11 the signal at the end of Episode 5.

    What I did like about this episode was the obvious cultural shock between Haruto and L-11. Haruto traditionally sees the V sign as a "peace" sign, which L-11 finds ridiculous… It shouldn't be that hard to figure out what it means to L-11: "victory".

  19. K

    I personally would have dropped this series if I thought it was like Guilty Crown but I will still stick with my Code Geass similarity as the series this is most like. It has a lot of the same elements, just mixed around. And not just high school students.

    Of course the MC is very different and with that unlike Code Geass I could see a "happy end" which would be Haruto winning it all and ending up with Shouko. We'll see though.

  20. f

    I'm on record as someone who had serious issues with valvrave at first, but decided to stick with it based on enzo's approach of 'not taking it seriously'. In a sense, it's worked so far; I'm not pulling out hair over the inane plot structure and I get to enjoy the high production values and just bask in the rising proportions of grandiosity, but none of it particularly memorable because it's all just nonsense to me.

    However, I was just curious where the 'laugh out loud' entertainment comes from. For not a single moment did I even crack a smile while watching valvrave, and I cannot imagine that sunrise would have greenlit a series for two seasons based on a parody of 'what's cool' at the moment.

  21. Well first of all, what's cool at the moment isn't the issue. If Valvrave is a parody of anything, it's the body of work that Sunrise has built up over the last 40 years – and what their reputation is as a result of it.

    Secondly, there's a lot of space between full-on parody and simply having a little fun with a reputation. Something like Danshi Koukousei or "Scream" is a parody – I think Valvrave is somewhere in that space in-between.

  22. k

    I can't speak for anyone else, but for me the main source of the laughs is the show's self-awareness and the blatant, intentional absurdity. In this aspect it reminds me a lot of Aquarion, Kawamori Shouji's pet monster, that turned this into an art form, keeping a straight face while throwing absurdity and ridiculousness in every direction, and affectionately poking fun at the super robot genre (but never slipping into parody).

    Unsurprisingly, this was lost on most viewers, and Aquarion was hated for mostly the same reasons as Valvrave.

  23. i

    Is the generational gap in play with Valvrave?

    What I mean is that are people who have seen a lot of Mecha anime able to enjoy it more because they see all the subtle jokes Sunrise inserts in parody, while those haven't seen too much find it unbearable.

    Also new anime watchers will probably be able to enjoy just for the GAR, girls and high level animation.

  24. M

    "people who have seen a lot of Mecha anime able to enjoy it more because they see all the subtle jokes Sunrise inserts in parody, while those haven't seen too much find it unbearable."

    Quite the opposite


  25. Z

    It's probably worth pointing out that Sunrise actually consists of eleven different studios who have worked on different projects over the years (the original studio worked on Votoms and most of the Gundam UC stuff). If you think of like this, there isn't really 'one' Sunrise.

    Valvrave the Liberator is just another series designed to sell more Bandai (parent company) merchandise. They don't care if things in the show don't makes sense, so long as kids watch it and buy the merchandise. If you turn your mind off and enjoy it's senseless plotting and turn of events, cool. Although it's not as if you're really missing out on anything by not watching it.

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