First Impressions – Buddy Complex

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A mecha anime from Sunrise?  Now that’s a stretch.


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New year, new season – and thanks to a pre-airing, the first episode of Buddy Complex is the first full-length first impression of the season.  At first glance this indeed seems like a very safe choice by Sunrise – no studio and no genre could be more inexorably linked than Sunrise and mecha, the creator of Buddy Complex is none other than “Yatate Hajime” – the nom de plume of the collective Sunrise writing staff.  There’s a bit of Horizon tint to the staff list, including director Tanabe Yasuhiro.

If there’s a twist here it’s the presence of time travel, which I can’t recall (I make no claims of being an expert) making an appearance in any of Sunrise’s more important mecha series before.  Apart from that the premiere seems pretty much Sunrise stock and trade – the word that pops into mind for me is “competent”.  The mechs look an awful lot like Gundams, the action is mostly hand-drawn with significant interludes of CGI.  There’s definitely more more of earnest, almost gee-whiz tone to this than, say Kakumeiki Valvrave, which stated in no uncertain terms that it was going for bombastic right out of the gate.

The hero of the piece is Aoba Watase (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), a typical high-schooler who’s excellent at basketball and seems to have a good number of friends.  On the first day of the semester he finds he’s seated next to “returnee” transfer student Hina Yumihara (Hayami Saori), who acts shy and awkward but obviously has an interest in Aoba.  When a mecha pilot from the future (who I think is Sakurai Takahiro disguising his voice quite well)  shows up to to try and kill him, Hina shows her hand – she’s from the future too, and there to save him from the attack she knows is coming because he told her.  Some mech combat ensues – miraculously no one seems to be killed in the collateral damage – and when the attacker decides to try and take Aoba (now riding in Hina’s mech) out with a suicide attack, she pops through a wormhole (the same one the assassin used, presumably) back to the future.

I didn’t find any of that especially compelling, but it was executed well enough.  For now at least the story seems as if it’ll be set mostly in the future – a future where Hina says “Dio is waiting for” Aoba, before she disappears (I suspect she’ll be back).  Dio is going to be played by Uchiyama Kouki, and the cast is full of many big-name veterans from inside the Sunrise stable and beyond.  It’s way too early to say if Buddy Complex is going to be especially interesting, given that we know almost nothing of the plot and haven’t met most of the cast.  Hina’s comment and the “NICE COUPLING” message Aoba gets from his mech when he wakes up in the future (and the OP/ED) suggest that we might have some shounen-ai vibes here, presumably with Dio (not that this would be remotely unusual for a Sunrise mecha show).  All in all it seems fine for the three-episode rule – I certainly have no strong impressions one way or the other after the first.

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“Ano Sora ni Kaeru Mirai de (あの空に還る未来で)” by ChouCho

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  1. t

    new year, new season, new series…a new beginning.

    sunrise is a natural studio for Mecha. even the best match. after all, with so many experience with dozens of Gundam, code geass and so… this is only natural. (and valvrave is only a pinch of what sunrise has in the domain of Mecha).
    and so, Sunrise are pulling out another Mecha series which is that buddy complex.

    it's only first impression, but this isn't valvrave. we had valvrave and I think it's safe to assume that this is just something else. not S3, not valvrave style…it's sunrise's buddy complex.
    and as I said that sunrise are a natural match for Mecha, we are seeing it now at ep #01 with a lot of action. it wasn't that amazing. more or less classical mecha-action style.
    as for everything else?well, what we've seen in ep 01 isn't much of surprising or amazing. it was pretty much all set regularly in terms of characters and story's progression.
    however, the last part did push things a bit further and raise some questions about the plot. nothing more.

    as Enzo said, it's not that much compelling. I wasn't strongly moved by it (and I do want to see decent Mecha). but the premiere was fine and decent. I haven't formed a conclusive opinion on buddy complex. I'll see what and how it'll be dealing with things next.

  2. M

    honestly except the title "buddy complex" nothing suggest or gives this anime shonen-ai vibes like some people said, from OP and ED they are just like Kira and Athrun from gundam seed, the nice coupling may related to how they can use the mecha and even OP/ED hints romance between Aoba and Hina, i notice in OP, aoba has Hina's hair pin which suggest their future relationship

  3. K

    Oh, now you said it, it's really Sakurai Takahiro. I was wondering who was voicing him the whole episode.

    And I don't really think it's going to go with the BL direction. The "nice coupling" made me even more confident that they try to make Hina and Aoba a couple since the word "hina" seems to be the password to activate the system.

    I wonder if it's because I didn't watched any mecha anime last season, but I quite like this first episode. I was a bit disappointed by the mecha's design but they might make an upgrade later in the series.

  4. J

    Well… I'll give it a couple more episodes, but this first episode did not leave me impressed. It seemed kind of formulaic and a little forced. I'm not much of a fan of the Call being as aggressive as it was used here. Things just felt forced, and I got a bit of Tokyo Ravens vibe. I'm probably being too harsh.

  5. i

    I watched the first episode of Witch work or whatever it is that JC are doing the season and within 4 minutes was out. I think I'll take now as a standard rule that when an anime starts with protagonist narration about how he is a normal average high school student until dot dot dot, it will be aborted at the exact moment as garbage.

  6. K

    I had a similar experience with that series. Don't know the actual title myself either. But anyways, I tried reading the manga a year (i think) ago, and like you, immediately dropped it before I got past the first chapter. The whole fated meeting/ "i was watching you the whole time" cliche has been overdone too much.

    Although Buddy Complex is similar, it was more of a plot element as opposed to it being the series' raison d'etre.

  7. I

    Well, after taking a bit of a break between seasons, I've started up again with the new Winter Season and Buddy Complex.

    Sigh…what to say…

    First, I guess the good's in order. The characters aren't "bad" persay, and the music is okay. The time travel idea is interesting and one I haven't seen lately, and I like the wormholes…

    Yeah, that's about it.

    Now for the bad. Wow, were these characters bland! Not one bit of interesting characteristics, boring as a plank of wood, and that could be no more obvious than in our lead for this venture, Aoba Watase. This is the most bland mecha MC I've seen in a long time, and I can already tell I'm going to have to hopefully find more interest in other characters. The mecha themselves are horribly simplistic and bland as well, showing no originality at all and are blocky and kid-like the look like they came out of the wrong anime.

    And talk about no originality, that OP and ED was so generic. I literally laughed out loud at the astounding lack of effort put into it. I even showed it to my little brother, who also laughed at it. We couldn't believe how much they wanted to simply take SEED/Destiny's OPs and just paint over it. We even compared the two finding this show's version of Kira, Athrun, Cagalli, Yzak, Murue, Mu, Badgirul and other characters that looked like carbon copies. Wow, Sunrise, you really decided to be lazy these day, hmm.

    This whole thing is generic and I don't know if it's from coming off the twists and turns and adrenaline rush that was Valvrave and then coming to this, but I was not impressed in the least. I spent a lot of the time waiting for something to happen, for Aoba to stop being a boring, generic, bland MC, but alas, it wasn't to be.

    I'll keep watching for a while, simply since this is a mecha series and I usually give them a chance. Plus the time travel angle is interesting, so there is at least a hope that other characters and plot will be worth it to keep watching. However, as of right now, "Buddy Complex" with it's ridiculous name, is one of the most utterly bland mecha shows I've seen in a while.

  8. B

    I think it's fine to say that it's only been one episode. Maybe they'll start with the character development later into the story. So it's too soon to say that the MC and other characters are "bland" and "not one bit interesting". I'm actually looking forward to this one. Hopefully it won't disappoint me like the other decent mecha series that always being released every season or so.

    Although the first episode seemed to escalate quite a bit in beginning with the typical male MC fateful meeting with MC female introduction. And then with the of a sudden this enemy pops out of nowhere forcing Aoba into time travelling into the future into meeting another fateful encounter with his oh so new buddy (I assume from the title 'Buddy Complex') Dio. I'm also assuming that Hina is actually the enemy from the first episode's partner or buddy. Which would explain why he was surprised at seeing of course these are just speculations based on the first episode, the OP, and the ED (e.g their costume designs, etc). But I guess in a way it's quite easy to see where this story line is heading toward to.

  9. K

    I think my interest in Buddy Complex stems moreso from the successes of Valvrave than anything series has to offer (for now). As mentioned, the OP/ED are very uninspired, and nothing about this series particularly stands out, except for the time travel component.

    Aoba seems likable enough as a MC, and he certainly is quite competent (serious props to him for escaping a mobile suit on a bicycle). Hina seems pretty cliched, although I have to give her points for riding a bike (silly, I know).

  10. S

    Is it me or the plot sounds a bit like anime Terminator? Anyway I'm a bit curious because of some cheesy quotes I've read around, but in general I'm probably not going to watch this (I still have to finish Valvrave after all, and that has the world championship title of cheesy quotes).

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