Case;Irvine is Okay

Oh dear.

Uoodo coffee: suddenly less bitter.

Case;Irvine is a new VOTOMS one-shot, set in the Astragius Galaxy but otherwise unconnected to the rest of the franchise. You can come in cold and it should make sense.

As an action piece, I thought it was nice to watch. Armoured Troopers look like they descended from Zakus and Soltics and possess a smallness and vulnerability rarely seen in mecha anime. Battling—gladiatorial AT fights—reverses that trend, encouraging lots of customisation and the bolting-on of elaborate extras. True, it’s hard to take the most extreme AT modification in Irvine seriously. By that point, though, it’s hard to take much of it seriously so we might as well sit back and enjoy the animation. Which is the animation that ATs deserve, rather than the tolerable but rather toy-like CGI of other recent VOTOMS stories.

But yes, that being hard to take seriously thing. Some elements (the sister! the agent!) are a slap in the face. Irvine‘s more pacifistic take on the haunted veteran has put psgels’s back up, and I can see his point. Mellowlink, the one comparably standalone Astragius story, features a hero similarly controlled by his past. But Mellowlink stays much more positive about violence: yes, the time comes for Mellow to put his rifle down, but until that time comes we’re expected to cheer him on his way as he avenges his unit. Chirico Cuvie, meanwhile, deals with his (presumably) atrocity-tastic history by quietly getting on with whatever the task at hand is.

I don’t know whether to hold that against Irvine or not. It’s from a different time, and probably for a different audience. I’ve never been good at judging quality, so here’s a suitably tepid conclusion: Case;Irvine is okay. If you have fifty spare minutes and want to watch some robots fighting, you could do worse.

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15 responses to “Case;Irvine is Okay

  1. Hmm…heard about this, and being a VOTOMS fan, I’m interested in watching in.
    This one-shot was not directed by Ryosuke Takahashi, so I’m wondering if that might have affected the overall project. Still, it is nice to see a stand-alone story set in the VOTOMS universe that does not focus on the main characters (Chirico, Vanilla, Fyana, and co.)…

  2. Having yet to complete a single VOTOMS show, I’m relieved that this will be a bit easy to get into.

    Having seen 32 or so episodes of the original TV series, I don’t take it quite seriously either… as much as say, UC Gundam (which may not be saying that much, despite the serious tone in how I write about it). In any case, this might be a strange thing to say:

    I’m okay with mediocrity in the robot anime subgenre. For this year (and last year perhaps) I take it to mean that there is enough volume of robot shows to have variation in both subject matter and success (in terms of content, execution, acclaim, or what not).

    That is also because I’m a kind of fan that I actually prefer to enjoy a bunch of mediocre robot shows than even excellence in other kinds of shows I’m not as interested in (which is not to say I’m not interested in them e.g. shonen fighting, school comedy, etc).

    • The only problem with this being easy to get into is that it’s so short that once you’ve gotten into it it’s over.

      I don’t know if taking it seriously is really the phrase I should’ve used . . . we’re talking about something with main characters whose names were taken from processed foodstuffs!, and I’d never hold the franchise up as some kind of medium-defining Laocoön Group of great art, or anything. But — well, if you watch Irivine I imagine you’ll see what I was trying to say.

  3. As a piece of mecha anime, it was average. It has some nice animation (if somewhat sloppy fight editing) and some ridiculous action.

    As a VOTOM’s work, it fails pretty heavily, much of Case;Irvine work is extremely grating is viewed solely through that lens. The illogical combat, ridiculous modifications, a lack of “grit”, sister character, the agent bishounen characters and so forth.

    Yet that clearly wasn’t their intention when they made this work, it definitely a piece designed to appeal to the modern anime fan.

    @ghostlightning – Episode 32 of VOTOMS? Strangely, that’s where I put down the show as well. Even though I intend to pick it up at some point.

    • Yes. If Irvine‘s assessed mostly on its faithfulness to the VOTOMS feel, it doesn’t do well. I think what might be particularly annoying for fans is how it does draw on elements from its ancestors—it’s not like past trauma, mercy, and the question of what makes a perfect soldier are themes foreign to VOTOMS—but handles them in a 2011 fashion.

      But maybe, if Irvine and Finder are successful and set a precedent, we will have to adjust to thinking about VOTOMS in the way we think about Gundam—a more loosely-connected set of titles.

    • Gonna pick it up again soon, and especially after seeing this. I won’t say much more here as I got a post on this work coming out.

  4. Another somewhat interesting thing that occurred to when watching Case;Irvine was: presumably the wheels underneath AT’s such as the Scopedog presumably went on to influence the roller-blading mecha in Code Geass. With this show we’ve managed to come full circle because a Scopedog puts on the roller-blades from Code Geass.

    Which certainly adds to the whole “Code Geass team making a show with VOTOMS elements” feel that the whole production gives off. See also: characters that appeal to numerous demographics, totally crazy mecha action, dodgy character motivations and extremely melodramatic and over-the-top villains who do things “because”.

    If none of my HTML tags work, I’m going to blame the lack of a preview button.

    • Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch) voiced Paygan, too.

      I thought Geass‘s melodrama and arbitrary decision-making worked better than this, maybe again partly because it didn’t have the trappings of an existing (and rather fine) series. In fact (digressing) I think it’s possible to have an excellent story which is very melodramatic and features characters with weird, or non-existent, motivations. Though I would say Geass was only rarely good.

    • @Jack:

      It’s worth stating that, as pointed out elsewhere, most of the elements you’ve mentioned have become relatively common in modern mecha anime (or even modern anime, period) and aren’t exactly inherent or exclusive to Code Geass (and though I’ll pass on starting a round of endless nitpicking here, your description of the same isn’t entirely accurate nor fair in my opinion, or at least not when criticizing the overall show as opposed to just the worst parts of R2) . Both for better and for worse, outside of the mechanical animators and designers nobody from the Code Geass staff worked on this project in any creative role, relevant or otherwise.

      Going back to the main topic at hand…I actually had less of a problem with the AT fight sequences than with the characters themselves. They might be a little too acrobatic but at least they were also detailed enough. Give me something like this over another 3-D CG production any day of the week, absolutely, but I didn’t really find myself caring about the protagonist or his comrades. There’s archetypes and then there’s uninteresting archetypes.

      Then again, perhaps one could say that this project was only trying to accomplish two things: tell a new story and appeal to an audience without any prior Votoms experience. In that sense, perhaps having a protagonist who would react like Chirico or Mellow ran the risk of simply repeating more of the same material…and maybe it wouldn’t necessarily resonate with the intended viewers either. On paper, the Votoms universe has more than enough room for many different kinds of characters and personalities, including those that we won’t find particularly appealing. Even I have to grudgingly admit this myself.

      As things stand, both the resulting sales figures and the future of the property as a whole will tell whether or not this project had any lasting impact or just served as a well-meaning but ultimately mediocre experiment.

  5. Pingback: VOTOMS Case: Irvine (of the Rebellion) Kind of Sucks | We Remember Love

  6. “It’s worth stating that, as pointed out elsewhere, most of the elements you’ve mentioned have become relatively common in modern mecha anime (or even modern anime, period) and aren’t exactly inherent or exclusive to Code Geass…”

    I wasn’t attempting to make a complete analysis of Code Geass (as the internet as already had enough of that), nor did I actually think that anyone in particular from that project was actively working on this one. It was just a surface level comparison with another recent mecha production, whose success surely influenced those who created Case;Irvine even if no-one in a creative capacity worked on that show.

    “Going back to the main topic at hand…I actually had less of a problem with the AT fight sequences than with the characters themselves. They might be a little too acrobatic but at least they were also detailed enough”

    I think the main issue with the action sequences was not the quality of the animation but the quality of the cinematography. Especially the editing, which, at times, was far too frantic and sometimes failed to display the combat in it’s full glory.

    • @Jack:

      I’d say the Internet had a lot more screaming than analysis about it, but I’ll stop short of elaborating on that here.

      The point is you could just as easily argue they’re taking cues from the impact of Macross Frontier, Gundam 00, SEED or whatever else happens to share some or all of those superficial similarities.

      For that matter, the proposed formula doesn’t always work either..as we may or may not confirm this time around.

      Your statement about the OVA’s cinematography may have some merit from a strictly technical perspective, but I didn’t find the end result particularly bothersome or lacking as a viewer. The arena battles flowed pretty well and even the last one, despite all the interruptions or what have you, wasn’t exactly confusing or hard to follow in my opinion.

  7. the main character from that show looks like beauty from bobobo-bobobobo.

  8. Pingback: Anime Review: Votoms: Case;Irvine | This Euphoria!

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