Buddy Complex Ep. 1: Mechas… in the future!

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Is Aoba the John Connor of anime? And now that we’re time-traveling, when’s Japan going to give me sad mechas in the snow? I dunno, I sort of enjoyed it. Is this a good show? I certainly wouldn’t know yet, but at least it’s a decent start. The thing is… with mecha shows, the first episodes are almost always going to be the same in tone and execution. Normal yet not-so-normal-for-plot-reasons guy is just enjoying another average day in high school. When all of a sudden, crazy, motherfucking mechas fall out of the sky and start trying to kill him! Geez, a guy can’t even savor a new class seating assignment next to the beautiful, yet “cold and distant” Hina before getting sucked into a wormhole that takes him to the future. Next thing you know, he’s part of some war. Wait, what? Let’s backtrack a bit.

Why do I like this first episode? Because it sure felt like Sunrise kept the mecha-isms down as much as they could. Even if just for this episode, I appreciate it. And what do I mean by mecha-isms? There’s a tendency in these shows to just get too ambitious with the plot right off the bat, infodumping onto the hapless viewers context-less exposition. Sometimes, it’s done by shady men in the dark whispering ominously about stuff viewers won’t understand for half a season (storytelling!). Another example that bores the hell out of me is when a camera pans across some map just so the narrator can dryly entertain us with the details of a wartorn alternate reality. For the most part, Buddy Complex avoids these pitfalls, and I can appreciate that. The episode does open with a battle between two unknown sides, but it’s short and not all that distracting. Then after a very brief introduction to our main character Watase Aoba, we jump right back into the action. Basically, he’s (obviously) a high schooler, he likes basketball, he’s a good guy (aren’t they all?), then BAM! — action.

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What little details I do get, it’s enough in my opinion. That cute girl he sits next to in class (for all of half of a school day)? She’s from the future and her job is to protect him from would-be killers whom are also from the future. That mecha that crashed down from the sky? The guy (one of many?) who wants to kill Aoba. And for twenty or so minutes, that’s honestly enough. Now I’m intrigued. I’m not so inundated with details that I lose sight of the show’s core premise: Aoba’s role in said future. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not saying that Buddy Complex is original, creative or any of that sort. Just my opening sentence alone is enough to suggest that we’re not exactly treading new ground here. I’m merely thankful for the fact that the anime’s first instinct wasn’t to bombard me with a host of made up countries, organizations, terminology, etc.

Sure, there are also silly things in the episode like a guy outrunning a mecha on a bike. Or how silly it is that a mecha’s self-destruction sequence is five long ass minutes. You might also think that a fancy mecha from the future would have some sort of seat ejection thingamajig to save its pilots from such deadly contingencies, but hey, if we allow such concerns over logic to bog us down, Aoba would never have to go to the future, which is what this show is all about after all. Of course, I do wonder why Hina couldn’t join him as they flew toward the swirling clouds that would serve as a gateway for our hero to said future. And if present-day Aoba is heading to the future, where’s future-day Aoba? But I suppose later episodes or perhaps even the very next one will be forthcoming with the answers to these questions.

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Even Aoba himself isn’t that bad of a main character. With mecha heroes, you can’t ask for too much, honestly. Main characters are almost always boringly wholesome and plain. But Aoba isn’t anxious. He’s not whiny. We haven’t really had much time to learn all that much about the guy, but he exudes an air of confidence. He’s not completely average; he’s good at basketball (I can’t wait till his expertise at basketball somehow helps him overcome future trials). No, he’s not the first confident mecha hero, but it’s better than having the opposite. Like I’ve said above, we’re not treading new ground, but you appreciate the small victories in a genre that’s too often cut from the same cloth. Even his buddies seem a little different from the norm; it’s just too bad it’s unlikely they’ll be joining him in the future as well.

I guess one downside to an opening episode that keeps it simple is that there isn’t much to say. I won’t sit here and speculate on Aoba’s role or anything, so I guess that’s that for this post. Oh, the song in the OP was terrible. And what’s with anime and the purple-yellow color scheme?


6 Replies to “Buddy Complex Ep. 1: Mechas… in the future!”

  1. “the purple-yellow color scheme?”
    I think it’s a variant of the “Blue and Orange Marketing Scheme”. Hollywood uses it all the time. You can see what I mean if you search engine it.

    So an average youth gets thrust into the future with a mysterious girl, huh? Reminds me of “Now Then, Here There”, only not fucking atrocious and with mechs. I’m sure the plot dumps will be given later, mate. It always is. Good to see this anime trying something different, though.

    What’s more fun is guessing how this anime will screw things up for itself after a competent start. Will it gargle to death on cliches that suddenly spring up in its throat? Will the future world be devoid of realism (beyond…you know…)? Will there be a harem that arises? Or will the pacing and exposition really be handled with tact?
    I’m eager to find out.

    Oh, and it might not be much help, but as to your question of why there aren’t ejector seats inside the cockpits of the giant robots (in most mecha fiction):
    I think I realized it in the Armored Core games. In the latest installment to the mecha games you can actually leave the robot before they become your steel coffin. You rocket out and can fly around in a jet pack suit to safety. Thing is, you’re tiny and can’t help but move slower than the ten foot long slugs of hyper-blasted metal coming at you/the mile long blade cutting towards you. Turns out ejector seats aren’t useful at all when the enemy is a massive and speedy metal giant that will swat you like a fly, so I guess most mecha fiction leaves it out.

    1. Will there be a harem that arises?

      It’s shaping up to be more like a bromance to me.

      Turns out ejector seats aren’t useful at all when the enemy is a massive and speedy metal giant that will swat you like a fly, so I guess most mecha fiction leaves it out.

      But if another speedy metal giant attaches itself to you to self-destruct, I think ejector seats would be pretty damn handy.

  2. I think the odd factor that divorced me from this episode the most was just how dumb it was that the giant robot didn’t have a way of killing this guy. I mean, this makes sense in alot of ways, in that giant robots with laser lances are probably built to fight larger enemies, and are thus not really well equipped for killing a single person. That said, if I were future time travel laser Hitler, I would take any mecha architect who proposed a giant robot with zero anti personal weapons and have him shot. By an anti-personal weapon.

    1. Yeah but with mecha shows, I try not to get too hung up on physical realism. I mean, if a show has a serious tone but the characters act unrealistically idiotic, I would be bothered by that. But physical realism? We’d have to start nitpicking every superhero story out there.

  3. “No, he’s not the first confident mecha hero, but it’s better than having the opposite.”

    Hmmmm, Shinji Ikari springs to mind :D

    Don’t have much to say regarding the pilot episode, it looks like a more toned down version of Valvrave if you ask me. I thought the episode itself ran too slow and as a whole, nothing interesting actually happened despite the lack of info dump as you mentioned. I suppose its the way they present it rather than what is has. 2nd episode will tell soon enough.

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