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.
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.
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?