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Aquarion #2 PDF Print E-mail
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R1 DVD Reviews
Wednesday, 26 November 2008 00:00
AquarionThe second volume of Aquarion sees normal service resumed, with a few episodes that are cheesy even by the show's high-dairy-content standards. That's not a complaint, just a comment, though, as things really pick up towards the end. But first, after Syvlia deals with the backwash from sharing some rather intimate moments with Apollo (no, not that sort of intimate), Pierre has to deal with his own feelings - in this case, of love spurned...

One interesting episode early in the set is episode 16, where the show's focus finally gets around to Rena. In the background of pretty much every episode of Aquarion, Rena usually just sits quietly and floats around in her futuristic wheelchair, with barely any part to play in events - to the point where you sometimes wonder why she's even there. In this episodes, we finally find out, and it has something to do with your neck. She's sensitive to sunlight, drinks blood... If it acts like a vampire, it must be a vampire, and so it's not much of a surprise when Rena does turn out to be one of the bloodthirsty ones - but a friendly one, and one with a few very useful tricks up her sleeve, as she shows during both episodes where she's the catalyst who saves the day. There's a different side of her shown here that makes her a more interesting character than the distant, wheelchair-bound girl we normally see, and it's good to finally see that she does serve a useful purpose.

Where Rena impresses, though, Commander Fudo continues to just annoy, with his cryptic one-liners and daft motivational speeches really just getting to me. He's a character who really doesn't serve a useful purpose for most of the series - until the final few episodes, where his knowledge of events, past and future, is brought into focus and he goes from annoyance to the man who pins the whole thing together and makes sure that those who have the power to save the world can do it.

Another notable episode is episode 19, which is a strange beast, to say the least. It introduces Futaba, the last child of the Shadow Angels who is set to play a brief but significant role - but it's one of those episodes where the animation quality is so low that you have to wonder if the budget ran out. Bizarrely, it's also the only episode of the series to feature a swimsuit scene, so instead of the lovingly-detailed costumes and curves you normally get when such things appear, you get a bunch of horribly off-model characters who you can barely recognise. I feel cheated. The episode itself is just surreal - Futaba is behind it all, with this being his idea of a little prank. The problem is that it's a little too surreal for its own good, and I really couldn't get into it.

But Futaba's appearance (and subsequent capture and death) proves to be the catalyst that kicks the series into its closing arc, and that's where Aquarion once again begins to shine. The "crimson road" is calling for the Solar Wing - and Toma finally identifies Sirius as the man of legend himself, before drawing him away to join the other side. Frankly, I wasn't hugely surprised - Sirius never did fit in with the Deava folk and has more in common with the Shadow Angels, personality-wise, than with the people around him, so this wasn't so much a betrayal as a case of "what took you so long!?". Sylvia's reaction is equally predictable - she's always idolised her big brother, so it was always going to be tempting for her to join him. How her decision played out, though - taking up a large chunk of episode 23 - is one of the highlights of the series, and pretty much settles any arguments over the possibility of a Sylvia / Apollo pairing.

There's some really good music used the final arc, too - not just instrumental pieces, but insert songs as well that do a good job of conveying the feeling of what's happening on screen. The story itself kicks into really high gear, with plenty happening and very little time given to allow events to sink in - either for the characters or the viewers. By the beginning of episode 25, all the core characters are at Atlandea and the real battle can begin.

That's also when the flow of revelations can get underway, too. If Celiane and Apollonius where two of Aquarion's pilots 12,000 years ago, who was the third? He's still very much on the scene. Who really is the Solar Wing? Despite all hints to the contrary, neither Apollo nor Sirius. What exactly is the relationship between Sirius and Sylvia? She feels a closeness to him for a very good reason - which makes his defection a little easier to understand, but harder for her to deal with. All this is covered, in some detail, in a completely engrossing passage of storytelling.

Episode 26 then comes along to do a superb job of tying up all the outstanding plot threads, while still being an action show and throwing in some wonderfully touching Apollo / Sylvia scenes that should keep everyone happy. All the pain and suffering caused because of one jilted lover, and not a reset-button ending in sight - what we have here is a rare example of the near-perfect ending.

Near-perfect, as there are a few flaws. The Assault Type Aquarions, powered by fragments of Shadow Angel wing, don't live up to their hype - we even get a glimpse of Armageddon Aquarion, 9 Vectors in one union, that has its ass kicked in two seconds flat. So much for humanity's ultimate weapon. There are a few other points you could nitpick at, but nothing really serious - for the most part, these episodes just carry you away into their own little world, and you don't realise time's passing until they're over. In short: it's good. It's damn good. Especially when compared to the cheese that most of the series has been made of. Where would Aquarion have rated on my personal top ten if it had been this good throughout? Right at the top. As it is, overall it's a guilty pleasure, but the closing episodes are almost classic material.

It's often possible to tell how much I enjoyed the ending of a series by how many screenshots end up in the review. When I finished watching the final three episodes of Aquarion, I had to spend a while going through the shots I'd taken and turfing out the "poor" ones. I was still left with a lot that made it into the review - guess what that means. Okay, so "Aquaricrack" has for most of the series been so bad it's good, but when it's reached its major arcs it's been really good. Highly recommended.

Rating - ****