January 29th, 2009

Counting (Shuffle)

Finished series: Wings of Rean

We've finished watching The Wings of Rean. My first episode review is here.

Wings of Rean is a six-episode series that was released on the online Bandai Channel. Apparently it is a spin-off series of Aura Battler Dunbine. Maybe if we had seen that series, it all would have made more sense...

Aesop is the child of a Japanese mother and an American father... his father is, in fact, the commander of a US military base. Aesop and his friends think the Americans should go home, and they throw a bomb onto the base! In the ensuing pandemonium, two winged ships dive up from under the waters of Tokyo bay. Somehow, Aesop finds himself on one of the ships, and the commander of the ship, which turns out to be a princess, asks him for his help when it becomes apparent that Aesop can use the Wings of Rean! Said wings can be used to travel between Japan and Byston Well, a sort of magical fantasy world, complete with insectoid mecha...
And so Aesop and his friends find themselves enjoying the 'hospitality' of the king, who turns out to be a Japanese who crossed over when he crashed with his plane during WW2. Of course, the ideas of Aesop's friends find a fertile soil in the mind of the king, and the battle fleets are equipped. Aesop, meanwhile, tries to stop the madness, together with the princess.

And then it all turns into a dizzying carroussel of shifting allegiances, unprovoked backstabs, trust and suspicion -- which I'm sure all would make perfect sense if the series had had more than six episodes and/or if you'd know the preceding series. As it is, it was impossible to understand why, in the course of half an episode, Aesop goes from prisoner to commander of the most powerful mecha-platoon. That gives it a rather 'hasty' feel: the writers wanted to show so many cool things and had to cram so much into so few episodes that it all becomes a blur.
Visually, the series is quite stunning, and the world is interesting. There's a lot of stuff going on in Byston Well -- stuff that's just below the surface, which could have benefited from a bit more story-time. To say nothing of the characters: they're all quite one-dimensional, because there's simply not enough time to do some serious character development. Sure, there's the not-quite-romance between Aesop and the princess, but that goes nowhere during these episodes.

Good points:
- Quite action-packed;
- There's a lot of interesting stuff going on.
Bad points:
- Too little time for the plot to make sense.

All in all, a 6.5. It just left us dazed and confused, regardless of the visual splendour of it all.