Judge Mitchell Hattaway says, meet the new boss mecha—same as the old boss mecha.
Their paradise was a deception…
The children of Tatsumiya Island think their home is an idyllic utopia. They are unaware the island is really a military fortress designed to combat the threat of the Festum, telepathic alien invaders who have come to Earth in an attempt to assimilate humanity. The centerpiece of the Tasumiyan defense system is the Fafner, a mecha that can only be controlled by a select few of the island's children.
Sound like anything you've already seen? The plot of the anime series Fafner is more than a bit familiar, but we'll get to that in a second. Meanwhile, here's a brief summary of the episodes included on this release:
• Episode One: "Beginning (Paradise)"
• Episode Two: "Life (Confession)"
• Episode Three: "Truth (Labyrinth)"
• Episode Four: "Departure (Escape)"
Like I said, it's derivative. The most obvious sources of inspiration for this series are Neon Genesis Evangelion and RahXephon, although in this case inspiration borders on outright theft. The plot and execution of Fafner are so similar to Evangelion you'd think the people behind that classic series would sue, and the Sphinx machines employed by the Festum are nothing more than gold-plated versions of the RahXephon. I wasn't expecting this series to be wholly original, but would a couple of fresh ideas be too much to ask for? Another problem is the sheer number of characters introduced in these episodes. The cast of characters is large and the individual players are often indistinguishable; there's not much in the way of character development in these episodes, and as a result I found it very hard to keep track of who's who.
I do have to admit that the show succeeds on a technical level. The animation (primarily traditional cell animation, although it has been augmented by a bit of CG work) is beautiful, and it's well represented by Geneon's flawless transfer. Both stereo audio options are very pleasing, with excellent channel separation and some nice low-end activity. The English dub is a bit more dynamic than its subtitled Japanese counterpart, although the dialogue loses quite a bit in translation and the voice acting is pretty bland. Extras include creditless versions of the show's opening and closing sequences, as well as previews for other Geneon releases.
Fafner is a joy to look at, but you've seen it all before. There's a slim chance diehard mecha fans will be pleased with it, but even for them I'd advise a rental. As for everyone else, I suggest skipping it.
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Scales of Justice
• Clean Opening/Closing Animation
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