Aquarion or Genesis of Aquarion is a mecha-based anime TV series that ran from 2004 to 2005. It’s science fiction and employs a lot of elements of different giant mecha shows that you’ve probably seen.
The basic plot is that there is a war going on between humans and Shadow Angles. The Shadow Angels use people as a kind of food source by abducting them en mass and draining their energy. In order to fight them, human beings pilot the giant fighting machine called Aquarion. Aquarion is formed when three smaller flying machines (called Vectors) and their pilots (called Elements) synchronize with each other and combine. The Elements are young men and women (teenagers) who live and train together. The base where they live and train also serves as their command center for battles.
The story centers around a character named Apollo, who is the reincarnation of a fallen Shadow Angel named Apollonius (I know, deep, right?). In the past, Apollonius fell in love with a human woman named Celiane which caused him to turn against the Shadow Angels and fight against them using Aquarion. In the present day, the reincarnated Apollonius reunites with the reincarnation of his fallen lover and, as Elements they continue the fight against the Shadow Angels.
Now to be honest, this is still just a mech anime. So there’s a good bit of the show that’s predictable. I believe those predictable aspects of the show are actually done on purpose as kind of homage to the genre. Fortunately, they don’t just stick to the predictable parts. They fill in the standard mech themes with aspects of other mythology/stories/etc in this show. They take concepts from Yoga, the Age of Aquarius, the Tree of Life, and Greek mythology to make-up the back story of this show. Which actually serves to make for interesting content that’s fitted into a pretty standard framework. The infusion does just enough to keep the show from getting boring when you feel like things are starting to become a little predictable.
There’s also a decent spectrum of characters. There’s the staff of the school, all the different pilots, and the Shadow Angel characters too. The writers did a good job of creating a unique dynamic and relationships between the different characters. They don’t bog you down with a bunch of back story, but they give you enough information to understand why characters are behaving the way they do. It’s also nice that each character has some intrinsic value. Even though it’s clear who the main characters are, it’s also clear that the other characters aren’t just there to be over looked. Even in the final scenes of the series, the supporting characters are right there in the thick of things.
Other than the level of predictability, the only other thing that really bothers me about the show is the animation of the giant robots. The robots are CG animations as opposed to the traditional animation look of the characters. In general, I’m never a fan of mixing two different animation styles like this but this one is particularly bad since the robots move in a very stiff way (which I suppose was the idea). That being said, you get used to it after seeing it a few times and the robot’s not on screen so much that it becomes terribly distracting. Really, most of the robot action is chopped up between the robot fighting, transforming, and shots of the pilots in the cockpit. Which leads me to the next point, the Vector merging. I’m not sure why they decided to make merging a not so subtle euphemism for some weird 3-way. At first it’s ok, but by the time they dedicate a whole episode to a couple of characters “first time” it starts to feel a little out of place.
This may also be the first show I’ve seen in a while where I don’t mind the episodes that were a bit of a non sequitur. My favorite one, is the one where the characters have to cosplay as each other, which ends up being just hilarious. Even though the tone doesn’t always match what I thought it should be, there wasn’t one episode of the series that I felt like was a waste of time or just unnecessary fan service. And that’s rare for me to feel that way about any show.
In the end, this show is just a little above average. A lot of the elements are very standard, but they’re put together very well and infused with some unorthodox elements for anime storytelling. I would make it a point to watch it, but only after I’d watched everything else I had queued up to see.