Robotics;Notes is the latest anime series from the creators of Steins;Gate and Chaos;Head (although you may have garnered as much from the show’s title, which continues the trend of inappropriately utilizing semi-colons.) Manga Entertainment is distributing the twenty-two episode series across two DVD collections, the first of which is due out on the twenty fifth of August for the lump sum of seventeen pounds. Although Chaos;Head was a bit disappointing I loved Steins;Gate (it was my favourite anime of 2013) so I was curious to see what this latest adaptation of a 5pb visual novel would be like. After watching the first eleven episodes I am pleased to report it is one of the more enjoyable shows I have watched this year.
Set in the not too distant future, Robotics;Notes follows the exploits of Akiho Senomiya and Kaito Yashio – the sole members of Tanegashima High School’s robotics club. Aside from a lack of membership the club is on the verge of extinction after the school board reveals that they are unwilling to fund it for much longer. In order to save the club, from dying faster than I do playing 1001 Spikes, Aki proposes entering one of their mechs into the lucrative Robo One competition, with the aims of scooping up the top prize on offer. That won’t be easy though as Kaito would rather play games on his tablet than help out and the club’s bulky bot can barely move, let alone compete against state of the art machines.
Much like Steins;Gate, the main appeal of the show are the fun interactions between the cast. Aki is the spunky go getter who refuses to compromise on her dreams. Her passion for robots stems from an anime show called Gunvarrel, which has more than a passing resemblance to Gurren-Lagann. Kai on the other hand is much less enthusiastic and often refuses to aid anyone unless they can best him in a game of Kill-Ballad, the online brawler he compulsively plays (he’s addicted to it almost as much as I was to World of Warcraft.) In a way the dynamic between the group reminds me a little of the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Aki is a less aggressive Haruhi whilst Kai is just as apathetic as Kyon. Later on the club enlists the services of karate apprentice Junna (injecting some Mikuru like moe to proceedings) and tech whizz Subaru who is the voice of reason (similar to Itsuki.)
My rating for Robotics;Notes is a very high four stars. From what I have seen thus far the series has the potential to be a five star show, should it manage to pull off the ideas it is building towards in the concluding eleven episodes. At first glance the anime seems like a standard cartoon about a club competing in a futuristic robot wars, with Production I.G’s sublime CGI animation replacing the witty commentary of smeg head Craig Charles. Although I would be content with just that, as spending time with the likable characters is pleasant enough, there are actually hints of a grander tale on the horizon.
Akin to Steins;Gate there’s a conspiracy afoot, which Kai stumbles upon after meeting an adorable weather predicting AI. Interestingly the cover-up Kai is investigating may be linked to Aki’s estranged sister and the mother of Frau Koujiro, an eccentric genius who converses in text speak. OMG it’s so annoying when people do that. Looking back at this first collection it’s impressive to see how much plot has been condensed into the eleven episodes. What I’ve mentioned thus far could easily sustain an entire series and I haven’t even touched on Subaru’s feud with his dad or the medical condition Aki suffers from. The well-written script succeeds in moving along at a good pace without skimping out on character development. I’m undecided if Robotics;Notes will eventually reach the lofty heights of Steins;Gate, but even if it fails to equal its predecessor I can highly recommend checking it out.