Title: Star Driver
Genre: Action (Romance?)
Summary: On a cross-shaped island in the South, a mysterious and gigantic humanoid robot known as the “Cybody” is discovered sealed in the underground ruins for untold ages. A group known as the “Order of the Glittering Star Cross” attempts to remove the seal by abducting a girl named Wako Agemaki, who they dubbed the “shrine maiden” and is the key to activating the robot. A boy named Takuto Tsunashi arrives with his own Cybody named Tauburn to rescue Wako. Thus begins a struggle to unlock the secrets of the advanced technology and prevent disaster.
Review: So I wanted to save this review till last because I had a lot of difficulty giving it a rating. I suppose it was more “Oh God I’ll leave this till last because I’m so confused” rather than a casual decision. However, after weeks of pondering and re-watching I believe I have finally come up with a deserving score. From my first look you probably saw me bashing this anime for its lame lines and repetitive nature. While the repetition got a little better and the corny lines made more sense later on, the creators held of till the very end. Seriously, they held off till the last two episodes to explain everything.
The art style for Star Driver was amazing. I loved everything about it. The character designs, battles, backgrounds, lighting, shading, all of it. The colors were rich and varying. While many anime excel at certain time frames (such as day, sunset, or night), Star Driver had all their bases covered. They did a great job bringing back old style anime with a fresh look. What I mean by that is they stuck with traditional hand drawn anime. I’m sad to say that having hand drawn battle scenes is becoming rarer. Many fight scenes, especially mech battles, are done in CG. However, Star Driver kept to the roots and showed what true anime art style is all about. I’m pleased to say that the fight scenes were the best of the series. Not only were they action packed, but the art behind it really took it above and beyond. Watching Galactic Pretty Boy’s mech break time and space as it entered was always exciting to watch. The fight scenes had everything from lasers to good-ol’-fashioned punches. Just as I thought the fights couldn’t look any cooler they brought out the final episode, the most epic battle of the Winter season. My mind was completely blown away watching the well choreographed fight. The entire fight was a visual masterpiece. Even if you don’t plan to watch the entire series at least watch the final episode for the fight alone. It was really that amazing.
The story is what had me wondering what rating to give this anime. At first I was rather into it, even though they did have some pretty lame dialogue (“Glittering Star!”). After watching a few episodes it began to bore me. It was as though each episode was a cut and paste of the last. The audience was presented with maybe 15 minutes of new material (which sometimes seemed irrelevant) and 15 minutes of the same thing. The fights started to get boring because it all ended in the same manner: Takuto would get thrown into Zero Time, summon his mech, transform into the Galactic Pretty Boy, start to lose the fight then miraculously win in the end. The battles were usually entertaining to watch, but the transformation sequence got old quick. They wouldn’t even cut any parts out. They would show the entire thing over and over again. I swear if they combined all the shots of him transforming I’m sure it would add up to two full episodes. Moving on before I get ranty, the backstories were pretty cool. Most of the anime was spent with character development (as I learned later on). As the story progressed I felt that it was moving away from action and more toward romance. Most of the final half of Star Driver was spent between the struggle of who Wako liked. Does she like her fated husband? Or the new hero? Quite frankly I still don’t care because I didn’t think it was that big an issue. A few problems I had with the story mainly had to do with the Cybodies. The anime throws you into the middle of a story so there isn’t much time for explanations. From what I gathered these Cybodies can be used multiple times unless destroyed by another Cybody (makes sense). At first the pilots seemed to be really into fighting and defeating the Galactic Pretty Boy, but that soon changed after their defeats. It was as though there was no major consequence to losing, the students just went back to their normal high school lives. I suppose that’s easier to deal with than having your fellow classmates dying left to right, but kind of kills the adrenaline rush of battle. Later in the series the pilots discover that they can reactivate their Cybodies at the risk of their own life. From what I recall it had a 50% fail rate which would result in the death of the pilot. I also recall no one actually dying. For a 50% fail rate you would think one of them would at least fall ill. Sorry if this is a spoiler to you, but it gets me extremely irritated. Seriously who calculated the mortality rate of reactivating a Cybody? Did they just throw out a random percentage just in case some DID die? Liability issues I suppose. I was also curious how it took people so long to find out who was part of the Glittering Star. Their costumes weren’t that elaborate to hide their identity. Now then, after all this ranting about how none of the fights or character development matter, all of it was finally explained in the final episode. What I thought of lame and corny is actually MEANT to be lame and corny for humor. Yeah, who knew? The series made it seem like it was all completely serious until it points out how childish it is. I guess I was laughing for all the wrong reasons this whole time. The result of breaking the seals was also explained in the final episode. I still wonder what motivation the Glittering Star actually had, but all is well until a psycho who wants to destroy the planet comes along. All-in-all Star Driver is one of those series that needs to be watched all the way through to be fully appreciated. If you cut it short then you will probably leave disappointed.
The soundtrack for Star Driver was pretty good. I enjoyed the in-episode singing done by the various characters. The first song that pulled me in was by Haruka Tomatsu – Monochrome. It is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard. Her voice is magnificent and the beat is entrancing. The same goes for many of the other songs that are sung later in the series, but nothing compares to Monochrome. The opening and ending weren’t bad. If I had to choose I would say the second opening was the best of the lot, but they all sounded rather similar to me. I’m probably not going to be getting the entire OST at least.
Final statements: If you plan to watch Star Driver stick with it till the end. The series seems pointless and childish at first, but it comes together in one epic battle. I had a few problems with it, and didn’t consider it enjoyable the whole way through so that is the reason I dropped the score so low. Still managed to keep a low priority watch so give it a go if you have to time.