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Star Driver Review — B

Star driver stars Takuto, a Ginga Bishounen (Galactic Pretty Boy), as he transfers schools to an island in search of his father. The island has a hidden secret: cybodies, powerful humanoid creations which give their users immense power, but are sealed by the island’s maidens. Takuto becomes embattled in trying to protect the maidens from a secret organization, the Glittering Crux, comprised of his schoolmates, that is trying to break the seals. The show is divided between ordinary school life and ritualistic battles reminiscent of the writer’s other work Revolutionary Girl Utena.

Star Driver did an excellent job at character development— it started out with some completely ridiculous characters and made them into actually likable people. Probably the best example of this is Kanako. She starts out as a young bride who married into wealth and is quite proud of it. She lives on a luxury cruise ship, has two live-in servants and a pet alligator. She kisses random people at school through a glass window. Yet by the end of the show, the creators manage to turn her into the most prepared and dependable character there is. Most of the other characters the creators spent time on become interesting characters in their own right as well— but due to the short nature of the show, this didn’t include everybody. The development was especially lacking around the main villain’s allies.

Star Driver is a fun show. It has fantastic characters and an interesting setting. It does an excellent job at building up the characters and revealing the layers of the mystery. It keeps you sitting on the edge of your seat and waiting to see what will happen in the next episode. But the biggest problem is that it wasn’t really able to pull everything together for the conclusion. I think it was a bit too ambitious for the amount of time it had, and could have used another twelve episodes.

Still, the buildup is certainly worth watching, and the journey’s more important than the destination, right?

  • Plot / Script – 8 / 10 – Excellent plot and storytelling, except for the end. Some time was wasted in the middle with too much school antics and random lesbian enemies appearing out of nowhere.
  • Characters – 9 / 10 – Large cast of characters, many of them with substantial depth.
  • Production – 8 / 10 – Consistently good animation. Nice explosions.
  • Overall – B

Recommendations – Utena, Mai HiMe, Code Geass

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Bones, what the hell was this supposed to be? (warning: angry rant) First of all: what on Earth was Sugata trying to do? He got in Samekh just so that he could come out and then put Samekh back to sleep? Is there some subtlety that I’m missing here?

Then we have Keito. They basically tossed out her character and replaced her with a needy, obsessive teenage bitch. Seriously, she wanted Sugata to wake Samekh so that he could become the king of the world? I couldn’t make up crap this stupid if I tried. What happened to the Keito who pulled a knife on the obsessed Sugata, sucked out Takuto’s snake venom and does Karaoke in secret?

Then we have the Hiraboshi, which Head reveals is a silly game that even twelve year olds wouldn’t be fooled by. That part at least had it a long time coming.  But then they all switch sides and decide they should never have tried to bring the Cybodies from Zero Time in the first place. But why were they even trying to in the first place again…? So it’s everyone against the Big Bad Guy (who, by the way, uses some mind control over cybodies which he pulled out of nowhere and gets broken out of nowhere).

As if this wasn’t insulting enough, we have Trans-Am Wako playing the damsel in distress, who resolves the love triangle by revealing that really, she loves them both.

Once Head is defeated, Sugata tries to seal Samekh again (why did he wake him up in the first place again?) but Takuto breaks Wako’s seal. This part was actually pretty decent.

Then Sugata and Takuto go to outer space, and Takuto defeats Samekh. I’ll just say that this ending belonged with Gundam 00 and not Star Driver.

Both the Cybodies are destroyed, and Sugata and Takuto are trapped in orbit. They cannot return to Earth since there is no space elevator. They follow in the footsteps of Sam the squid hunter, wandering the stars. Eventually they discover their true feelings and marry. Fifty years later, they find a way to return to Earth. They go to visit Wako, just in time for her funeral. She has remained alone all this time, waiting for them to return. The End.

I didn’t think that they’d have enough time left to do a solid ending, but I did think they could come up with something better than this. So many questions were left unresolved and there are gaping plot holes. Star Driver came down to a rather generic “unite to save the world” ending, and I thought that it had the potential to be so much more than this. So I’m disappointed, I’ll say, but this wasn’t enough to ruin the entire journey we took to get to the last episode.

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In this episode, we learn the history between Keito and Sugata, and how Keito helped save Sugata together with Wako. Keito and Sugata go public with their betrayal, and Keito’s seal is broken. Sugata is the final boss.

But this only raises more questions: what is Keito’s power of eternity? Honestly, I have no idea. Probably something to do with either memories or preventing change… But also, what are Takuto and Wako’s first phases? From what Wako did to Sugata, I’m guessing that she brings sections of zero time into the real world, but I’m not sure as to Takuto’s.

And why is Sugata even working with Keito? He doesn’t seem too into the whole kissing thing. I would guess that he wants to break the seals so that Wako can be freed from her responsibilities and go to the mainland. Hopefully he has a plan to prevent the world from being destroyed. And hopefully it isn’t “Takuto will think of something.”

Speaking of which, Kanako has officially become awesome (well, even more so). The creators have developed her from a crazy lunatic, a child bride with a pet alligator who kisses random people through the glass, into one of the most well grounded, prepared and selfless characters in the show. Those episodes focusing on Simone and Takashi are paying off in spades now. (and yes, I shared Simone and Takashi’s reaction below)

Another unanswered question: what exactly is the angle behind Sugata’s maids? They’re supposed to kill him if he joins the Hiraboshi? So who are they working for…? And why did they let Keito go in the bed with him, and what did she do? They still haven’t even answered that. Or, for that matter, what the goal of the Glittering Crux and the maidens are. We still know virtually nothing about how and why they were established.

Sugata, you player.

This has set everything up for a fantastic finale and final episode. But there are still so many unanswered questions that I have my doubts about whether they can all be answered satisfactorily in the space of a single episode. I can’t help but wonder if this series would have been better off taking an extra season. It certainly has a strong enough cast and plot that it wouldn’t get boring. But I’m sure the ending will be satisfactory, even if it only manages to answer some of the questions.

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That was one of the most satisfying punches I’ve ever seen. Takuto came to the island to punch his dad in the face, and he did exactly what he said he would. Punched him in the face. No questions. No explanation. Just punched him and left.

We also saw some tension between Sugata and Takuto over Wako, as Sugata asks her out on a date. Takuto upgrades his Tau Missile to Sugata’s Eccentric Tau Missile. And Sugata finally heads over to the Hiraboshi.

I have to say I was expecting Sugata to switch sides for the past twenty episodes, so my only surprise was that it didn’t happen earlier. Still, I don’t think he’s actually betraying Takuto and Wako. I’m guessing that his switch is a result of his having spoken to Keito, and they probably have a reason behind it. Seems like we’ll have to wait to see out why though – they’re really milking out Keito’s secret rendezvouses with Sugata for all they’re worth.

There isn’t much time left in this series, so hopefully they’ll be able to make everything come together in the end. There are so many loose threads and unanswered questions left that it seems hard to imagine they will address all of them. Plus, we didn’t even get to see Kyuubey’s cousin and the president speak this week.

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Star Driver’s build up is starting to pay off in droves and we’re on track for a fantastic finale. School plays do not exactly have the best track record for transferring well to anime episodes, but the way they did it here really worked as a microcosm of the entire show and a retelling of Sakana-chan’s version. The creators’ approach reminded me of the school play from Gunparade March, which also was one of the better episodes of that show.

This episode was chock-full of revelations, but also a proportional amount of new questions. As I speculated last week, one of the last characters to be developed  is the drama club president, Sarina Endo. And she or the vice president or both appear to be aliens who watch over the Cybodies. I wonder if the vice president is a cousin of our other furry little alien friend (that was the happiest picture I had of him).

The big question remaining seems to be what is the role of the maidens in all of this. With Keito being caught in her naked nighttime excursions, it appears that we should be getting some answers regarding this shortly. The fact that Wako and Sugata are in the same club as the President, and Sakana-chan told the same story to Head indicates that they know something about what’s going on. Are the maidens also aliens, or collaborators? Wako’s ephemeral role in the play seems to suggest that they may be, but the president’s statement in the play about not using magic would seem to distance the maidens from herself.

The actual story was great and all, but this episode was completely stolen by Sugata’s maid. Apparently her name is Tiger Sugatame (the other one is Jaguar Yamasugata, and yes, I had to look this up). Very creative on the last names there…. Some phenomenal voice acting, as well as an actual good and interesting use of fanservice.