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Vandread (Season One and Two) Review

Genres: Mecha Science-Fiction Comedy Romance All
Series' Year of Release: 2000
Number of Episodes: 26
Review Date: 23-4-2009
Review Language: Dub
Review DVD Region: R4 Available in Australia
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Review By: Bradley Beeck

The planet Hibiki lives on is entirely populated by men. Women are feared as monsters and live separately on a neighbouring planet. Through a dare Hibiki finds himself on the menís new warship when it is attacked by a pirate ship crewed by women. Hibiki and two other men, Bart and Duero, end up together with the women after their ships fuse through the mysterious Paksis. Which is the power core of the men's ship. Now both men and women, forced to live side by side, must face the truth of their existence.

vandread008 This review covers both seasons of Vandread because itís one continuous story and there isnít a great deal of difference between them. The first season doesnít end on a cliff hanger it simply sets up the challenge for the next season. The series is a mecha show that like Godannar (Vandread predates it by several years) involves men and women piloting mecha that fuse together to make stronger ones. Hibiki pilots a Van while the three women pilots (Jura, Dita, and Maya) fly Dreads and each combination results in a different form.

vandread012The story of Vandread is in one way stereotypical but in another unique. It trades on a few stereotypes involving women and men but itís necessary to get across the main theme. Which is men and women living together after being separated for generations. The unique aspect is the role of earth in this story and its plans for its space colonies. Itís very twisted and is one of the more memorable ideas Iíve come across in anime. The fact that Iíve remembered over the years that a babyís cry is the true sign of humanity is testament to that. The show doesnít explain everything about itís setting immediately, it just drops bits and pieces as it progresses. Ultimately it leaves a lot out but I can read in my own logic to fill the gaps. The series ending moves fast, revealing some key details that raise a few questions, but it otherwise ends well. The first time I watched it I wished there was five more minutes to follow what happened to the characters after the show. Near the ending there's an episode that involves American Indian style spiritualism that doesn't sit properly with the rest of the show. While Vandread does have some serious ideas itís primarily about entertainment and watching it is a lot of fun. One reoccurring character is a space pirate with an orangutan side kick; it doesn't take itself too seriously.

vandread026Vandread has significant number of characters with Hibiki being the main character and Dita, Maya, Jura, Duero (doctor) and Bart (helmsmen) strongly supporting. Another character, Barnette, gets more screen time in the second season and a new character Misty joins them. Mistyís character is mostly pointless and just serves as competition for Dita and her affection for Hibiki. Hibiki himself is the typical loudmouth brat who needs to get stronger aka the anime mainstay. However this time around the character thinks and changes over the course of the series. Heís semi likeable. All the characters change which is what puts Vandread above the pack. The other characters are more likeable and Dita in particular is so bubbly and optimistic it would be hard not to like her.

vandread041The animation in Vandread is good and itís a lot better than the last show I watched Hoop Days. It features a fair amount of CGI for the showís mecha and space battles. For once the floaty weightlessness of Gonzoís CGI looks right because the series is set in space. The character designs change slightly going from season one to two. The music is reasonable but seemed to improve towards the end of the second season. This section had some great orchestrated pieces. The first seasonís OP is Trust by Salia and it has an awesome guitar bit that plays with the title card. The ED is Himegoto by Silc and is packed with fanservice. The second seasonís OP and ED are respectively Justice and Yes Together both by Aki Kudou. Both songs are also pretty forgettable although Justice is the better song.

Vandread is series that features some great ideas and a good storyline set in a hostile space environment. While the main character is the typical shounen anime type heís semi likeable and is allowed to change along with the supporting characters. Vandread is a series that has unique ideas and character development that put it above a lot of other shows but itís also just a whole lot of fun.