As someone who watched Chaos;Head way back in 2008 and Steins;Gate last year, I was kind of glad that R;N had included references for the both of them, one right at the beginning and one right at the end – The divergence number in S;G and the quote “whose eyes are those” in C;H for those who haven’t watched either.
However, R;N’s opening episode did not quite captivate me the way C;H and S;G did. In fact it sort of diverged from the mantra of “getting viewers hooked” right on the first episode. Instead, R;N started off on a slow and steady note (no pun intended), without any sort of crazy scenario happening.
Robots and a note
So it turned out that the opening scene was more of a foreshadowing moment than anything else, with yet-to-be-introduced characters being shown and the completion of the robot Gunvarrel. One thing struck my mind though, is this really the supposed ending of R;N? Where everyone comes together and Gunvarrel is finally finished? Or is there a larger and perhaps even sinister force at work? Part of me hopes that R;N isn’t going to continue down the path of establishing itself as a normal school + slice-of-life series, even though episode 1 presented itself to be (mostly) such a case.
Apart from the closing scene (more on that later) and the opening scene, the rest of the episode was revolved around the daily school lives of Yashio Kaito (Kimura Ryohei) and Senomiya Akiho (Nanjou Yoshino), oh and Akiho’s dream goal of completing a life-sized Gunvarrel before she graduates. While not a whole lot can be gleamed from this episode, thankfully Akiho proves herself to be an interesting female lead to watch with her plethora of various emotional states – ranging from being slightly annoyed, to looking absolutely adorable, and the list goes on. Personally she’s the main driving force behind this series as her character archetype is one that I probably won’t ever get tired of watching (except when they get super annoying).
Kaito on the other hand, doesn’t stand out for me like Akiho did. His nonchalant attitude sometimes makes me feel that he is more of a side character instead of playing the male lead. Come to think of it, I wonder why he is in the Robotics Club when he clearly isn’t that interested, especially in helping Akiho out. Despite giving off a so-so impression unlike Akiho, I have to venture a guess and say that his expertise in Kill-Ballad is something that will come into play in the future. Right now, Kaito is presented like a normal high school student, with slightly below average grades.
In the end, it would be quite disastrous if there was no inkling of any plot development whatsoever, so here’s the obligatory mysterious character who makes a sudden appearance at the end of the episode. Did that C;H line (whose eyes are those) have anything to do with R;N itself? There might be that possibility, although I think that line is meant as a reference to C;H instead of having any significance. It is still too early to tell if that girl/robot(?) is going to play a huge role but having said that having an entire ED dedicated to her is a tip-off that it is likely to be the case.
Somehow, there are times that I forget that this is an VN adaptation which was originally published by 5pb and Nitro+. Meaning to say that I might have written this series off, or lowered my anticipation drastically if not for that fact. Given the history of their works, C;H wasn’t that hot as it wasn’t well adapted but nonetheless still popular. S;G on the other hand was well-received, to the point where it was generally viewed as one of the top anime in 2011. Thus, the expectations carried over to R;N when the adaptation was announced.
However, when I was looking into the VA cast and subsequently watched the PV to get a rough feel of what it was like, I was surprised by what I saw. Meaning to say that it wasn’t what I had expected. Firstly the VA cast did not contain a lot of big names in the industry, save one or two. Upon closer inspection these VAs aren’t really newcomers, but rather they played mostly supporting roles hence they weren’t so well-known.
More importantly, the PV and by extension this episode gave me a vibe that R;N is more laid back and less “serious” than its predecessors. Again, it is still too early to judge at this stage, but I went to check and reconfirm that both C;H and S;G had major plot happenings right at the start, whereas R;N didn’t. There is also definitely more school life elements to R;N, which can be a little out-of-place given its sci-fi and mecha genres.
Knowing (or at least I pretend to do) 5pb/Nitro+ works, if it remotely follows the footsteps of both C;H and S;G (I know I keep comparing them), there has to be some serious business that is going to happen eventually, and hopefully soon. All in all, it basically sums up to – Lacking the oomph factor that C;H and S;G both initially had (for now).