Vandread/Vandread Second Stage
Vandread/Vandread Second Stage
Ok, so for my first review on my new site I figured I'd start off with a series that is high up in my list of favorite animes, this one fitting quite well in both the mecha and "space opera" categories.

This anime is fairly unique in the fact that the storyline is largely centered around two separate planets, Mejale/Mejare and Tarak, the inhabitants of the two planets being purely female and purely male respectively. NONE of the opposite gender. To further complicate things, through a lot of propoganda that had been perpetuated anywhere up to 100 years before the Vandread series timeline, the people of Mejale had been told a series of untruths about Tarak, while the people of Tarak had been fed untruths about the females of Mejale (namely that females were monsters that fed on mens innards >_> ick... )

Earth itself plays a role in the later parts of Vandread and a key role in Second Stage, but as the antagonists. The whole storyline is that the population of Earth had reached a genetic stagnation, thus making further evolution impossible. This forced the people of earth to send out colonisation fleets to populate other planets and ensure the survival of mankind. As time passed though, mankind fell into despair and madness, feeling that they were the only TRUE humans, and to ensure their own self-preservation, sent out a fleet of automated harvester ships to "harvest" the people of the colonised planets for certain body parts (Mejale/Tarak are, rather uncomfortably, designated to be harvested for their reproductive organs. OUCH.)

The key protagonist and focus of the series is a Tarak Male by the name of Hibiki Tokai, a guy that tends to let be rather hotheaded at times and let his emotions get the better of him, as the series progresses, he comes to learn more about himself and about men and women as a whole, as well as proving his worth to the rest of the crew on the ship.

The secondary protagonists of the series are three women from Mejale:

Dita: A rather ditzy young female who has an almost ANNOYING tendency to refer to Hibiki incessantly as Mr Alien. She has always been fascinated with space/UFO's/the like and wants to get to know Hibiki better, however she goes about this the wrong way, coming on much too strong and persistantly, resulting in Hibiki often snapping or shouting at her, sometimes in a comedic sense, but also occasionally the series uses the more dramatic side of things, with Hibiki hurting her feelings unintentionally.

Meia: An almost militaristic young lady, she takes her role as one of the squadron leaders very seriously, but as the series progresses, it is revealed that she has some VERY deep emotional scars and that for a long time she has been somewhat of a reclusive on the ship prior to the timeline of Vandread. As the story progresses, thanks to circumstance and the help of Hibiki and other key characters, she starts to let down her guard and show a kinder, gentler side to her personality.

Jura: Visually she is your stereotypical buxom blond, but don't let looks fool you, she is an accomplished fighter in both hand to hand and projectile weapons, her close range weapon of choice being a Saber. As the series progresses she is one of the first of the females to find out about the connection between males and females and develops almost an obsession with being "the first Mejale Female to have a child with a Male".

The title "Vandread" actually refers to the type of ship that is formed when Hibiki's (stolen) Vanguard (that is modified through a set of circumstances shown in episode 1, along with the 3 abovementioned females ships) and one or more of Meia's/Jura's/Dita's "Dread" class fighters combine, resulting in a powerful hybrid fighter, each with its own special ability: Dita's Vandread focussing on Offensive power, Meia's one focussed around speed/acceleration, and Jura's one focussed around defense - it being able to generate a shield large enough to SURROUND AN ENTIRE PLANET.

The majority of the first series focusses largely on the interactions between Hibiki and two other Tarak Males that ended up on the ship (they originally being on a Tarak ship that was stolen by the female crew in this story, who are in fact space pirates (arrr!) ) and the Female crew, while also trying to deal with the constant threat of (what is at the time) an unknown enemy set on destroying them. As the series progresses they find out that the unknown enemy ships are in truth being sent from Earth, and that their home planets face imminent destruction. After the events of the final episode of Season 1, Earth retaliates by redirecting battleships that were bound for other unknown planets to Mejale and Tarak, planning on obliterating both planets.

Season 2 focusses largely on their attempts to get back to their home planets before the Earth fleet arrives to inform them of the imminent threat.

If you are into Mecha themed animes or Space-themed animes, I'd recommend at least checking it out. It's a creative twist on what is otherwise a stock-standard plot, with some nice 3D elements thrown into the animation as well.