VANDREAD/VANDREAD SECOND STAGE (2001)

 

Format: 26 23-minute episodes in two 13-episode blocks

Rating: PG (AC, V)

Type: Sci-Fi (mecha) Action/Romance/Comedy

American Production: Pioneer (now Geneon)

English Dub Production: BANG ZOOM! Entertainment

Japanese Production: GONZO

 

Grading

 

Premise:

B+

Story:

B

Writing:

B

Character Design:

B

Mecha Design:

C+

Animation:

B+ 

Artistic Merits:

B+

English Dub:

B

Musical Score:

B+

Opener:

B+/B+ 

Closer:

B/B

 

 

Humor Content:

B+ 

Action Content:

B+

Drama Content:

C+ 

 

 

DVD Presentation:

not reviewed

DVD Extras:

not reviewed

 

 

OVERALL:

B

 

Synopsis

      In a distant future a quirk of human migration brought about the existence of two warring planets: one populated exclusively by men, the other exclusively by women. After three generations of no contact except warfare between the two planets, dramatically different cultures have developed and both genders have come to view the other as the enemy. When an experimental ship piloted by men is accidentally (and literally) thrown together with an all-woman pirate ship in the face of a common foe, the two genders find themselves intermingling for the first time in decades, often with comical results. Even more stunning for all involved is the discovery that the Vanguard mecha suits piloted by Hibiki, a male stowaway determined to prove himself, can merge with the Dread fighters of the women to form spectacular new and powerful mecha. Together the three men and crew of women must learn to work and live together to combat a common foe in the Harvesters, organ-seeking machines sent from Earth.

 

Quotes

      “Women are the enemy!” (Opening quote)

 

The Long View

      Vandread is nothing if not enthusiastic. Everything about it, from its mix of calm and hyperactive characters to its upbeat musical score to its fast-paced action sequences, suggests overflowing energy – but that’s not a bad thing, because Vandread’s constant energy is one of the things that makes it truly entertaining. Another strong factor in its favor is the comedy that develops from two genders which have had no contact with each other suddenly having to live together; many things are said, and situations arise, which are innocent here but would be blatant innuendo in any other series. Other laughs come from misunderstandings ground in the lack of contact between the genders, such as the male doctor proclaiming that one of the woman crew members is infected with a parasite when she is, in fact, actually pregnant. What’s also interesting to watch is how the drastically the cultures of the two genders have diverged in their independent worlds; on the men’s planet, for instance, food in the form of pills is all the rage and dull color schemes predominate, while on the women’s world everyone is incredibly image-conscious. Exactly how reproduction takes place is not completely explained, although it’s implied that it’s ground in gene splicing and cloning techniques. On the men’s world, babies come out of factories; on the women’s world, a (generally more butch) woman takes the fatherly role, called an “Oma,” while a more feminine woman takes the mother’s role in birthing and raising a child. This can lead to some fantastically stupefying situations, like two males characters at a party in an early scene who casually discuss hooking up to “make a child.” It also, interestingly, leads to situations where a traditional male/female relationship takes on the tone and semblance of a homosexual relationship in our world.

      The gimmick of the mecha combining with the fighter to make something greater is a clever twist on an old concept. Mecha combining to make a greater machine has been a staple of anime for decades, but this time “combining” takes on a whole new subtext since it can only happen between a male Vanguard and a female Dread. It also results in the pilots of both machines ending up in the cockpit together, often in the same seat in a position that would be considered compromising if the circumstances of the series did not eliminate the implied sexual aspect. Is this implausible? Of course, but this is a fun series instead of a serious one so implausibility is allowed.

      The characters of Vandread are a lively if somewhat stereotypical bunch. Habiki, the short male lead, is the fiercely confident type who never backs down even when he should. Dita, the redhead who most frequently “combines” with Habiki and goes around calling him “Mr. Alien” in the English dub, is the series’ resident energetic ditz. Magno is the coarse, grandmotherly captain, while B.C. is the cool, formal commander. Other characters run the gamut of common anime standbys.

      The artistry and animation for Vandread is a cutting-edge mix of cel and CGI effect which forms a peculiar style which may not work for everyone. The artistry employs a vibrant color scheme and good production overall, though few of the characters designs are particularly distinctive. The music is upbeat and infectious, while the English vocals turn in great performances in the lead roles and solid (if unremarkable) performances in secondary roles. The openers and closers, which change between the two seasons (which form one continuous story, hence the reason I am reviewing them together) are both lively.

      As graphic content goes, Vandread is quite mild. There is a fair amount of violence but it’s mostly on the cartoonish level and, as noted before, the set-up for the story precludes the innuendo that would otherwise pepper the series. Some of the humor would probably go over the head of a younger viewer, but there’s no reason your average 10-year-old couldn’t appreciate it.

      Vandread will never be accused of being a deep or meaningful series, but it is a fun romp. I highly recommend it.

 

DVD Extras

      This review is based entirely off of the Action Channel broadcast.

 

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Hibiki

Rafael Antonio Oliver

Dita

Julie Maddalena

Magno Vivan

Catherine Luciani

Pyoro

Dave Mallow

Duero Mcfile 

David Lucas

Barnette

Debra Cunningham

Parfet, minor roles

Dorothy Melendrez

Ezra 

Ellen Wilkinson

Gascogne, minor roles

Jane Alan

Meia

Julie Pickering

Jura

Melissa Williamson

Buzam “B.C.” Calessa

Wendee Lee, Crispin Freeman

Hibiki’s grandfather

Michael McConnohie

Belvedere Coco

Michelle Ruff

Rabat

James Lyon

Bart Garsus, Utan

Ron Allen

Misty

Lia Sargent

Amarone Slainthiev

Tina Dixon

 

 

 

Home   |   Anime Reviews   |   Manga Reviews   |   References   | Links |   Bibliography