You know, I’m quick to say that Gen Urobuchi is my favorite anime writer, but it’s easy to forget the other edge of his body-of-work. While I might find series like PSYCHO-PASS to be transcendent pieces of genre fiction, it’s worth stating that my first introduction to his oeuvre came with BLASSREITER and PHANTOM: REQUIEM FOR THE PHANTOM - - two insufferably self-serious and boring shows.
(Hell, PHANTOM was so dour, it prompted me to name the Amnesiac Child Assassin as the single most annoying character trope in anime).
The first episode of ALDNOAH was a serious info dump, but the cliffhanger and the twist on the princess’ characterization - - coupled with the revelation that Urobuchi was involved, natch - - piqued my interest enough to catch Episode #2. Now that I’ve seen it, and it’s even more of a slog, I think I’ve gotten a better sense of when Urobuchi flies, and why.
For my money, he works best when he’s coupling his heady economist philosopher’s perspective on a subject that’s already fundamentally colorful. For example, the Magical Girl genre in MADOKA MAGICA and the Ghibli-esque setting of GARGANTIA ON THE VERDUROUS PLANET. When he’s starting with a premise that’s already serious, there’s no counter balance, and that’s when things get overly somber.
(For the record, I feel the same way about a lot of Nolan’s movies, and that’s why DARK KNIGHT works the best for me).
So… here we have world-building, and mechs battling, and nothing else in the way of any emotional through-line. Maybe it comes down to the writers he’s delegated the individual episodes to? Either way, I find myself not giving two shits about any of these characters, nor any details of this universe, and that’s too bad.
With this in mind, maybe I’d like his KAMEN RIDER series more?