John and I decided to do a joint review for Dragonaut: The Resonance
Part 1, since we watched it together, but we'll be posting our lengthier text reviews separately-- look for his to come a bit later.
For now, though...courage.
Vital Stats: Title: Dragonaut: The Resonance Part 1
Format: TV Anime
Based On: Original Concept
Genre: Shounen, Sci-Fi, Drama
Release Info: Release Date: 11/03/09
US Publisher: FUNimation
Length: 13 episodes
Special Features: Textless songs, trailers
Disclosure: This review is based on a copy that was provided by the publisher.
There is nothing remotely new or innovative about Dragonaut's plot. The story revolves around Jin, a young man whose family was killed in a shuttle crash some years before, leaving him alone. His father was piloting the shuttle at the time, and as such took the blame for the crash posthumously, adding some bitterness to Jin's solitude.
One day, Jin sees a strange creature try to kill someone and is saved by a mysterious redhead, Toa, who turns out to be a Dragon...an alien who can take a humanoid or dragon-like form. Jin is picked up by an organization called the ISDA, which employs pilots and a man-made strain of dragons based on an alien one as a defense tactic should the original dragons return.
Also at the ISDA is Kazuki, a childhood friend of Jin's with whom Jin promised to go to space. While Jin gave up that dream in the wake of his family's demise, Kazuki still wants to go, and at first hopes to convince Jin to join him. Then when the dragon supposedly attached to Kazuki abandons him to help Toa and Jin, Kazuki goes nuts.
This is the one mildly unique twist of the story, really: that Jin steadfastly refuses to join the ISDA, and between this "betrayal" and subsequently Gio's, Kazuki goes apeshit. Now, the psycho former-childhood-friend isn't new, but it's not where you might expect the show to go based on the first couple of episodes, so I have to give it points for that.
The rest of the story occasionally manages to surprise you with its twists, but "surprise" isn't the same thing as "impress." Still, there's an entire half a season left, so it will have some opportunities. Honestly, even FUNimation doesn't seem to give the story much credit, given the content of the trailer...
Toa and Sieglinde
The characters are only slightly more original than the story, and by that I really just mean that with the possible exception of Sieglinde, they aren't just completely over-the-top standard mold archetypes...they're just a subtler version of them. (Sieglinde, on the other hand, is a classic tsundere through and through, even if she's not quite a Rie Kugimiya-type.) In other words, the characters are decidedly familiar, but not blatantly based on a single personality trait. I will note, however, that Toa-- winningly voiced by Minori Chihara in Japanese, and here voiced by Colleen Clinkenbeard --is pretty blah. I think that's based on the writing than anything else, though; in order for the plot to move forward as it does, Toa has to be relatively faultless, so she herself turns out kind of boring.
As we're halfway through the story now, I'm guessing that most of the character development is through; we've had back stories for pretty much all of the main characters here and there: Jin, Toa, Gio, Kazuki, and Sieglinde. I'm not sure how much there is left to plumb.
I'm not a CG afficionado, but when I mentioned Digimon in the review, it's largely because the CG dragons of the series remind me of the CG in Digimon- which is ten years old, for the record, and even then I remember it being a little jarring compared to the rest of the animation. The same is true here, although Gonzo seems to have tried to minimize it since you rarely see a CG dragon and a non-CG human in the same shot, but the dragons still look kind of silly.
Seriously? And no nip slip?!
This is not so much the DFC loli-lovin' sect of Gonzo that made Strike Witches as it is the Witchblade sect, apparently, because everywhere you turn there are giant bazongas. I do like my anime girls curvy, but sometimes-- particularly with dragon Machina and soldier Garnet --the size gets ridiculous. They start to look less like breasts and more like a really worthless shelf. You guys know I'm not in the least be opposed to fanservice in general, but sometimes it was a little distracting from what was supposed to be a "serious" story. (Ditto for most of the hot spring/spa episode, by the way.)
Beyond that, the animation is solid and I do like some of the designs, busts notwithstanding.
The English dub is perfectly passable, although I prefer the Japanese (as is so often the case with me). None of the voices are so grating that I can't stand them, and none particularly outstanding either, so I guess I can just keep this little section short.
This is not a show that you're going to throw to someone to convert them into being an anime fan, nor is it the kind of show you'll probaly start to obsess over. It can be really fun to make fun of though, and there's enough here to be engaged with, if not enthralled. I would not pay the full $49.98 for it, nor the current Amazon price ($34.49 as of this writing), but if I saw it in the $20-25 range, I could definitely find a worse show.