Reviewby Theron Martin, Aug 30th 2011
Allison & Lillia Generation 2
Sixteen years have passed and Allison is now a Major in the Roxche Air Force who serves as an ace test pilot. The focus of the story, though, shifts to her spunky 15-year-old daughter Lillia, who is blissfully unaware that the handsome Sou Beil diplomatic liaison who dates her mother, one Major Travas, is actually her father Will, whom she has long believed died in an accident before her birth. She is also unaware that her Ikstovan childhood friend Treize is not the innkeeper's son that he claims to be but is instead the secret twin brother of Princess Merielle, heir to the Ikstovan throne (which, of course, makes him the son of Fiona and Carr Benedict, who are now Queen and Royal Consort, respectively). Lillia also remains dense to Treize's growing romantic interest in her, but that does not prevent her and Treize from becoming involved in a series of dangerous adventures – one involving a sightseeing flight gone awry, another involving a hostage incident during a winter holiday, and a third involving a complex scheme on a train – as Treize tries to find the right way to confess to Lillia. After all, if Treize does not eventually claim Lillia as a bride then he must marry Sou Beil's Princess Matilda when he turns 20.
The second half of Allison and Lillia quickly establishes a truth strongly hinted at by the very end of the first half: it is a true generational story, one where the focus of the second half shifts to the children of the two prominent couples (Allison and Will, Benedict and Fiona) in the first half. The gimmick works because the writing makes two basic but very smart decisions: the originals are still involved (albeit in older form and in supporting rather than leading roles) and new characters Lillia and Treize are not just carbon copies of them.
In fact, the neatest aspect of the second thirteen episodes is seeing Allison and Will all grown up, something that rarely happens in anime series focused on teen heroes. Allison may still be a bit of a flake, but the reckless exuberance she showed in her younger years has been tempered by responsibility and more steadfast confidence. She continues to be as congenial as ever, but she also clearly shows on several occasions that she is quite capable in a crisis and no one to be messed with when her daughter's safety is at stake. The intelligent and serious-minded thoughtfulness that Will showed in his teen years has, as Major Travas, been enhanced by assertiveness and force of personality that make him well-suited to leading what is essentially a covert ops team. He is not the kind of guy that you would want to have against you in any crisis situation.
Their successors as co-leads are not as fresh but still eminently likable. Treize is a low-key, responsible guy who has taken over Allison's role as the one to jump into action and the one who has difficulty elevating his clueless opposite-gender friend to a romantic level. His reticence on the romantic front gives him more the feel of a typical teen romantic comedy lead, however. Lillia inherits her mother's energy and outgoing personality but replaces Allison's action hero inclinations with a more girlish spunk which decidedly leans in a tsundere direction but does not quite go that far. She is more of a classic: the high-spirited heroine who has a knack for unwittingly getting herself in potentially deadly trouble and thus needing to be rescued. She does, however, provide everyone else (especially Treize) with plenty of opportunities to be heroic and have a couple of good comedy moments, such as her description of the “blond monster” (i.e. Allison) who used to frighten her for fun when she was a kid. Amongst recurring supporting characters, Princess Mireille's behavior seems too mercurial for her to be convincing as the properly-chosen of the twins to be Fiona's successor, but the more stable and mature Princess Matilda impresses more. Major Travas's right-hand woman Ann is a likable character whose backstory is uncomfortably clunked in but never really resolved in the end, while the old couple who work as Ikstovan security agents are a delight.
As with the first half, these episodes break down into three story arcs, each of which animates two of the original Lillia and Treize novels. All three take the same approach as the first half's story arcs: they base the story in a classic adventure feel and flavor it with small doses of humor and light romance, only these arcs also give the parents a lot to do while the youngsters are getting into all kinds of trouble. The middle arc directly spins off of the middle Allison and Will arc, while the other arcs have more peripheral connections to events in Allison and Will's era. (Two of the characters that Lillia and/or Treize encounter are children of characters their parents encountered at the same age, for instance.) The first arc has some interesting ideas and the complexity of the scheme in the third arc is greater than most, but all of the arcs also suffer from minor to major plot holes and the story resolution at the end feels a little too rushed to be fully satisfying. That does not, however, prevent them from being fun and involving tales.
Madhouse's artistic effort in the second half does not have the glaring perspective flaws that occasionally popped up in the first half and does a better job of integrating CG animation of planes, trains, and automobiles with regular animation; one late sequence involving a plane dodging through trees in a forest is especially well-handled, if perhaps unrealistic. The biggest artistic accomplishment is the effectiveness with which the animators age Allison and Will; Allison was quite cute as a teen but is impressively extrapolated into a very pretty mid-30s woman, while Will is shown as eventually filling out into a solid, handsome man. Benedict, contrarily, looks dorky in that moustache and goatee, while Fiona takes on a slightly more mature cast but doesn't change much. Amongst new characters, Treize has a boyishly handsome (if fairly typical) look about him which resembles his mother's, while Lillia has more of an old-school girlish look which properly combines features from both of her parents. (Her hair is also distinctly darker than in the DVD case cover art.) She is amazingly cute in scenes where she is shown sleeping, something which Madhouse's staff seems to have recognized since such scenes come up fairly often, and is allowed a very broad wardrobe over the course of the series, while Treize pretty much always wears the same thing. Other new characters vary widely in visual appeal, with Merielle's snaggletooth seeming out of place in a series that otherwise does not proscribe much to typical anime stylistic conventions. Background art and general animation are typically respectable, but this is, overall, not one of Madhouse's finest visual efforts.
The musical score in this half does not come on quite as heavy as it sometimes does in the first half, resulting in more evenly effective support for the action, drama, and light-hearted scenes. The European folk music-themed opening song “Tameiki no Hashi” remains, though its visuals have been updated to focus on Lillia and Trieze and reflect events that take place in the second half. It still, however, remains as a particularly strong choice. The closer likewise maintains the same song but updates its visuals.
Like its first half, the second half also does not have an English dub, but its Japanese cast has some interesting developments. Allison and Will both get new seiyuu to reflect the aging of their characters, while the prolific Nana Mizuki, who voiced the teen version of Allison, shifts to voicing Lillia in this half and does successfully make her sound at least a little different than her mother. The seiyuu for Benedict and Fiona remain constant, but they were both older characters to begin with.
Sentai Filmworks releases this set with its thirteen episodes spread across two disks. The first disk also has clean versions of the updated opener and closer for Extras, but nothing else. Subtitles are error-free.
Ultimately, the entire Allison and Lillia series is a stylistic aberration as anime series go. It steps outside of most common anime conventions to tell a clean, pleasant action/romance story which packs plenty of light-hearted moments but sees no need to be exorbitantly flashy. While this set does carry a TV-14 rating for violence, there is nothing particularly graphic about it and it does not carries even a whiff of fan service (unless early 20th century planes and vehicles are your thing, of course). Its throwback storytelling style may make it more of a fringe title, but if you enjoyed the first half then nothing in the second half should prevent you from enjoying this half, too.
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B+
+ Seeing the first half's heroes all grown up (and still involved) is a delight, entertaining central duo, no glaring artistic errors.
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