The story of Brainpowered centers around a near-future Earth where a strange ruin, known as Orphan, has begun to surface from Earth's oceans. Orphan first appeared from under the tectonic plates, and all signs point to it surfacing and causing a world wide catastrophe when it reaches its destination above the waves. This activity from Orphan has created earthquakes, seismic waves, and tsunami's, which have battered the land regions of Earth, producing wide spread floods and destruction. The humans inside of Orphan are protected by pilots of robot-like behemoths known as "Grand Chers", all of which are sent to recover strange plates from different regions of the Earth. When one plate "gets away" in an accident and "revives" to produce a Grand Cher-like "Brainpowered", it welcomes the young girl Itsumiya Hime into its cockpit. Two Grand Chers from Orphan, piloted by Isami Yuu and Gimms Kanan, attack and are unsuccessful in their attempts.
From there, the story shifts a year into the future. Hime, with her Brainpowered, is a member of the ship/orginization Novis Noah, a huge floating weapon that was built by the governments of Earth to fight off the Orphan threat, or act like an Ark for human survival if all else fails in the end. Yuu ends up leaving Orphan in disagreement with his family's and Orphan's agenda. From then on, more and more characters are introduced to the series, and more and more Grand Chers and Brainpowereds are as well, and another defection from the side of Orphan takes place.
After watching the first four volumes of this series, a feeling of what could have been has laid heavily on my consciousness. Brainpowered could have been great. It had an amazing production staff and an interesting concept, that, if handled correctly, would have made this show out to what it was hyped to be.
Tomino Yoshiyuki, creator of Gundam, as well as co-creator and director of Brainpowered made a rather large deal about this series being of a higher quality and better content than Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion. Of course, when Tomino said he was going to deliver something better than Evangelion, people began to perk their ears as the great hype machine started in full motion. Unfortunately, Brainpowered has not lived up to the hype. Now, this isn't a comparative review of Brainpowered and Evangelion at all. That can be left for another article. This is a review of Brainpowered and of Brainpowered itself, which, from what I have seen, is a series that had a bright future in front of it, but faltered where it mattered most: the execution.
This story is HARD to follow. There is no other way to put it. New characters are introduced regularly, as it seems the story just refuses to focus on one person. If I had to pick a main character in Brainpowered, it would be Yuu, but that is highly debatable. The concept of Orphan, and the Grand Chers and Brainpowereds is one that has a good base, but early on it is really difficult trying to figure out what a Grand Cher is, and what a Brainpowered is as it seems both are referred to as 'Anti-bodies' (that continues throughout the series... It seems the 'anti-bodies' term is one that is interchangeable for Grand Chers, Brainpowereds, and the pilots of Grand Chers.) This story moves at an extremely fast pace, and a lot of things are absolutely impossible to catch in a first viewing. If the story had been planned a bit better, and actually paced so a normal human being could at least somewhat comprehend what is going on, Brainpowered would have had a slight chance of fulfilling some of its pre-release promises of greatness.
Brainpowered also drips with teen angst, which seems as if it was thrown in almost as an after thought to make the characters somehow seem more human. I only found the angst played out by Hime, and more importantly, Yuu to be overly dramatic. There's an entire child breaking with parents theme to the series, which is evident in Yuu's breaking with his parents within Orphan, and the Brainpowereds breaking with Orphan itself, but truthfully, it is not presented well enough to be an interesting facet of the story.
The animation is also a major disappointment. The character designs are rather bland, and unexciting. In fact, all the animation in Brainpowered, while okay, is JUST okay. There is very little "action" in the action sequences. Most of them consist of flying Grand Chers and Brainpowereds firing at each other, and after seeing similar in-flight battles in 4 consecutive volumes it becomes overused and just plain boring.
The mechanical design is absolutely the biggest disappointment in this entire series. The Grand Chers and Brainpowereds are extremely different from the status quo of mecha design, and I mean that in a bad way. They are way too simple, and most look alike except for different colors. This becomes a problem a few episodes in when even more Brainpowereds and Grand Chers are introduced to the series, as it's nearly impossible to identify which Brainpowered/Grand Cher is which.
Something that totally caught me off guard in regards to Brainpowered is its opening sequence, which consists of every single female character in the series (there are several, mind you) basically flying around completely nude. What does this have to do at all with Brainpowered? Absolutely nothing, which begs the question of why this opening was chosen to open each and every episode of the series. Perhaps those behind the production thought it might help compensate for aspects of the series that didn't live up to its outstanding hype? Who knows.
The music of Kanno Yoko (of Cowboy Bebop, Macross Plus, and Escaflowne fame respectively), helps make up for some of Brainpowered's lack of depth and blandness in certain areas. The instrumentals and vocal selections are simply beautiful on their own, and help invoke feelings of excitement in action sequences that otherwise would lull a normal person to sleep.
The box art for Brainpowered is rather nice, each one showing off a picture of a character and a Brainpowered or Grand Cher. The text on the back of the boxes gives short summaries of each episode to let the viewer know exactly what he or she is getting into.
Overall, Brainpowered is not exactly unfathomable. It just frustrates me to see a show like this with so much potential to totally miss with its execution. I did somewhat enjoy the four volumes of Brainpowered, I will admit, even though at times I had to suspend my willingness to understand many parts of the story. I'd say some people will love this series, some will hate it, and some will just not get it, but what will always be evident is how Brainpowered is a series living in a shadow of a glory it could have had.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C-
Animation : C+
Art : C+
Music : C+
+ It had a lot of potential... It really did.
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