Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
BD+DVD - Part Two
After the deaths of their comrades, the Elements are in a state of shock. Forced to see that they must carry on, they quickly find that Mikage's stepped up his plans, which appear to include capturing a woman for his planet. As tensions, both romantic and otherwise, mount, Amata and the others learn the secrets of the past and strive to find a way to rectify the mistakes of their ancestors to make everything turn out as right as it can. But what will that cost them? Will the price be too high?
How high is your tolerance for cheese? Because Aquarion Evol's second half, while beautiful to behold, is rife with enough cheese to make an omelet. While it also has far less of the awkward moaning and goofy sexual innuendo that marked the first set of discs, the corniness definitely detracts from the impact of the show's resolution, particularly when it comes to the series' title. While the answer won't be revealed here, let's just say that “Evol” is not short for “evolution” as you may have assumed.
This set of discs opens on a very dark note. In the aftermath of episode thirteen's battle, we find the characters at a funeral for their fallen, most notably Jin, the defector from Altair who formed a lasting bond with shy Yunoha. His death is devastating for her, and her pain radiates from the screen in one of the most effective sections of the show. If you think about it, the very fact that the school has mourning uniforms for its students says a lot about the sort of lives they lead, but this appears to be the first time that most of them have had to don them, at least for someone they both knew and considered a friend. The lasting repercussions of Jin's death for Yunoha are explored fairly well, forming a sort of warning that persists throughout the remaining episodes and is emphasized by the fact that she sings (and is the star of) the new ending theme.
Unfortunately things get bizarre shortly thereafter, with what Fudo calls “grave training” - burying everyone alive. While it is understandable on one level – as was just mentioned, this is a school that deals with death so often that they have mourning uniforms – it is also very sick, and those who work with children may find that this half of the episode is very distasteful. While it does offer Mikano a chance to really stand up to Fudo, that is not quite enough to make the scene bearable. It is, however, indicative of the heavy handed symbolism that permeates this half of the series. From the “you too may die” metaphor in the “grave training” to the way a butterfly falls off a petal during a purple prose laden speech by Mikage, the visuals of Aquarion Evol take no chances that you might miss what they want you to take from a scene. Effectively, this pulls us out of the show, being the artistic equivalent of a big neon sign flashing “SYMBOLISM HERE!” and robbing us of the opportunity to interpret things as we like.
That said, this show is still gorgeous, with lush colors, interesting backgrounds, and a variety of characters who all look individual and dress as they please. This certainly allows for some fanservice in the form of Zessica, who changes outfits into a dress that looks like a cross between Goth Loli and a Minoan goddess' dress. (Link mildly NSFW) While this makes us wonder whether or not Zessica has nipples or areolas, it also ups the exposed breast content significantly, which will work for some viewers. This is also not the only Ancient Greek reference in the story, although there seems to be a bit of confusion on the writer's part as to which Greek god had the wings on his ankles.
While the dub is excellent, particularly Caitlin Glass' Zessica and Taliesin Jaffe's Kagura, it does suffer in some places from excessively elaborate language. While it does work for the extravagant Mikage, there are also times when it just feels overdone, as if lead writer J. Michael Tatum was having a bit much fun with the thesaurus. There are also a few scenes where the actors sound like they can't quite believe what they are saying, which is not present in the sub. The music remains beautiful, although lyrics also occasionally suffer from corniness.
Aquarion Evol's conclusion is largely satisfying, especially if you are familiar with the first series. While it has many cheesy elements, it also successfully delivers a resolution to past mistakes, bringing, as Jane Austen said, all to tolerable comfort. Doughnut similes remain (and a few banana ones too, just to balance things out) and almost every character appears to have daddy issues, but in the end it does work on most levels. Extras are pretty limited to commentaries and trailers (though the commentaries are worth it for the comment about Shrade playing Wonder Woman's violin), but when it comes to the show, it's pretty hard to argue against the happy ending it delivers, no matter how corny it gets on the way there.
Overall (dub) : B-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : C
Animation : A-
Art : A-
Music : A-
+ Gorgeous visuals, lots of unique characters. Satisfactory resolution and good voice work in both sub and dub.
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