Reviewby Theron Martin, Dec 29th 2006
The tiny but technologically advanced Mediterranean island nation of Genes is ruled by three teenage princesses: the sensible elder Krone, reserved technical genius Kana, and busty and brassy Nene. When the giant robot Big Mighty comes to their island looking to engage in battle a giant robot its owner has heard that Genes is developing, the sisters spring into action. While Krone directs things from the command center with the help of her Rose Knight Brigade, Nene assaults the robot physically with her powered suit, but it takes Kana reluctantly bringing out her ultra-powerful giant robot, soon named Junerin, to deal with the marauder. But Jin Ohya, the commander of the four-man team operating Big Mighty, has his own problems, and must prepare Big Mighty for a second go-around after being forced to retreat the first time.
Giant robot mecha is one of the most testosterone-laden of all anime genres, so “cutesy” is not a description one normally associates with it. There's no other way to accurately describe this five-episode OVA series, however: it's a cutesy, quirky, fan service-laden giant robot series, one clearly made by hard-core otaku for hard-core otaku. It even goes so far as to have the doll-like Junerin be part of the panty-flashing, skin-bearing fan service, and yet still be able to strike with devastating force with its main weapon – which of course is a giant purse. And have you ever seen a giant robot change into a swimsuit? This series provides you that opportunity.
The weirdness isn't limited to its giant robot component, though. Also included is the costumed “super-heroine” Hyper-Nene, the bishonen sentai team Krone Rose Knight Brigade (which never gets to do much despite a transformation sequence and a lot of bluster), and a cute, ditzy, human-sized girl robot named Rincle who can transform into an incredible variety of alternate forms. Despite all the strangeness, the series still firmly retains the style and spirit of classic giant robot mecha series, which makes it seem all the more like a parody.
Belying such a label is its occasional serious content, which most often comes through when the series focuses on Big Mighty commander Jin Ohya. He is developed as a working man whose duties have kept him away from his family so much that he's grown out of touch with them, which makes him feel much more sympathetic than your typical enemy pilot. It's an approach which feels at odds with the rest of the series content, but previews for the episodes on the second volume suggest that Jin's character and circumstances are going to become a major plot point before the series concludes. His boss, Shimada, fills the role of the typical half-crazed chief bad guy in his stead.
Whatever else might be said about this oddity of a series, it certainly delivers on its artistry and animation, especially the carefully-colored, well-textured 3D CG renderings of its giant mecha, creating some sweet-looking scenes of giant robot combat. Mecha designs beyond Junerin retain the classic mecha look and feel, which contrasts dramatically with a bright, colorful, cutesy heart-strewn artistic scheme more typical of a sugary-sweet magical girl series. (And watch for the purple tanks!) Male character designs vary between caricatures and stereotypes, and it wouldn't be a proper giant mecha revival without some exceedingly buxom female characters, who are given ample opportunity to emphasizes their traits. Nearly all of the actual nudity is more suggested than shown, with the bulk of the fan service composed of panty and crotch shots, and plenty of them. Mecha animation is exceptionally good, while other animation at least holds its own. Overall it is a surprisingly good-looking series which is a credit to Studio Fantasia and the SANZIGEN Animation Studio, which was responsible for the 3D CG work; you can see more of the latter's handiwork in the Fullmetal Alchemist movie, amongst others.
The cheery, cutesy opening graphics and song give more of a feel of a girly series, while the closer, with its great graphics, is a somewhat catchy J-Pop number. The soundtrack in between is serviceable but not particularly noteworthy.
AnimeWorks apparently decided that this was too much of a niche title to sell even modestly well, so they opted not to give it an English dub. The three episodes on this volume are instead available subbed-only on a 2.0 Japanese language track. They did include some Extras beyond trailers, however, including clean opener and closer, a brief character art gallery, and a “VA Introduction” piece. The highlight extra is a 22-minute “Behind the Scenes” piece where Tomoko Kaneda, the seiyuu for Rincle, visits the SANZIGEN Animation Studio and gets a look at the process behind constructing and animating the CG renderings for Jinerin. It is quite an informative piece about the work and intricacies behind such an endeavor.
Kirameki Project's greatest fault is that it can't seem to make up its mind if it wants to be a total parody piece or an action-oriented comedy/drama. This hampers it from being as funny or dramatic as it could be. All-in-all, though, it is an amusingly odd mix of cutesiness and classic giant robot action that stands quite a bit off the beaten path
Overall (dub) : n/a
Overall (sub) : B
Story : B
Animation : A-
Art : B+
Music : B-
+ Goofy fun, great giant robot artistry and animation.
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