Shelf Life
Heavy Object Part 2

by Paul Jensen,

Now that we've had a week to revel in the returns of Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia, we're finally starting to get some good new stuff this season. Give Re:CREATORS a shot if you're in the mood for an action show, and take a look at KADO - The Right Answer if you're feeling like something a little more cerebral. But before you do any of that, we've got this week's physical releases to cover. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Heavy Object part 2

On Shelves This Week

Is the Order a Rabbit?? - Season 2 BD, DVD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98|$49.98
Currently cheapest at: $36.29 Barnes and Noble|$32.49 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Cocoa, Chino, and the rest of the girls from the Rabbit House coffee shop return for another season of everyday adventures.

Extra: I reviewed the first season of this series a while back, and I'd expect this sequel to be more of the same. You'll find both seasons streaming on Crunchyroll and The Anime Network.

Toriko - Parts 1-4 DVD
Funimation - 1250 min - Hyb - MSRP $44.98
Currently cheapest at: $32.84 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Legendary gourmet hunter Toriko travels the world, battling rare beasts in order to turn them into mouth-watering meals.

Extra: We have a lot of review coverage for this series, including a couple of takes on the first part here and here. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Shelf Life Reviews

I'm back on board the mecha train this week with a review of the second half of Heavy Object.

To Heavy Object's credit, it tries to improve on its core formula in its second half. The series plays around with some more dramatic storylines and brings in some new characters to support its overworked main cast. The results are mixed, with some satisfying story arcs and some that fizzle out in a hurry. It's also still a very specialized series, and one that will only really work for viewers with an eye for geeky mechanical details. Put all of that together and you get a second half that's a little better than the first, put not quite impressive enough to win over a wider audience.

Battlefield buddies Qwenthur and Havia continue their frontline adventures, helping Milinda and the Baby Magnum defeat a variety of enemy Objects. Unfortunately, the guys' unconventional tactics have caught the world's attention, and not everyone wants to see them succeed. The crew has to contend with old rivals, a rogue Object pilot from their own country, and a shady international conspiracy, all while dodging plenty of gunfire and plasma blasts.

The addition of some new villains, along with the return of some old ones, mainly serves to fill in the big picture of the world around the main characters. We get a better sense of how the powers that be are responding to the idea of humans destroying Objects. This pushes the stakes a little higher, with some minor character deaths and a more consistent threat of civilian casualties. The writing isn't always up to the task, and some of the story arcs turn out to be all bark and no bite. It certainly doesn't help that the baddies have some truly ridiculous names, including gems like Sladder Honeysuckle and Prizewell City Slicker. Even so, there's some good stuff in here. The new narrative twists help to freshen up the usual formula, and the last few episodes are some of Heavy Object's best.

One definite improvement is the introduction of some new supporting characters, which means Qwenthur and Havia no longer have to carry entire episodes on their own. Rival Object pilot Ohoho returns for a couple of appearances, and she manages to be reasonably entertaining as she clashes with Qwenthur and Milinda. The team's grumpy chief mechanic Ayami also gets some more screen time as the series fills in her backstory. The best of the lot, however, may be the Battlefield Cleaning Service, a group of mercenaries in maid outfits who completely steal the show in a late story arc. As ridiculous as they sound on paper, they're a fun addition to the series.

Of course, at its core, this is still the same old Heavy Object. If you're going to watch this series, it's probably going to be for its particular style of mecha action. There's always some kind of weak point on the enemy Objects for Qwenthur and Havia to exploit, and the battles are all about whether or not they can find that weakness in time. If you enjoy that engineering-focused approach enough to sit through all the technobabble, then it's probably going to be worth your time. The fanservice is also still present, although the series is less blatant and clumsy about it in this set than it is in the first half.

The visuals were one of the few areas where Heavy Object didn't really need to improve, so I suppose it comes as good news that they're about the same here as they were in earlier episodes. Mechanical details and big explosions are still the show's visual highlights, which seems appropriate enough for a title in this genre. Funimation's English dub also remains competent, though it continues to stumble with some of the denser blocks of expository dialogue. Extras include a commentary track for episode 23, along with clean versions of the new opening and closing sequences.

Heavy Object takes a modest step forward in its second half, refining its basic formula through a process of trial and error. It ends strong, but I don't think it's enough of an improvement to recommend the series to an audience outside of its target demographic. I like it because I'm a big mecha dork, but your mileage will vary depending on your own tastes.

That wraps up the review section for this week. Thanks for reading!

This week's shelves are from Molly:

"My name is Molly. Been reading this column for a while, and decided it was finally time to send in a submission. I'm 26, and my fandom started with Pokémon, went strong around the time of daytime Toonami, waned for a few years, and recently revived after I watched JJBA on a whim. My tastes are a little split between anime/manga and American/European comics- I just look at manga as part of a larger comics fandom.

Not pictured: Our video game collection is spread out between me and my brother, so I'll get a picture of that eventually. (Unsurprisingly, a lot of Pokémon games.) Until then, enjoy!"

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Sounds like we got into the anime/manga scene at about the same time. I have those same ADV volumes of Azumanga Daioh on my own shelves! Thanks for sharing!

If you'd like to show off your own anime and manga collection, send me your photos at [email protected]!

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