Netflix delivers another CG mecha action series this season with Revisions. This week, Nick and Andy find out if this time-warping sci fi adventure is worth checking out.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Andy, it's time once again for a new Netflix show, and you'll never believe what unique gem they've thrown at our feet today! It's a super serious sci-fi action series made entirely in CG. Totally breaking new ground
CGI on Netflix, you say?!
I dunno who at 'Flix HQ decided everyone really likes this particular aesthetic, but they sure seem to license it a lot. At least with Revisions, we're in the hands of a familiar creator, namely Goro Taniguchi, by far the best thing about Code Geass.
I'd prefer to think of him as the dude from Planetes and Maria the Virgin Witch, but Revisions sure is on the Geass side of things.
You mean because it stars a douchebag of
Daisuke Dojima is one of the scrubbiest scrublord protagonists I've seen in awhile. Everyone in this universe should be giving him a wedgie at all times, and I fully appreciate that much of the show's runtime is devoted to everyone calling him out. Look at that face and tell me it deserves anything less than mockery.
It's frankly amazing how much this show is willing to make its protagonist suck ass from the get-go. His whole thing is that as a kid, some mysterious anime girl told him that it's his destiny to save all his friends from danger, and in the time since he's spun that into the biggest hero complex imaginable.
Imagine you were kidnapped as a child, your life was seriously threatened, and this is your takeaway.
It's kind of brilliant. The standard sci-fi anime protagonist is an everyman who's thrust into responsibility he must learn to embrace. Meanwhile, Daisuke is chomping at the bit to shiv a giant alien robot.
It's pretty impressive that he spends the first full half of the show wondering why everyone is so done with him, as he internalizes how cool it was that someone died near him to make him the most chuuni kid in existence. Especially in the face of learning that all the CG people around you are made of jelly. Everyone is getting popped off like it's the end of Blood-C, but all Daisuke can think is "hell yeah, this is why I've carried a knife to school for the past seven years".
You can't convince me it's a coincidence that he looks so much like Shinji Ikari. His entire character is basically what would happen if every person who's unironically yelled about getting in the god damn robot tried to become a mecha protagonist.
He just sucks so much. But despite Daisuke's ambitions, it turns out there will always be a Shinji who doesn't want to pilot the robot. In this case it's Marimari, who gets the away-team uniform of her EVA counterpart along with a reverse of her personality.
She's the ostensible "girl in love with our unlikable protagonist", but even she throws some
Fittingly enough they also refuse to give the Unit 01 colors to Daisuke; his best friend gets them instead.
But outside of dunking on Daisuke, there is an actual plot to Revisions, and boy is it convoluted. In a future disease-ravaged dystopia, a group of surviving humans teleport the entire Shibuya Ward and its population from 2017 to their world for some reason. But another group of humans with the power to travel through time predicted this and have set up some cool robot suits that only Daisuke and his childhood friends can pilot.
There's a whole scene about the kids being pilots that my brain could not detach from Idiocracy. Everyone just kinda repeats "Why the kids?" "Because they're the ones that can pilot the robots!" "Yes but why are they the ones that can pilot the robot?" "...Because." And that's that.
Look, I don't expect much coherence from a future organization that uses Galaxy Brain to time travel.
Time travel stories are notorious for being either extremely lazy or overly ambitious, and Revisions manages to dip its toes into both problems as its attempts to weave a narrative while also making up more rules about time travel than the entire Terminator series. I will however award a super special bonus point for using the idea of observation holding an object in time without invoking Schrodinger's Cat!
And I do like the idea that the entirety of Shibuya has been whisked to the future like the world's weirdest Carmen Sandiego heist.
The day I stopped trying to hold time travel narratives accountable for their own rules was the day I became a happier person, so frankly all I wanted from Revisions' plot was for things to keep happening at a consistent pace, especially after mainlining Ingress the Animation beforehand.
Oh don't get me wrong. I am super happy with every rule-breaking dumb twist that keeps the plot moving. I just wish the plot had more to it than your standard JRPG future. I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry at the future humans going "We have chosen forms that you, the ancient humans, will find most comforting to communicate with", and then showing up like this:
I mean, the setup is this is their first time creating a normal human form, so of course they're going to look like somebody's Phantasy Star Online 2 character, even if that does cause some whiplash with the serious Future War plot.
Then there's our plucky group's past/future savior, Milo.
She's the one to blame for the mess that is Daisuke, although because of time shenanigans she doesn't actually know this, so she just drops him on his ass after he demands to pilot the big robot.
It's a shame that this only happens once, but it's clear from the get-go that Future Milo is the one who told Past Daisuke that his destiny would be to save everyone, creating this dumbass ego child who admittedly does pretty okay in his first bout of Armored Core.
He could definitely stand to back off his own hype tho.
After spending his entire life shirking responsibility and annoying his friends, all he really wants to do is rub this validation in their faces. And then he gets extremely pissy when they're more concerned with the lives of everyone they know and love.
The series treads an interesting line with Daisuke. His sheer confidence can be a pillar for his friends when everything around them gets crazy, but it's genuinely disconcerting that he seems happy
about being thrown into a death match with sci-fi Bloodborne enemies.
It's also extremely telling that his first reaction to others helping is that they're stealing his thunder. He's more than willing to ignore others getting hurt or even fight his own friends to prove that he's the one who matters. His stupid inferiority complex shows almost immediately when the other kids are equally competent pilots, despite him gloating after using the robot once.
Yeah, that's about where Daisuke goes from amusing asshole to actively unlikable, but the show's aware of this and spends its first eight episodes hammering home that he's an active liability to the people he says he wants to save. Even our villains get in on the dunkfest!
I'm a fan of Shibuya Banksy.
It's a gutsy move to have your perspective character be a total chode, but I think it works because the rest of the team is trying to be responsible. Even when they find out the monsters they've been fighting are mutated humans, they handle it surprisingly well.
I suppose this is a good point to talk about the various subplots that are crammed into Revisions, because Marimari's crisis of conscience lasts a whole half an episode. She just needs to see the giant mechanical flea monsters cause some collateral damage and cry to Daisuke to tell her to do the thing, and then she's right back on the team!
Marimari doesn't get much to do in general. She's sort of the "heart" of the group, but that role also gets filled by Keisaku frequently, so she's mostly left to be the timid one reacting to new revelations without actually accomplishing anything.
She's in the very important bathing scene where girls talk about boobs? So you can mark that one off the ol' Anime Checklist.
Granted, that's still more than Lu gets to do. Early on, it seemed like she'd be our female lead, but after she gets in the robot once or twice, her role is to stand in the background while her brother Gai does important stuff.
I wish she got to do more of anything beyond scream at the boys when they're being dumb. Oh right, she does get held hostage by the most blatantly evil politician, which brings us to the biggest subplot of the show. The local government of Shibuya is also trying to manage being trapped in a future wasteland.
That whole subplot is so pointless that I kinda don't want to bother talking about it. At first, Revisions seems to be going for a dissection of societal power during crisis, but after one episode it settles on "let's just listen to the cops" and never goes further.
I sure do love seeing Hero Cop say stuff like this:
It's especially weird because somehow in this time-displaced hellscape there are anti-war protesters? Who just don't think it's right to fight the future mutants trying to turn them into meaty milkshakes?
I know time travel anime have dabbled in some questionable nationalism since the days of Yamato and Zipang, but this heavy-handed message is straight bizarre because it's pretty much completely irrelevant to the rest of the story.
Yeah like, however you feel about militarization and warfare, the actual bones of this conflict do not lend themselves to any kind of real-world political argument. It amounts to saying "Well what if there was ZOMBIES? Then would you want gun control?"
In the span of 12 episodes, we're constantly told the populace is switching between heroic celebration and insurrection at a moment's notice. Are there monsters on screen? WHY HAVEN'T YOU GENOCIDED THEM YET? Are there no monsters on screen? ARREST THE CHILD SOLDIERS FOR THEIR VIOLENCE! My personal favorite is when they hook up the power supply from the Robots to give everyone electricity, but then when they run out everyone yells at them for not having more working robots. But then, in another dumb twist, it turns out the future doesn't actually know how their super-batteries work, but a few off-screen electricians from 2017 get it fixed in a jiffy.
Yeah, in the final hour it turns out the power of community leadership was able to bring everyone together to power the robots anyway, so it kinda feels like nothing important actually happened.
I was hoping for a scene of old people from a nursing home running in hamster balls or something.
So yeah, whatever points about society Revisions wants to make get lost in its plot mechanics and never manage to say much of coherence. But that's all small potatoes to what happens with poor Keisaku...
Wait, before we move on to the biggest death flags in space-time, I want to mention my favorite dropped plotline.
Is it the teacher-sex side-plot?
Because that was just WEIRD.
IT SURE IS! So we get a guidance counselor lady who abandons her students during the first attack and feels real bad about it. She then shows back up to be super horny for Daisuke? For a single scene???
I think the implication is that she's trying to get some of the special treatment he's getting? Or to get him to protect her in particular? It never goes anywhere and frankly I'm happy for that, because between We Never Learn and Why The Hell Are You Here, Teacher?, this season's teacher fetish quota has already been met.
The next time we see her, she's slyly joining the other bad guy in the local government, other than skinny Dilbert boss. Who is this old man who runs brothels during this crisis to "keep morale up," but also wants to try and burn all the potential ancestors of the future people in order to Back to the Future them out of existence??? Both him and fetish teacher just kinda help out in the end with none of that ever being mentioned again.
Literally the only thing I remember about that old bastard is him trying to pressure a teenage girl into becoming a hostess, so I'm glad he never actually becomes important.
Totally. Whatever they were going for is completely unnecessary, but that makes what they left in even more baffling.
Maybe we just chalk it all up to quantum nonsense, because that's the only explanation the show has for anything that happens in its last few episodes.
The last episode alone completely earns its place on the mantle of "Well, F*** It".
To make a long story short, Keisaku, the resident jokey dude who mostly tried to keep everyone from killing each other out of stress, witnesses his mom get turned into human juice to feed the future mutants, and then we find out why he got the Unit 01 plugsuit.
It turns out that losing his mom is enough to push him through this horny distraction and ruin the
But somehow this ends up hurling his mind into the ether of time, while leaving behind a magic science orb that allows the talking stuffed dog toy (our main villain) to become unshackled from causality.
Everything past this point is basically
And THEN it turns out this was all predicted by the people Milo works for, so she's being sent back in time to murder Keisaku as a child so that the bad guy can never do this. Also, Keisaku was supposed to be the main character the entire time, and Daisuke butting in helped cause all this tragedy.
The Prophecy of Scrub is finally revealed.
I can't imagine recovering from getting dunked on by the concept of time itself.
You know you screwed up when you get a callout post from the future.
From your BEST FRIEND! It's so stupid I can't help but love it. This is the kind of callout I hope our own tech dystopia makes a reality.
So yeah, our final episode becomes a race against the past to keep Milo from doing a Kill Baby Hitler while also stopping an omnipotent stuffed dog in the body of a human before he can take over time or something. Actually I'm not sure what the dude's plan is, but it does involve child murder. If that sounds like a mess, that's because it is, but it's the kind of ridiculous overambitious mess I come to this kind of anime for.
I love the Baby Hitler Time-Space Mexican Standoff where both of them are holding a child version of the other at gunpoint.
Our villain, who is now an immortal being with god powers, is about to lose because he's chosen to troll people in multiple timelines at once. Respect.
My favorite part is when he dares Daisuke to 1-v-1 him, Final Destination, Robots Only.
Hey, he's admitted that he keeps trying to kill this stupid baby and it just won't stick. It also doesn't stick when Daisuke shoots him in the head and traumatizes his friends in the future.
I mean, they watched him die once already, what's a second time in the grand scheme of things? For real, it's charming that Daisuke is such a stubborn dick that a being with unlimited power over time runs out of patience and just decides to brawl with him. Predictably he loses because Daisuke finally unlocked the power of friendship to become a Real Anime Main Character.
Sorry evil plushie, but we just watched 12 episodes to the contrary, even if he sucked at it.
That's basically the only real thematic conclusion of Revisions: we're all the protagonist of our own story, but some of us just need a pink-haired anime girl to believe in us first.
At least until the sequel, when Daisuke and the other ACME kids will have to bring back Big Ben.
Hey, if Taniguchi wants to keep making stuff like this between a decade of unnecessary Code Geass sequels, I'm all for it. Revisions is far from a great show, but it's unique enough that I don't feel like I wasted my time with it.
I enjoyed my time with it! It's far and away more entertaining than some other Netflix fare. That said, I sure hope you watched the dub, because once again the subtitles were all over the place. I especially enjoyed when these lines came back to back.
My favorite part was when they just stopped subtitling the lines where characters said English loan words. That's great when you have a character whose speech gimmick is shouting English. So sadly, I don't have any screenshots of Nicholas calling Daisuke a "Shit Boy".
The treasures we have been denied! Netflix, give your anime at least one quality control pass, please.
Well, I'm sure they'll listen to our complaints with an open mind.