An epic space drama war romantic comedy with big robots and an even bigger cast. It has plenty of fans, but Iím not really one of them.
Thereís the protagonist with an Under Seige complex (he insists heís a cook rather than a soldier!) and who ends up with a very complicated romantic situation, the ditsy shipís captain whoís head over heels for him, a cynical child genius science officer and some eccentric mech-pilots are just the beginning of the varied crew of the Nadesico; the most advanced battleship the Earth forces have. And in fact it is owned by the civilian corporation Nergal Heavy Industries who work rokily with the military against the threat known only as the Jovian Lizards who Earth has been at war with for several years now. There are plot twists galore and a lot of it seems to revolved around anime! Thatís right, many of the crew are anime fans! And so with a mega-battleship and some big robots the convoluted saga begins.
While Iím not a fan of this show I have to admit it is commendably brave in the way it tells itís story. One of the main characters is killed in the first few episodes, each side has plenty more to them than first meets the eye and it doesnít shirk from giving us heroes who arenít always right and situations where right is very subjective. I like stuff like that, but I just canít get into it. The cast is large and in the end only a few characters stand out in my mind after watching again, Mech-pilot Ryoko and child prodigy Ruri being characters I really liked. The pity is that I couldnít stand the two leads. Akito is a typical wuss in the style of Tenchi (Tenchi Muyo) and Kazuki (Dual!) but he rarely gets to shine as a charater the way they can and when he does it seems like theyíre powering him up just to make something interesting of him. Likewise Yurika really annoys me. Sheís a capable enough captain when it matters but the rest of the time sheís like a blind broken record that was fun for the first few episodes but got old very fast.
The mech designs here arenít ones I like either. Thereís nothing particularly interesting about them and since I like my mech stuff to have more to the big robot action in terms of inventiveness and character reaction (from inside the mechs that is) I ended up pretty bored during some of those fights. A shame because as I mentioned one of my favourite characters here is one of the pilots. Another down point I found was the anime obsession. Itís fine and adds some fun to the proceedings but by the end it just gets taken too far. It would have worked much better if they had underplayed it a little because it seems too silly to be taken seriously and isnít funny by the time it becomes important. That said though it isnít all bad and the character-centric episodes for many of the cast (barring the two leads) are enjoyable and nicely explored. Likewise as I said it has an edgy storytelling method and the balance between comedy and serious stuff isnít bad.
This should be fine for older kids and up though the narrative might be a bit harsh for them. Lots of explosions and mech combat but not much to object to.
Visually it isnít bad at all. The animation is pretty decent and the character designs, while not standing out particularly, are usually good. It could be said they are more realistic in their approach that way besides the fact itís anime style! I donít like Yurikaís design though. She just looks, well, odd. The hair that curls around her cheeks looks too much like sideburns!
The dub cast is a mixed bunch with some who do a pretty good job and others that just sound either wrong or too annoying. Akito doesnít get badly done by for someone like him, and nor do the mech-pilots or the doctor Inez. Ruri doesnít sound young enough but her delivery at times is great. The script takes some liberties but is entertaining. Overall it isnít one to recommend but it wouldnít kill you either!
A last note is that the end feels like it was rushed. It all comes together very quickly with a lot of explanations, many of which feel like they too need to be explored more and at greater leisure. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions and some of the side romances end up unsatisfyingly concluded. Apparently the movie doesnít help matters either and makes things worse if anything, but I doubt Iíll be getting that so youíll have to trust your own judgement or look for a review somewhere else! There is plenty about this show to like, especially for people who like anything mech, but for me in spite of the good bits and interesting storytelling it felt like a meal that just didnít satisfy in the end.