23 September 2016 | infoalwaysacritic
Not the Deepest, but Still Entertaining
There is a large number of mecha/pilot anime series out there for people to enjoy, and Netflix has already produced a mecha in space series in Knights of Sidonia. So what makes this one different?
One appeal is that unlike many other anime series, fan service is almost completely absent in Kuromukuro. With the exception of some minor occurrences, the characters are of a logical proportion, avoiding the over-the-top cutesy styles and expressions of other anime, without getting too gritty and realistic either. You will still have the outrageous hair colours and your typical high school antics, but the series keeps a similar art style along the lines of Gasaraki or AldNoah.Zero, without too many shallow attempts at awkward sexual tension.
Set predominantly around a group of high school students, the series starts strong, with revealing and developing its characters amidst some intense action, but soon begins to meander. A large number of mysteries are presented, and by the end of season 1 not much has been done to explain any of them. This is not unusual for a series of this kind, but, unfortunately, there is not a lot of memorable moments to fill the space, and this takes some of the veneer off of the mandatory cliff-hangar ending to the season.
This isn't to say that it is not an enjoyable season. A healthy balance is kept between the relational development of characters and the action in the series. Giant robots battle right from the start amidst glorious explosions, demolishing buildings and their environment. The combat lacks the nuances and uniqueness of the Orbital Knights from Aldnoah.Zero, while sharing some of the same premises. Most of the time robots are displayed recklessly hacking at each other, while the militaries of the world fire weapons at them. This wouldn't be all that bad if they hadn't repeatedly established that they have no effect.
UPDATE *Season 2 sees the action, and the plot, ramp up considerably. The pace increases and key elements are discussed in every episode. Characters are more flushed out, animation is a little tighter and the enemy characters also become more distinct. More engaging than the first, the second season finishes well and without compromising the characters they built in the process.*
Where this series shines is in some of the character's relationships and tensions with their family and with each other. Some of the main characters are one-dimensional, but a handful of them are compelling enough to draw you into their struggles, making you cheer for them when they overcome a particular issue, and feeling for them when they are put down.