Juushinki Pandora Review: Science saves the day

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Leon runs the numbers

I tend to have my fun watching the standalone mecha show of the season, and this series did pretty well comparatively. It’s a show with an incredibly heavy science focus set in a post-apocalyptic world…with robots. It also have a strong Chinese influence in the setting, which is cool for me. The basic premise is that the humanity has been pushed to the edge of survival by an experiment gone wrong. The result is an acceleration of evolution in non-human animals resulting in a deadly world filled with animal-machine hybrids called BRAI.

Leon helps develop a new energy source

The main character, Leon Lau, is one of the scientists responsible for causing this catastrophe, and he spends his life working on a solution. He creates a hyperdrive capable of tapping into other dimensions to fight against the BRAI, turning standard combat vehicles into humanoid battle robots. He joins the nearby city of Neo Xianglong to help defend the people living there while trying to eradicate the BRAI for good.

Leon ponders his research

This series has quite a lot of good things going for it. For example, the basic concept behind the premise is quite interesting. It highlights the idea that modern humans have largely defied evolutionary guidance by specifically excluding them from the process of becoming BRAI. It’s essentially focusing on the human tendency to think of themselves as being superior to animals, which is an idea that I like.

Leon gets the hyperdrive working

The series also has a very strong character focus. With the human population at an all-time low, we get a lot of time to learn more about the few that are left. They’re all vastly different people, but they have to work together for the good of everyone else. I do wish that more people could have used the hyperdrive, but each character has their own role to play in the end.

Quantum blade

Despite the science focus, I do think that the series tends to bog itself down with the jargon. A lot of the developments are powered by heavy quantum technobabble that could just as easily be magic. Additionally, the concept of evolution that’s generally used in the series is a common misconception on how evolution actually works. The idea that animals all evolve in effectively the same way doesn’t really make sense in a realistic model. That’s later explained in the story, but I still think it leaves the wrong impression.

Leon installs the hyperdrive

Finally, I was largely annoyed with the villains in this series. The series has some great moments, bringing up interesting arguments with its setting. For example, there’s the idea that humans should cede the world to the BRAI or that we should subjugate them as weapons. However, the antagonists themselves are fueled by some generally boring motivations, with simple revenge being a common theme. I get that the main villain, Sieg, is meant to tower over them all, but he’s often too confusing to really ponder.

Schrodinger's cat strikes again

All in all, I thought this series was mostly average. Mecha fights are heavily CG, but I didn’t have any problem with how the fights themselves looked. The show brings up some cool ideas that it explores well, but I do think it’s ultimately a bit too confusing for its own good.

Overal Score: 7/10

Spring 2018 Grab Bag Week 8: Juushinki Pandora

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Once again, I’m back with something completely different. I lost track of this series at the beginning of the season because it’s a Netflix show, but I recently caught up with it. Honestly, I felt a bit like I was morally obligated to watch this series. It focuses on a futuristic world in which animals have rapidly evolved to the point of being major threats to humanity. The main character develops a Hyperdrive to combat these animals, called BRAI, in a giant mech suit. So, we have sci-fi, post-apocalyptic setting, and mecha…how could I resist?

To be fair, the show isn’t too bad. It’s watchable to the point where I’m not dreading the next episode. However, the series does feel a bit like it’s not doing anything new. The “energy source gone wrong” aspect reminds me of Dimension W. And the fact that the main characters are using mechs to defend the shining bastion of humanity is pretty much the concept of Darling in the Franxx.

Still, I don’t actually mind the portrayal of Leon as the “mad scientist” in this series. He’s not a raving lunatic, but he has the passion to develop technology for the benefit of mankind. I think that aspect is portrayed decently, even if the demonization of “fanatical” scientists feels a bit overblown.

I also think that the mech fights in this series look quite good. If you can get past the excessive CGI (which doesn’t really bother me), there’s a lot going on in the fights themselves. And I generally felt like I could follow the fights quite well (looking at you, Grancrest).

I do feel like the Hyperdrive is awkwardly placed. I understand that it’s meant to be humanity’s last hope, but the fact that it’s tied to deeply with the human element feels like a cheap plot element. In fact, the entire series seems to split humanity from the animals as though humans are somehow special. It can be frustrating to watch. Why exactly didn’t the quantum reactor affect human evolution? It seems to suggest that humanity is considered to be some kind of “pinnacle of evolution”.