Whilst that other VN adaptation from the Fall was pretty much doomed for failure due to getting the director of Kill Me Baby on the job (amongst other problems), Robotics;Notes had a lot of hope behind it because 5pb has grown into a respected VN company (based on their one title), Production IG, and having robots. In other words, nobody based his or her hopes on it based on the plot, because nobody knew what the plot actually was. Well, solely going by the anime, I have to say that the plot is absolute garbage. Because 14 episodes have passed and I’m struggling to give a shit about what’s going on.
Despite what you guys might think, I’m not one of those people who are complaining that R;N has no plot. It finally clicked on me what the plot of this anime was like when that latest episode ended…this is fucking Clannad with SCIENCE.
Actually, that’s what all the 5pb adaptations have been now that I think about it more. Key visual novels except with SCIENCE. Yeah, not as great as you think, huh Steins;Gate?
The reason I say R;N is a lot like Clannad (specifically the KyoAni version) is because fourteen episodes into that anime also had jack of a plot. It was mostly just the male lead interacting with different girls, solving their problems, and that’s it. There was an underlying plot, but it was mostly put off to the side. R;N is basically that except replace male interacting with different girls (well he does, but not in the same vein as Steins;Gate) whilst bettering his own life for constructing a robot, a cancelled robot TV show, some reports I can’t make heads or tails of, and solar flares about to destroy the world. Basically, they replaced one stupid concept for another.
And that’s fine. Whilst I would prefer visual novel adaptations to forget that they were based on a visual novel and do their own thing (which hopefully the Steins;Gate movie will do), there’s a need to pander to a specific audience right? As long as the bits I like don’t get swallowed up completely, which is why I like the two other visual novel adaptations I mentioned above, then everything is okay. Thing is, there’s one big question regarding Robotics;Notes that I really need an answer to: What are the stakes in this thing?
Forget the fact that “end of the world” is a bullshit stake that needs to die because it’s about as tensionless as mooning yourself in a mirror. Forget that the characters are static and, aside from Frau, don’t really go under any development whatsoever. Even the personal issues are treated lightly and without much effort thrown at them. I’m all for avoiding personal melodrama, but if you’re not going to replace it with anything…something in return, then I’m going to be confused regarding who you’re supposed to be appealing to. As much as I hate this franchise, I can actually see why people would enjoy Da Capo because it did actually introduce real tension in a way that’s effective towards its audience through Nemu dying. For a non-visual novel related example, let’s look at Hyouka. Whilst it’s true the world wouldn’t end or anything if a mystery wasn’t solved, the show focused a lot on making it personal to the characters and even developing them through each mystery ala Ungo. It created an atmosphere that made people not care if the stakes were weak thanks to creative animation, good BGM, and actually taking the time to explain why the mysteries should matter. Then there’s Space Bros. Um…same points I brought up with Hyouka. The end.
All personal drama in R;N is mostly just brushed off, from Pleiades’ issue with his father, to Aki’s crying over a TV show, to Jun’s issue with her fear of robots. Even the latest two episodes regarding somebody hacking Frau’s account, Frau nearly killing herself in the bath, and such are all done without any point or purpose. Forget appealing to me. I don’t see who you’re supposed to appeal to at all. Everything is done way too light-heartedly and it feels like I’m watching a Tales game adaptation marketed towards the Barney audience. No, it’s like I’m watching the Disgaea anime, only not as bad. At least the animation is good and the video game stuff can be fun to look at if you’re into that shit. But it’s really hard to take a robot invasion seriously when most of the episode takes place in a dark apartment room far away from the actual scene because you need to stop it using a fucking video game.
What I’m saying is that whilst I’ve hated anime for going too far with its premise, R;N has got to be one of the most balls-less anime I’ve ever stuck with. It prevents me from disliking the show, but it replaces the dislike for a ton of confusion in return. Okay, the animation is nice and some of the humor works. But I could say the same thing about K-On and Lucky Star, and those anime don’t even have solar flares destroying the planet (seriously?). And speaking of solar flares and such, in addition to being tensionless, the latest episodes have gotten really stupid. It’s not even trying to create personal drama and is instead creating…I can’t even call it drama. Let’s just call it “stuff”. That’s what R;N has become: an anime about stuff. No real plot, no engaging character interactions, no real comedy, nothing interesting being done with any of the potentially cool stuff. Just a bunch of stuff that’s thrown in to appeal to teenagers, except neutered for elementary schoolers, and given some good animation.
Seriously, were people hyped up about this anime just because of Steins;Gate?
- Okay yes, I do know some people who actually do like R;N and can explain why.
- I can’t recall one R;N episode I’ve actually enjoyed.