I intended this blog to be a sort of venting platform above anything else, but while I'm here killing time until the Summer season truly kicks off, that is when Muv Luv: Total Eclipse, Geass OVAs and Rinne no Lagrange 2 begin airing, I might just entertain myself by talking about an apparently little known series from 1999. Infinite Ryvius is it's name, and it's likely the best sci-fi anime you've never seen, and probably better than all the ones you have.
Infinite Ryvius takes place in the year 2225. Space Travel is not uncommon, as you might expect from works based in 222fucking5, and most of humanity is now living amongst the stars on surrounding moon colonies and planets. Around 100 years before this story takes place, an event referred to as the Geduld took place. The Sun heaved forth a gigantic sea of plasma unexpectedly and effected areas succumbed to dangerously high temperatures and fluctuating gravity pressure, making space travel a bit less Battlestar Galactica and a lot more Wacky Races.
With the background out of the way we can get on with summarising the main plot. I'd love to be able to snap my fingers and have anyone reading this watch whatever I tell them to watch, but that's just not going to happen without a peek into the premise behind the whole thing. In typical anime fashion, our protagonist is a 16 year old boy from earth, Kouji Aiba. Kouji is off to the Astronaut Training Facility Liebe Delta along with his female friend Aoi Housen who is attending the flight attendant program, his brother Yuki (much to the dissatisfaction of Kouji, because without mincing words, Yuki is a bit of a cunt) and friend Ikumi Oze. Along with the quite large ensemble cast of crew and fellow students, you wouldn't be wrong in expecting things to get a bit confusing eventually. Except that you would be, because it doesn't get confusing at all. What Ryvius lacks in exposition it makes up in astoundingly solid interpersonal development. That isn't to say the show is without decent exposition, rather it has just enough to clue the viewer into exactly what's going on and not have us watching still mouths flap open and shut for 20 minutes while we're treated to infodumps in rapid succession.
Once the gang are established on the space ship we're introduced to the Zwei class of cadets, who routinely take charge of basic dive operations and drills. Entrusted with the ships safety and monitoring of the goings on from the lower floors of the Delta, they discover terrorists aboard the Delta and learn through failed radio contact attempts and atmospheric readings that the majority of the staff and instructors on board the Delta have been gassed. The Delta is set to plummet down into the Geduld Sea and be crushed beneath the pressure. Still on the outside, the remaining instructors sacrifice themselves in an effort to save the ship and people on board, but their efforts are in vein as they fall to die and the Delta remains as it was. Zwei is soon held hostage and ordered to facilitate the speedy death of the ship and everyone on board, much to the dismay of the Zwei Cadet staff, before eventually being saved and aided by a group of hoodlums, fending off the terrorists in time to salvage the ship from near destruction and shedding over 90% of the ship's mass. Upon shelling away the exteriors of the Liebe Delta however, they discover a ship of unknown origin connected within and to the Delta. The Ryvius. The population of the Delta boards the Ryvius, the Delta is lost to the Geduld, and things start to get VERY interesting.
The Planet's Government's are aware of Ryvius' existence, and are dead set on obtaining it, even if it means murdering close to 500 students in the process. With no hope for rescue, the governments of the solar system desperately chasing them down to prevent media attention being cast upon their secret weapon and a ship full of survivors on the verge of anarchy, what will become of the newly boarded mystery ship Ryvius and it's inhabitants?
What this anime is, in a very concise nutshell, is the Lord of The Flies mecha equivalent. The series paints a very suffocating picture of mass hysteria and corruption of innocence aboard the Ryvius following the loss of the Liebe Delta and beginning of the ordeal. A chain of command headed by Zwei is instated, and the manic quasi-character study begins. Order is barely maintained throughout and you are left wondering how on earth the crew of Ryvius will manage to survive the constant onslaught from multiple governments. Now is the perfect time to bring up the sole robot of the Ryvius series. The Vital Guarder.
The Vital Guarder stands above a VERY lofty height, watching over a dusty control room. The Vital Guarder is one of the most fascinating mecha I've yet to come across. As if to mock the audience, the cast, upon discovering the Vital Guarder, simply laugh at the fact that a giant robot actually exists and how impractical it must be. It puts every other "real" robot to shame, requiring four people to operate and is manoeuvred utilizing some SCIENCE space string bollocks tugged to and fro. The urgency and tension within its every movement is mind bending. The design is hardly anything to write home about, but I think that itself adds so much more to the Guarder than any number of air intakes or flashy stickers would. These aren't fun times. Shit's fucked, and this morose hellion is the only barely feasible chance of surviving long enough to be shot down then crushed and burned alive amidst the Geduld by ANOTHER Government. And all the while tensions in the ship are reaching absolute breaking point, nervous breakdowns are abundant, the system is failing at the hands of dangerous new leaders and your friends start to hate you.
As if all that weren't enough already, you've then got the soundtrack. A brilliant blend of R&B, J-Pop and Hip Hop, the hits are many and misses missing. This show just exudes 90's, much like Utena and Escaflowne. While you may be despairing over absolutely everything that could go wrong going wrong before your eyes, at least a part of you will be able to relax and enjoy the lovely cel animation and music. Nothing I can say about this anime will do it justice. You'd do well to watch it.
Give Infinite Ryvius a chance. It may be just what you've been looking for.