Genre: Mecha, romance, coming of age
Length: 52 episodes
Rating: 15 for genocide
Score: Very Good
Renton Thurston is a 14-year-old boy living with his mechanic grandfather in a backwater town. His dull school life is tempered by his dreams of joining Gekkostate – a mercenary mech pilot group and riding “Trapar” particle waves – a sport called “reffing” – with their charismatic leader Holland. When a young girl named Eureka riding the original LFO, the Nirvash typeZERO, asks Renon’s grandfather for a tune-up, she inadvertently brings the attention of the military to the garage. The garage is destroyed and Renton is forced to deliver a new type of interface to the Nirvash. After a heated fight in which the Nirvash destroys the military LFOs by unleashing an immense power, Renton is invited into Gekkostate. However, he quickly realizes that behind the facade of a traveling group of mercenaries is a very bitter reality.
Infamously described by the AyaCon 2002 programme guide as “giant airborne surfboarding mechs; what were they smoking when they came up with this?” I’d not bothered looking at this series until recently when someone at a convention last year mentioned how good it was.
Well, they were right, this *is* bloody good.
Once you treat the surfboarding mechs as just a different form of combat, this series has a deep, ever evolving plot as Renton discovers more about the world in which he lives. As he discovers the true purpose behind Gekkostate and Eureka’s true identity, he’s forced to mature way too quickly, torn between his desire to protect and his naivety in the face of the growing conflict around him.
There’s some similiarity with both Tide Line Blue (which I reviewed early on in this thread) and Now and Then, Here and There. The series puts children through some brutal realities about the origin of the world around them, the true identities of those they know, and the more unpleasant aspects of human nature.
The only reason I haven’t rated excellent is because it’s damned long, and requires a fair amount of perseverence to get the most out of the series. It’d probably be hard work for someone without a fair amount of anime exposure to get into, so I’d have to say this isn’t really suitable for beginners.