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Infinite Ryvius: 1 – 4

February 12, 2012

So I needed a new project and decided to kill two birds with one stone by choosing something from my rather sizable backlog to retro-blog.  My only problem was what to pick, and that was easily resolved by asking you my lovely readers to pick for me!  So here we are, I’ll be attempting to write about Infinite Ryvius – you only have yourselves to blame~!  The plan is to cover 4 episodes a week which should bring me up to the start of the Spring season where I will hopefully find a new show or two to pick up (and if not I can always start onto Chobits since it came second in the poll).  Anyway, that’s the plan so let’s go.

The basic setup for Ryvius is interesting – humanity has expanded out to colonise the solar system, but a massive solar flare has made space travel extremely hazardous, setting the advances in inter-planetary travel back considerably.  Our focus is on an astronaut training facility filled with 500 bratty teenagers and a handful of supervisory adults (which you just know is going to be a recipe for disaster), which runs into difficulty when undertaking a routine dive into the ‘Geduld’ region affected by the solar flare.

I really liked the feel of the world, Goro Taniguchi is the director and he’s probably best known for Code Geass & Planetes.  It’s Planetes’ lived in feeling that I also get from Ryvius – there is a sense that people actually do live on this ship; it’s cluttered, there is noticeable debris in the space around the station and nothing is really as clean and clinical as you usually see in sci-fi – it feels human.  There is also a ton of techno-babble that sounds impressive, but I will admit to not understanding a word of – I get the general gist and it just makes everything feel that little bit more grounded, of course people living in a space station would need to know these complicated things – it’s part & parcel of living for them (and also the whole reason they are there – the Liebe Delta is essentially a high school in space).

Interestingly, even though the character designs are by Hisashi Hirai, the more dated animation makes them seem less plastic than normal – everyone still look alike though.  The music also really stands out – it’s a very funky soundtrack which almost puts me in mind of Samurai Champloo as there is a definitely a hip-hop vibe going on there.  The composer is Katsuhisa Hattori, who is probably best known for the epic orchestral score for Banner/Crest of the Stars.

These first four episodes are mainly spent separating our teenaged cast from any adults and stranding them in a hard to reach area of space.  The exact sequence of events is tense and extremely stressful for those in the know, but it’s also interesting to watch how the slightly more oblivious masses react to the crisis.  The evacuation into the central pillar of the station isn’t particularly organised, it’s much more of a free for all with students running about all over the place.  Once they get into the central pillar, there are students who attempt to maintain order, doing necessary jobs like treating minor injuries, distributing food & blankets and stabilising systems; but the vast majority just loaf about the place acting like typical teenagers do when in a big group.

The senior students on the bridge are essentially forced to make decisions that they are ill-equipped to make as their situation grows more and more desperate.  The majority of the adult staff are killed off early on, as the station is sabotaged by an outside authority, the few surviving adults make the decision to sacrifice themselves for the slim chance that purging all the surplus sections of the station will allow the central ship pillar to rise above the danger zone.  It’s a decision that sounds noble and the adults actually justify as being the ‘responsible’ thing to do, but it actually leaves the students in a no-mans-land.  There is no one with any kind of experience or expertise left on the ship – it is the blind leading the blind as the senior students on the Zwei programme attempt to keep everything running.  You can’t help but think that at least one instructor should have remained behind as an authority figure – without someone to enforce order, these bratty teenagers who think they are untouchable are going to self-destruct, you can already see it brewing.

There are four groups that stand out already in Ryvius.  The protagonist group of teenagers (consisting of a pair of warring brothers and their friends), Zwei who are trying to establish themselves as the leaders of the ship, a group of delinquents headed by a fella called Blue who have clear fighting experience and are now armed, and the outside forces that sabotaged the station & attempted to take it over (only adults left in the show).  And then you have that mysterious girl in the pink outfit who seems massively out of place in a quite grounded show.

It’s clear that she is somehow tied to the hidden ship found in the central core of the Liebel, a ship which gives its name to the show – Ryvius.  It’s also pretty clear that it is the Ryvius ship that the adults are after, and that for whatever reason they were trying to prevent it’s systems from activating.  Why is still unclear, but that pink girl is definitely tied to Ryvius as she keeps popping up whenever emotions are running high & the Ryvius’ systems only powered up whenever the emotion of ‘I don’t want to die’ was humming through the whole cast.  She’s probably some sort of AI projection of the Ryvius system so I’d imagine she will play a significant role in the series, but a ship fueled by the rampant emotions of a bunch of teenagers would be a scary thing!

Okay, this post is getting a bit overly long, but there is just one more thing I liked about these handful of episodes, and that’s the way it handles its characters.  Ryvius has a huge cast with lots of varied personalities, but in only four episodes I feel like I’ve got a pretty decent grasp on a lot of them – even the comedy characters floating about in the background (like dinosaur girl & half-naked dude).  Ryvius feels like it will be strongly driven by its characters, they will be what will make or break the show, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic at the moment because the pacing and writing seems perfect right now.  There was a scene were the Zwei group tried to fill the rest of the students in on what the situation was with the ship & how the teachers had all sacrificed themselves to save the ship.  In that scene the majority of the teenagers where basically just heckling the Zwei group, but there was a lone little boy who just crumpled when it was announced the adults were dead.  He’s the only small child on this ship, the son of one of the teachers and now he’s all alone amid a sea of selfish teenagers too caught up in the bigger picture to notice him.  His quiet grief is handled very well in only a couple of short shots and a brief exchange with one of the girls in Zwei.  I hope the rest of the show is handled this well.

I’ll leave it here this week.  Subsequent weeks shouldn’t be so long as there won’t be all this introductory faffing about and I can concentrate on just the plot & characters.  Really looking forward to next week’s episodes, this promises to be an interesting show.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2012 8:59 pm

    I heard of Infinite Ryvius, but never gave any mind. The art style does remind me to that of Virus Buster Serge (bad example I know), but do suspect that the story must better. Willing to give this try for the most part, but do hope you continue your take on it – since it might be a while before I get to it,

    • February 13, 2012 1:02 pm

      Artstyle is pretty much standard for 90s anime, probably where you’re getting that impression from – Ryvius is much, much better than Virus Buster Serge!

      I’ll be blogging 4 episodes of Ryvius a week, so I’ll be done by the end of March……hopefully.

  2. barano permalink
    February 12, 2012 9:09 pm

    How does everyone look the same in Ryvius? If anything, the variation is almost shocking, given Hirai’s later works…

    • February 13, 2012 1:03 pm

      I will admit that the designs are much more varied than Hirai’s identikit clones in later shows, but they’re still a bit samey looking to me…….think I’m just biased against Hirai’s art to be honest.

  3. February 12, 2012 9:31 pm

    Not a show I’m familiar with, but sounds intriguing so far. I’ll be interested in hearing your impressions on how the show carries on from here.

    • February 13, 2012 1:04 pm

      I’ve only heard good things about Infinite Ryvius, which is why I was interested in watching it – completely dominated the poll so I’m pleased by how solid it is so far.

  4. February 13, 2012 2:37 am

    Ryvius is great – in fact, you’re inspiring me to rewatch it. It’s not Planetes-grade, but it’s just a notch or so down. And fear not, it’ll continue (despite a huge plotline, conspiracies, several arcs of different threats and dangers) to be a very character-driven show. It even has one of my favourite tropes – a minor character glimpsed in the background in many scenes who steps up to a larger role halfway thru (no big spoiler there- it’s not a gamechanging role, but nice). Stuff like that marks a series out as worthwhile for me –

    • February 13, 2012 1:07 pm

      Not expecting a Planetes tier show (I love Planetes), but if it’s anywhere near that level I’ll be a very happy girl.

      Glad to hear the characters are the diving force of the show, I enjoy shows that spend that little bit of extra effort in making even minor characters memorable & involved in the plot.

  5. February 13, 2012 7:30 am

    Right now you may think of the dinosaur girl as a comedy character, but you’ll learn the truth soon enough.

  6. February 15, 2012 7:38 pm

    Infinite Ryvius was pretty much the next show I planned to watch (after I finish Higurashi!). That’s it; I’m going to try the same approach and watch and do the whole 4 eps per week approach along with you. I’m only watching, like 14 shows already, I can do this! It just takes 4 hours sleep instead of 5. Easy!

    • February 15, 2012 8:16 pm

      Only 14 shows? I’m watching 27 (soon to be 28 when I start Outlaw Star with the Classics group on Sunday) – sleep is for the weak!

      Four eps a week is pretty manageable I’ve found – so yay! someone else watching for the first time!

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