Valvrave the Liberator Review – Henshin Justice Unlimited

 

Valvrave 1

Valvrave the Liberator can be best described as Code Geass meets Gundam SEED. We’re so far 4 episodes into this new mecha series and while it does some things right, the plot seems to be moving at a snail’s pace.

It’s hard to talk about Valvrave and what makes it an interesting watch without dropping some spoilers. As such, the review might contain spoilers for these episodes, so read on at your own risk!

Valvrave 2

Set in the True Canlendar Year 71, the neutral space colony of Jior exists between two super powers known as the Dorssia Military Pact Federation, and the Atlantic Ring United States. Under this neutrality, the colony has prospered.It’s here that our protagonist Haruto Tokishima lives.

Episode 1 of Valvrave starts off with a shuttle containing new transfer students to Sakimori Academy, the school Haruto attends arrive at the space port. We’re then introduced our main hero, Haruto and his best friend/love interest Shoko Sashinami. The two of them are in an eating competition to decide who will use the track field. Haruto chokes, quite literally and Shoko is the victor. Haruto is then seen having difficulties convoying his true feelings to Shoko. The new transfer students reveal themselves to be Dorssian spies who’s true goal was to steal a giant robot being developed in a facility underneath the school, meanwhile, Dorssia begins their attack on the city and the school is caught in the crossfire. While fleeing to safety, Haruto and the others encounters the Valvrave as it arrives to he surface and Shoko attempts to rescue someone who’s trapped in the car, but she’s caught in laser fire and seemingly killed. 
Enraged by the death of his friend, Haruto makes his way towards the Valvrave and swears vengeance on the Dorssians. Haruto actives the machine but the machine refuses to work for him, he is then attacked a Dorssian solider.

Valvrave’s monitor displays a question “Do you resign as a human being?” to which Haruto answers “Yes” he is then injected with a mysterious substance and the machine colour changes from white to black and Valvrave easily overpowers the Dorssian forces attacking him, using a wide array of weapons which includes a scythe, a katana, and a strange light that can be used both offensively and defensively. As a result of his battle being recorded and broadcasted worldwide on the net Haruto becomes an instant world-wide celebrity, and hero to the student body. But Haruto continues to grief over the loss of Shoko. Following the battle, Haruto encounters the Spy he met in an earlier scene. He reveals himself to be L-Elf, Captian of Dorssian’s Special Forces. L-Elf then kills Haruto.
Just when L-Elf is about to take the Valvrave, Haruto rises from death, and like a vampire bites L-Elf’s neck.

L-Elf attacks

Episode 2 picks off immediately where Episode 1 leaves off. Haruto’s friends finds his body unconscious and with no sign of damage or injury from L-Elf’s attempt on his life. The rest of L-Elf’s squad mates arrives to claim the robot but L-Elf suddenly turns on his team. L-Elf shoots A-Drei in the eye but manages to escape through the same shaft. A-Drei swears vendetta against L-Elf and the Dorssians capture the Valvrave. As a result of Dorssia’s overwhelming assault, Jior is now under the complete control of Dorssia. 

Inside the tunnel, L-Elf reveals that he is actually Haruto and that his mind somehow transferred into the body of L-Elf, and with this he inherits all the skills and training of the body’s owner. Much to the disbelieve of his friends and even Haruto himself but he proves his claim as being Haruto by playing a game of rock-paper-scissors. While they decide on their next course of action, Haruto makes the resolve to drive Dorssia out of Jior with the Valvrave.

As a result of Haruto’s actions inside L-Elf’s body, L-Elf is now labeled a traitor and a wanted criminal to the army he once served. Attempting to reclaim the Valvrave, Haruto shoots and kills two solders guarding a helicopter in cold blood. Haruto manages to reclaim the Valvrave and escapes the outside the colony  but is then attacked by the Dorssian fleet. Here his inexperience as a pilot shows through as he learns that fighting in space is different then fighting on land though adapts quickly to the new environment. In response to the assault, A-Drei and Q-Vier sorties in an enormous mecha called the Ideal. Haruto engages Q-Vier and A-Drei in battle but the Valvrave over heats and L-Elf manages to break free from his restraints, taking Rukino hostage, L-Elf demands that Haruto surrenders. Valvrave is in A-Drei’s grasp, and it’s here that he reveals to L-Elf being a traitor, much to L-Elf’s shock whom doesn’t remember his actions while Haruto possessed his body. L-Elf and A-Drei both attack Haruto, but during the battle Shoko calls Haruto. She survived the attack but is now trapped inside the car she was trying to reach.

Valvrave 3

Just when A-Drei is about to overwhelm them, the number on the monitor continues to climb until it finally reaches 666. Valvrave is then surrounded in a bright golden aura Drawing his sword, Valvrave stabs him own core. But rather then committing suicide, the resulting move super charges Valvrave’s sword and the resulting attack severely damages A-Drei’s machine. The ARUS fleet intercepts the Dorssia fleet and they pull back from the battle. L-Elf wants answers regarding what happened during the time Haruto possessed his body, calling Haruto a monster much to the shock and disbelieve of Haruto. Shoko manages to free herself from the car she was trapped in and L-Elf is taken prisoner. Shoko and Haruto continues their conversation from the shrine, but rather then confess his feelings Haruto chooses to insult Shoko’s attire, much to the shock of Shoko and his friends, Haruto runs to an alleyway, Inuzuka chases after him demanding an explanation but Haruto responds “I turned into this…monster…Monsters don’t have feelings” And the episode ends.

L-Elf Escape

Not much happens in Episode 3. Continuing from where episode 2 left off, L-Elf is taken into custody for questioning. Meanwhile, they send a politician named Senator Moses Figaro to provide relieve aide for the students still trapped at the school. As L-Elf is taken out of the room he says to Haruto: “Loudspeaker, Earthquake. Panic, 3:14 PM. The answer is behind you”.

L-Elf contract

L-Elf manages to escape from his interrogation. He has a feared reputation as a One Man Army and demonstrates this by outsmarting his pursuers at every turn. Haruto realizes L-Elf’s words from earlier were a prediction, and every event described by L-Elf happened in some form. L-Elf has found his way to Haruto. He wants Haruto to make a contract with him and join his revolution against Dorssia.

Akira

Episode 4 opens with a meeting of ARUS’s leaders. and the next course of action following Dorssia’s surprise attack on Jior. They decide to try and get their hands on the Valvrave and mass produce it. Haruto rejects L-Elf’s proposition, but L-Elf claims that his way is the only option, and promises to save the entire school. Back in the previous episode, Shoko encounters a girl named Akira Renbokoji, a shut in with a massive computer that lives at the school.

Looking outside, Haruto sees the Valvrave being moved by helicopters and goes to confront Figaro about it. He sees a pilot attempting to activate the Valvrave while another solider records, Haruto urges them not too but his warnings are ignored. The pilot is then injected with a strange substance, but rather then turning him into a body switching vampire, the substance kills him at the same time, Dorssia begins their attack. Here, Figaro reveals his true colors: his plan is to abandon the students and flee with the Valvrave in hand, while Figaro intends on making Haruto a test subject. He attempts to escape but realizes that in order to swap bodies, he has to bite the skin. Akira managed to hack into ARUS’s commutation network, both she and Shoko hear the whole thing.

Shoko Cloths

Shoko attempts to convince the student council that Figaro isn’t the savior they thought he was, and she does so in the strangest way possible…by taking off her cloths and proving her “purity” which actually works and they’re willing to listen to what she has to say. Takahi and the rest of the students distracts the ARUS soldiers by singing the school’s anthem, while Shoko and the others gather evidence that Figaro and ARUS is lying to them. While crawling through the vents they find Haruto all tied up, and frees him. Figaro prepares to leave but Haruto arrives in time to stop him and reveals his plan to leave them behind, much to the dismay and confusion of the students, Yamada blocks his way from leaving. Figaro makes a terrible joke about calling him Mosses and how he’ll “Split the sea of students before your eyes.” He shoots Yamada and causes a panic. Haruto leaps onto a transport truck carrying the Valvrave as it’s being driven away.

Independence

In the struggle between him and a guard, he manages to switch bodies with him. Haruto confirms that in order to switch bodies, it’s nessicary for him to bite the skin. Now inside the Valvrave, he demands the ARUS soldiers surrender. However, with the module surrounded by the Dorssian fleet, and ARUS untrustworthy, the students quickly realizes the hopelessness of their situation. L-Elf reveals that all of Jior except the school’s module is occupied by Dorssia, and student’s families and loved ones can now easily be used as hostages against them. 

Rather then surrendering or agreeing to L-Elf’s contract, Shoko presents Haruto with a third option: using the Valvrave as leverage. She demands that Figaro gives them the help they need otherwise they’ll hand the robot to Dorssia. Likewise, if Dorssia  harms their families, Valvrave will be given to ARUS. Shoko is then revealed to be the daughter of Jior’s president.

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Haruto sorties into battle, armed with the a new weapon which he uses to separate the school’s module from the rest of the colony. While Haruto separates the module Shoko gives a big speech, declaring the school an independent state that can negotiate with both sides on equal footing and entire student body agrees to this idea. With the module separated, Haruto begins to move it away from the rest of Jior.

L-Elf Peace

So there you have it, Valvrave the Liberator more or less in a nut shell. What starts off as a pretty generic mecha anime ends by throwing one twist at you after another. The series is off to a good start with the potential to become better  and manages to weave some pretty intriguing plot threads and questions:

  • Who is L-Elf, and why would he want to revolt against the very army he once fought for?
  • Why would Jior, a neutral colony make a robot as powerful as the Valvrave?
  • What exactly is Haruto becoming, and how will he deal with the long term consequences?
  • 
Who is the woman shown on Valvrave’s monitor and what significance does she hold?
  • The opening shows different colored Valvraves so are these the mass produced units mentioned? And if so who’s going to pilot them?
  • How will Dorssia and ARUS respond to the school’s demands?
  • Episode 5’s preview shows Shoko raiding a super market for supplies, but how long can they hold out as an independent nation before things start to crumble around them?

Unfortunately so far the series has been suffering from poor pacing, and the show gives so much focus on the high school students that it’s easy to forget that this is suppose to be a mecha anime. Comparisons and parallels to Code Geass can certainly be drawn with this series, and it’s unsurprising seeing as the series is directed by the same producer, though Code Geass managed to balance high school antics and giant mecha combat a bit better. Haruto seems like a likable person. He starts off as pretty spineless, but he was willing to kill people in cold blood all in the name of revenge, a refreshing change from the types of protagonists that disarms their opponents via non-lethal methods like in some Gundam series. Although having Shoko survive the attack took away all the tension they built up and feels like a bit of a cop out.

Of course, moving forward it remains to be scene how far Haruto is willing to go to protect the school and his friends. The sound track so far has been pretty good, specifically the violin piece that plays in most of the previews and the at the end of episode 1, and the opening theme Preserved Roses is quite awesome, TM Revolution and Mizuki Nana makes for a pretty amazing duo. We’re still only four episodes into this new series so it’s difficult to give it a score or any final verdict so early on the series’s run. Valvrave is recommendable, and if you’ve been dying for a new mecha anime that isn’t tied to a big franchise like Gundam or Macross, then certainly give this series a go.

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