Creator: Zexcs Production
Director: Itsuro Kawasaki
Length: 24 Episodes
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+/ Somewhat decent animation
Standard visual designs
Chrome Shelled Regios doesn't add anything new or particularly exciting to the science fiction genre of anime. It isn't terrible, it won't hurt to watch it, but there are better series out there. However, if you do decide to watch this series, keep an eye out for the exciting and action packed flashbacks inspired by Legend of Regios from the light novel series -- these flashbacks are needed injection of adrenaline into a series that tends to meander between bland character moments, training sequences, inter-platoon competition, and generic fight scenes.
2.5 out of 5
Chrome Shelled Regios Anime Review
Written by: Frank B. Chavez III on 5/27/2008
The popularity of the Harry Potter novels has given rise to whole new subgenre of fantasy and science fiction involving students attending specialized schools and academies where they learn to hone powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men. Besides the Harry Potter films, works in this subgenre include Sky High about nascent superheroes and Vampire Knight about vampires and humans learning to get along. Chrome Shelled Regios is set in a future devastated by pollution and war. Human beings live in mobile domed cities known as Regios and struggle to survive attacks by mutants known as Pollution Monsters -- giant instectoid creatures that roam the wastelands outside the domed cities. The story centers on Layfon Alseif, a college student with a mysterious past at the Academy City of Zuellni who reluctantly transfers from Liberal Arts to Military Arts after his superiors at the school discover he is particularly gifted in martial arts.
The story begins with a scene of combat as a platoon of elite warriors battles a hideous insectoid monster outside the walls of a domed city. The scene shifts to the first day of school at the Academy City of Zuellni, a city run for and by college students. The university is divided into a Military Arts and Liberal Arts schools. The Military Arts School is further divided into training platoons headed by an upper division student who acts as mentor and guide to his or her lower division team mates. The story focuses on Platoon 17 a team of misfits and losers. As the story begins they face a crisis as one of their members leaves the platoon for an outfit with greater prestige. However, fate intervenes and practically drops Layfon Alseif, a first year student with astonishing skill, into their laps. Although Layfon has come to school as a liberal arts student, he is manipulated into transferring into the Military Arts program.
Show More The characters in the series were created by identikit. The original light novel's creator, Shusuke Amagi seems to have built his generic characters by taking well worn archetypes and giving them one or two characteristics to exhibit throughout the story. For example, our hero, Layfon is a young man running from a dark past. We know this because he constantly says so; several scenes throughout the series feature him saying words to the effect of, "I came to school to get away from my past" or "I did what I had to do to survive". He acts on his desire primarily by either hiding his true abilities as a fighter or waiting until the last minute before deciding to act. The other characters are equally annoying cardboard cutouts and range from the telepathic girl who resents her brother for pushing her into the military and the tough chick with a chip on her shoulder. While most science fiction characters fit into broadly drawn archetypes, stories that rise above merely entertaining to truly unforgettable do so by creating characters that go beyond archetypes to well rounded human beings.
While the creators of Chrome Shelled Regios didn't necessarily set out to copy Harry Potter, the parallels are there. The Military Arts School is divided into platoons in much the same way Hogwarts is divided into houses. Like the Hogwarts houses, these platoons are fiercely competitive with one another, participating in often brutal versions of capture the flag and other war games. Like Harry Potter, Layfon is an extremely powerful but reluctant hero with a dark past. Chrome Shelled Regios even has a parallel to Hogwarts Headmaster Dumbledore in the character of student body president Karian Loss. As student body president Karian is Zuellni's de facto mayor. He also knows Layfon's secret past and use this knowledge to make sure Layfon would have no choice but to enter Military Arts School. However, while the Harry Potter novels are largely focused on the conflict with Lord Voldemort, Chrome Shelled Regios takes time away from the main plot to explore the lives of the characters, often by examining how they interact in ordinary activities such as after school jobs and socializing.
Show More Visually, Chrome Shelled Regios falls into patterns seen in many futuristic anime and movies. While it is never firmly established how far into the future the story is set, it is far enough for pollution to have changed the landscape into a pitiless desert reminiscent of something out of Dune or Star Wars. Yet the architecture and clothing styles suggest the early 20th Century. Thematically the 20th Century design elements work as a visual metaphor as if the residents of the Regios are desperately clinging to reminders of the world before its transformation into nightmare. However, from a visual standpoint it is a tired cliché that suggests a failure of imagination by the series' designers. Another cliché is the design of the uniforms worn by the students. As in many other anime series, they go to school in tailored uniforms reminiscent of the late 19th Century and go into battle in generic looking, form fitting jumpsuits. Even the battle scenes and monsters are bland and generic. The monsters are essentially giant bugs like something out of Starship Troopers and the Military Arts student rush into battle against them with just their Dites and occasionally small vehicles similar to motorcycles. You might think they would use tanks or other armored vehicles against the Pollution Beast but you'd be wrong. Apparently the residents of the Regios have decided that the best way to kill giant monsters is with a combination of martial arts and gunplay.
The most interesting parts of the series are the irregular flashbacks to a time before the world was just beginning to transform into a monster infested wasteland. Done in a slightly grittier style of animation and with dialog delivered in English, these segments feature James Bond-esque action and give some exposition about the disaster that overcame Earth, transforming it into a wasteland and creating the Pollution Beasts. These segments are so much more exciting and action packed than the main action that many in the audience may wish for an entire series based on them. The only problem with these flashbacks is that they are such a departure from the rest of the series that they can be quite jarring at first. However, it is a nice change of pace and a fun way to get in some useful backstory.
Chrome Shelled Regios is a good series to wile away a Friday afternoon with. It isn't the most original anime ever created but isn't terrible either. It is watchable and entertaining while its playing, but after you turn off your DVD player or computer its instantly forgettable. Knowledgeable viewers familiar with anime, science fiction, and fantasy will find elements such as the giant bugs, design, and plot elements overly familiar. However, those willing to overlook the series' trite nature will find Chrome Shelled Regios worth watching, if not exactly worth owning or saving to the hard drive.
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