This is my first year participating in this tradition and it didn’t start that well. First of all, I had to give recommendations to someone that had watched almost everything I have and deemed worthy of recommendation. I somehow managed some options and the people of Reverse Thieves lent a helping hand, too. Secondly, when I received my list I felt like a fish out of water, since I got Mobile Police Patlabor: Early Days, Infinite Ryvius, Macross: Do You Remember Love? All of them was in various degrees mecha. Mecha is one of my least preferred genres, though. I don’t find giant robots slick or appealing, battles are boring for me and the jargon of moves and who’s attacking who fly over my head.
Due to its famous status and short duration, I picked up Macross. Bad move. Probably because I had no idea of the franchise I was less forgiving to the macho non-sense 25 minutes in the film from that blonde guy. I couldn’t care about anyone. Plus the silly talk about “yuck deculture” had me rolling my eyes. Dropped.
Soooooo… Because I honestly didn’t want to stay with a bad taste, I tried once more. I’ve seen Infinite Ryvius described as Lord of Fireflies in space. I haven’t read this book but a friend liked the anime for its psychological drama and depiction of human nature. That’s how I ended up watching 26 episodes of this series and actually found it pretty good. Thankfully.
Infinite Ryvius is about a bunch of teens training in a space station when they are attacked by unknown spacecrafts, sink in the Geduld, a dangerous space area with high pressure, and do whatever it’s possible to survive. Their adventure won’t have a short and easy end as they are declared terrorists and have to search for a place to accept them. Meanwhile, in Ryvius, the spacecraft they transferred to, the children form a small society and under the overwhelming feelings of fear, insecurity and isolation things go from bad to worse. Outer attacks continue while children learn to pilot a powerful robot. Without a proper political system soon people display power lust and violence, and experiment with rules.
Created back on the change of the millenium, it features some not so beautiful character designs and ugly animation, but at least the wardrobe choices and hairstyles talk fittingly even partially for the characters. The ost is a mixed bag for me. I adored the OP & ED with their melancholic and hopeful tone. The rest of the soundtrack though is a combination of R&B/hip-hop with violin, a certainly unique but weird choice that I’m not sure was suited for scenes exuding danger.
The cast is wide and more than 15 indivuals’ stories, their desires and interpersonal relationships are unfolded. You can’t not care for these kids  and not find at least a few you deeply worry about. Just a slight interest for how their true colors get to be on display is enough to keep you watching. It’s great that even the mysteriously pink-dressed girl is shown to progress from an incoherent echo to a sentient being with normal speech and volition of its own. Despite being buffled by space battle jargon at times -thank goodness fleet battles didn’t take place-, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from what was happening.
Of course, as a scifi Infinite Ryvius upholds its name by giving to its viewers great food for thought. It’s very hard to say what would have been a better course of action as to avoid losses and the tense clima on board. It’s pathetic how human nature functions and even the most democratic person is forced to question their beliefs in such situations of imminent danger and chaos . When on the run, decisions must be made, information is vital yet perhaps not for the bewildered crowd. Time and exhaustion only play a degenerative role on the psyche of the population. People try to latch on anything they can. It’s sad and dispair-inducing and yet so very humane.
The series worked with immersion and fortunately the few parts towards the end where we got some exposition weren’t too forceful. As a whole, Infinite Ryvius delivers a strong package which I can recommend with ease. If some parts in the explanations were slighly changed as not to undermine major themes , and the end retained the realism the rest of the series had , I’d be talking about a masterpiece.
Notes (spoilers ahead):
- I was especially fond of the protagonist for whom I’ve read accusations of being a wimp, but really he was the one who managed to keep his sanity almost intact without escaping from reality. On the opposite, I came to dislike Faina and Kozue -Yuki was contemptible from the beginning. Faina is a psychotic religious freak and Kozue an egocentric teen and a mischievious manipulator who wasn’t hesitant to take advantage of her victimhood.
- I was thinking that if teams were created with a structure that included people of different capabilities, the most capable could prod the more lazy into action, while protecting weak members like Patt. Team reports towards a supervisor from another team might have helped reduce injustice, as well. Usually a reward and punishment system is implemented by psychologists and it works, but trust needs to be established, which was rather difficult in Ryvius where certain individuals took over arbitrarily. Unfortunately, this is just theory and everyone can judge after everthing is over. Within a crowd there are always subgroups with clashing agendas.
- It was revealed that Vaia, these creatures in Geduld that were taken advantage of for future plans of humanity, were related to the mental breakdown of their captains and crew. The distinction that Neya awoke not by force but by the children’s emotions and grew with them, wasn’t enought in my opinion to clarify if what happened on Ryvius was the result of Neya’s nature or not. If it was Neya’s side-effects, then the agency of people is taken away and is used as a cheap excuse for all the awful things that happened. Such a connection simply hurts the sociological analysis of the series.
- We get an almost happy end, where everyone gets to board on Ryvius once more for humanity’s future. Like nothing happened. Like what they went through weren’t traumatic enough to make most of them have second thoughts. Like everyone is forgiven and their vile relationships were reset. The creepy stalker gets the girl! Do you believe it? And Blue, who wasn’t innocent but defended the ship in the end in spite of being hunted down for half the voyage, is out of frame and implied to be beaten by that brat, Yuki!