Winter Anime Impressions – Chrome Shelled Regios

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Chrome Shelled Regios made my list of shows that I planned on catching mainly because the animation studio behind it, Zexcs, was responsible for the delightful Wagaya no Oinari-sama that ran this past spring and summer. What made me even a bit excited was how the animation quality in the previews for Regios was much higher then Wagaya , a show that had to contend with a very small budget. If they could repeat the entertainment and appeal of Wagaya and make it look better, then this could be the sleeper hit of the season.

Rating: 7/12 B

In the future, humanity has to live in large mobile cities because the barren land is full of Pollution Beasts. To help in humanity’s fight are superpowered humans that have gained their powers from the same pollution that has spawned the monsters. We follow a student named Layfon who is entering a college that trains the future protectors of humanity. Layfon is going to the general studies department but after saving a fellow student when a fight breaks out, he gets forcefully reassigned to the military arts department. This is music to the ears of one military regiment (the 17th, I think) because they had just had a member quit their group and the regiment would have had to disband if they couldn’t get another member so they convince Layfon to join their group.

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The center part of the episode featured Layfon and the efforts by members of the 17th to find another member. This part was pretty good. We learned about Layfon and met several of the side characters. Several plot lines where teased, implying there will be something more then just fighting. The animation was better then Wagaya and there wasn’t much fanservice – meaning they plan on enticing viewers to watch on actual content.

It wasn’t spectacular but definitely solid. Judged solely on the center 16 minutes or so, it would have earned at least an 8/12 B+. What lowered the score was the fight scenes that book-ended the episode. They were obviously trying to wow us with these scenes but I thought the actual fighting was ho-hum, the music was loud and a very poor attempt at techno, and I wasn’t really clear who was fighting and who those people standing in a line were. I hope this was just an overzealous attempt for the first episode and not a signal that we’ll have to suffer through every fight scene because that’ll probably make watching this show impossible. I will give this a few more episodes to see if it improves because it did take me several episodes to warm to Wagaya no Oinari-sama and I would hate to miss a show that I enjoyed as much as I enjoyed that one.

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I always like nearly coherent English in anime.

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8 thoughts on “Winter Anime Impressions – Chrome Shelled Regios”

  1. I’d prefer not to spoil Regios but the anime did that for me, so I wash my hands of it

    The fight scene shown at the starter was the Final Test for a Heaven’s Blade wielder.

    What is a Heaven’s Blade wielder? First, some background.

    Military arts is a combination of political status, military power, and high school sports. Essentially, if you are good at military arts, you are seen as a leader, someone too scary to annoy, and a stupendously popular star of skill in sports.

    But even amongst military artists, there is a level at the top where mortal and normal military artists cannot compare.

    That is the Heaven’s Blade wielder. One city has about 12 or so of those. That city is the primary military superpower of the world, a world that whether you live or die tomorrow depends upon your military power. And this is not just due to the attack by beasts and whatever terraforming alien is out there. There are competitions between cities for the mineral resources that sustain life. This competition determines which mines a city controls. If a city loses all of its mines, it has no fuel to power the city. The City Then Dies. And you will see a Dead City and what became of it at the time it is explained to you, so it isn’t an abstract thing at all. You’ll explore its shell and what happened to its inhabitants in intimate detail.

    And the only thing preventing any city, including an academic city run only by students, is to prevail in the military art tournaments against other cities.

    That is why Military Artists hold such influence and power. And that is why Heaven’s Blade wielders are as far apart from normal military artists as military artists are apart from civilians.

    The story didn’t reveal who was a Heaven’s Blade wielder until the main characters had been well developed. It was an easter egg surprise. A very easy thing for production staff to use in a show format, as it is a natural dramatic moment. But they used it up at the beginning. They wasted it. And for what? To show some “power” that nobody even gives a fig about because they don’t understand the context or characters?

    It takes an entire city’s fortified cannon defenses and its military arts army to defeat an insect army 20% as strong as the single awakened being that a Heaven’s Blade wielder must defeat for their test.

    It is not an exaggeration to say that a single Heaven’s Blade wielder is equivalent to an entire city’s military power.

    And guess who picked up one ex Wielder for their military arts club/team?

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  2. The main character in Regios is equivalent to Claymore’s Number 1 warrior and The Third’s main heroine. They all start off extremely powerful. In ranking, they are the most powerful or at least part of the top 1%. Their problem isn’t that they lack power, as you see in Naruto and Bleach. Their problem is emotional and internal. They don’t have any difficulty wasting entire armies. They have problems dealing with their own past. So to speak.

    That is what makes these types of settings and stories interesting. The pursuit of the young is status and power. The pursuit of the experienced is wisdom and peace.

    It’s really unfair to turn the entire development of the main character upside down because somebody wanted some SFX. Just saying.

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  3. @ymarsakar: Thanks for explaining that.

    Is this “The pursuit of the young is status and power. The pursuit of the experienced is wisdom and peace.” from something? Sounds like a quote you’d see in a movie given by a grizzled master to a young apprentice. I like it.

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  4. I think I forgot something. It wasn’t just that they brought something that happened later, the fight, to the beginning of the show. It wasn’t just that. It was the fact that they combined two fights into one. Two critical fights that were only showed through memory flashbacks once the audience had developed a proper understanding of things.

    They did not show the fight as it actually happened, which was important to understanding Layfon’s background and motivation. No, they mixed and matched.

    That wasn’t something I could just ignore for expediency’s sake or the excuse that the anime director had to have creative freedom.

    Switching things around is one thing. It could be justified or not. Breaking the continuity of the story and destroying vital material by making it internally inconsistent, that’s not valid. In any way shape or form.

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  5. Another aspect I had forgotten is that I expected Chrome Shelled Regios to be like Pandora Hearts, because I thought XEBEC made both of them. But I was wrong. XeBec did not produce CSR. I thought that a company that could harmonize such a weird setting as PH and who could tie in the backstories of all the characters with some dramatic tension at just the right places, could do Chrome Shelled Regios.

    And I still think so. But we’ll see what ZX does with it.

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  6. On episode 4. Looks even more jumbled up than Uta. At least Uta had the right chronological order for their events, mostly. They switched up some vital important details, but the main plot was the same.

    Regios is all jumbled up from the original source material. All the mysteries concerning character backgrounds that were at the end of the light novel series, is now at the beginning. Hopefully I can skip past the major spoilers and the major dysfunctions and watch my favorite scenes. Uta had a solid beginning but broke down past the second half through to lack of detail and consistency in the world building. Regios is slated to suffer even more major problems than that because the beginning is all out of synch.

    The problem with inverting the source material is that inevitably you start making things up as you go along to maintain the consistency of the anime plot. But the creative talents of the animation studio will never equal the sheer brilliant creative consistency of the original author. It’s like anime filler designed to wait for the original author’s stuff. But while there’s a reason to do that in anime for manga that isn’t finished. Why are they making stuff up as they go along with Regios when the story is already finished in written form?

    Pretty nonsensical. It’s one thing to try your best and fail, but another thing to blow up the car before even taking the drive.

    I would have composed the series differently and here’s how. Focus on Layfon and his immediate circle, the 17th Platoon. The story is about them starting off. All the crazy stuff going on about Electronic Fairies and what not, only comes after Layfon’s character is developed and the team’s synergy is expressed. In that light, Episode 1 and 2 about the inter-platoon battle is the right starting point. Erase all else.

    Remove the references to Heaven’s Blade. Do not explain how Layfon uses Kei. Do not explain how high his skill is. Downplay it as luck, the way Layfon does. Keep it mysterious, a constant question to the audience after each platoon battle. Do explain what Kei is and why it is used and how it is used as each battle goes on. In point of fact, treat the inter-platoon battles like the Baseball matches of Cross Game. It’s sports. It’s about winning. It’s about self-improvement. Anybody can “get” sports this way.

    There are numerous matches, each highlighting some improvement in character development or team synergy. Once the team is fully synergistic, throw in the background conflict on Sharnid. The audience now feels the team is a team, and any outside force trying to defeat that team especially due to a previous grudge, will be seen in antagonistic terms. A good villain.

    Regios has a lot of joke side stories and Leerin’s own plot line. Fitting them in can be tricky, but I’d leave that to the last 12 episodes. Crunch in all the action and crazy stuff at the end, using quick time animation and plot placing. The same way Code Geass pulled it off. Use the first 12 episodes to tell slower stories that build up.

    Basically, the goal is to win an inter-city tournament. Koshien anybody? Just build on that theme. You don’t need anything else for the first 10 episodes.

    Nina is a good contrast with Layfon. Nina is near the bottom ranking in terms of Military Art skill and power. Layfon is at the upper 1%. Yet Nina will demonstrate far more determination and will power than Layfon does in inter-platoon and inter-city matches. Eventually, Layfon starts teaching Nina and their relationship really gets deep at that point. Sharnid’s backstory had already been resolved at this point. Felli’s backstory is kept mysterious for a long long time. And Nina’s backstory was not told yet at the time Grendan met Zuellni.

    Part of the fun of Regios is reading the description of Kei and how it works. It is loosely based off of external and internal martial art philosophy, which I will explain shortly. Kei is like chi. Used internally it is like Tai Chi, it invigorates the body and heals it, as well as providing balance and fortitude. External kei is used to direct chi to the outside world to affect it, like Sharnid’s cannon shot or destructive beam techniques.

    This is like a Shonen anime in this respect, you know. The explanation of the battle technique is mandatory in Shonen anime. How to train to become stronger is also mandatory. But usually the character, like Naruto, trains from a stronger side story character. Here, the main character is training a side character. More interesting dynamics in the end.

    Once you fully understand the Kei system used in Regios, the inter-platoon battles and the duels between Military Artists gets really interesting. I have often found that movies and shows do a very poor job of explaining the details of a world or the logic by which that world functions. It happens in Fate Stay Night with the magic system. It happens a lot when it comes to explaining sword techniques or other things normal people don’t recognize when they see it.

    I don’t quite understand why because all you need to do is to have a person narrate the details as you are showing fights or important plot sequences. You can do that all the time given the combination of visual and audio information on screen. Maybe it just takes talent, genius talent, to be able to tell a story using only motion while telling a different complementary story using words.

    Do you remember the scene with Felli and her day job as a waitress? The real ending was this.

    The shop was required by city ordinance to win a contest or be declared outlawed. This was due to competition from clones that were drawing away business. Too many and everyone’s businesses will go bankrupt. So the city regulators were putting a copyright patent on it and the winner goes to whomever gets the most customers in X period. Obviously, the shop that originated the idea of maid uniforms, the one Felli works at, didn’t already have a patent lock of that sort. Although there are licenses, like for information or genetic tailoring techniques, amongst Regioses.

    Felli is popular so she was recruited due to the owner being one of Sharnid’s classmates. Felli was making a great draw. After she practiced smiling, due to the fact that as a psychokinesis they tend to end up cutting off human reactions due to their profession, she went to serve another customer. During this, a Military Arts customer got angry that food was spilled on him and started verbally demanding that Felli make amends. All she could do was bow her head and say gomen nasai over and over. The spill was actually caused by another waitress. In the end, the customer left, after having made a scene, once he got monetary payment.

    Sharnid and Layfon were watching all this from a camouflaged area (Sharnid is a sniper. He uses kei to remain completely motionless and undetectable). Skip to the scene outside the restaurant where a waitress with a maid costume of the aforementioned shop was talking to the Military Arts customer, about how just a few more such operations were needed to ensure that Felli would be disgraced and the shop put into ruins. You see, she had been bribed by a competitor to stage such operations and the Military Arts student was simply a paid lackey.

    Then they met Sharnid and Layfon. Layfon was at this time already recognized as an “Ace”. And Military Arts is setup so that they can legitimately duel each other. Sharnid was pressing the point that they were going to have to have Layfon challenge the Military Arts guy given recent events. A beginner like him would have no chance against Layfon. Nor was death or permanent injury ruled out in a duel, even with safety settings on the DITEs. But refusing to accept a challenge could also be interpreted as a fundamental lacking in the pride of a Military Artist. Although technically the authorities might have some pertinent questions as to why Layfon was challenging such a weakling, in the end the compromise was that if the Military Artist student took off his uniform, then it’d be okay and he could leave.

    That was the side story with the cafe, you see. If you compare it to the one in episode 4, I believe, which one do you think was better told?

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  7. I mostly finished Chrome Shelled Regios, ending episode 24.

    Using my rating system, I would put it at 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. 7/10

    The fight choreography is above average. The animation and color shading is rather nice and dramatic. I would do it slightly different, but it still gets the job done.

    The synthesis of sound, animation, plot, and emotion fits right starting from Episode 12 onwards.

    I’d give episodes 1-2 a 4 star. Episodes 3-11 a 2 star. Episodes 12-24 4 stars. If the ending had sucked, it’d have ended up a 3 or 2.5. Big negatives for bad ending. But while the ending was really different from the light novel due to the changes they made in plot and order of consistency, they actually pulled it off. Yes, they it actually made sense and wrapped up the elements they had artificially implanted. This is different from Utawarerumono in which they messed up the order and detail of the plot, but still tried to end with the Canon ending which required all the plot to remain consistent as originally envisioned.

    Stuff happened at the end of CSR that never happened that way in the light novel. But still, they produced some dramatic tension out of their work and for that I give them credit.

    It seems to me, in retrospect, ZX was priming the pump to make CSR a harem or romantic comedy. That is… not what CSR is mostly about, however. CSR is primarily about two things. Shonen anime power trips and the post-apocalyptica horror setting. The humor and romantic plot points were really side stories. ZX didn’t seem to feel comfortable taking the two strongest themes, however. Instead they focused on the humor and romance. They didn’t do a bad job of it. It was just not really what they should have done with CSR. They ended up having to make a lot of changes because of it.

    For example, if they had focused on the inter-platoon matches, they could have done a match in 1-2 episodes, just like the baseball games of Cross Game. The rest of the time they could do episodes. For 4-5 matches, that would make 10 episodes. So by the time episode 12 rolled around, they should already have gotten Sharnid’s backstory and the fight with Haia over with. Btw, Haia had messed with 17 platoon pretty severely by the time the Student President ordered them to cooperate and head out to attack the filth beasts. So there was A LOT of dramatic tension when they were out at night. Layfon was working with Haia, AFTER Layfon had almost killed him. This happened before that fight, not after.

    But there’d be no time to focus on MeiShen’s side story with Layfon.

    Explanation of inter-platoon match rules:

    The attacking side wins by shooting the flag, taking it down, or taking out all opponents.

    The defending side wins by preventing those goals from being achieved within the time limit or taking out the enemy commander.

    Here are some common strategies using the various team components.

    The psychokinesis, the ESPER, is a support player that scouts out the battlefield. On defense, she is used to detect enemy sneak attacks, flanks, and snipers. If the enemy sniper can get to a line of sight position on the flag, the game is over. So the ESPER tracks all enemies and relays information so that the Defense commander can correctly position his forces and defend the Flag.

    For attack strategies, the enemy attackers can take out the defending ESPER, thus blinding the defenders and allowing the sniper to get into position to shoot the flag.

    Teamwork is of essential importance here, since a team requires an attacker, a commander, a defender, and a support esper. An esper that is detected and attacked is in serious problem. That’s what the defender is for. Also anybody that gets past the defense commander, can go straight for the flag. That’s usually what the defense defender is for as well.

    On this note, the lack of numbers on Platoon Seventeen’s part is their major weakness. No matter how powerful their individual members are, the game is over based upon rules. Layfon can’t be everywhere. For defense, all they have to do is to spread out and infiltrate past Layfon. That’s why 17 is much weaker on the defense than on the attack. On the attack, if they don’t stop Layfon he will take the flag.

    This is just like Cross Game’s baseball matches. You don’t need to know the rules to be excited by it. But you do need the consequences of the rules explained to you. Otherwise, it makes no sense.

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