Two months ago Dragonaut the Resonance arrived on my doorstep and I didn't really know what to make of it at first. The show had some very interesting concepts and was steeped in a science fiction motif, so naturally it peaked my interest. Unfortunately the focus on fan-service really didn't sit well in most circumstances, and many possibly dramatic moments were ruined by gigantic, gravity-defying boobs. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind stuff like this in small doses, but it was taken to the extreme in this show. Because of that the first set felt kind of awkward and lacked focus. Does the second fair any better?
Before I get into how this second installment wound up, let's take a look at what the show is about for those readers who just joined us. So, basically the whole thing takes place reasonably far into the future. Space travel has become something of an every day thing. There are colonies on the moon and such as well as shuttles that travel to and fro. On one day that was like any other Jin Kamishina was on a flight his father was piloting when the ship suddenly exploded. Jin survived the blast and fell back down to Earth, but was saved by a being from space named Toa.
This is where things in Dragonaut get a little convoluted. Toa is actually a "Dragon" from space and she can turn into a mechanized monster when she resonates with a human, such as Jin. Soon enough there's a secret organization that uses Dragons bound to humans that's brought into the mix, another faction of militants that makes themselves known, and everyone comes together to talk about the coming destruction of Earth at the hands of a thing in space called Thanatos. There's a lot of infighting between all the groups and to make a long story short the first volume pushed Jin and Toa closer together, introduced a third wheel named Gio, and brought our planet every closer to destruction.
To say that Dragonaut is an ambitious show would be an understatement. Right from the get go it's full of death, destruction, boobs, and the impending doom of Earth. I got a very strong Gravion-vibe from the series, and let's just say that didn't to this show any favors. Unfortunately things don't get a whole lot better for the second installment.
When this volume picks up with Toa being held on Mars. This prompts Jin, Gio, and some of the others to pony up and go to the rescue, but there are those who would stand in their way so to speak. Naturally a fight ensues, but I think you can probably figure out the outcome of the battle so it should be no surprise that Jin and Gio make it to Toa in the end. Upon their reuniting the show progresses the relationship between Jin and Toa in rather predictable ways. Watching this show, one just knew from the start that these two would wind up together, and that bit is never really in question during this installment. What is up in the air is just who will make it to the end alive.
With all the chaos that erupts as the show moves towards its final arc with Thanatos creeping ever so closely to Earth, it's no surprise that things heat up. The show does up the ante in this regard and there are some exciting battles. Keep that in mind, however, since there are some not-so great ones as well thanks to the overuse of Communicator-form CGI (the Dragon's other state) and boobs that get in the way.
Ultimately the ending is a bit of a mixed bag because of this. The dramatic elements are there, but they are sandwiched in between the weaker points of the series. Adding to disappointment are some episodic pieces, an awkward focus on the life of Jin and Toa, and a flash-forward of the series to a point one year later. The show stays coherent enough to be understood and it offers some truly awesome artwork and designs, but to say it's well-put together would be an overstatement. With a little more fine-tuning of the plot, less boobs, less CGI, and less stereotypical characters Dragonaut would have really stood out. As is this is middle of the road anime that will appeal to some, but should be overlooked by most. Consider it a rental if you're curious.
Dragonaut is presented on DVD with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and has been enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show maintains a very vibrant, colorful look with clean lines and some downright sharp resolution. The animation isn't exactly the best that we've seen from Gonzo, but it's not "bad" by any stretch of the imagination. As far as the technical quality of the show there's very little in terms of grain to be found here, and compression artifacts aren't really a problem (there are some in space, but it's not too distracting). Aliasing is probably the most prevalent flaw that crops up in this transfer, but even that's not too pervasive.
Japanese 2.0 stereo and English 5.1 surround are what FUNimation has put on this set for audio mixes. The quality of both tracks is very good with the English selection offering a little more "oomph" with regards to explosions and whatnot. The sense of immersion isn't the strongest and it definitely won't rock your bass, but the difference between the two tracks is noticeable. As far as the dub quality is concerned I found that the Japanese track was decidedly better. The English cast just didn't have much of a spark and many lines come across as emotionless and deadpan.
Like the first installment of Dragonaut, the second half offers clean animations and trailers, as well as an English audio commentary. The first two features are standard, but the commentary was much appreciated. The English cast sounded much livelier when they weren't working on the script, and it would appear that they had a great time putting this piece together. It's entertaining to listen to and definitely worth the time to do so.
It's not the best show in the world, though it's not the worst either. Dragonaut finds its home somewhere in the middle really. This is a collection of ideas mashed together with sci-fi trappings and an obnoxious amount of cleavage. My feelings on the show have remained the same from the first installment. It's frustrating to watch because all of the pieces are there to make this show epic, but it constantly falls on its face (or breasts, whichever hits the ground first). Ultimately the show winds up with an appropriate ending however that's not saying much. This is a mid-ranged series from start to finish and one that should be considered a rental.
Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!