With only a surface glance at the series, Chrome Shelled Regios might not seem to be the most wholly original anime series out there. It follows some prescribed anime formulas, but in my imaginary hipster-speak it 'surfs those anime turfs' rather nicely. It is all at once a giant bug anime (ick), a goofball comedy (yippee!), and yet another apocalyptic entry with a reluctant young hero who must fight off the abnormal invaders (oh come on - I'm talking about another one of those Neon Genesis Evangelion-esque shows again, aren't I?!). Yet the very quality I mentioned in the middle of the mix - the goofball comedy aspect - that is perhaps the defining trait that brings the series predominantly "been there, done that" formula into uncommon and rarely charted grounds. The series centers its attention on the members of the Zuellni University Military Arts Section (which is apparently a school function). The time is staged for the events taking place to occur sometime in the future. Things are astray - but will they stay that way forever?
The reason I claim the quirky-nature of the show to be such a valuable strength is that I honestly cannot attest to many series where giant bugs kill people and destroy cities while the core characters like to spend half their time (at minimum) simply sitting around talking and making weird jokes with one another in that uniquely anime style. This entire show basically plays out as though it could fit within a purely comedic model. Nonetheless, the background plotline is actually quite serious in both tone and idea: that creatures are destroying the planet and our time could end.
The most impressive thing about Chrome Shelled Regios is how likeable the characters can be. It's easy to enjoy spending time with such a fun group of oddballs, and I was always interested in learning more about the entire group. The lead character is Layfon, who is the latest to be recruited into the Military Arts Section. He is our reluctant hero - and when he came to the school his natural instinct was just to take normal educational courses, but this was quickly shot down by the leader of the Section (who ends up offering him a full scholarship on the condition he follow his 'demands' and joins the Section). Another fascinating character is Nina, who seems to have a strong admiration for the abilities of newcomer Layfon while also maintaining a deep yearning to excel and surpass him.
The animation is rather breathtaking. I loved the character designs, and the setting of the universe. It was very enveloping and surprising how the animators created an apocalyptic word that might actually be a fun place to go on vacation too (well, maybe not). The music was also quite complimentary, and contained both strong opening/ending theme songs with enough edge to keep the flow going, and a solid score that contains many techno elements that adds to the flavor of the action sequences.
I was ultimately happy to find a series that managed to surpass my initially lower expectations. The first episode does a decent job of introducing the characters, setting, and themes of the show. The episodes to follow continued to successfully build upon the strong beginning but by the end of this first (of two) sets I was beginning to scratch my head at some of the odd occurrences happening, much of which seemed to be turning events into a sequence of confusing flashbacks that simply weren't adding up. Hopefully the second set will make that aspect of the show clearer and will allow me to enjoy re-watching this charming production for years to come.
I was expecting a bit more from the transfer for this series. While the anamorphic widescreen 1:85:1 transfer is moderately sharp and contains strong colors the animation is also a tad softer than I had hoped for. I also noticed occasional aliasing which took me by surprise. The presentation is most certainly pleasing on the eyes but it does not excel as an especially top-tier transfer.
Chrome Shelled Regios is presented with both the original Japanese stereo mix and a newly produced English Language 5.1 surround sound mix. I found that experiencing the show in either the original language or with the English dub would be suitable for most viewers. The 5.1 English mix has a slightly better soundstage, but it is not dramatically improved upon. The Japanese audio has slightly preferable voice acting (at least in my mind) but it doesn't run circles over the alternative. Either way, the sound definitely manages to perform adequately even if it is not capable of overwhelming the senses.
There isn't much to find in the video extras department on this release. There are some textless opening/ending credits and trailers for other recent and upcoming Funimation titles.
It should be noted that the Limited Edition version of the Part One release (as herein reviewed) contains an extra item - a Chrome Shelled Regios miniature flag. While the sentiment is nice I'm not too fond of the idea of a tiny bonus item bringing viewers an increase in price. To be perfectly honest: I also have no use for a mini flag from this show. It doesn't interest me. The more attractive addition to this Limited release is an art box (which wisely doesn't state Part One on the spine of the box). After removing the bonus flag and purchasing the Part Two DVD release any fan can choose to house all four slim-cases in the box so that the entire series can be stored this way. Personally, I love packaging like this and can see how fans might consider it an attractive bonus to purchasing this edition.
Produced in 2009 as an adaptation of a series of popular light novels (unavailable in North America as of this writing), Chrome Shelled Regios is a fun anime series that manages to mix both an apocalyptic sci-fi yarn with an off-the-wall sense of humor. The series may get a bit confusing at times in this first half so hopefully the remainder of the show will manage to properly resolve any questions and vagueness that is found in the Part One DVD release. Regardless, the cast of likeable characters makes this anime an enjoyable experience.