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Aquarion: EVOL - Season 2, Part 1
It's been between 6-7 years since the original Aquarion anime aired. It's hard to match the original in any situation, but after so much time has passed, it's damn near impossible with it happening very few times in media (T2 and Aliens are a couple of good examples), Evol has a lot to live up to, so how does Aquarion: Evol stack up against the original?
On the planet of Vega, The organization of Neo-DEAVA train young men and women called Elements to become the planet's protectors from it's sister planet, Altair. Altair's female population was wiped out by a mysterious disease called Curse of Eve. Their race comes to Vega in hopes of abducting their women, looking to preserve their own race. In Neo-DEAVA merging between 3 individuals is something the soldiers do to make a stronger mech and go against the Altair forces, however it is strictly forbidden for male and female to merge (and when they do it's apparently the equivalent to sex.) To make sure the two genders do not merge(out of fear of the Aquaria becoming Aquarion), they have erected a giant wall between the monastery where the women live and the base camp where the men live and train to become soldiers, prohibiting any contact between the two. They have even given the mecha safeguards so the two genders are not able merge.
With that said, Aquarion: Evol Takes place 12,000 years after the events in Aquarion. Since then the events that happened in the past series are considered myths, to the point that a movie was even made based on the events of the finale of the first season. It's here that we that we meet our two lead characters.
Amata Sora (voice of Christopher Bevins) is a boy who has always loved a movie called "Skies of Aquaria." So much so that he landed himself a job at the last theater that still shows the film. After a showing of the film while he is cleaning up the theater he meets Mikono Suzushiro (voice of Brina Palencia), a girl who also loves the film. Amata works up the courage to talk to her and ask her out, Amata and Mikono head out into the city to get to know each other a little bit more, but their date doesn't last long. While they are chatting about the movie on a boat ride, giant inter-dimensional mechs that are called "Abductors" attack the city. The only weapon mankind has developed that is capable of stopping the Abductors is a mech called the "Aquaria." Completely against his will, Amata ends up accidentally taking over one of the Aquaria with along with Mikono. In the process of this happening, Amata accidentally merges the Aquaruia with another female pilot and it becomes the Aquarion.
With the safeguards up, the Neo-DEAVA forces obviously want to know how Amata did what he did, so he along with Mikono are enrolled into their respective groups. The only problem is, the wall separating the two genders is no more. So the hormones between the two groups are at an all time high. Taking advantage of the situation, the forces allow for the men and women to merge since the stronger the emotion, the stronger the Aquaria.
Besides the first couple of episodes, there is not much action in these first 13 episodes included with Part 1. Most of the rumblings that involves Altair stays mostly in the background, but we are introduced to the main antagonist of Evol, his name is Mykage (voice of J. Michael Tatum.) Mykage doesn't particularly care about Altair being saved from extinction, his real motive is to become god by uncovering the Aquarion buried deep underneath Vega's surface.
The first 13 episodes included on this set we're introduced to a number of characters... Zessica (voice of Caitlin Glass), a girl whose in love with Amata and jealous of his feelings toward Mikono. Cayenne (voice of Jason Liebrecht), Mikono's older brother, who shows hostility toward Amata. Andy (voice of Josh Grelle) whom is love with Mix (voice of Alexis Tipton), Shrame (voice of Eric Vale), the strongest student, but the one who has the least stamina. Jin (voice of Todd Haberkorn), originally a spy for the Altair army, he ends up becoming close friends with a woman named Yunoha (voice of Luci Christian), he makes a grave sacrifice for his friends. In these 13 episodes the series primarily focuses on introducing the main characters and solidifying the relationships between the cast. Seeing these relationships develop between all of these characters with one another is the back bone of the series and is what holds it together, this is both a good thing and a negative. The positive is that I love a nice character driven story, the negative is that none of the characters in Evol are that interesting. While the majority of the set does focus on more of the love themes, the war with Mykage begins at the end of the set and ends with an emotional cliffhanger that propels us to want to watch Part 2.
I should probably state that Evol is not a direct continuation to the original, Aquarion. However, to fully enjoy Evol you will want to have watched the first series. There are references to Aquarion, and some cameos from some of the original characters.
- The Artwork of certain things like the Mecha and background art are stunning.
- The lead performances from Christopher Bevins and Brina Palencia are terrific.
- For a show set about 12,000 years after the original and featuring almost none of the characters from the 1st series, you're all but required to watch the predecessor or you will be pretty lost going in.
- Overall Dub. The acting is OK, with the leads handled nicely by Christopher Bevins and Brina Palencia (one of my favorite voice actors.) I normally love FUNimation's dub work. They are a terrific company and pretty much set the standard of what a modern dub should sound like. Aquarion Evol's dub however, isn't that impressive. Other than the two leads, nobody else really stood out, there is a lot of over acting or it just doesn't sound inspired enough at times. It's decent and gets the job done, it's just not great like most modern FUNi dubs are.
- Unlikable female lead. While Brina Palencia does a good job with the role, Mikono herself is quite annoying and doesn't really give me a reason to care for her.
Video and Audio:
The animation quality can be pretty hit or miss in Evol. The action scenes are absolutely beautiful... the level of detail of the Aquarion's is easily enough to warrant a four star rating, the palette is simply stunning. The backgrounds are heavily detailed as well. With such a beautiful show, the character designs are a letdown. While each characters design is quite unique, they're just rather dull. The close up shots are decently drawn, but the faraway shots are not well detailed at all, with some characters at times not even having faces.
The audio options for are a TrueHD English 5.1 dub track and a TrueHD Japanese Stereo. Like usual I watched the English dub and I didn't particularly love it. So if you're more of a Japanese audio fan anyway, I'd recommend viewing it that way.
Extras: - Episode 09 with lead actor and director, Christopher Bevins (voice of Akata.) Alexis Tipton (voice of Mix), and Josh Grelle (voice of Andy.) - "The Myth of Ten Thousand Years and Two Thousand More Returns" - a Twenty Two minute long feature that is presented in Japanese only and features interviews with the Japanese cast, information about the first season, how it connects to Aquarion Evol and what it was like returning to the franchise. - Textless opening and closing themes. - U.S. trailer for Evol. - Standard FUNi trailers. The limited edition also comes with a nice looking chipboard artbox with some of the characters on the front along with the Aquarion. Overall: We get a solid first half of the series that is mainly character driven. The characters themselves are OK but the underlying story with Mykage is much better, and it looks like Part 2 will be a step up from Part 1. For now, the series gets Lightly Recommended.
- Episode 09 with lead actor and director, Christopher Bevins (voice of Akata.) Alexis Tipton (voice of Mix), and Josh Grelle (voice of Andy.)
- "The Myth of Ten Thousand Years and Two Thousand More Returns" - a Twenty Two minute long feature that is presented in Japanese only and features interviews with the Japanese cast, information about the first season, how it connects to Aquarion Evol and what it was like returning to the franchise.
- Textless opening and closing themes.
- U.S. trailer for Evol.
- Standard FUNi trailers.
The limited edition also comes with a nice looking chipboard artbox with some of the characters on the front along with the Aquarion.
Overall: We get a solid first half of the series that is mainly character driven. The characters themselves are OK but the underlying story with Mykage is much better, and it looks like Part 2 will be a step up from Part 1. For now, the series gets Lightly Recommended.