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Robotics;Notes: Part Two
Robotics; Notes is an anime adaptation based upon the visual novel video game released by the Japanese production company 5pb. The story told is the third one in the game series subtitled "Science Adventure" and the anime realization of the story was animated by the acclaimed Production I.G. There is also a manga series that was published in Monthly Comic Blade. Funimation entertainment has licensed and released the anime in two sets; this collection contains the remaining group of episodes that concludes the story.
The concept of Robotics; Notes begins with the idea that a group of friends who were fans of a (fictional) anime series have decided to use their inspiration to create a giant robot and to see what such a creation would result in. These friends wind up forming a robotics club at their school, which leads them closer to their goal of making a new model. Yet things aren't that easygoing for them - not only must they deal with the huge workload of making their robot, there's a robot battle happening inside Tokyo and they learn about a mysterious organization aiming to work towards a apocalyptic ending to most of the world - leaving only a small core group of individuals behind and with their diabolical organization in charge.
Can Kaito, Akiho, and every other member that is involved in the special robotics club find a way to make their dreams come true while also protecting the world from impending danger? Can they do this while also juggling school and their daily lives that help to make up their world? These are the question at the front and center of the story in Robotics; Notes. The storyline has a episodic approach in many different respects - with a certain focus on some of the characters and a side story to accompany - but the main plot revolves around the construction of the robot and a looming threat that must be defeated.
The first thing an anime fan will notice when seeing Robotics; Notes is how lushly realized the animation is from Production I.G., which has a reputation for making beautiful anime films and series (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Eden of the East, Tsubasa, and some Pokemon films - just to name a few). The character designs are generally quite strong and notable but it's a keen attention to craft in details, background objects, environmental landscape shots, and the big tech wizardry of the robots that helps to keep the animation style of this anime more interestingly realized.
The storyline and characters are not the most interesting, though. The plotline involving the mysterious organization and their diabolical plots seems fairly typical and a bit convoluted, which isn't uncommon for anime series produced following video games (even if the game in question was designed as a 'novel' game of sorts). The characters are all fairly one-note as well, with Kaito being the typical hero role and their being supporting cast that includes a zany, over-the-top scientist, and some fairly one-dimensional supporting players.
The upside of Robotics; Notes is that those who enjoys a series that attempts to blend something akin to a slice-of-life program with a more mecha-action sub genre approach will find that there might be something about Robotics; Notes that will appeal directly to them. Even if it isn't the most successful series, some fans might enjoy it more for the reason that it's genre blending is something that stands out as a bit more unique.
Unfortunately, the ending is sort of uninvolving and its too quickly resolved and generic last few frames offer up a decent endnote at best that suggests that there could be some more Robotics; Notes anime produced in the future, but without leaving things open ended plot-wise. If one is capable of enjoying an anime series for its spectacular visuals and for overall solid production values - even if it means the technical merits exceed the storytelling - Robotics; Notes still has something to offer up that some anime fans will consider worth checking out.
Robotics; Notes Part 2 arrives on Blu-ray with a strong 1080p High Definition presentation. The mostly solid encoding job presents the series with generally high bit-rates and good solid color reproduction that fairly accurately presents the animation and the stylistic flair of the series. If one looks at it a bit more the series does tend to dip to too low bit-rates between some scenes, which caused some degree of compression artifacts, but these moments are fleeting. Most of Robotics; Notes viewers won't be likely to notice when the bulk of the presentation is clean, smooth, and vibrant to behold. The series is presented in its native 1.78:1 aspect ratio from broadcast.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English dub track has better presence and is more immersive with some good separation between various audio elements. The 2.0 Dolby TrueHD Japanese dub track is comparatively less stellar but it is an ample and well done stereo presentation. The dialogue on both dubs is always easy to follow and understand. There is some good usage of sound effects for the action scenes too. The bass isn't too prominent, but the clarity of the vocals and music make this a respectable lossless audio presentation of the series.
English subtitles are provided.
The set contains a Science Adventure Series Interview Part 2, clearly named after the subtitle given to the series in which the visual game originated from, which features members of the English dub team discussing the show, their voice-work, and other things.
The set also contains English dub audio commentaries on two episodes, textless songs (OP/ED), the US trailer for Robotics; Notes, and additional trailers promoting Funimation Entertainment releases. Lastly, it is worth noting that the Blu-ray/DVD combo set is packaged with an o-card slipcover.
Robotics; Notes is a genre mix that combines two different anime staples. This is a robotics story that intertwines with a school club/slice of life setting before delving further into a apocalyptic storyline that ends the series. The animation is stunning. The production merit is universally pleasant. The series does feel sort of bland and generic though and I thought that the ending wasn't that impressive. Established fans of the series can make an easy purchase with a good release from Funimation, while everyone else (newcomers to the series and/or the set) might want to opt for a rental instead.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.