Koukaku no Regios (Chrome Shelled Regios)

[singlepic id=101 w=320 h=240 float=left] [singlepic id=103 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Post apocalyptic worlds in anime are a bit of a strange area to visit as you’re never quite sure what you’ll find. It could be a world of amnesiacs, a princess who loves to fly, a lone warrior searching for his lost love, an outcast hunting his own kind, a boy from another world trying to stop a warmongering dictator, or something else entirely.

Imagine my surprise then, to find a high school.

That’s right. Here at the end of the world the best that some bright spark could come up with was another high school. That said, Koukaku no Regios (Chrome Shelled Regios), does use the setting rather well, and approaches the whole concept in a manner that is somewhat entertaining.

Originally, Chrome Shelled Regios began life as a series of light novels by Amagi Shusuke, with a manga adaptation by Miyu available around the same time. A second manga adaptation followed, this time by Kiyose Nodoka, then a third (by Watari), and finally a fourth, which is, unusually, a 4-koma version by Futaba Masumi.

Oh, and there’s a prequel light novel series called Legend of Regios as well.

The story begins in the academy city of Zuellni, a domed mobile “fortress” that roams the post apocalyptic world, where Layfon Wolfstein Alsief is hoping to forget his turbulent past and begin a new life. Unfortunately, he quickly catches the attention of Karian Loss, the student council president, and Nina Antalk, the leader of the 17th Military Arts Platoon.

At first glance Chrome Shelled Regios seems like a pretty standard fantasy styled anime, and truth be told, this is a pretty accurate impression. The plot is fairly straight forward, with little in the way of true complexity. Unfortunately, the manner in which the story is delivered has all the hallmarks of an action melodrama, and while there are some comedic elements thrown into the mix in an effort to balance things out, the overall effect is rather lopsided.

Probably the biggest example of this is the main character’s “turbulent past” and the reasons why he is attending Zuellni. There is a clear attempt to obtain sympathy from the audience, however the plot seems overly contrived, and rather than ensuring that this aspect of the story is part of the greater tale, it instead stands out as one of several occasions where the show has tried to elicit a reaction from the viewer.

The main problem with this is that the writers have adopted an approach that is more like a traditional fantasy, something which would normally be fine given that this is ultimately a light novel adaptation. It’s unfortunate then, that the transposition from paper to screen doesn’t quite work, however this may be because the writers literally had multiple versions of the story, so instead of creating their own version, they simply decided to pick the best bits from all the other versions and string them together.

The end result is a story that has its plus points, but doesn’t really know what to do with them.

While the story may be a bit haphazard at times, the art and animation are of a good standard throughout the series. The characters are pretty standard fare in terms of design, but they are well animated and possess their own unique features. The backgrounds are a strange mixture of the familiar and the unusual, mainly because of the incongruousness of a post apocalyptic high school. That said, the level of detail is pretty good throughout, and while there are some genuinely absurd moments, they don’t reall affect the overall look of the show.

As far as the music goes, the show uses a variety of pieces over the course of the series, but while the choregrpahy is often good, the music sometimes doesn’t mesh with the on screen action. The OP is a typical “beats per minute” dance track called Brave Your Truth by Daisy x Daisy. Like many other shows, Chrome Shelled Regios has two EDs, Yasashii Uso and Ai no Zuellni, both of which are by Chrome Shelled. Both are bittersweet ballads that, unfortunately, don’t work all the time given the context of the episode itself.

On the other hand, the acting is actually pretty decent. The seiyuu are talented and play their roles fairly well, although there are some occasions where the character can seem unnaturally emotional, something which is partly due to the script itself rather than the skills of the actors.

One of my biggest gripes with Chrome Shelled Regios was the lack of originality when it came to character types. Granted there are only so many to go around, however the writers seemed to have followed the cut and paste format to the letter. While the plot may be interesting in parts and the story engaging to a degree, in a series like this it’s ultimately the characters that make the whole thing shine. The lead roles are interesting enough, but their development can often seem overly conrtived. In addition to this, the actual characterisation is fairly basic at best, and very little time is spent on ensuring that the characters have reasonable and valid justifications for their actions.

Again, this may be due to the writers attempting to incorporate all of the versions of the story into one narrative, but whatever the reason may be, the upshot is that this show really could have been so much more than it is. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, as Chrome Shelled Regios is entertaining in its own way. The problem is that the ideas and concepts behind the show could have been planned and executed better. The post apocalyptic high school, for example, is a novel idea, but instead of trying for more originality, the creators have gone in the other direction.

In simpler terms there are many thing in Chrome Shelled Regios that have been done before, and often done better. The series relies too much on stereotypes and plot devices, and too little on innovation, creativity and ingenuity. The sad part about all of this is that while the show is entertaining enough to be enjoyable to a degree, many of the elements that make up the series have only really been applied to maintain the viewer’s interest (and hopefully sell some Chrome Shelled Regios goodies). This is the reason why the comedy doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the plot, and the lack of cohesion at the most basic level is ultimately the reason for the poor characterisation as well.

It’s unfortunate that, once again, a series with a great deal of potential has been let down by its creators. One can only hope that the future will bring improvements, and that more companies will stop making shows that are nothing more than glorified advertisements for related merchandise.

After all, who knows what I’ll find on my next foray into a post apocalyptic world …

Leave a Reply