Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 600 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
How the battle of the sexes turned into a battle for human survival.
Having missed out on Vandread when it was first released but heard nothing but good things about it from everyone in this office, I patiently waited for The Complete Series set and quickly found myself realizing why everyone loved it so much. You see, Vandread feels familiar but at the same time it does its own thing and does it very well. By the end of the 26th and final episode, I was completely hooked.
Vandread tells the futuristic story of a young man named Hibiki Tokai who lives on a planet composed entirely of men because, centuries ago, their forefathers believed that women were the cause of all problems and were evil creatures that drained the life out of men. As a result, this planet of men build mech-like war machines called Vanguards to fight against women‘s armored Dreads. On the day the military sends out a ship to fight against the planet of the women, Hibiki sneaks onboard the ship only to find out that said ship took off into space. Being a third-class citizen, Hibiki’s presence aboard a military ship is a crime but when the ship is attacked by a group of female pirates, Hibiki’s life changes forever.
During the attack, Hibiki, along with a male officer named Bart and the ship’s Doctor named Duero, are taken captive by the women. During the course of the invasion, however, the male Captain orders the section of the ship destroyed but an event turns that section of the ship into a whole new vessel. With the exception of a cute girl named Dita – who is fascinated by Hibiki – all the women aboard the new ship consider the men prisoners of war.
It isn’t until a mysterious enemy known as the Harvesters attack the ship that everyone on board, including the men, lend a hand to defeat them. With Bart taking control of the ship physically and the Doctor becoming the ship’s physician, it becomes Hibiki’s job to man the only Vanguard on the ship. To Hibiki, it becomes second nature to pilot the Vanguard and he does so to the point of impressing all the girls on board the ship they later call the Nirvana. Slowly, the men on board are accepted by many of the women pirates. Dita, for instance, has something of a crush on him despite the fact that she continuously calls him “Mister Alien” instead of calling him by his name.
The first half of the series finds Hibiki not only becoming comfortable with his new role piloting the Vanguard but also making heads or tails of women. He’s actually annoyed by them, particularly Dita, but slowly finds himself accepting advice from many of the women including combat leader Meia who he unwittingly comes to see as a big sister figure. He even begins to gain the respect of the elderly Captain and the Commander the girls call BC. As all three men become accustomed to working with the girls, the notion of the old days when men lived with women didn’t seem so farfetched or a bad thing.
There are moments when the women turn on the men but they realize that they might need the men more than they care to admit in order to defeat the Harvesters whose plans become known and surprises everyone. As the crew of the Nirvana stops to aid humans attacked by the enemy – such as the time when the crew saved a cult – the pirates begin to focus more on their mission than looking for loot. Many of the crew even begin to grow close to each another especially the three girls that combine their female Dreads with Hibiki’s Vanguard to create three different kinds of Vandread types.
The series’ first season concludes with a number of new characters making their introductions, such as a male pirate and his female gorilla who pisses Hibiki off enough that the young man learns that he should stand up for himself with more conviction. It is on this journey that the young man does become more sure of himself. So, in the second season included in the set called The Second Stage, Hibiki not only pushes on to protect the girls and everyone on board the Nirvana but also discovers the meaning of his existence. He does some growing up … or rather situations make him grow up like the time he helps deliver a shipmate’s baby or when he loses the one motherly figure that made a lot of sense to him.
In the second part of the series, not only is the truth about the enemy is revealed but also the truth about Hibiki as well. Fighting to save humanity, the crew learn many other things about themselves and there’s a big shocking secret about the Commander that pops up as well. Believe me, you don’t see any of this coming and even the final battle against the Harvester foes is downright impressive.
Vandread has plenty of action throughout the entire series and even more mech action to keep the combat fresh throughout. Still, what makes the series such a compelling series is the interactions between the many colorful characters and how they slowly begin to change the way they view the opposite sex. Even more interesting is the peek into what life would be like if women only existed or what a planet filled with men would be like as well. I even enjoyed the playful flirting between characters and how each one awkwardly responds to it. In the end, gender really doesn’t play a role in their final fight but rather what humanity as a whole could do to save what is important to all of them.
What we have in Vandread, The Complete Series, is a meaningful and thoroughly entertaining anime series that is way too much fun to even want to stop watching. It’s characters and interesting plot might seem familiar to fans of the genre but believe me when I say that Vandread is one of those anime series that follows its own path and we’re just glad enough to come along for the ride. Consider this one another Must Buy set.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Hibiki Tokai is a third-class citizen in a planet where there are no women and consider them mortal enemies of all men. It isn’t until he is taken captive by a band of women space pirates that Hibiki and three other men from his planet learn that the two genders can work together to fight a common enemy that threatens all of humanity.
VIDEO QUALITY: A+
The animation if just plain gorgeous, especially in The Second Stage where even the CGI effects look better. There are some inconsistent animation in the first half of the series but that’s not to say it isn’t pretty at all.
AUDIO QUALITY: A
The voice acting for the English dub and Japanese voices are both top notch, although I definitely like the original Japanese voices a bit more thanks to a stellar cast. I like the opening and closing theme songs in the first half of the series more than the decent Aki Kudou songs in the second half. Plus, the original score by Yasunori Miasaki is amazing.
There are no extras to speak of besides the scatter of trailers that comes with the fourth disc. I do love the DVD slim case artwork, though, but that doesn’t count as an extra. On the plus side, it’s great to find The Second Stage in this set.
The beauty of anime like Vandread is that we’ve seen this type of anime before but, thanks to its own unique twist and a likeable cast of characters, this series manages to be a surprisingly deep and meaningful series destined to remain a fan favorite. If you haven’t seen if before, we most definitely recommend you pick this one up right away.