Scryed End for Some, Play in the Play for Others

I’m satisfied with how Star Driver ended, and this is why.

For starters, Star Drivers is pretty meta. I think it would be almost stating the obvious to say that this is not a good Mecha show. In the various interviews our lead dudes have professed of not having that sort of knowledge, but in the case that you didn’t follow those delicious behind-the-scene notes from Igarashi and Enokido, it’s hard to miss that there’s this Utena-esqe flair in a lot of the elements in the show. In fact the story seemed more like a regular high school intrigue thing with random battles thrown in there for good measure. In that sense it’s kind of like Utena, too: wait, was there anybody watching that as a Samurai flick? I guess the setup is not too dissimilar to a typical story where an outside guy comes in town and raise havoc. And I mean Utena not Star Driver…

The mecha battles themselves are pretty fun to watch per se, but they lack a certain sense of grit, as if it wasn’t really obvious that they were merely vehicles [/zing] to express certain resolution or points of catharsis for character development. But all that glitter and fabulousness isn’t going to fool me! Maybe that is where some find the show disappointing, like all the reused footage in Utena or the lame sword fights.

The second point, to talk about Utena again, is the structural similarity between Utena and Star Driver. I think if you get one show, you should be able to understand the other. This is not to say anything else about how the two are similar, but it is more like we are getting different themes expressed through the same mechanisms. To use an analogy, it’s like being able to understand one story told to you in gibberish probably means you can understand another, different story told to you in the same language. But that analogy also shows how sometimes you may be able to understand something out of familiarity of subject matter despite how that communication is less than perfect, like a weeaboo talking to a Japanese fan of the same, despite a language barrier.

Then we have the meta-of-meta problem. I talked about the play in a play before, and that sums up both what makes Star Driver work and also arguably its largest flaw. And it should surprise nobody that the series ended just like how the play did. Wako poured her heart out during that battle scene, and that’s as close as we’re going to get to a concession (despite the whole “hey, isn’t that voice-over gimmick what someone does in a play?”) And isn’t that a (relatively) radical message in of itself? It didn’t give me a feeling of “woah that’s pretty awesome” like, say, the end to Canvas 2 anime (it’s a spoiler) but this is a much better way to do it than, for instance, Asobi ni Ikuyo. The problem about meta is simply that the audience tend to get caught up in that and miss the main point behind it all, despite that the meta is an illustrative device serving overall thematic ideas.

I phrased it like a problem, but the meta is a guiding post to understand what the hell the show is actually about; it’s an intended feature, not a bug. Maybe you would think Star Driver could have done a better job by trying to express thing, y’know, normally? I suppose that is up to debate.

Lastly, what goes well probably also ends well. Regardless of our feelings about epic bromances, Takuto and Sugata’s final duel was something, wasn’t it? It’s a good note to end on.

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5 responses to “Scryed End for Some, Play in the Play for Others

  • Arabesque

    This was a really nice read. I might have a different view on the show and reasons to enjoy this show, but I quite like yours more so than mine lol.

    ”to talk about Utena again, is the structural similarity between Utena and Star Driver.”

    but thematically they are very different. In essence Utena and Star Driver are centered on completely separate themes, the former is mainly (but not exclusively) about revolution while the latter is about youth (or to be exact, the ideal of the limitlessness of the spirit of youth and their carefree attitude towards life). Sure, both shows do make their central cores more apparent as they unfold towards the end, but they are in the end I think why Utena ended up being remembered as more impressive (aside from possibly the nostalgic and people who consider all anime nowadays garbage) is that it had a much grander theme. Star Driver on the other hand was really all about high school high jinx, teens beating the crap out of each other, falling in love, messing around and not having a care on their heads (because thats the idea Enokido has of youth at least) with the mecha being added on to give them (the animators) all an opportunity so they can go wild with the crazy action.

    ”It’s a good note to end on.”
    I suppose so, though I was really interested in this series finale, not the unaired 28th episode of Gurren Laggan lol :P

    I personally loved every moment of the show, even if I don’t consider it to have a great story (though at a certain moment, it looked like it was heading to greatness, but then again much like how young people are supposedly like, I guess it’s fitting the show shows to be an underachiever in that department)

    That all being said, I regret nothing. I loved many moment of the show, I liked a number of characters, the music and animation was great, and I never felt down while watching it. If anything, it makes me more anxious to get a hold on the entire series along with its OST so I can own it.

    It’s a fun series overall, though it had the makings to truly be something more than fun. But meh, when your so young, fun is really that you need.

  • omo

    Thanks for expanding on the thematic difference. I left it unsaid in the post but that’s basically what you’ve said.

  • JELEINEN

    I really liked the show. What I find puzzling is the aspect of the show that had the most fidelity to the giant robot genre (the gratuitous fight every episode) is the part most people seemed to complain about.

  • vendredi

    I thought the ending was fairly decent as well… although I must say, my hopes for a Macross-styled all-out Maiden Medley were dashed at the very end. Feels more like a missed opportunity.

    I think part of the disappointment is, to reply to your thoughts and Arabesque’s above, is not so much the lack of theme per se… I’m not sure if anyone was by the end point still thinking Star Driver could really ever measure up to Utena on that angle. However, the series throughout has been just been great spectacle, to the point where I think many viewers were expecting perhaps more flash or pizazz than was delivered at the very end. Not that there wasn’t any flash at all, but things did feel a little rushed.

    Rumour has it that the production of the last episode just barely made it in to the deadline too, which may have contributed to the entire rushed feeling.

  • omo

    The rush feeling is probably because the whole story sort of snuck up on people, kind of like Kanako’s cruise ship’s real purpose. There lacks a gradual build-up sense of urgency.

    It doesn’t feel particularly rushed to me, or rather it is more the opposite, how it leisurely took its time to get to the end.

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