Chrome Shelled Regios Part 2 (Episodes 13-24) (Cert 15)
2 Discs (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 275 minutes approx.
Trying to summarise the story of this series for my review of the first volume wasn’t easy as it was an uncoordinated mess of ideas all thrown together with little regard for coherence or continuity. So, resuming viewing after a two month break and with no recap afforded for the returning audience, meant picking up the plot wasn’t a particularly easy task. Emptying the Atlantic Ocean with a fork would be the more manageable job. But I’ll try.
We left the story with Leerin Marfes begging Queen Alsheyra of the Regios city of Glendan to allow the show’s central protagonist Layfon Alseif to return home after being expelled years before. Alsheyra tells Leerin that it has to be Layfon’s decision as he is now fighting for another city, Zuellni in the war against the invading Contaminoids –the supposed opposition of the series although you wouldn’t know it since they have barely been featured and the cast spend more time fighting against each other!
Meanwhile the Salinban Mercenary Training Group, who showed up at the end of the previous volume, are seeking information on the Fallen One, which is in fact Gandoweria, the electronic spirit of the city of the same name, which takes the form of a large angry goat. Since Layfon and his friends have no information they all fight in sanctioned inter-group battles instead. Later they bury the hatchet and become allies in the fight against the Contaminoids which heats up when Gandoweria possesses Layfon’s platoon captain Nina Antalk – who has also been possessed by Zuellini’s electrical spirit – which somehow leads to the Contaminoids being able to infiltrate the dome cities and wreak havoc.
Again, apologies of that sounds like glib rubbish but the plot is buried beneath so much extraneous nonsense and scores of other sub plots involving the seemingly endless cast that extracting this much story is almost a miracle – there is SO much going on here. As mentioned in the previous review, the source material for this adaptation was a series of light novels and it would appear that the elements from these have been pulled out at random rather than following one direct plot route, hence the overabundance of ideas being presented to us.
Similarly, in these later episodes the focus of this expansive cast changes, with many of the prominent faces from earlier disappearing into the ether while the new arrivals take their screentime. At a point in the proceedings where we should be inching closer towards a resolve, adding more characters should be the last thing you want to do, but as you might have guessed, such a sensible convention has been ignored. If it isn’t the Salinban Mercenary Training Group, then it’s the mysterious occult group Wolfmask Mob whose mission is to do with the Fallen One (I think) and the long awaited arrival of the Heaven’s Blades who don’t really do much at all save for lending a hand during the huge battle during the final episode.
The conceit of this second half – among others – appears to be the DITE (the magical weapons they use) which Leering arrives in Zuellni with to give to Layfon. Infused with the spirit of Saya – a woman whose only appearance has been in Leerin’s hitherto unmentioned magical right eye (yes, Leerin does seem to have a purpose beyond being groped by Alsheyra) – this DITE needs to chose its wielder and Leerin believes Layfon is that person. But, in true adventure fashion, this is not a straightforward task and all manner of distractions hinder Leerin’s progress, from bring detained by the authorities to chasing after possessed birds.
As you have probably divined by now, original novel writer Shūsuke Amagi and the scribe behind this adaptation Mamiko Ikeda have no shortage of good ideas for plots, subplots and overarching adventures, but the problem isn’t the shortage of material, rather the insistence of cramming the whole lot into one show. There is potential for at least three fresh story arcs to be explored and expanded upon among this melange of concepts we’re bombarded with, and the way the series ends with numerous hints that it would continue, suggests there was a glimmer of hope this would be the case. Nothing has surfaced thus far (this series was made in 2009) and if any future sequels do arise, let’s hope there is a concerted effort to hold back on the saturation of material and give everything room to breathe.
While the maladroit handling of the narrative is of huge detriment to the enjoyment of this show it is not all bad. The surfeit of material means that there is never a dull moment and the pace remains upbeat and consistent. There is also no denying the earnestness of the show in trying to create something special, although the end result is a case of someone trying too hard. The production values are strong and the climatic battles provide satisfactory excitement as part of the denouement, and even if everything was as baffling to make as it is to watch, the commitment of everyone involved is never open to question.
I’m sure there is an audience out there who will find the story easier to follow than I did thus will get much more enjoyment out of it. For this writer however, Chrome Shelled Regios will have to be filed under “Frustrating” as it seems to possess all of the requisite elements for an engrossing and impressive sci-fi fantasy action adventure but lets itself down in the execution. A shame but the damage is done, but more power to you if you get something more out of than I did.
English Language 5.1
Japanese Language 2.0 w/ English Subtitles
Disc 2 Only:
Textless Opening Song – Brave Your Truth
Textless Closing Song – Ai no Zuellini (performed by Chrome Shelled feat. various cast members)
Ratings – **
Man In Black