I think the best piece of advice my engineering economics professor gave us about presentations is that the thing most listeners will remember about your presentation is how it starts, and how it ends. With that piece of information in mind…
Dragonaut: The Resonance
A shuttle bound for the moon is destroyed by “asteroids” upon takeoff. Fast forward 2 years. Kamishina Jin, the lone survivor of the accident, meets a mysterious girl named Toa, a brash introvert Gio, and a cryptic subdivision of the International Solarsystem Development Agency (ISDA) known as the Dragonauts. He learns the truth behind the accident that took his family two years ago, and the potential impending doom to befall humanity. Against the odds, can Jin and Toa set things right and save humanity?
Plot: So you get through the first episode of Dragonaut and you think, “Hell, this looks like it could be pretty cool. I can commit to it for the long haul..” You get through 2 and, if you’re like me, go, “Hey now.. Alright. Thumbs up, green light, go go go.” And then, it slows down. After that, it gets teen drama-y. Then, some fanservice. Throw in two episodes of dialogue, and a “I love you, Jin” or a “I love you, Toa”, and repeat. And that’s Dragonaut in a nutshell.
And that’s the problem with it. You never get a sense that it knows what it wants to be. It was a solid action anime. I mean, the fights weren’t that elaborate, sure, but the pacing was good through those episodes and the story was engaging during those points. Unfortunately, they go away from it, a lot. Instead they present the “love story between a boy and his dragon while impending doom looms in the balance that can only stopped by their ‘power of love‘” card. And I wasn’t sold on it at all. The ‘power of love‘ should never have to be the reason the protagonists win, let alone win twice. The weakness of the plot is dreadfully apparent in those scenes. Because it says to the viewer, “well, we don’t have a reason why Jin should win, but he loves Toa. The end.“, and that is incredibly suspect.
Seriously? I liked what Infinite Zero put at the end of the last episode. Like them, this was the first series where I hoped the power of love would actually lose.
Characters: I’m going to be honest. I decided to put myself through Dragonaut because the SuzuHaru Five (Minori Chihara, Daisuke Ono, Yuko Goto, Tomokazu Sugita, and Aya Hirano) were each playing a character (Toa, Jin, Machina, Howling Star, and Garnet McLane, respectively). Most of the cast is very well accomplished and talented. But the characters themselves are very hit or miss. Every major character (Jin, Toa, Gio) and most of the minor characters (Kazuki, Jacqueline, Captain Amagi, etc..) have parts of their character that play so closely to a high school drama that it’s almost pathetic. As a result, you get a very polarized sense of the characters throughout the series: you either really like them, or you hate their guts. But that’s ok, and it has played well for other series in this genre. What’s not ok is that, after you’ve gone 23 episodes and picked sides, they tried to break everything you knew about the characters in the last 3 episodes. Now, I’m fine with a bad guy going good, or vice versa, but not so close to the end, and definitely not out of nowhere. Let’s face it: Kazuki is a loser. I felt that way about him from episode 6, and the proceeding 16 episodes only made that realization clearer and clearer. Dragonaut could not possible expect me to change my view on him in the last 3 episodes just because they did. That is ridiculous.
Powder my hand! Is Gio gonna have to choke a bitch?
Production Value: The art of Dragonaut isn’t going to shock you, especially since most of the scenes take place in some dark facility of some sort or another or space. Some of the outdoor scenes are nice, but there are far too few of them that aren’t completely enveloped in action sequences for viewers to take notice. Credit Gonzo for going with CG for the dragon action scenes, arguably the right call on those. You’ll notice that there’s basically only 1 BG song throughout the entire series. Just 1. The only difference is the tempo and/or the instruments used to play it. That was a disappointment. In terms of themes, Perfect Blue was nice, Rain of Love was nice, but seemed like it didn’t fit, and Fight or Flight was by far the best of the 3. Fight or Flight still gets serious play-time on my laptop. Yuu Kobayashi can J-rock me as long as she wants.
So when’s the megazord showing up? Wait… This isn’t the power rangers? Crap.. Oh well, go shiny dragons.
The Good: The middle 4 episodes (13-17), the OP and EDs, CG dragon sequences
The Bad: The ending, the polarizing characters.
Overview:4/10 – The plot seriously hurts Dragonaut: the Resonance. It just feels.. recycled. And since it’s not very creative to begin with, it gets into some serious trouble after 6 episodes. That’s a real shame, since the series was toploaded on voice talent and was not a disappointment visually. The characters could have saved it, but they were so polarizing that you became desensitized to their interactions after 10 or so episodes. But, without a doubt, the major flaw in Dragonaut is that Jin occasionally gets the entitlement of victor without justification just because he’s the main character. He doesn’t dig deep inside, or develop a crazy new power, or outthink his opponent. He just… loves Toa. Is it really ok for him to win just because he and Toa love each other? One ironic thing that I found about it was for the two times the power of love won in this series, there were upwards of 4 times (Machina and Akira, Widow and Kazuki, “Laura” and Captain Amagi, etc.) where the power of love loses. Why do Toa and Jin get to be so lucky? With an intriguing opening leading to such a disappointing ending, it’s probably not worth the look unless you’re really into the action-romance genre.