When BONES makes an anime, people take notice. With animes like Eureka seveN and both Fullmetal Alchemist series, BONES has a reputation for high quality anime. This season, they debut an original series called Star Driver: The Radiance of Takuto, which hopes to follow suit of previous BONES mecha iterations like Eureka seveN and Rahxephon, series which have received much critical acclaim.
Star Driver follows Tsunashi Takuto, who swims a long way to an island called the Southern Cross island. Washing up ashore, he’s saved by Wako Agemeki and Sugata Shindou, who are his first friends at the Southern Cross Academy. But this school hides a strange secret underground, as there is a cult called Kirahoshi (Glittering Star) that is developing mecha technology known as Cybodies. This is an original series with BONES in charge of animation and Takuya Igarashi as the director, who both have combined forces in the past with Ouran High School Host Club and Soul Eater.
As for the first episode, it was divided into two parts primarily. The first half was spent introducing us to the trio of Takuto, Wako and Shindou. It may not be the most fascinating trio of characters, but Takuto can make up for it with his radiance and passion to achieve. It’s interesting that Shindou and Wako are already engaged to be married (by arrangement), and while you think he might be hiding something, Shindou seems like a good enough fellow. He isn’t totally against Wako being interested in Takuto, which fuels my suspicion of him moreso. There is also an introductory meeting for new members of the academy, which honestly could’ve either been axed from the first episode or given more time in the second half.
The second half of the episode jumped right into the Kirahoshi (Glittering Star) cult as they have been testing cybodies and tossing around jargon about different phases and such. While it does pose questions that certainly will be answered in weeks to come, I’d like to be placed into this part of the story a little more gently. It almost felt too fast-paced to have not only the North Maiden captured, but the South Maiden kidnapped and then Takuto saving her. There seems to be a lot to this cult and the cybodies themselves, so I really hope the show slows down the pace and sets the exposition for what will be the big plot point of the series. What was fun was the part in Zero Time. Great scenery with a cool action sequence when Takuto suddenly appears and activates his Galactic Pretty Boy powers, saving Wako and crushing George Honda. I’m not use to really seeing guys have clothes transformation, so it was kind of a, “what just happened?” when Takuto transformed.
The overall production shown off in episode 1 was solid. It feels like I could say this about just any BONES show at this point, but it’s true each time: solid animation and art, cool mecha action, they nailed the magical transformation sequence for a male character who is dubbed the Galactic Pretty Boy, great music soundtrack, great picks for both the OP theme (Aqua Timez) and ED theme (9nine) and they even throw in an insert song in the series’ first episode. BONES may not be batting 1.000 in everyone’s heart, but certainly any anime fan that follows studios and seiyuus and musical composers can respect the effort BONES puts into their works. The seiyuu cast of the main trio (Mamoru Miyano as Takuto, Saori Hayami as Wako and Jun Fukuyama as Sugata) is star studded, with a Maaya Sakamoto-voiced character yet to be introduced.
I have high hopes for this series, and while the first episode was intriguing, it wasn’t golden (or Galactic to borrow the show’s terminology). Being an original mecha series from BONES and having so much starpower (no pun intended) behind it across all aspects, and given past successes like Eureka seveN, I feel like this can become another series that gets mentioned when people talk about great mecha series or one in a list of the best BONES productions. But for the time being, let’s let the story flesh itself out before getting too excited.