Earth and it’s colonies which extend as far as the moon are divided into essentially three groups: ARUS, a republic based on the Western ideals of liberty and justice; Dorssia, an authoritarian government with a strong focus on having a military to stand up to ARUS; and those that are unaligned, primarily JIOR. ARUS and Dorssia are currently in conflict in what isn’t quite a cold war but has not descended into total war quite yet.
Haruto Tokishima is a student at the boarding school Sakimori Academy on a JIOR orbital colony, not caring much for the war, and worrying more about his friends and his childhood friend that he wants to confess to. However, he’s is thrown into the fight when Dorssia invades them, killing many in the process. Haruto, thinking this his closest friend has been killed, ends up jumping into a strange mech, the Valvrave, hoping for revenge, however, the mech turns out to be stranger than he expected, and far more powerful than anything that Dorssia has, leading to him successfully fending them off. However, the mech has strange effects on him. When an invading Dorrsia special operations soldier, L-elf, tries to kill him as he gets off the Valvrave, it turns out that he has changed tremendously, to the point that he may no longer be human. Meanwhile, JIOR falls completely, and a number of political complications with ASUS arise, ultimately resulting in the school cell of the colony separating from the main colony, and declaring its independence as its own nation. Furthermore, L-Elf defects to them as well, with his own goal of bringing about a revolution, and they are forced to accept them into their ranks due to him being a strategic and tactical genius. Hence, under assault from Dorssia, the students of Sakimori Academy plot out their own future.
Like Code Geass and Aldnoah, this seems to have the same dynamic of their being two somewhat opposing main characters on opposite sides of a conflict with abilities such as being great mech pilots and tactical geniuses distributed among them. However, it differs in that it abruptly changes to them being on the same side. And then it continues changing abruptly continuously throughout. Its changes direction and tone constantly throughout the series, never really honing in on any point, and just haphazardly touching on random events without any sort of structure or any logical pacing. For example, it seems to go through a tremendous number of anime cliches in quick fire succession at the start, to the point that it isn’t clear whether its being serious or is downright parody. As another example, there are a couple romance subplots with Haruto, but none of them ever reach anything close to a conclusion. It’s completely and utterly ridiculous, as is Haruto’s character in general, and all the characters actually. There’s a very interesting cast of characters in this, many of them falling into tropes, but still having some resemblance of originality, but the issue is that despite that, none of them are likable at all. The only characters I can say I liked even a little are L-Elf and Saki, but even with them I was tremendously disappointed. This may actually be because there is such a large set of characters, to the point that none are focused on enough, and the development of relationships between them follows no rhyme or reason. That combined with what seems like a plot they were trying to forcibly push through, despite it not making any sense at all for characters to behave in such ways results in most characters being inconsistent train wrecks as the show pushes past the first half. Another issue is the constant tone shifts. It has completely abrupt tone shifts that just feel awkward. They don’t make you feel any more strongly about ongoing events, as abrupt tone shifts are usually intended, but rather just make you feel annoyed. And lastly there is the ending. Throughout the anime there are a number of flash forwards, showing the future. One would expect there to be some clarity regarding how they get to that future by the end of the anime. However, there absolutely is none. The ending is a mess that doesn’t clarify anything, leaves almost every subplot unresolved, and somewhat solves some of the main plots through rushed incredibly short segments. It’s not satisfying in the slightest.
Now while the plot, characters, and story of the anime leave a lot to be desired, there are some good things as well. The mech combat is really good, and the Valvraves have pretty good designs. The OPs and EDs are pretty good as well, though the soundtrack is only decent. The art and animation are also solid. The comedy isn’t that great though.
A mech anime that seems to have potential, and certainly has some good moments especially in the first season, but that eventually falls apart under its own weight.
The first season was fine other than it left so much unresolved, but the second season completely jumps the shark and is very inconsistent with the first, especially that ending. So to split by season, first is 8/10, second is 6/10.