I remember watching this show years ago on Cartoon Network and I loved it. Then suddenly, it stopped. Right as I began to become very engaged with the story, another show had filled its time slot. Frustrated I went to a local DVD retailer who imported a lot of anime and asked him to import all of Pilot Candidate. To my dismay there were only four volumes, meaning that what I watched on Cartoon Network WAS all of Pilot Candidate.
Typically, I'm not a fan of the "Mecha" genre, rather I'd say that the Gundam series ruined it for me, and so it was by chance that this caught my attention. The characters looked very generic at first, and continued to be so, but at some point, there was development.
Bear with me for a while. I know it's gonna sound really cliche early on.
Pilot Candidate is about a futuristic time when humankind has been able to colonize other planets. But then an alien race known as Victim began terrorizing humans leaving them with one planet known as Zion. Humankind's main defense are known as Ingrids, large mechanical beings (really well modeled if I do say so myself. Rather than the clunky armor everywhere, they all look very sleek) capable of destroying Victim easily. Thus begins the training to have a handful expendable pilots who will steer the Ingrids to save mankind.
So yes. Everything sounds like a basic cookie cutter show. Let me note the differences though. While Zero, the protagonist, is a basic hot-headed guy who has potential and ends up being one of the candidates with better potential along with a generic silent-type rival, his attitude actually ends up being a deterrent to his training. No. Let me restart.
This show is about the TRAINING of Pilots! There is no "I've never touched a mecha before, but now that I know that this is my power, I'm a prodigy." There is no "I DON"T WANNA KILL PEOPLE BUT I'M DOING IT ANYWAY!!!!" There's no annoying side character that tries to inject the main hot-headed protagonist with humanism.
In fact, the character conflict between Zero and his Repairer, Kizuna was interesting since she was hot-headed as well.
The way pilots control their mobile suits are also an interesting twist. They wear a headset that reads brainwaves and reacts accordingly to their actions inside a cockpit that reads their body movements. How does it work? They stand, switch on a headset and control. It's the G-Gundam that wishes it was better and didn't envelop everyone in a very questionable latex leotard.
Every candidate and their respective repairer candidates were also interesting. One of which was really shady. At some point there's this one fat candidate that's like 15 or so kilograms above regulation so he's dragged off for special training by his repairer. He comes back 2 or 3 episodes later, looking much slimmer. Obviously, his fellow candidate friends ask what happened and he says he can't say. There's a flashback memory of him imagining his repairer and her saying "it's a secret." Then it's followed by Zero asking Kizuna something causing her to freak out on him. Maybe I'm taking it the wrong way but the innuendo was very strong.
A strong interaction between the characters made me like the show. In addition, Pilot Candidate took the entire Mecha approach slightly differently, moving towards Zone of the Enders or Super Robot Taisen. Finally, when the show seemed to reach a climactic point, it stopped. Not, the next episodes were then filled with trash, it actually stopped, as if someone pulled the plug.
What was probably the most frustrating part about this show's sudden ending was the opening theme and animation where Zero dons the uniform of an Ingrid pilot and greets his Repairer, Kizuna and eventually enters the Ingrid that saves his life. I feel that teasing the audience with that kind of opening only to have it end abruptly is unfair.
As a person who looks for the mecha anime that shine the darkness, I highly recommend this show. The Mechs are there for character improvement and they're ALL trainees. They ALL suck at actually controlling their mechs. That's right! THEY SUCK.
- ► 2009 (72)
- ▼ November (9)
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