Vandread the Second Stage

May 7, 2005 on 8:47 pm | In Vandread | Comments Off on Vandread the Second Stage

Vandread the Second Stage takes place almost directly after the first series, with the increased danger of that conclusion looming. Where Vandread was a series about but one ship in space, The Second Stage is at once more vast and more personal.

The first major developments in The Second Stage are the birth of Ezra’s baby, Kahlua-chan, and the discovery of Misty Cornwell, a teenaged who was frozen some sixty three years ago. She comes from a pre-separation society.

The introduction of Kahlua-chan is symbolic in its bringing together of men and women, but is more importantly an excellent comic foil. Pyoro, the robot who was underused in the first season, comes to the fore as Kahlua-chan’s (or, as he calls her, Pyoro-2) father figure. Pyoro now becomes a star in his own right and earns reams of hilarious lines into the deal. The series is more fun than ever before as a result.

The issue with Misty is that she initially strikes the viewer as a victim of “second series needs a new character” syndrome. Misty is a very obvious wedge between Dita and Hibiki, and her charm is not helped by a bizarre little blob thing that projects itself from her earring.
In the first few episodes of the series, she is either bursting out with loudness or completely irrelevant. This is thankfully remedied by certain revelations that make her sympathetic – and understandable ones that are not in the least contrived, at that.
Misty never has a narrative purpose – she’s not some convenient solution to all of the universe’s problems, an integral part of the series that she might have otherwise been – but she does become a functioning member of the crew of the Nirvana and for that you can be grateful.

Hibiki grows exponentially during the series to the point that he is nothing like the character he was when he started. In fact, the whole cast goes through some massive changes in the name of plot and character development, which is one of the strengths of this series.
This second series is better than the first in that respect with Duero and Bart, the two underutilised men of the first, actually get some interesting material to work with.

The characters are good, with far more appearances of Ishizuka Unsho’s Rabat than one might expect, but so too is the plot. To go into too much detail would be to spoil a perfectly good thing to open and discover, but there is a lot of excellent SF on display here, that culminates in one of the best penultimate episodes of anime I’ve ever seen. You can react to the events shown, and that is always a good thing (Eiken and the like aside). If you liked Vandread, it’s more than likely you will enjoy The Second Stage even more. The OP and ED seem a bit dodgy at first, but by the end they’re catchy with their hip beats and all.

Vandread and The Second Stage have some sort of stigma attached, but they don’t deserve it. This is a Gonzo work of excellence, and much better than so many pedestrian series. A good work of science fiction, but also a good work of anime.

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