Fafner: The Complete Series
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Price: $59.98 – Available Here
Trying to enter into the anime scene with a giant robot anime is a bit difficult given the fact that there have been many highly successful series of this type in the past. As such nearly everyone has high expectations when it comes to mecha series, what with works such as Evangelion and the long running Gundam series clouding everyone’s judgment.
However, with a movie that takes place two years after the events of the series expected to be released in a couple of months, FUNimation has chosen to release Fafner in its entirety on both Blu-ray and DVD. Now this isn’t the first time that Fafner has graced North America as it was previously released in 2005 by the now defunct Geneon, but this is the first time the series has appeared on Blu-ray. Now does Fafner provide a compelling story worth sticking around for or should it be left behind?
When Fafner begins, viewers are shown what looks like an absolute paradise of an island. With beautiful landscape and a picturesque appearance, everyone on the island couldn’t be happier. However the reason that this place happens to be so pristine is thanks to a number of special cloaking shields that have locked them away from the rest of the world. Now while this normally wouldn’t be cause for anything special, it turns out that the rest of the world is being destroyed by an alien invasion.
This false paradise has avoided the devastation so far thanks to these shields which have hid them from the alien creatures called the Festum. However after surviving the Festum invasion for many years, one suddenly appears near the island and begins attacking it. With people dying and being assimilated left and right, the defense force orders a special mecha called a Fafner to launch and take down the enemy. With only a teenage boy named Kazuki able to jump in and pilot the Fafner, the Festum is destroyed.
However not only is it found that only teenagers can truly unlock the power of the Fafner, but now that the Festum have found them, they will stop at nothing to destroy their island sanctuary. With the world in ruins and Japan all but destroyed entirely, can Kazuki and his fellow pilots manage to put a stop to this alien race and save those they hold dear?
One thing that viewers may be discouraged by when they begin Fafner is the fact that it takes quite some time to get off the ground and even make you care about the characters that you are watching go into battle. There are a number of moments which are created early on to make viewers care about the situation, but the only time true emotion is shown is six episodes in during a tragedy that occurs to one of the fellow pilots.
However after this tragedy, viewers will start to see some more character development out of the cast, although most of the characters have past issues which make them horribly depressed throughout the series or have a different sort of limitation holding them back. While it is enjoyable to watch these characters overcome what has been holding them back and learn about their backstory, it also tends to drag on a little too long.
One thing that is worth noting in Fafner is the fact that there are plenty of Norse mythology references mixed into the series, such as the names of weapons, the mecha’s themselves and more. Some of these references however are barely fleshed out and ultimately become slightly confusing. It is also worth noting that until later on in the series, where a major fact is revealed about the Festum that may make viewers want to re-watch the series with their new knowledge, most of the plot feels like everything we have seen before in past mecha series. Now while the aforementioned plot twist does help, it happens a bit too late into the series and although the series does manage to end on a rather satisfactory note, it feels slightly rushed.
While Fafner: The Complete Series may be released on Blu-ray for the first time ever with this release, it is worth noting that despite the modern day format, the series itself was first animated back in 2004. Thankfully, despite its age the series looks relatively nice on its new format, with most of the show looking rather crisp and sharp. This is especially true for most CGI scenes and those involving the mechas and Festum.
That being said, while most of the backgrounds and overall color scheme are great on their own, Fafner has some rather basic character designs which we have seen many times before, making them feel generic and a bit too bland, plus most characters faces have barely any reactions thanks to the way they are drawn. Also while most of the action scenes are handled well for the most part, there are some drops in quality during these segments as well.
As one would expect with a release by FUNimation, Fafner: The Complete Series contains both the original Japanese dub as well as an English dub. The Japanese voice actors offer a respectable voice track and the English voice cast keeps themselves on par with the Japanese track. In fact, there are even a few moments where the English cast outshines the Japanese one thanks to some impressive dialogue sequences and the fact that most of the Norse mythology flows better in English than anything else.
As for the series’ soundtrack, viewers will find it slightly hit and miss at times, though there are a number of times where the soundtrack matches perfectly with what is happening on screen and there are also a number of excellent tracks that are used a few times. As far as the opening and ending themes are concerned, viewers will be interested to learn that both the opening and ending songs as well as the inserted song are performed by a Japanse band called Angela. As for the songs themselves, the opening “Shangri-La” sounds like one would expect for a mecha series, though it is still enjoyable while the ending song “Separation” is sung with a lot of emotion and seems fitting for a closing theme.
As a whole the complete series release of Fafner hasn’t seen much in the way of additional extras outside of your standard assortment, though this standard assortment is quite plentiful this time around. Aside from trailers for other FUNimation releases both past and future, there are also a couple of DVD commercials and promotional videos.
Aside from those, there are also a large number of textless openings and endings though most of these endings are episode specific so it is almost a must that the viewer watches the entire series before watching some of these textless endings. Outside of that, there is one more special feature in the form of a Japanese Making of video which contains a few question and answer segments with the cast and crew from Japan and also some behind the scenes footage with theme music and animation.
Fafner is by no means a bad anime, in fact it even has a few shining moments of greatness. However a number of issues hold it back from being one of the better mecha series out there. Not only are there plenty of reused plot points that we’ve seen many times before, making them entirely predictable but the character animation holds it back as well, making most characters forgettable. On its own, Fafner can provide a relatively enjoyable experience but one that should be entered with only mild expectations.