Goro Taniguchi is no stranger to the mecha genre, working as both a director and a storyboard artist for several critically acclaimed mecha anime series since 1991, and he brings all those years of experience with him into revisions. This sci-fi fantasy epic brought action to the Winter 2019 lineup!
An ambitious undertaking to say the least, revisions follows the exploits of high school student Daisuke Doujima and his friends after they and the entire city of Shibuya are transported from 2017 to the year 2388. But the future isn’t exactly rolling out the red carpet for the hapless time travelers. An unknown group of future dwellers called ‘Revisions’ uses giant mechanical monsters known as ‘Civilians’ to hunt down and kill anyone in their path. The only hope against these future foes are the AHRV and their operative Milo, a mysterious young woman from the future. She arms Daisuke and his friends with String Puppets, sophisticated mecha capable of taking down the Revision offensive. Can Daisuke and his friends defeat the Revisions and return Shibuya to its rightful time or will they wind up stuck in the future forever? At what cost?
Plot & Story
In a lot of ways revisions plays it safe, adhering to the tried-and-true mecha staples: a group of reluctant heroes are tasked with protecting the populous against an unknown threat with the help of overpowered robots. The real task is making something that has been used over and over again seem fresh, and for what it’s worth, the team working on revisions does a damn good job of pulling it off. At its core, the premise is as by the book as you can get. It’s only after you throw in the sci-fi elements that revisions really sets itself apart from the rest of the crowd.
The series wastes no time dropping you and the characters into the action, plucking them from their comfortable lives in 2017 and dropping them headfirst into the veritable wasteland that is 2388. You know just as much as the characters in the early episodes, learning things in bits and pieces alongside Daisuke and the rest of revisions’s cast and that’s what keeps you coming back for more. The truth is kept just out of reach, tantalizingly so, but, by keeping its cards closely guarded, every reveal is made that much more satisfying (and infuriating). I realized each of the series’s ‘big reveals’ about the same time as Daisuke and the rest of the Shabuyans, and it made for a much more organic and emotional story. You feel for these characters, not because you’re supposed to, but because you feel their anxiety and confusion… you take pride in their victories, because you experience everything with them.
The stakes are high and each action the characters take have their consequences and that’s why I like revisions so much, because there are real, tangible consequences for their mistakes. Some series will try to sugarcoat the negative outcomes, but in this anime you are painfully aware that one misstep could spell disaster for either the main cast or the hundreds of people living in the city. Each of the characters brings a unique perspective to the series and while on the surface they are pretty familiar to even the most casual anime viewer, their growth over the course of the series is something worth mentioning.
The characters go a long way in selling many of the more emotional moments in the series, simply because they aren’t warriors, they are high school students. Daisuke and his friends are just kids trusted with an almost impossible situation, and yet they each deal with it in ways that is very fitting with who they are as characters. Daisuke is the embodiment of every undesirable shounen trope under the sun, and despite his many, many faults, he grew on me over the course of the series. He went from being impulsive to the point of recklessness to a genuinely selfless leader… granted it only took eight episodes for the change of heart. But, there is something endearing (and frustrating) about his single-mindedness.
While the series focuses more on Daisuke and his ‘growth’ the other characters particularly his best friend, Keisaku play a large role in the goings on of the story. In fact, I found myself much more sympathetic to Keisaku and towards the latter half of the series, it was apparent that he and not so much Daisuke was meant to be the ‘main character’. Gai, the third male character in this five-man band, served more of an antagonistic role in the early episodes, constantly at odds with Daisuke, but as the series progresses, he becomes much more forgiving of his shortcomings. The girls, Marimari and Lu, serve a unique dual role within the series. Sure, they are fighters just like Daisuke, Keisaku, and Dai, and they are seen piloting their own String Puppets on several occasions (Lu more than Marimari). However, of all the characters in the main cast, it is perhaps more apparent that they are the least prepared for combat, particularly Marimari, who spends the better part of the series crying or cowering in fear… But, even that works within the context of the series, because none of the main five are trained fighters. They are just a group of high schoolers making the best of an impossible situation and I appreciate their flaws more because of it.
Art & Music
revisions is entirely animated in CGI. I’ve made my opinion on the subject very clear in the past: I am not a fan of using CGI for CGI’s sake. I feel that the animation style has been overused in recent years, resulting in some very mediocre animation. I will admit that when used effectively, CGI can enhance the fluidity of animation by bringing more depth to movements and action sequences. However, I did not really care for the animation style used in revisions. In fact, it almost put me off the series entirely. It reminded me of the early 2000’s American animated series The Dragon Booster, with just a hint of early RWBY and the results were lackluster. It’s certainly not the worst CGI in the world, but it’s not the best either. The animation style works best during the action scenes and mecha battles, giving those scenes much more fluidity. However, during the slower non-action scenes, the animation is clunky and awkward. The CGI doesn’t quite capture the intricacies of natural human movements, so the characters sometimes look oddly mechanical and twitchy. But, despite my dislike of the style, I can honestly say that it grows on you. I don’t know if this is because the animation gets better as the series progresses or that maybe I just got used to it, but either way, I got over my initial dislike of the CGI animation. It is worth noting that despite the CGI animation there is a distinctly anime feel to the series, both in the characters’ designs and in their mannerisms.
The opening theme for the series is ‘Wagamama de Gomakasanaide’ by alternative rock band The Oral Cigarettes. The opening is what you’d expect from an action series like revisions: an uptempo rock song with energetic vocals. It’s a song that builds on itself, gaining momentum as it goes along before petering off towards the end. The chaotic sounding lyrics and animation in the opening sequence lends itself well to the confusion the characters experience throughout the series and this is only highlighted by the looks of desperation on each of the main five’s faces when they appear throughout the opening against the backdrop of clips of Shibuya.
The ending theme starts off with lots of instrumentation early on, only for it to fade, giving way to the lyrics. Weaver’s ‘Curtain Call’ is like something you’d hear in a drama or a romance series; a little melancholy, but still hopeful. It’s a bit hard to describe, but every time I hear this song I tear up a little. This song more than the opening embodies the overwhelming sense of hope that permeates the series. Despite the hardships the characters face in the future, there is the sense that their actions can make a difference…
There is a lot going on with this series, from time traveling and mecha monsters to mysterious viruses and shadowy organizations, and it’s easy to get lost in all the chaos that is revisions, especially when Daisuke is constantly shouting into the ether that he is the ‘hero that is going to protect everyone’. But, beneath all the noise and the plot twists and reveals, it is a surprisingly hopeful story about a group of kids doing their best to be the heroes everyone needs them to be. And as much as I hated Daisuke early on, I have to admit that his convictions (and not his actions) are really what kept me from completely being turned off to the series as a whole. Sure he is impulsive to the point of being a liability to everyone around him, and it isn’t until he suffers a great loss that he really starts to see just how much his actions cost and he starts to make a change for the better. It’s moments like this that make revisions worth the watch. These human moments that turn even the most self-centered characters into just people that makes the difference between an average anime and a truly great one. In just 12 episodes you grow and change with these characters, really feel their losses and victories, because you’ve been riding the highs and the lows with them rather than just watching things happen on a screen.
I resonated with all the characters, but none more so than Keisaku. Despite everything, he always manages to keep everyone’s spirits up, serving as the loadstone of the group. Without him, the team would have fallen apart, and it isn’t until the latter half of the series that you realize just how integral to the team Keisaku is… I’m trying to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, but, truly, Keisaku is the real MVP of revisions and I don’t think he gets as much credit as he deserves.
I’ve already commented on my dislike of the CGI enough, so I won’t do that here, but, just know it gets better… trust me.
Hope for the Future
In the end, I didn’t go into revisions expecting much. Maybe a bit of yelling, some decent mecha battles, and that was about it. For what it’s worth, revisions has all of that in spades. But, like I said earlier, revisions is more than that and maybe this is something inherent to all mecha series (I wouldn’t know. I don’t watch them), but the characters are really where this series shines. I can honestly say that by the end of this series I grew to love each and every one of the characters and was really invested in the relationships they built over the course of the story.
I started off these reviews by saying that I wasn’t a big fan of mecha anime, and even after finishing revisions, I can’t say that that has changed much. However, I am a fan of good stories and revisions delivers a good story. Sure, it may have taken its time getting its footing, but by the end of this 12-episode series, I can confidently say that revisions pulled it together. All the carefully laid plotlines really come together for a satisfying if not a little bittersweet finale… revisions is a series that stays with you long after the credits roll and given the bit of sequel baiting at the end, I’d be more than happy to get another chance to see where the future leads.
Winter 2019 | Anime Info | Simulcast