Bones makes pretty anime.
There, I’ve said something nice. Always try to do that with a new show. Unfortunately that about taps me out on that score. It’s been a pretty quiet past year for Bones, though 2024 promises to be more active. They remain one of the elite studios in the game when it comes to production values, and as you’d expect Metallic Rouge looks really good, with non-CGI mecha and all. But as for the story and characters, that was about as nondescript a premiere as I’ve watched for some time.
What struck me is that Metallic Rouge was like a mecha anime written by an A.I.. It had that stilted, utterly predictable quality and lack of imagination one might expect that to be like. It wasn’t of course – it was created by Izubuchi Yutaka. an old mecha and Bones hand who also created RahXephon (a series I hold in high regard) It’s directed by Hori Motonobu, who – under the supervision of Watanabe Shinichirou – directed Bones’ Carole & Tuesday. That was a show that was embarrassingly bad given the budget and some of the staff involved, and I don’t find Metallic Rouge to be irritating in that same way. It’s just utterly mediocre and not even worth mustering up that level of reaction to.
You have another Mars setting. Aliens (or androids, it’s not confirmed which). mistreated by humans who have to inject themselves with “nectar” daily or they die and are disposed of. The heroine is a mecha pilot or android of some sort working for someone else who seems to be opposing the aliens-androids, the Neans. These two are as 2-D and uninteresting as the characters with lesser roles, but the most egregious is a cartoon villain played by Yoshino Hiroyuki (whose namesake ironically wrote the series this one most reminds me of, Guilty Crown). He’s laughable from the first time he appears on screen twirling his metaphorical moustache, and he never gets any better.
The one element here I liked was the Nean singer’s character design, very much of a flapper look from the 1920’s. But she’s already out of the picture (she was opposing the government and thus the patrons of the two heroines, I suppose) and in any event that’s not nearly enough to make the series as a whole interesting enough to stick with. I may give it another episode to surprise me because it’s a sci-fi with traditional animation – and high-level at that – and those are rare as hen’s teeth in anime these days. But’s a real shame to see that – and Bones’ time – wasted on material this pedestrian.