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Bang Brave Bang Bravern! First Thoughts

Bang Brave Bang Bravern! First Thoughts

Posted on 06 Feb 2024

Having arrived back in the UK from a stint in Milan, I'm finally able to settle in and see what the new season of anime has to offer. Burn the Witch was of interest but I just can't stand Balgo - I had hoped that they'd drop him like a hot brick after the initial three parter, but no, the perverted, needy little simp was still front and center, so I had to switch off. What I wanted was something manly. Top Gun-esque even. Enter Bang Brave Bang Bravern, the latest mecha anime to get the internet buzzing.

The series centres around a mech-plot unit, with Japanese and American soldiers running war games with the usual "bro" mentality you might expect of testosterone-fuelled young men playing with massive guns. All of this goes splendidly, right up until an actual alien invasion throws a spanner in the works, with the Earth forces crumbling before the onslaught of a foe they can't even scratch, even with their mecha infantry going all out.

When all seems lost, the intervention of Bravern, a mysterious and seemingly sentient talking mecha (with a mouth!) appears and offers to lend its power to Japanese pilot Isami Ao, who reluctantly agrees in order to turn the tide.

Directed by industry legend Masami Obari (who worked on Bubble Gum Crisis, various Gundam shows, Macross II, Code Geass and even the original Transformers cartoon) I knew I was in safe hands. The series does a tremendous job mixing grounded mecha design of the sort you'd find in series like Full Metal Panic with the more fantastical and retro style of Bravern himself, looking like a mix of Tekkaman Blade and Dancougar, he's a super-robot of yesteryear and rather magnificent here as he saves the day.

There's the makings of a solid cast too, with the survivors of the attack including bro-tastic American pilot Lewis Smith, passionate mechanic Miyu Katō and the sensible side of the Japanese mecha pilots, Hibiki Rio. The personalities of the leading cast are all set up pretty early, allowing us to spot the main cast before the slaughter can introduce us to any of the more mundane background characters.

Bravern
Isami and Lewis - bro-ldiers :)

The animation is pretty smooth, with cracking designs moving around with believable weight, with each of the machines showing different abilities, speeds and strengths. All of which is blown out of the water when Bravern arrives and just dances around as though physics are an afterthought, but the juxtaposition just helps to show the technological gap between humans and whatever Bravern is. 

As always, these first thoughts articles don't seek to judge the series as a whole, just evaluate how much the show makes you want to continue with its opening salvo, and I have to say there's a lot here to keep you watching. I like the characters, the military setting brings to mind numerous Tony Scott films (Crimson Tide and Top Gun in particular) and Obari's sure-handed direction ensures that there's plenty of excitement throughout to keep you hooked. 

While mecha anime outside of the Gundam franchise is said to be struggling, anime is a cyclical beast and I've no doubt we'll see more like Bravern on the horizon should it prove successful. As a break from the mass of isekai clogging up the medium of the last few years, this retro-throwback feels ironically like a breath of fresh air. If you grew up on giant robot battles with your cornflakes, then I can absolutely recommend Bravern as a series to check out. Where it goes from here is anyone's guess, but I'll certainly be watching to find out.

Bang Brave Bang Bravern is simulcast on Crunchyroll.

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