No I haven’t dropped this series. Far from THAT notion, I’d say Comet Lucifer is getting progressively better, moving along nicely and even bringing some mixed feelings into the picture. Like all good entertainment, Comet Lucifer has things that appeal to me so much as an anime fan, and is starting to bring in things that make me less thrilled.
So… Double episode post. Generally I’d say writing a double episode post is a sign of a blogger dropping the ball, and I won’t argue that I haven’t. Whatever my excuses and reasons, I should’ve been blogging this show on time, and I didn’t. So I apologize, to those that read these posts, and also to the show itself. Its been doing a bang up job of being consistently good. It never strays too far from convention and the expected, but there’s enough wrinkles in the general formula to have it stand out on its own.
And while Its unfortunate that I missed one week of writing about this show, I’ll also say that it has its benefits. Episodes 4 and 5 really do bleed into one another, and really do work together as a package. In some ways, I’d say we’re at the half point of the series already (its 11 episodes long), but I say that not only because of the episode count, because of where we are in the story now.
Simply put, the story reached a major milestone in its fifth episode, and with it, things are going to be markedly different. By using up her powers, Felia has also aged to the point where she’s more or less caught up to Sogo and Kaon. Gone are the days of the three of them in their past dynamic, that of three kids, two slightly older and one younger. There’s a lot of ramifications that I’m sure we’ll see from this big development, But First…
First, lets examine how we got there, because that is essentially what episodes 4 and 5 are about. I’ll be honest in that I’m more partial to episode 4, if only because that episode was our last look at the more peaceful, slice of life moments that the show was and is so darn good at.
I think, particularly in fantasy and science fiction series, there’s just something really interesting about watching characters go through their daily, normal mundane lives. Its especially true for Sogo, Felia, Kaon, Don Mon and the rest. They just seem like they have a nice, comfortable and happy life.
There’s some really awesome moments in episode 4, as the gang more or less has their last big happy moments before things are never quite the same again. The hijinks with Moura and Roman’s mech, the Barbecue, the dancing vegetables with Felia’s powers, all of those moments are moments that just warm the heart.
Coupled with just the general atmosphere that the show creates. Man! There’s this bright, calm, cheerful feeling to every scene, and its something that we’ve almost lost in Anime today. Back in the early 2000s, we’d get a ton of series that’d do this, and do it well. The ability to craft a world that feels familiar and yet has a otherworldly feeling to it, is something only the best of shows with the best of art direction have been able to do.
Comet Lucifer goes for a distinctly small, pretty European Town vibe to the locales where Sogo and co reside, and there’s definitely those elements of Japanese technological advancement. Its the kind of unique world that Anime used to be known for. While we’ve had advancements in story, character, and even art and animation, its almost shocking to see this element of visual tourism, of getting lost in a breathtaking world, kind of fall to the way side.
I think that’s part of Comet’s Lucifer’s appeal, it has one foot firmly planted in what it “felt” like to watch anime in the old days. Its carried over the spirit of anime and mecha series in particular and combined that with modern animation and art techniques.
But while Comet Lucifer is definitely a visual feast for the eyes, one that even evokes a sense of nostalgia, its story telling techniques also seem to grab some of that “feeling of old”, and not all of that works.
I’ve said it a few times already, but I think one obvious thing with Comet Lucifer is that we’ve seen it all before. There’s nothing truly unique or imaginative about this story, its just a very competent fantasy mecha show that feels like it came straight out of the early 2000s. Is there anything wrong with that? No not really, because while there isn’t anything new, it does its story competently and well enough that it doesn’t hold the show itself back.
The story for episodes 4 and 5 is pretty standard, for example. Felia has a fun few days hanging around Sogo and Kaon. There’s talks of a Typhoon coming, and everyone busily gets read for the impending storm that’s sure to come. There’s a figurative and literal calm before the storm, so much so that its almost a bit on the nose. But it all works, and most of episode 4 is about enjoying the characters and the fun they have.
Then, as we approach the end of episode 4, things obviously start to gear up for the next big crisis. Throughout episode 4, we see scenes of Felia using her powers for her own benefit, and Moura scolding her for it. This all culminates in Moura attaching a piece of himself to inhibit her powers when Felia is sad about Sogo and Kaon going to school. Moura gets tossed out the window by an angry Felia (and man, Don Mon is a champ for taking all the damage Felia and the kids do to his place with a warm smile and a “kids will be kids” matra).
Sogo and Kaon end up heading for school, only to have it cancelled cause of the Typhoon. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but in the meantime the bad guys have tracked down Felia, and head to apprehend her with no one really home to protect her. Thanks to Moura’s little pendant around her neck, Felia can’t really use her powers either, and gets captured.
There’s the classic anime moment that never gets old, with Sogo realizing something is wrong, and passing the car and Felia in the rain, narrowly missing her. So Felia’s captured, and Sogo and Moura head off to go and save her. That’s when we bleed into episode 5.
Episode 5 is all about Felia’s rescue, and it goes about how you’d expect the story to go at this point. Moura and Sogo track Felia down to a large military vehicle, the one commanded by Stewart. They’re fired upon, and Stewart heads out to confront a freshly transformed Moura.
Moura ends up losing the battle though, half because Stewart actually has a decent mech this time, and half because he’s not his complete self thanks to that part of him that’s still with Felia. Moura vanishes in a burst of purple light, and Sogo gets captured by the military while trying to sneak aboard.
Then we have the classic, “times are tough for our heroes”, as Sogo gets kicked around by the sadistic Puck, and Moura tries to make his way inside. Even the weather changes from the rain to falling snow (likely because of Felia’s connection to the world and planet itself). And I keep saying classic, but its not like any of this stuff feels bad or off per say. Its just predictable, and there’s a very “what you order is what you get” vibe to the story.
And as you’d expect, Sogo is able to escape with Moura, and track down Felia and Puck right before a hand off is about to happen. You can bet good money that the dude with telescope has no good plans for Felia and her powers. Regardless… One thing leads to another, and Felia is hit by Puck and thrown off the large Vehicle. In a moment of desperation, both Moura and Sogo cry out for Felia, and a bright light envelopes the area.
Moura transforms into a new, more powerful and epic looking Mecha, and Stewart rushes out for a much needed Round Two. I have to hand it to Comet Lucifer here, the battle scene between the newer Moura and Stewart’s Red Mech is pretty darn awesome. While they’ve been decidedly competent, there’s been a throwaway nature to the action scenes in the show thus far, and This battle changes that. The battle is actually gorgeous to watch, even if it does use 3D CG techniques a lot more liberally.
Your view on 3D Animation techniques in anime may differ from mine, since I’m a 3D Artist and Animator myself (though largely in the video game space), but I actually thought that the integration here felt decent. It may not be super elegant and I may be getting desensitized to 3D CG use in general in anime, but I didn’t find it offensive at all. I quite liked it in fact.
But while Moura not only defeated Stewart and gave him some nice callbacks to his glory days, it was Sogo being almost killed by Puck that brought forth the next big development. Puck, not content to you know, beat Sogo to a pulp with his crazy skills and military training, decides to overdo it and attack him in a friggin Mech.
This obviously sets Felia off, and she uses her power to not only take care of Puck, but Whisk herself and Sogo away to safety, with Moura following in tow. And that, brings us to the big moment. As Sogo awakens, he sees a Felia that’s definitely older, and hears a Felia that speaks quite maturely and differently. And the episode ends on that note, with things forever changed now that Felia’s aged a bit and grown older through the “overuse” of her powers.
I’m sure the next few episodes are going to examine the aftereffects of this in detail, but I do want to talk about one particular element of the show that this affects. That’s obviously, the romance aspects of this show. I’ve long voiced concern about the fact that Felia might become a love interest for Sogo, especially given what we see in the Opening for the show. It seems that those fears are becoming a reality now.
With the age gap, magically closed, it seems like Felia is going to develop feelings for Sogo. How Sogo will feel about her? I’m not sure, but there’s hints already that he’ll be pretty okay with the whole idea, especially with that blush at the end of the fifth episode.
Is this a problem? Well yeah, it kinda is. Its a problem because I myself am more invested in the idea of Kaon and Sogo as a couple, and I quite LIKED the dynamic of them together and taking care of Felia. Having Felia, Kaon and Sogo enter into a love triangle dynamic just feels… Annoying. Its frustrating, and it something that the show was actively avoiding at first. I liked the unique dynamic it had there.
More importantly, I liked Kaon’s struggles with regards to Sogo and Roman. Roman is definitely pushing her in all the wrong ways, as far as their engagement goes. It was nice to see Kaon resist that, and to see her move towards Sogo, slowly but surely. But, I think what’s destined to happen now is, for Sogo and Felia to get together, to have Kaon have her heart broken, and for Roman to comfort her and be her support.
I’m not sure I like that, and especially because I’ve seen it time and time again. Its something that I was hoping Comet Lucifer would do differently. Granted, there’s still a chance that Felia might very well not survive by the end of the series, and there’s still the mystery of why Sogo has the powers he has, and the issues with his mother. It could go to the Kaon and Sogo route in the end, but I’m not holding my breath either.
This trite love triangle development that’s coming, and some seemingly weak villains in Puck, Stewart and the friggin creepy Alfried. They were brief, and easy to forget, but the Alfried creepy moments really are unnerving. I suppose that’s the point, but still… I’m definitely sure I don’t like a character who’s sole purpose is to aggravate and creep out.
In the end, I think the first phase of Comet Lucifer is over. Felia’s child days are behind us, and what we’ll see from episode 6 onwards might very well be a different show. It almost feels a bit accelerated, in terms of pacing. I’d have liked for Comet Lucifer to linger on in this part of the story for a bit longer, and it probably would have, if it were a 24 episode series. We’ve only got 11 episodes total though, and 6 more weeks for this show to wrap up its story.
I really am curious about where we end up with Comet Lucifer by its 11th episode. For all the flaws I point out, there’s not only competence and consistently good stuff coming every week, but certain aspects of the show, show a marked improvement. I think Comet Lucifer will continue to be the little show that I’ll find endearing and entertaining, and that most people in the Western Anime fandom will continue to overlook. Ah well, for those of us who like this show, its definitely a swell ride, right?
More Military Baddies and an Older Felia. Sunday isn’t too far away, so this week we should see me posting about this show on time again!
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