• Titles: Robotics;Notes
  • Genre: Mecha, science fiction; drama
  • Episodes: 22
  • Studio: Production I.G

Out of all the school clubs I wish I could have been a part of when I was younger, it’s not the anime or manga club that attracts me the most, it’s hands down the robotics club. Heck, I would like to be part of that type of club now! So if I had the chance, just like Akiho, I would do everything I could to make sure the club keeps on going and is successful. I just hope I’m also lucky enough to have a childhood friend who, despite his lackadaisical attitude is both very competent and very loyal to me, and also a cal;m megane classmate who’s secretly a huge star in the robot fighting world. Maybe a prodigy programmer girl could transfer to my school as well and I could make friends with the granddaughter of the local electronic/mechanic shop owner. That would be grand. Maybe then, just like Akiho, I could help build a robot that could save the world. Because it seems, there is something sinister going on and the world is in big need of saving.

I’m a pretty big fan of Steins;Gate. I’m actually a pretty big fan of time-travel stories in general. Why do I bring this up? Well, Steins;Gate is going to come up a bit throughout this post so I figured I would get you used to it in a gentle manner. It’s already jarring you say?

look, a screen in a screen!

Production

Robotics;Notes looks pretty good. In fact, there were moments where I thought it looked amazing. Especially in the way light reflects off surfaces and people. Certain scenes just have so much depth and dimensionality. But here’s also something a little… odd about the designs.

It’s not that they look bad but maybe they’re a bit too simple. I can’t explain this at all, for me, the uncanny impression was that the character designs were unfinished. Don’t ask me to give you my line of reasoning here because I can’t. It’s not like they’re missing limbs or anything. It’s just that they are detailed but only up to a certain point. I am more than willing to accept that I’.m nuts on this one. Weirdly, I could say something similar about the Stens;Gate anime. I always thought it was because I just liked the art style of the game so much more…

On the other hand, the robots all looked great. Maybe it’s the nostalgia kicking in, but I particularly liked the robot designs in this show. The animation is decent, and the choreography was grimly pretty in the exoskeleton/biomechanics scenes. That doesn’t help anyone that hasn’t seen the show. Ok, let me put it another way. For most of the series, there isn’t that much action on the screen. It’s a school club anime after all. But once in a while, the action picks up and gets rather dramatic. In those moments, the animation really come through!

action is sort of difficult to illustrate in a still shot

Story & Characters

Remember how I mentioned Steins;Gate a few times. No, I really did. You can reread the previous paragraphs if you don’t believe me! Ok, so here’s the reason. Steins;Gate was originally a Visual Novel made by 5pb. (now Mages). So was Robotics;Notes. Additionally, they share the same producer, composer and Chiyomaru Shikura was a writer on both. The reason that both titles have that weird ; naming convention is because they are in fact part of the same universe, even though you might not be able to tell that just by watching the anime.

So why is this important? Well, it’s not, at least it might not be important to you and it’s not yet important to this post. I’m just laying the groundwork.

Robotics;Notes starts off as a school club anime with a strong mystery element. Something is happening on this little island. Digital clues are scattered throughout and what seem to be natural occurrences may not be quite so natural. I think the first half of the series is just plain good. The mystery element sucked me in big time and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on. I remember someone saying on Twitter that it had a strong start but sort of messed up on the ending and that’s a perfect way to sum it up.

don’t take it so badly…

Unfortunately, they pay off of all that build-up and mystery just isn’t on par. It’s not even bad but it’s messy and feels kind of strained. Keep in mind that I thought the build-up was particularly great so the bar was high.

And this is where my experience might be different from most people’s. I love Steins;Gate, I really do. I collect all forms of that franchise. But I’m not that crazy about the anime…

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good anime and maybe if that’s all that was available, I would adore it. But to me, the Steins;Gate Visual Novel is a masterpiece and the show did a great job adapting it but the story was always meant to be told in layers and intertwining, non-linear stands that once in a while dip into the real world. Did I mention that the game on PC links you out to real-world articles and wiki pages that explain the concepts and historical events? It’s amazing.

There are several basic structures to Visual novels. A common story route that then branches off into separate routes is a very common one. In most cases, there is what’s considered the true or main route. it’s usually where the writers put all the conclusions to the main plot points and often it’s the route that is best developed and has the most gameplay. It’s also often locked until you finish all are a certain number of the other routes.

is this post getting boring? I seem to have wandered off course

Steins;Gate was even worse in that respect because there isn’t even a real common route. After you follow through the events in one line it throws you back in time and everything is similar but not quite the same because you changed something. The narrative doesn’t branch out like a tree but rather folds up upon itself and strikes out again.

Visual Novels are created that way because although the main route has all the elements needed for a complete story, the other routes often bring in foreshadowing and development that add a lot of depth to the narrative. There’s a reason that these side routes often end up favoured by players.

When Visual Novels get adapted, the stories are flattened out to create one, usually linear, cohesive narrative. 99% of the time, this means adapting the main route. This means that the audience is getting the Cliff’s Notes version of the story, like reading the Wikipedia plot synopsis of a movie and calling it seen. It means that for a story like Steins;Gate, the characters were a shadow of their former selves and the narrative was stripped down.

shadow…ghost… same thing

Considering all the similarities between the two games, I’m willing to bet that Robotics;Notes as an anime, suffered the same fate. Only potentially worse. Even early on, I actually told myself several times while watching: “I bet this is an amazing game”. And when the series started to get a bit on my nerves or strain my disbelief, that feeling only got stronger. I could almost see the missing links and foundations that must have been left in unadapted routes. I could tell that these characters weren’t erratic but missing development that existed elsewhere. In fact, the series left me not wanting another season but desperately wanting to play the game. And that should tell you just how impressive the build-up was. There are some very strong elements in Robotics;Notes, they just don’t get used to their full potential. At least in my opinion.

Thankfully is available for both PlayStation and on Steam, so I bought it! So I guess the show did a good job!

You might like this anime if:

You like robots and/or visual novels. Also, you are a sucker for a good mystery.

My favourite character:

This wasn’t easy, like I said, the characters were underdeveloped in my opinion. I guess I liked Subaru because of how goofy his after ego is!

Suggested drink:

A Robot

  • Every time anyone mentions Gunvarrel  – raise your glass
  • Every time Kaito challenges someone to pvp – take a sip
  • Every time Kai wants to give up – don’t give up!
  • Every time anyone mentions Misa – take a sip
    • take an extra one if it’s Aki
  • Every time Michi doesn’t want to be called Michi – take a sip
  • Every time Mizuka shows up – raise your glass
  • Every time Junna blushes – awwww
  • Every time Aki gets fired up – uh hoh
  • Every time Kona expresses her glasses fetish – take a sip
  • Every time Kagome Kagome plays (ringtone) – take a sip
  • Every time Kai has a passion fruit bun – get some snacks
  • Every time anyone mentions the monopole – take a sip
  • Every time Kona’s mother comes up – pour some out
  • Every time ayone talks about Solar Storms – take a sip
  • Every time Kaitowants candy – make sure that snack you got is healthy
  • Every time the screen glitches – oops

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

4 thoughts

  1. I actually liked the anime, and I also liked the ending, but I no longer remember what it was, so I can’t tell you why. A little secret about myself: I’ve always found robots rather boring by themselves. Shows can do fun stuff with them, but they’re not a draw. This show actually made me understand the appeal. I don’t remember that appeal any more, but back then I did.

    (I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the game was better. That’s certainly been the case for Steins;Gate – and certainly hope it’s the case for Chaos;Head…)

  2. Now now he/she who may read this review. Yes. Your local school Robotics Club won’t build giant mechs… They want to, but the schools insurance won’t let them. But school level Robotics Club can build everyday solutions that help everyone.

    It’s how we have innovations like mobility rollers that give crippled Basic Furs back the joy of mobility. They inspired the people who eventually made the robotic vaccum… That said Basic Furs like riding on or run away from.

    While they can’t build giant robots… Because the schools insurance can’t take the hit from all the damage caused by them… Robotics Clubs can build the little everyday wonders we sometimes take for granted. And that’s a good thing. Who knows? One day a Robotics Club might build a Basic Fur sizedMech suit… And teach otter couples like Kotaro and Hana how to pilot mini Jaegers one day.

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