Robotics;Notes is an anime from Production I.G, you may know them from their work with Ghost in the Shell and the Blood franchise. It’s based on a visual novel game by 5pb, the same group that was responsible for Steins;Gate and a list of other games you’ve probably never heard of. Since their stuff doesn’t usually leave Japan. That all sounds pretty promising to me. Let’s take a look at the anime and see how long that lasts.
The story follows a young man named Kai and his friend Akiho, who comprise the robotics club of Tanegashima High School. But all isn’t going well. They have no funding with which to finish their giant robot and the principal wants to shut them down. To further complicate matters, Kai stumbles upon a mysterious program called the Kimijima report. To its credit, Robotics;Notes does have some interesting ideas, its technology is futuristic but most of it does come across as plausible, and its main plot thread does have some good moments. However, the ending is weak and it’s very slowly paced. It isn’t until the 16th episode that the major plot threads start paying off. Up until that point it’s all build up and the concepts they’re working with really aren’t interesting enough to merit that much build up. Consequently, a lot of the early episodes just drag. The major romance sub-plot also falls rather flat. They give you some idea that the characters might possibly care for each other beyond friendship throughout the anime, but they never give you a reason to care. Which resulted in me not being able to find a damn to give when they had their obligatory pairing up scene towards the end. In fact, the anime would have been stronger without that sub-plot. What there is of it is just cliched and they could’ve done everything exactly the same with the characters in question just being good friends.
The characters are definitely an issue in this. They’re all very typical with little development and no surprises. You’ve got the kind of lazy shounen protagonist. The perky heroine who wants to catch up to the person she admires. The “tragic” figure who wants to chase his dream but can’t as a result of familial disapproval. The weak but kind-hearted girl trying to overcome past trauma and, worst of all, at least in this series, the nerd with no social graces who spends too much time online and uses chat lingo in daily circumstances. You’ve probably seen all of these characters used multiple times with varying degrees of development. This is one of those series that uses them at their most basic. It tries to give them some development by giving each of them a basic character arc. The issue is that those arcs are predictable, to the point that you can probably guess some of the outcomes just based on this paragraph, and most of them are resolved with very little difficulty only to have the characters remain basically the same afterwards.
The art in this is okay. Some of the technology looks impressive, but the character designs are just kind of standard. The same can be said for most of the backgrounds and miscellanea. The robot fight scenes, what little there is of them, are okay, but they end before you can really get any kind of investment and yet they still manage to have too many pauses. Apparently the 5pb writers think that going slowly is tantamount to good pacing.
The voice acting is pretty good. Particularly Tokui Sora, Hosoya Yoshimasa and Nazuka Kaori. Sure, Nazuka’s character annoyed me, but her performance was still good. The music is just really unmemorable.
The ho-yay factor is a 3/10. They hint at it at some points, usually involving Kona, but they never do anything with it aside from bringing it up.
And that’s Robotics;Notes. It’s not nearly on the level of Steins;Gate. There were some good ideas behind it, but the execution is overly slow and quickly gets dull and the characters are just bland. Final rating 5.6/10. It’s slightly better than average. If you love robots, you may garner some enjoyment from it. Otherwise you’ll probably just find it boring. Next week, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.