Solty Rei was brought to us by Gonzo and AIC, with TV Asahi co-producing and airing it. It ran from late 2005 to early 2006. Hiraike Yoshimasa took charge of the direction. The series was designed as a sci-fi drama. Since it wasn’t based on anything, it’s difficult to predict how well it does with that combination. The worst sci-fi work I’ve reviewed from AIC was just mediocre. I have looked at some really horrendous works from Gonzo, including the sci-fi western Sunabouzu, but I’ve also seen some strong offerings from both of them. So, will this collaboration be one of those higher quality works?
In a far off future, society is run by a mega company called the RUC. Laws are largely enforced by bounty hunters, with the regular police being really ineffectual. One such hunter is Roy Revant, a grizzled veteran who’s spent twelve years searching for his daughter, who was lost in an event called the Blast fall. One day while he’s on a case, a strange, amnesiac green-haired girl falls from the sky. Because plot convenience amnesia helps build mystery. It’s not lazy writing at all. She takes a liking to Roy and begins following him around. He resists at first, telling her to go home but takes pity on her and gives her the name “Solty,” taking her in. Roy and Solty aren’t in for an easy time, though. There’s something decidedly unkosher happening with the RUC and a trio of unregistered residents are certain to complicate matters further.
The biggest problem with the series is the ending. We get a lot of mystery surrounding various events that I can’t go into without major spoilers and the ultimate answers that we get are pretty weak. The last couple episodes rush out multiple climaxes and only one of them is even semi-well handled. Really, the series tries to do too much in the span of two or three episodes and it fails to properly set a lot of it up so you get plot lines that feel like they’re coming out of nowhere. The series also suffers from dumb villain plots. There are three antagonistic figures working separately, or against each other, who all have stupid, nonsensical plans.
On the positive side, the world building is pretty interesting and the series, in spite of going off the rails at the end, does have a lot of genuinely good moments. If it had focused on a single antagonist and fleshed out their plan better, this could have been a great series. There are some good ideas behind the main narrative as well and most of them aren’t executed badly. The series is also good at balancing serious and more light-hearted moments and managing its tone really well.
The biggest weakness in terms of characters are the major antagonists. Since their motivations don’t make sense and their plans are idiotic. The major protagonists and supporting characters, on the other hand, are a really strong group of characters. They’re fleshed out. They develop over the course of the series and they get a lot of good character moments that develop them and their relationships with one another. The series is particularly good with familial bonding moments and some of its best scenes by far are focused on that dynamic.
The artwork is mostly nicely done. The characters look good and the various futuristic elements have visual appeal. The Aurora wave that keeps people from going too high up in the atmosphere is really nice looking. The action sequences are a bit hit or miss. In some of them, the use of CG really detracts from the sequence. Since the CG can be really awkward. Others are quite good. Some of the futuristic clothes the characters wear can be just ridiculous too. Solty’s outfit, for example, has a random triangle right over her bum and another right over her bosom. Why are there random triangles and why are they positioned so that they could be easily construed as downwards arrows? That’s just a bad idea. At best you look clueless at worst you look like you’re trying to draw attention to those areas in a decidedly unclassy way.
There are some good actors in this. Nakata Jouji, Asano Masumi, Noto Mamiko, Hirohashi Ryou, Itou Shizuka, Tamura Yukari & Saitou Momoko all give strong performances. There really aren’t any bad performances. The music is pretty good as well.
There are some scenes between Solty and Rose early on that get a bit homo-erotic, but the series eases off on that for reasons that become quite apparent. There are also the girls in the RUC. Celica and Accela seem to be into each other. Integra also has moments where she seems to be interested in other women.
In spite of its problems, Solty Rei is a good anime. Aside from the antagonists, it has strong characters and there are some compelling facets to the story. If you can tolerate the stupid villain plans, it is worth watching. My final rating is going to be a 7/10. Next week we’ll finish the month with Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom.