Valkyrie Drive: The Best Anime of the Fall 2015 Season
No, I mean it.
This show deserves more attention than it's getting.
I believe people think it's no more than fan service, and rather squicky fan service at that, but there's a lot going on here, on at least four levels:
First, the fan service. Yes, there's lots of it, although it's heavily censored in the Funimation simulcast. (Uncensored versions exist; there are nipples involved.) It's yuri (girl-on-girl), and some of the girls are not enthusiastic–in fact, they're essentially being raped. I think this is what provokes most of the squick, and justly so.
Get over it. The sex is not gratuitous; it's essential to the girls' survival, as orgasm enables them to transform into powerful (if often ludicrous) weapons as a result of [handwaving]the ARMS virus[/handwaving].
There's a serious plot based on that: the girls are quarantined on an island to control the virus infection, and the island society is a tyranny. In this case, the tyranny is founded on perverted sex. "Perverted" not because it's lesbian sex, but because human affection is used as a weapon. It must be shown to establish the perversity of the tyranny, the deadly lie it is based on.
But where there is tyranny, there is a resistance. And where there is a resistance, there is a story, a darned good one. I'm going to leave it to the show itself to tell its story.
Stories involve characters. VD has fairly complex characters, including a girl who must have lesbian sex to survive, but is in fact not a lesbian. She is the very embodiment of innocence and decency, a peaceable and rather easily frightened girl who finds herself going into battle with a taciturn veteran. Their friendship is uneasy but (at episode 8) growing apace. Other characters are also drawn with nuance and complexity–many are not at all what they at first seem to be.
There's also a heavy thread of satire running through the show. Consider: there's a girl who dresses as a pink-hatted, fringed skirted cowgirl who has bangs on the sides of her head that look like cow ears. And yet, she's flat-chested--that is, she is without the udders every other girl on the show has. VD delights in skewering anime tropes and fan expectations.
Let me show you how deep the satire runs: Reference is sometimes made to "Those who watch", that is, whatever institution or government established the islands and enforces the quarantine. It is important for the inhabitants to show the watchers that they are civilized, that they can be safely returned to society.
And yet, "those who watch" are most directly we, the audience. And like the girls, the show is wildly subversive, challenging many of the most cherished tropes in the genre. Again and again, we are shown tired old setups that veer off in delightfully unexpected ways, because the show takes them seriously, rather than just ham-handedly doing what every other show does in similar situations.
All you who have watched rom-coms and been disappointed that nudity and sexual contact are nothing but accidents that go nowhere: in this show, they are taken seriously. All you who have watched battle-school sagas where the highest stake is class standing, here battles are fought for life and liberty, even love.
There is fear here, and courage. Deep friendship, and deep violation.
You'll have to look at the thing about 37 degrees off kilter, but when you do, when you take Valkyrie Drive on its own terms, you will be well entertained.
Join the girls on their island. Join the resistance.
Get infected, and DRIVE.
I'm having fun watching it, and I'm kinda a fan of Hiraku Kaneko's art style but it's a dumb show. nothing wrong with that, but I can't call it the best show of the fall seoasn. not even close for me
I'm just glad you're watching.
I'll admit I'm in general not a big fan of anime, and thus haven't watched a big sample. There may well be fine shows out there I haven't even considered watching. But that's mostly because the shows I have seen, though much ballyhooed, don't really do very much; they're essentially fluff. VD:M challenges its viewers, in many ways, and so it gets my nod.
Granted, though, it is far from perfect. It's not Haibane Renmei (although, nothing else is, either) or even Noir.
This forum has been so dead, I've been having discussions with the folks on the uncensored video sites. It's good to see I'm not the only one watching (and loving) this show. I don't have a ton of time right now to get into EVERYTHING, but a couple things before I forget:
– The one thing I love the most about this show is how in almost all other yuri, you're teased with almost kisses and hand holding and things that more than likely will never transpire, but get plenty of romance and hopefully plot. With this show, it's the exact opposite. 'Yeah, yeah, hot girls making out, but seriously -- I NEED to know who this blue haired chick is and what she means to Mirei!' The second thing would be that I adore all the main characters. Even Charlotte. They've all gotten some really nice play to the point where it feels like I know a good deal about them.
-- I call bull on Mamori being perfectly straight. She did show signs of being affected by Mirei's beauty when first meeting, as well as climaxing by herself just from looking at a naked Hiragi. I kind of think of the island as a women's prison or women's college. (The latter of which I attended.) Some are blatantly lesbian, some are bi, and some probably aren't either, but still have needs. Of course, this being the type of anime it is, it probably just assumes everyone's a lesbian as soon as they hit the island.
-- I actually didn't care a whole lot about the 'squicky' rape thing you mentioned. It's probably from me watching too much hentai over the years. But in all honesty, I think it could be a reason Mamori is reluctant to be as loving/considerate towards Mirei as Mirei would like her to be. Not because she doesn't care for her, but because she is trying to come to terms with everything, given how abruptly she as thrown into things. She hasn't exactly had a whole lot of choice in things. But --
-- At least now Mirei asks Mamori for permission before just grabbing her and making out. Although to be fair, it felt like it wasn't the sex part Mamori was anxious about, it was the hurting people part. Either way, less rapey.
-- I predict Blue Hair chick comes in like everyone else, finds Mirei, tries to conjure up some old shit from their past, or tries to make her have feelings for her or some such. And of course, Mamori's never had to share Mirei's affections with anyone, so .... It will be cool to see how she reacts to the whole situation. I'm hoping it pushes her closer to Mirei.
-- I want to know what happened to Kasumi's arm? If we're subjected to anymore filler episodes, I hope that's one of them. Or at least part of one.
-- The last episode got a little too 'Witchblade'-y for my tastes, but it's cool to see see being a 'soldier' type is more than just being a badass fighter.
-- The censoring is a bit infuriating. I get why they probably have to, but even the deep kisses? Seems excessive. Plus I'm tired of going to shady sites to see the uncensored versions when I'm paying Funimation. Does that mean if they release the DVD set, it also will be censored?
Sorry for the rambling train of thought. I've been holding in a lot of stuff since the season started. :-)
Does that mean if they release the DVD set, it also will be censored?
nope, they will be given the uncensored video when it gets released on DVD/BD
Very nice! At least I have that to look forward to. Thanks for letting me know!
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nope, they will be given the uncensored video when it gets released on DVD/BD
When is that?