Infinite Ryvius has been described as “Lord of the Flies” meets “Hunt for Red October” in space, which really doesn’t mean anything to this philistine since I haven’t seen either work. Nonetheless, having been assured by these same reviews that there would be high drama and deep characterisations, I plunged into it with high expectations only to come away mildly entertained but lamenting deeply on its squandered greatness.
In typical SUNRISE fashion, Infinite Ryvius boasts of a colorful array of characters, an interesting premise and well-paced plot. It has also a good balance of action and drama concentrated in 2 theatres. In the foreground, we have a social commentary onboard Ryvius itself as human survival instincts gnaw at the social fabric/structure while a lesser plot is built around on the dogged Ryvius, pursued by unknown forces of dubious intent. Taking this rant-review in 2 segments, let me first voice my lesser dissent with the supporting tale.
While I had mentioned ‘good balance’, it didn’t quite equate ‘good mix’. IF’s drama and action remained immiscible with the latter primarily derived from its secondary tale of Ryvius fending off attacks as they seek planetary refuge. I’m not sure if it was a result of my marathoning the series or poor story-telling but I was rather baffled by the motives of the different factions vying for the capture or destruction of Ryvius. It really didn’t make sense in the grand scheme of things (revealed finally at the end) and the battles often left me wondering if they truly reinforced the main story-thread or are merely reflexive SUNRISE appendages to taint all their action with mecha.
Of course, the real meat of the series had to be the degenerating society onboard Ryvius. There were many thought provoking themes anchored by well-crafted characters who had appeared solid enough to carry these heavy themes to story fruition. Interesting (but nerfed) elements from Brave New World (designation of class) and 1984 (Big Brother is watching) were also imported enriching the story considerably. Unfortunately, the ambitious SUNRISE failed to limit the scope of their epic tale which a mere 26 parter is unable to contain. This resulted in the series closing with some subplots rushed and many characters’ full potential untapped. It was especially painful to watch the 2 male leads of the series.
Start: Mild spoilers
Kouji virtually remained stagnant in 25 eps despite the portrayal of intense inner struggles. Yuuki (the forerunner to Shinn Asuka whom I hate with a passion) had a weak basis for his character and I could not grasp the motivations behind his fierce but childish loathing of Kouji.. Ikumi, one of the better developed characters, had the messiah complex who was doubly betrayed first by himself (becoming the very monster he’s sworn to protect the masses from) and then his ‘closest’ aide who sold his utopian ideals out to the dark cravings of the human heart. Unfortunately, it took all of 26 eps for Ikumi to see his failure and the viewers are cheated of a chance to see his struggles to recovery and self-reconciliation. And I have yet to account for the many other promising characters (especially Fina and Blue) whose full potential remained unrealised at the end of the series.
If only Infinite Ryvius had another 10 eps to flesh out the characters and thoroughly explore its themes, it would no doubt enter the timeless hall of venerated anime. However at 26 eps, it remains a mediocre serving of drama on a flawed story. Still worth a peek though, if not for the attempted greatness, at least for the babelicious Neeya.