Two people, separated. Maybe.
I find it rather incredible just how the people in Star Driver can keep their cool in class. After all, they’re living in a world with freaking giant robots sitting right underneath them. It’s completely different from other mecha shows in that the “mecha” is not the norm. Whereas in Gundam, the mecha action is completely integrated into society and common perceptions, it’s most certainly not the case in Star Driver. More importantly, why aren’t these people devoting their lives to the true activation of these cybodies? Why do they even bother going to school? Wouldn’t it be faster to work on the cybodies full time?
A lot of people have actually placed Star Driver not really in the category of “mecha” anime, but rather closer to the “magical girl” genre. I’d agree with that assessment, and I think the 12 Takuto transformation sequences we’ve seen so far would at least lend credence to that thought as well.
Too sexy. The only thing we’re missing is a pantsu shot.
But there is an interesting point of deviation between Star Driver and the traditional Mahou Shoujo series. For the most part, it is only the protagonist (read: the magical girl), who is forced to juggle their dual life as a normal everyday person and their magical counterpart. The antagonist usually has no difficulty in performing this feat, mostly because he/she is fully in the magical world, and not in reality. However, this problem is not limited to Takuto in Star Driver. Everyone has to juggle with their lives as a Star Driver/Miko and their lives as a regular school student/teacher.
I think the most interesting part about Star Driver is watching this struggle play itself out. After all, the point of this show, as I’m pretty sure everyone has already guessed, is to emphasize the power of adolescence and to implore people to enjoy their youth while they can. Often times, this ends up getting translated onto screen as FABULOUS fanservice.
And I have absolutely no problem with that~
But it’s important to note that there is a much darker side to things, in that things are not really as clear cut as it seems. After all, there are five people (now four), who cannot enjoy their youth. We’ve already seen the tragedy beneath Sugata’s and Wako’s wishes to leave the island and pursue their dreams. Their youth is crushed beneath the weight of the burden that misfortune has placed upon them. Their burden is made all the more apparent by the appearance of Takuto in the beginning of the series.
Takuto introduces an interesting dynamic into the series. Just his appearance alone is a subtle taunt against Sugata and Wako. After all, he freaking SWAM to the island from the mainland. What rational and sane person would do that? But that’s the wrong question to ask and the wrong place to look. What’s truly tragic in this situation is that Sugata and Wako can’t do that. They’re trapped on the island. Swimming across the sea? If you were trapped on this island, wouldn’t your first reaction be: “I wish I could do that.”
I wish I could do something amazing with my life.
And this is the source of the tension presented throughout the entire first arc of Star Driver. This tension between Takuto and Sugata+Wako is caused by the fact that he’s an outsider and unbound to the island. A glass wall has been erected between them. Takuto IS an outsider. This fact was made all the more apparent by that one episode where the outsider hater (if she has a name, I totally forgot it) let loose her rage against Takuto with Mermaidoll.
And in the aftershocks of this event, it looked like everything changed. The rift between Takuto and Sugata became even more apparent. But it was only through this event that Takuto realized that he wasn’t really an outsider intruding upon Sugata+Wako. But is he truly part of the trio? The revelation that he has says yes, but the fact is that he really isn’t.
Sugata’s complete 180 in personality is an indication. It wasn’t that he became a different person. It was just because he saw the great rift between Takuto and himself. What does Takuto understand? Nothing. How can he possibly understand the feelings that Wako and I have? It’s impossible. The fight between him and Takuto was just as supercharged with these feelings. But the fight itself told him something important: that Takuto was just as serious as he appeared to be. He’s serious about destroying all of the Cybodies. He’s just as serious about helping and protecting Wako as he is. They’re both extremely serious, and they both fought with all of their strength.
Which leads to 15 seconds of panting. An emphasis on just how hard the fight was. Also very sexy.
The first arc was primarily focused on the Takuto+Wako+Sugata trio. It was about their meeting, separation, and making up. But it was primarily about Takuto and Sugata. They are, in a way, opposites in every single way. Sugata is refined and lives in a mansion. Takuto is expressive, and lives in a regular dorm. The introduction of Takuto provided a breath of fresh air into the island society, but not for some. For Sugata, nothing had changed. This was merely another outsider who had trespassed into his Winter. “Even if you believe in wishes, everything is still in a Monochrome.” That’s Sugata’s world. One of boredom by being trapped on the island.
That song that dominated almost the entirety of the first arc is, in my opinion, a reflection of Sugata’s soul throughout the entirety of the first arc. There were only three episodes (I think?) throughout the entire first arc where Monochrome was not sung for the battle song: Episodes 4, 6, and 8. In every other episode, Monochrome was sung for the inevitable end of episode battle. Yes, these battles are first initiated as a reaction against the threat of an attack by Kiraboshi, but more importantly, each battle is one step towards destroying every Cybody, which would free Wako and Sugata from the island. Furthermore, it’s very clear that the five principal Cybodies are the four miko Cybodies, and the King Cybody. Of course there’s still a small logical leap to make, but when you consider in what contexts Monochrome was not sung, I think it’s all the clearer. Episode 4 was the episode were Sugata basically stepped out of the picture for the entire episode. The episode was meant to focus on Wako and Takuto alone, and that’s precisely what it did. Monochrome simply had no place. In Episode 6, Monochrome was replaced by Wako’s song. However, Monochrome did make an appearance in this episode, but as an instrumental, which was paired up with a scene where Wako both reminisces of Sugata and where she laments the presence of the Cybodies. For the most part, her wish and Sugata’s wish are the same: They both want to get off this island, a fact that was emphasized in the scene. In episode 8, an extremely short form of Monochrome is sung as Sugata gazes out to sea, immediately before Takuto goes to see him. After this point, Monochrome is no longer sung in the series, because beyond this point, Sugata’s heart is wrenched with emotion and acceptance of Takuto. For now at least, the Winter in his heart is broken, and thus we farewell to Sakana-chan.
Bye bye, you’ll be missed~
And thus we mark the arrival of Summer.
And let happiness reign?~
The time where everything is, and the youth can sing their hearts out. The past few episodes were focused on the members of Kiraboshi, specifically Kanako, and her ability to sing out her youth. She was oppressed, and really unable to express her youth. She’s forced into the role of the businesswoman, and that’s basically her life. Where is her opportunity to be a teenager? Right on the island. We’ve seen her declare that she’s going to stay on the island at least twice now, because that’s the only place where she can be a youth. Summer has truly arrived.
A slight digression: So where did Spring go? I dunno. I guess it’ll depend on how the rest of Star Driver plays out, and whether it sticks to this pace. If it truly is only 25 episodes, and if it stays at 8 episodes per miko, then we won’t see an arc for one of the mikos, and I’m guessing it’ll be Wako. After all, her presence is felt all throughout the show. Almost like an eternal Spring that no one notices…
Who’s also a BL stalker.
Anyway, just one last digression on fish girl, and that’s about the story of Sam the Squid Killer. That story certainly does seem to be the way that the main story seems to be progressing. Thinking of Sugata as Sam, the girl he loves as Wako, the boat as Samekh, the king as the Head, and the Squid King as Takuto, the pieces do seem to fall into place. Sugata, who has been the most repressed by tradition to the point of having two bodyguard-assassins standing by his side, yearns to escape out into the galaxy. Now that the Cybodies can be repaired, Takuto’s goal of destroying all of the Cybodies is hopeless. Then the only way for Sugata to leave the island is to side with Kiraboshi and the king (aka Head), kill Takuto so he can get at Wako, “offer her blood as a sacrifice” so that the Cybodies can move in the real world, and go out and truly explore the galaxy. Meanwhile, the Head gets what he wants in that he finally knows how to escape from his meaningless life. But Sugata realizes that life on the island was brilliant after all.
Brilliant in more ways than one…
So goes the story. But whether reality will match that… We’ll just have to see.
Anyway, I was talking about something else earlier… Oh right the title of my post. So far, Star Driver has proven itself to be not only a show of the singing out of youth, but also of the incredible sense of separation that these youths have. They have to lead one life as a normal high school student, and another as a part of the Star Driver world. Kind of like the title. So what defines these youths? Their lives as Star Drivers (i.e. the main title)? Or their “radiant” lives (i.e. the subtitle). Clearly they’re unable to keep these two realms separate, as is the case with the mikos and Sugata, and with (mostly) everyone who has a first phase activated.
But really, and I think that this is the part that Sugata just doesn’t get, and what Star Driver might focus on later, isn’t living on the island and battling with Cybodies enough of shouting out your youth? Isn’t the ultimate expression of your youth participating in this Cybody war? Isn’t this what we would all pine for in our everyday lives? A chance to fight with giant robots in a world where there are really no consequences on reality? Why did Takuto come to this island in the first place? Why would he shun the supposedly grand outside world to come to this place?
The answer? He came to sing out his youth. He recognizes just how fun it is to live on this island. The difference between Takuto and all of the islanders is just this simple fact. He knows how to sing out his youth while leading this dual life. No one else does. Will they figure out this fact as well? Only time will tell.
So the adventure of life continues.