Maihime for best girl ever!
What’s the Story?
One day the human race was pushed to the brink of extinction by the invasion by a mysterious race of creatures known as the Unknown. In order to protect the children they were sent off a cold sleep, waking up years later to find that they have strange powers called ‘Worlds’ that are the only hope of fending the hordes of Unknown that threaten what’s left of the world. Everything is not as it appears though, but will these kids live long enough to see what’s behind the curtain?
I have to say this upfront, this is a bad show. I mean really, from the clear budget issues that mean epic moments of battle have to happen off screen to the rushed character development and plot twists that are so sudden they’re hilarious, this isn’t a good show, but it is a fun one. Coming to the end of this series is really weird for me, I mean I know it’s bad and if I where to dissect this show analytically then I’d have to tear this thing apart, but at the same time I’ve really enjoyed watching it. I like the characters, well most of them, and there are some interesting ideas squirreled away in the plot, a lot of them are underdeveloped, but they are there.
Let’s get into the characters. First there’s my least favourite, the arrogant delusional hero, Ichiya. Now Ichiya has a weird place in the series because I could have sworn he was the male lead, but after the first couple of episodes he slides off into the background and this becomes more of an ensemble piece, much to the show’s benefit. My main problem with him is just how arrogant he is, determined to do everything by himself and treating everyone else as if they’re beneath him. I get what they were trying to go for, as a kid he saw the world burning and now is determined to save it and thinks he’s the only one for the job, but did they have to make him so unlikeable? He’s much better as a support character (because he’s on screen for less time) though I did like his little arc of madness after (Spoiler!) Canary died (which was probably one of the most out of nowhere and hilarious scenes in the entire series) it was something a bit different to what I was expecting.
Next comes my all time favourite character, Maihime! My love for her started probably around episode five, which thinking about it is when a lot the characters started to shine. It’s the part of the story after Canary’s death and with Ichiya moving into the background, a lot of the generic and cliché parts of the story are pushed off of the board and we get some genuinely decent episodes with some touching character moments. Like I said though, Maihime is my favourite. At first she comes across as this hyperactive goofball with a maximum of two brain cells active at any one time, but as you learn more about her and her back story you realise there’s a lot more going on inside. Maihime is the kind of character Ichiya should have been, she’s determined to protect everyone and she is overwhelmingly powerful, but instead of pushing others away, she inspires them, standing at the front lines and encouraging everyone to do their best. She’s not without her angst though, because she’s such a figure of inspiration she often hides her own feelings, smiling and acting goofy to cheer others on, even if she’s falling apart inside. She’s a really lovely character and it makes me want to her hug. Also she’s a total badass as evidenced by her taking on a city full of Unknown all by herself.
Let’s talk about the Unknown; though they’re incredibly underdeveloped as a species and spend most of the series as just fodder for the kids, there are couple of interesting ideas dotted around the place. I think the most intriguing aspect about them is the one line where it’s mentioned that the Unknown are a species that are continually changing, so much so that they don’t even remember what they originally looked like anymore. They are a completely alien species with a unique way of thinking, though some of them are clearly being influenced by the human race, I wish it got a bit more attention, but then I wish the whole final arc could be extended. It does feel like the show was rushing to tie things up before it ran out of episodes. Actually the pacing for a lot of the series felt like the accelerator was being hit all of the time, also if that final arc got extended then we could spend more time with mother of the Chigusa siblings because she is brilliant, insane, but brilliant. Every scene with her in is a joy, from her rather direct naming of weapons to the fact that this woman subjugated the world’s military forces through sheer force of will, I love her.
Okay, I’ve been praising this series a lot, but there are a lot of very clear issues with this series, a lot of which I’ve already hinted at. The pacing is too fast a lot of the time, leaving a lot of plot threads underdeveloped or barely explained and some things come right the hell out of nowhere (see the aforementioned Canary death). The big reveal you’ll probably work out before you hit halfway, even if only in part and several of the plot elements are rather clichéd or really just pointless (what really was the point of the ranking system and it’s never explained why they’re talking their sweet time to wake up the kids from cold sleep. Why not wake them all at once?). The animation is pretty disastrous too, most of the time it can just about manage to put across what it has to, but then there’s moments where the budget clearly vanished like the end of the first arc where the big finishing move, instead of being animated, is replaced by a white out. On a final note, the writers of this series clearly don’t understand physics; just go watch episode 4 it has to be seen to be believed. The actions in that episode don’t just break your suspension of disbelief, they atomise it.
While I can’t say that Qualidea Code is a good series, it’s certainly an enjoyable one (well it was for me anyway). Despite the poor animation, the clichés and the physics that make scientist hang their head in shame. this is fun. There are some interesting ideas floating around and I like the majority of the characters, even when the story is stalling and the animation is non-existant, they’re still there to brighten my day. I don’t know if you’ll like this series, but I think it’s pretty fun, even if sometimes that’s not quite intentional.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.