Super-robots and maid cafe, what else can you ask for?
We’re finally at the end of Pastel Memories. For better or worse.
Episode 11 features Izumi (center), Kaoruko (left) and Komachi (right).
And the whole final arc is dedicated to the most well-known and widespread genre of the otaku culture, the giant robots! Therefore you can expect a whole bunch of references and cameos from Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mobil Suit Gundam and Patlabor with frequent and continuous shoutouts to Gurren Lagann, Daitarn 3 (probably Zambot 3 too) Golion/Voltron, Time Bokan, Top Wo Nerae, Gravion, Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, Getter Robo and basically anything that got near Nagai or Tomino.
The story starts with Maya gazing at the top of some skyscraper with yet another Mother-Virus (really, how many of the Mother-Viruses has Maya started up only to get destroyed?), while the girls at the café are down because no matter how many times they fight the otakus’ memories don’t seem to come back.
Until they finally notice someone is attacking the world of Neon Nova Exceed, a supposed anime milestone where teenagers fight aliens in giant humanoid machines, in a Akihabara transformed in a fortress-arsenal city. Well, you got the gist.
When they arrive at this fantasy Akihabara (how many 4th walls have they broken in one episode?) Izumi & co. can’t even play around a bit in the shops, as they are almost immediately thrust into a battle against a giant invader, who is nothing less than the Mother-Virus. Strangely enough, the girls are trashed by simple viruses, way stronger than in every other world. But the viruses don’t seem interested in them, and just pass over, shaking off a whining Maya.
While the viruses destroy Akihabara, Maya reveals that the viruses get stronger in the memory-rich environment, at the point that here they got so strong they did go berserk. And since no final act is good without a team-up with the former-evil team (I’m looking at you, Time Bokan), Maya joins the girls in trying to take down the Mother-Virus. Evidently, taking down the otaku world is not good unless you do it with your own hands… but who I am to judge?
After several failed attempts the girls plus Maya decide it’s time to use the super robot Exceed, since only Exceed can save its own world. Better late than never.
When they arrive in the
geofront underground base, they discover the robot wasn’t built at all, and only the former head-scientist is still there. But there’s no time for pleasantries, since the Mother-Virus attacks the base and the other girls literally kick Izumi in the dimensional gateway to go and get help while they divert the viruses away from the base.
Back home, Izumi loses heart a bit, but only a bit because soon that after she and all the remaining girls of the Rabbit’s Shed, storm the Exceed’s world…
Now, episode 12 is a “whole crew” episode, so no protagonists (actually, Izumi is the only one, but let’s roll with this).
The girls are currently searching for Kaoruko, Komachi (and Maya and Not-Ritsuko) while looting the whole Akihabara for robots’ blueprint that ‘Hakase’ Saori (Light violet hair, out like a doorbell, humungous tits, apparently never wearing a bra. You remember her?) will build in the Exceed’s dockyard. And jumping on the nostalgia-train while they are at it, since (in this fictional Akiba) they keep finding around manga whose world they saved in prior episodes.
Finally, the day comes that the Mother-Virus finds its way back to Akihabara, and our heroines jump on their brand-new robots… that are apparently a fancy GOUF from MS Gundam, a sidekick robot from Go Nagai’s series, the bastard son between Kurochan and Voltron, a maid-robot from whatever children’s show and a gacha dispenser (it IS Akihabara, after all). What follows is a more or less short fight, at the end of whom the robots combine in a super robot in its own right.
But the Mother-Virus gets stronger and bigger, and then a full-built Exceed appears, with Kaoruko, Komachi and Maya as pilots. Together they kick around the giant Mother-Virus and finally manage to immobilize it, so that the full army of
steampunk magical girls can attack its core and vanquish the threat.
(I suppose everyone deserve a Gendo-pose, but this image feels so wrong in so many ways that I don’t know from where I should start…) (This is the kind of close-up they should have done for the whole series…)
All’s fine in Akihabara. And in the Rabbit’s Shed too.
Ok, this will be difficult, so bear with me for a bit…
Opening/Ending: 10 . Both the opening and ending themes are catchy and well-animated, way more better than the actual episodes (the Ending is also the one that goaded me in thinking this series was ecchi, so I have conflicting thought about that… please go back to Kay’s review to have a better look at it).
Character Development: 6 . As every episodic anime against the “monster of the week”, there’s not much space for self-development, but nonetheless the characters in focus from week to week show a bit of their problems and issues and often overcome them. It’s not really anything decisive, but makes them just a bit “alive”.
Points of interest: 9 . Parody. This anime is a pure orgy of cameos and references from every part of otaku’s culture. Actually, the more you go on the more you notice all the references poured into every single episode. Someone actually thought that the whole part about fighting against forces trying to shut up the otaku’s culture is in fact a 4th-wall-breaking methapor of the today’s struggles against conformist trying to “tone down” creators’ creativity in favour of maximum returns and political correctness. While it’s a charming thought, I’ll leave that at your judgement. Let’s just say that the level of the whole references and cameo’s details are amazing.
Illustrations: 3 . This is the sore thumb of this show. The quality of animations and static illustrations vastly fluctuates from one episode to the next and even several times in the same episode. There’s no way out of it, and discrepancies in character design (faces, heights, body-type, often even clothes) are very noticeable.
Fanservice: 5 . As much as I would like to say otherwise, fanservice is not the strong point of this show (unless you count the references and cameos as fanservice). We get an awesome Ending theme that tops just every single fanservice moment of the series put together. Of course, there’re a lot of cleavage closeups, fluttering skirts, tight maid uniforms that don’t leave much to the imagination, and even a couple of kinky moments: the ingredients are all there. But nothing that really manages to come up as really interesting (apart from the Ending theme, of course).
Overall: 6.6 . Pastel Memories will be probably remembered for its bad visuals, if at all. But it’s a shame, since it’s actually a bit interesting in its own right, and not the worst show passed around lately. But as the general plot is itself a cameo of old episodic shows, virtually every episode is quite repetitive and feels inconclusive, in the end. Even though it tries hard to come up with fun gimmicks, is a show visibly shackled down by the smartphone game it was supposed to promote (and from which it could not stray too much away). It’s not bad, but is a pity it can’t be called good either.