Series Recommendation: Mars Daybreak

Mars, the planet named after the God of War – Ares, truly lives up to its name. Conflicts involving Mars is everywhere in Mecha. We got Gundam, Nadesico, Aldnoah Zero, etc… Mars Daybreak is no exception, with its events taking place primarily on Mars. But the red planet in this series isn’t a wasteland but something far more interesting and unique.

That’s right! The entire planet is covered in water. H2O is everywhere. But contrary to the abundance of resources, life on Mars is drying out. People are living in poverty and work is extremely hard to find. Our protag, Gram, scrapes by day by day taking care of young kids. However, life twists him around its fingers by involving him with a pirate band, as well as granting him the mysterious Round Buckler with seemingly enormous power. Gram embarks on his adventure with the his new mech, getting other people involved in his incredible story, that includes his childhood girl friend, the granddaughter of the Earth’s president, and many more.

+ Plot: Mars Daybreak make a really good impression because it’s not “unwilling child soldiers placed in giant robots forced to fight an unjust war”-type of story. The characters are grown-up and is conscious of what they are doing. They aren’t whiny, angsty children that complain about their situation, but actively accept the challenges and try to make the best of the situation. There are many twists and turns that will keep you on edge throughout the series, especially the relationship between Gram and Vess, his childhood friend. Other side-characters also have their own charm and unique personality, although their development is nowhere near Gram and Vess, they are still a fun bunch, just like the bridge bunnies in Macross, the Vandread’s crew or Nadesico’s crew. (P/s: They have a freaking whale in a powered suit)

+ Animation: Not bad but could be better. The unique point of Mars Daybreak is its combat are 90% underwater and the Round Bucklers (name of the mechs) have tethers to submarines and underwater ships. This lend a unique atmosphere to the combat due to water resistance and other mechanical conditions that we’re not used to see. The animators captured the “feel” of underwater combat quite well, which further makes this series unique. Aside from that, the animation is your typical 2000s style. The character designs are also not bad.

+ Mecha Design: The best aspect, or should I say, the most unique, of the series. As I mentioned before, the majority of the combat take place underwater and by mechs tethered to other submersibles. Due to that, the Round Buckler possess very rounded aesthetic to decrease resistance. Furthermore, they don’t have “feet” like land-based or space-based mechs that we are used to. Designer Yoshinori Sayama, who worked on Gundam Unicorn, VS Knight Ramune, etc,… has done a great job with the RB designs. While retaining the visually familiar bipedal style, he gave them unique defining features which set them apart from the other series, event the grunts. The main character mecha is basically a super prototype with some really distinctive features but not too crazy.

+ Music: The songs are nice and upbeat. The OST is quite intense during battle and gentle during relaxing scenes. Kaoru Wada, a prolific composer, did the music for the series. The songs aren’t super memorable or explosive like JAM Project or Gran Rodeo, but it is very nice to listen to and can become an earworm while you watch the series.

+ Conclusion: Overall, Mars Daybreak is a super unique series set in a familiar setting. A set of interesting characters along with very distinctive mecha combat helps set Mars Daybreak apart from other dystopian off-Earth series. The fact that the main characters is entirely different from the usual trope is a great hook for viewers where they will instantly like him from the start. He thinks for himself and others, take responsibilities for his action and do what he’s gotta do. That’s our dream protag right there with none of the angst and all of the kickass. Also if you watch it now, you might learn a thing or two about Mars once Elon recruit citizens for his Martian colony

Check out more recommendations: