Series Recommendation: Soukyuu no Fafner: Exodus

In order to Exist, we must return to Nothingess…
After the Heaven and Earth movie, an entirely new saga open up for Fafner with some major changes in pretty much every aspect. 5 year after the release of the movie, Soukyuu no Fafner returned with another 2-cour tv series called “Exodus” that serve as the best series in the franchise. A breakthrough in many aspect that bring Fafner even further from the traditional mecha concepts.

Exodus continued from Heaven and Earth’s ending. With two major event happening – the return of Soushi from seemingly impossible end as well as the discovery that the Festum is capable of “understanding” – Tatsumiyajima set out to do the unthinkable: find a way to communicate and reach an understanding with the Festum, which humans have deemed impossible since the beginning. A beacon of hope arrived at the Island in the form of a younger – which sparked another hope for humanity. Kazuki, Soushi and the rest of the pilots – old and new – set out again to protect their home, their land, their family and loved ones on the greatest journey of mankind.

+ Plot: With the introduction of many new elements, such as the Esperanto and new Festum types, as well as new Mirs and Fafners, the plot really divert from the traditional mecha show that we saw in season 1 – which is mostly an all-out war between human and Festum – where everyone struggle to cope with loss and desperation while clinging onto the hope of survival. In Exodus, the focus shift slightly into a different direction. The characters still have to deal with sadness and losses, but it was for a greater purpose – for the better good of the entire human race. And they already lost so many of their comrades, so the way they dealt with it is different. We also get new pilot that will eventually face such cruel things, but now, there are people who will guide them through the process. The build-up of human relationship in Fafner is very beautiful, fragile yet passionate.

Just like the first Dead Aggressor, Exodus also feature a conflict of ideologies between human, and that went to much more radical extremes compared to the what we’ve seen before, this also drive home the fact that sometimes, we’re our own worst enemy. Many mech series feature this aspect, especially in Real Robot series where humanity have to repel an alien force. The way Fafner tackle it is not too unique, but it was well done nonetheless. Fafner show us all the spectrum of human’s emotion: hope, courage, sadness, despair, jealousy, greed, wrath, and love. Everything weave together through characters that are very expressive and relatable.

+ Animation: Xebec Zwei and Orange kept the ball rolling from Heaven and Earth. But wait, there’s more! The 2D animation has also been improved greatly. The character designs still has the Hirai face, but they are much more detailed and well-proportioned compared to the first Fafner and earlier Hirai works such as Ryvius or Gundam Seed. The blend btween 2D and 3D is also seamless, meshing together two elements well enough to not cause any sort of discrepancies in any frames.

Still, the 3D deserve another mention, because it is SO FREAKING GOOD! The Island Fafners gradually move more and more organic, showing their deep assimilation with the pilot, creating some dynamic fight scenes with some amazing camera panning shots. The mass-produced Fafner units moved mechanically and we can feel their weight in each of their footstep and action, giving us a feel of rigidity. Overall, Fafner’s visual is a perfect 10/10.

+ Mecha Design: In terms of design, Fafner mechs have evolved greatly throughout the years. Naohira Washio continued to deliver great variation to the core silhouette while slowly introducing new elements into the Fafners – which show the in-universe progress of the technology. The Fafner units also gain some variation in terms of equipment to specialize in different roles – which we already saw starting in Heaven and Earth. Thanks to the superior 3D animation, the texture and effects of the Fafner are greatly improved. But prepare for some massive crystalization because Exodus really pushed it to the limit.

+ Music: Just like every other Fafner and, well, Angela anisong really, Exodus features impressive soundtracks ranging from badass hype song to emotionally devastating song. The ED after each episode with Soushi’s melancholic narration really really hit close to home, especially considering the story that Exodus was telling. The insert song is also really, really awesome. You’ll know when you hit episode 9 – which is one of the most, if not the most badass moment in Fafner history.

+ Conclusion: Fafner: Exodus feels like a perfected version of Dead Aggressor that we should have gotten in terms of characterization and storytelling. Exodus basically paint a beautiful vision of both hope and despair, nicely woven into a compelling story and character arcs that support each other. At this point, you should know how Fafner operates: they show a hopeful future, then slap us in the face with some cold hard despair, but still leave just enough hope at the end for us to hold on. In Exodus, everything just naturally come together: the visuals, the music, the plot, the characters, everything. If there’s one thing missing that’s scientific explanation for everything that happen but hey, it’s Fafner, logic got thrown out of the window just like A.T Field.

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