Volicia of Pluto Ep 1 Review: Someone Get This Man A Studio!

This is the first time that we’ve seen something like this, and also the first time we’ve done something like this too: watching and reviewing an indie anime made by essentially very few people. Volicia of Pluto: Vapor Trail Another Age is an extremely passionate project by the 23-year-old animator AsH. The story behind his work and the level that he has reached with everyone’s help has been phenomenal. And we sincerely hope he get more support in the future.

A bit of background: Vapor Trail was a short project that AsH released in 2021 – a 30-minute mecha animation with heavy inspiration from Yukikaze, Muv-Luv and Soukyuu no Fafner. The project was praised by fans as very impressive considering he basically animated it himself. Feeling that this isn’t his limit nor where his passion stop, AsH started a crowdfunding project to produce a full-fledged series with multiple episodes instead of just a short one-shot. The new series is called Volicia of Pluto: Vapor Trail Another Age 2006. It’s set in the same “universe” as the Vapor Trail short, which I think is a great way to expand on the world-building and create a recognizable brand for himself.

With the crowdfunding goal of 1 million yen per episode, AsH and team (with the help of Zerogohsha) has managed to completed the first episode and released in on 9 July 2023. The first ep is also 30-minute long, but the production quality has made leaps and bounds. We have proper voice-acting, composed music themes and much more polished animation as well. It is really hard to describe since it is an indie anime, you gotta see it to experience it.

Volicia of Pluto tells the story between two girls. It is a girl-love story but unlike G-Witch that just ended recently, AsH went all out and went straight into the mutual relationship from the first episode. The relationship between the two main heroines, Akio and Ayano, is quite complicated. But he managed to depict it quite well. All the details are included in the episode and the cast is kept to a minimum to make sure we can follow the story even if there’s a chance they won’t be able to make the next ep. The story has some very dramatic development quite similar to Fafner and Valvrave, but with yuri element instead.

Akio is a very interesting character. She went from being on top of her field to losing it all, then sunk into despair but found a crutch in Ayano – who stayed by her side all this time. Though it is not a one-sided dependent relationship, Ayano also depended on Akio because of her “destiny”. Akio also didn’t wallow in despair after finding out the truth but instead chose to listen to her heart and chase after Ayano until the end – no matter what happen to the two of them. There are many disturbing scenes in the episode to intrigue the viewers and setup for future development, which I think is fine. It didn’t take away from the core story between the heroines and the main goal of getting their pure relationship across as well as demonstrating the animator’s abilities.

The animation is, of course, not anime studio level; however it is actually very good for just one person. AsH single-handedly did the directing, editing, animating and writing the script. And with proper guidance, he could go much further. It’s obvious he’s a fan of mecha and has taken a lot of inspirations from past mecha series not just in terms of story, but also perspective and animation. We can see Guilty Crown, Valvrave, Fafners, Muv-Luv and many, many more. The one thing I think he can improve on is the character’s side models where their mouth movement look very uncanny. I guess it’s due to time and budget constraints, but his front model all look amazing. You can tell which part he put effort on since the important parts are all Sakuga as heck!

The intimate scenes between Akio and Ayano is very sweet, and the voice actress did an amazing job. Kudos to Kusaka Mahiro and Mashiro Miho for delivering such emotional lines. You wouldn’t be able to tell that he used amateurs for those lines. I hope they will get more recognition for their talent. The rest of the cast also did a very good job. The sound department sounds like they are made with proper anime staff, which for an indie anime is quite an accomplishment.

The “human motions” of Volicia is quite rough at times, with some full-body running scene looking a bit awkward and the extremely limited scene switching which are mostly skipping in-between frames and look like a powerpoint slide. But to be honest, those worked fine and did what they needed to do. I do prefer AsH putting effort into the fight scenes, and oh boi did he done it.

The mecha action was phenomenal. The use of dynamic angle and limited animation style work wonders for hand-drawn mecha combat. Destania Replica’s fight scene was alright, it was bulky and large and controlled by a single person using analogue stick so it feels bulky and slow. However, when Volicia appear, all the animation brakes are off. It definitely had a Fafner MK. Sein vibe to it and the movement is very Evangelion with how savage it fight. Akio and Ayano both control the mech and it is an extension of their body – two top-tier athletes – so the movement of the Volocia is just amazing. The special effects that AsH added is very cool as well, reminding me of Star Driver or Gurren Lagann style. We also had a Muv-Luv combat knife scene, Fafner Long Sword combat scene similar to the Susanoo, etc… The homages are endless and the combat was exciting to watch. I daresay it’s even better than some proper anime like Sakugan or Ancient G’s Frame.

The crowdfunding for the next episode is underway with over half of the goal reached. To be honest I wish some studios saw it and maybe help AsH out with the production since the man definitely has talents. It’s definitely worth checking out and give him your support.

You can check out the main website here: https://www.voliciamovie.com

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