Odd story. I used to not like this movie long before I actually saw it, based on its showing in Super Robot Wars W. This is because I’m a terrible person. Anyway, I got around to actually watching it, because it was there and I was bored, and it turned out that I actually liked the movie. As usual, I’m going to follow this up with a glut of background and qualifications.
70% of the movie is just gathering the cast of Nadesico back together for more wacky adventures, spiced with a couple of new characters (who ended up growing on me). Everybody has grown a little, especially Ruri, but they’re all recognizable and come back one by one over the course of the film with their own idiosyncratic entrances. I admit to being more joyful than healthy when Ines came out of nowhere with a “let me explain.” I can’t really explain it better: it was basically more Nadesico, and I liked Nadesico.
Unfortunately, there’s also Akito.
I’m really torn about the way Akito is used. As the Prince of Darkness, he’s a good plot driver, I guess, but he’s a very different take on the character when the rest of the cast is “oh, it’s you again, haven’t seen you in a while.” Akito, by contrast, is transformed by powerful trauma in the gap into a deadly serious revenge seeker who even gives up his happy ending seemingly just to wander away and be mad some more. It sticks out.
Also, the majority of the movie’s Nadesico-ness comes not just from the characters but the Nadesico flavor, the general chaos and the goofy aesthetic and the show’s flawless sense of comic timing and delivery. Most of the time Akito is on screen, that flies out the window to make room for darkness. It kind of shakes up the tone in a weird way. Even when Nadesico was being dark, it did so with the irreverence it treated everything, so the Prince would be a mood breaker even if he weren’t also Akito.
And yet, I’m torn, because the emotional climax of the movie, where Akito gives Ruri his special recipe because he can’t use it anymore, was great. I can’t decide if it was worth it, though.
And this one is less of a “this made watching the movie worse” thing and more of a reviewing/reflection point, but: at the end of the movie, the heroes pretty much win, except that we have to cut away to Akito having a robot fistfight with this one ace soldier of the villain’s that barely did anything in the movie prior other than pop in to pose evilly a few times. He’s like this rival/boss fight for Akito or something but that’s circular, he’s written into Akito’s traumatic past so Akito has someone to duel for the final battle. So basically this dude eats screentime but doesn’t have any story purpose other than letting Akito beat up a final boss for closure. Sure, if it weren’t for him the Three Angels wouldn’t have gotten a pilot squad reunion, and the movie wouldn’t have gotten that exploitable Aestivalis-crying shot, but I still feel like that entire last bit didn’t need a final boss pilot for the sake of having a final boss pilot. Was he another guy from the TV show I forgot about? Does the movie demographic require a climactic robot fight whether it’s called for by the story or not?
The basic issue with this is that Akito’s theme was how he was ruined and can’t return to his old life, but that load gets blown partway through in the recipe-giving. Then Akito has to sit through the rest of the movie and have the fight before he can complete his story by giving up on Yurika and the crew. If the main characters were supposed to be Ruri and the collective cast, I would suggest Cyclops should have been pulled and the recipe scene’s payload should have been pushed to the end when he leaves. Hell, the actual giving and confession, where the meat of the scene is, takes place in Ruri’s flashback post hoc – she just has it shortly after they meet, which is very premature.
But that’s just the Akito bits. They were paced oddly and didn’t quite fit with the Nadesico. Other than that, the movie was a solid Nadesico reunion that pretty much succeeded at reminding me how much fun the show and its characters were. Might watch again.