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Vandread: First Stage
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 12/31/2000

It's a universe where Earth-descended men and women have lived separately for some time. Men inhabit the planet Tarak, and women live in the planet Mejale. There's been no contact between the two sexes for so long that various rumors have spread -- like the common belief in Tarak that women eat men's livers! Hibiki is a third-class citizen from the planet Tarak who's tired of his lot in life. Thus, he decides to sneak aboard the men's colonizing ship Ikazuchi, with the intent of stealing a Vanguard -- an assault mech men have built in order to outmaneuver the women. The problem is, a pirate ship from Mejale decides to attack the Ikazuchi... and in a strange turn of events, the women's ship merges with a part of Ikazuchi. Hibiki is taken prisoner along with fellow men Bart and Duero. To top it off, a young woman named Dita seems to be quite taken Hibiki!

Amusing and funny, Vandread is an anime series that takes the battle of the sexes to a whole new level.

Three men (Hibiki, Duero, and Bart) unwittingly get stuck in a ship full of women. They are initially taken as prisoners, but soon become part of the crew as the women discover their skills. Hibiki is an ace Vanguard pilot, and his Vanguard can combine with the women's attack ships (called Dreads) to boot. This fusion forms a Vandread, which is the most powerful attack mech the men and women have ever seen. Duero, an elite citizen from Tarak, is a doctor by profession; and Bart becomes the helmsman due to his unique ability to control the ship -- which is eventually renamed as the Nirvana. The unwilling shipmates are forced to work together in the face of a common enemy who seeks to "harvest" both Tarak and Mejale.

Amidst the situation, romance fills the air with Dita's constant pursuit of Hibiki. Dita believes that Hibiki is an extra-terrestrial, and insists on calling him "Mr. Alien". At first Hibiki is totally annoyed with Dita's devices, but as time passes, he realizes that he likes Dita just as much as she likes him. It's a very cute and sweet love angle that's guaranteed to give you those little warm fuzzy feelings scene after scene. Of course, what's love without challenges! Too often it's Dita's Dread that Hibiki's Vanguard merges with during battles, but the other ladies want a piece of the action too! Jura in particular, goes to extra lengths to snag Hibiki for herself.

Although Vandread is light and comical for most part, it gets more serious as you progress. It is believed that the mysterious enemy originated from Earth, and that it "harvests" various planets for the survival of its people. In the case of Tarak and Mejale, it's their organs the enemy is after. Vandread gives you that much and then concludes with a bit of a cliffhanger, which I believe will get resolved by the Second Stage.

Visually speaking, Vandread is superb. Distinct character designs and flawless animation makes up the entire series. Computer graphics are used for the space battle scenes, as is the case with "Pilot Candidate". I thought the combination of 2-D and 3-D worked better
for Vandread though, albeit it still came off as rather awkward at times.

All in all, the only gripe I have against Vandread is its sluggish start. I had some difficulty getting past the first three eps, but when I finally did, it was all worth it.

Vandread: First Stage spans 13 episodes. Also see Vandread: Second Stage!

Vandread: First Stage
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Review Title:
Vandread: First Stage
325 Minutes
General Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars
Suitable For:
Ecchi, Sci-Fi, Space
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