Solty Rei Volume 1
Twelve years ago a mysterious event called the Blast Fall devastated the city and cost thousands of lives, the effects of this incredible vent are still visible today with the Aurora Shells that stop people from leaving the city. With half people half human creatures called Resembles across the city, the Reestablishment Universe Committee is the heart of the city’s reconstruction and they are arguably doing a pretty poor job at looking after the city. Our anti-hero Roy Revant works as a bounty hunter for Maverick Hunters Company and has done for the past twelve years, after the death of his daughter in the Blast Fall.
Roy has become very disillusioned with the world and works on his own, and this loner attitude nearly gets him killed in the first episode where he is chasing a criminal who ends up being part Resemble. This Resemble would easily have managed to cause some major damage to Roy had he not have run into a girl who is no part-Resemble but completely Resemble. She saves Roy, and in return he takes her home so that she can recover from her ordeal. Naturally Roy, the selfish anti-hero that he is quickly got rid of her.
It becomes quickly apparent that the bounty hunter company that Roy works for is actually owned by his deceased wife’s best friend, who naturally has a concern for Roy. After finding out what happened with the Resemble she tries to make him take it easy. The police are soon on Roy’s case over the Resemble as no-one knows that she’s not human, so Roy bows to the inevitable and accepts the girl who’s named Solty. An engineer, who then turns out to be someone who’s experimented on humans with high level Resemble technology discovers her and ends up working for the agency and Roy’s selfish, almost inhuman, side is tested to the extreme.
The characters are somewhat predictable, with the typical anti-hero and the innocent person who manages to capture their good side. As with many cyberpunk shows there’s the usual destruction of live ten years ago and the world is still trying to adjust. Unlike many of these shows, Solty Rei is trying to appeal to a broad audience as it’s not particularly dark, and it can be fairly easy watching; whereas many classic cyberpunk shows such as Serial Experiments Lain and Ergo Proxy are certainly not easy watching.
This is one of Solty Rei’s strengths as the plotline has been overused in recent years, and as the show is nearly four years old the attempted cyberpunks of 2005 really started to feel old. The tried and tested formula has started to fail, and Solty Rei has managed to be slightly broader and easy watching. Unfortunately this broadness has diluted the show too far. The only serious character is Roy, who’s depressed and mourning the loss of his family and managed to displace the love of his child onto Solty. This depressive, serious behaviour is textbook, then the rest of the characters are very light hearted and not serious at all. This juxtaposition may work in comedy-based shows; however for one that’s being pegged as the next serious show from Gonzo, it feels watered down.
The characters are distinct and designed by Kenichi Sonoda of Bubblegum Crisis fame, and each one looks very unique and even the extra characters are better than they really needed to be. The colouring, with the exception of Solty, is the standard cyberpunk/end of world fare, grunge colours with lots of brown and black. With the infusion of the orange and green Solty, unlike the difference between character attitudes, these contrasts work incredibly well to show the difference between the characters at their core.
Solty Rei has taken four years to reach the shores of the UK, and is the type of cyberpunk anime that we have come to expect from Gonzo Studios, of course this genre has been given a bashing in recent years with more and more “samey” anime series being released. There are the few that are worth watching, and fortunately Solty Rei is shaping up to be one of them, as it’s a slightly different formula to normal.