DVD Review: Robotics Notes – Part 1

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Building robots or a conspiracy theory for a world-wide disaster? who knows but what we do know is that Robotics Notes is a show definately worth checking out so find out why in our Review of Manga Entertainment’s DVD Release of Robotics Notes – Part 1

Synopsis:

Kai and Aki dream of building a giant fighting robot based on a super-popular anime, but that’s going to be impossible if they don’t get more members into their school’s Robot Research Club. They’ll take anyone they can talk – or force – into joining them, including an eccentric robotics champion with a secret identity and a l33t video-game designer who’s spent one too many late nights online. Finally, their goal looks like it’s within reach.

But when a sentient AI program tells Kai about mysterious documents hidden on the internet, things start to get strange for everyone. As the club members track down the secret messages, they realise that the information might be far bigger – and more dangerous – than they expected.

Our View:

Don’t you just love a good conspiracy and cover-up story? No, well then you may want to look elsewhere as when you get to the bottom of it that’s exactly what Robotics Notes is, a multi-layered conspiracy story filled with twists, turns and sneaky organisations all sugar-coated with the theme of a school robotics club. Is this a bad thing? No, as it brings a complex story that gets better the further you jump down the rabbit hole and this is only the first half.

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Let’s begin at the start; Robotics Notes follows the events of the Tanegashima High School Robotics Club whereby active members Akiho Senomiya and Kaito Yashio attempt to build a life-sized version of Gunvarrel, a robot based off the fictional Gunvarrel anime series, in order to take it to the Tokyo Expo. Despite this ambitious goal, as well as the lack of funds and manpower, Aki is determined to make her dream a reality and as such embarks on a quest to secure everything she needs. This quest for completion takes Aki and Kai into new places and results in meeting new characters in various amusing circumstance, for instance the club enters the Robo- One Championship in order to secure funds for the club, but amusingly end up discovering the true identity of Mr. Pleiades and secretly recruiting him as part of their club.

Even with new club members, and the occasional visit from Karate Girl Junna Daitoku ,the Gunvarrel project comes to a temporary hiatus, mostly due to lack of funds but also because Kaito Yashio’s obsession with the online fighting game Kill-Ballad. This lonely obsession is what led Kai to discover the darker more intriguing storyline of the Robotics Notes series, a story which sees the work of a dead man come to life. Basically Kai accidentally stumbles across a virtual AI personality within the geo-mapping app Iruo, and then ultimately discovers the Kimijima reports – a selection of reports which accurately predict the abnormal weather patterns and electric storms taking place around the globe. For the most part this kimijima person, along with the reports themselves, remains a mystery but as the story progresses a deeper meaning behind the kimijima reports begin to surface.

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This ‘more secretive’ storyline takes place at the same time as the development of Gunvarrel; so it’s easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the amount of information being portrayed, fortunately there is a nice tone that separates two apart; for example development of the robot is usually happy and enthusiastic while the dark secret of Kō Kimijima is usually shrouded in deceit and mystery so it is relatively easy to understand which storyline segment is being told.

Interestingly everything that happens within this first half of Robotics Notes is just one prelude of things to come, as just when things start to pick-up-the-pace it ends. I’m not saying that Robotics Notes is a slow series, far from it, it just gradually eases everyone into the multiple storylines and events that are taking place – which is a nice feeling especially for a series as short (and complex) as this.

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It’s at this point I should probably mention that Robotics Notes is the sequel (of sorts) to Steins Gate and more importantly is the third instalment into the Science Adventure series and as such a variety of references, possibly even cameo appearances, are made through the episodes. The biggest reference is the first episode with the timeline clock a key role within the Steins Gate universe, but other subliminal messages are hidden throughout these 11 episodes; so can you spot them all?

Extras:

The extra features contained within the first instalment of Robotic Notes are not only unique but are quite interesting as it includes a relatively in-depth interview with some of the English Cast regarding the Science Adventure franchise.

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In addition to this “English Exclusive” bonus feature there is also the inclusion of your traditional bonus features; namely the English Cast commentaries, a US Trailer for Part 1 and textless opening and closing songs.

The first English Cast Commentary is for Episode 6 and sees Leah Clarke (voice of Frau) and Monica Rial (voice Junna) while the second English Cast Commentary is for Episode 10 and sees Lindsay Seidel (voice of Akiho) and Jarrod Greene (voice of Subaru); both of which explore their experience with the show as well as what it was like to portray that particular character. Yet again it’s a repeat of previous English Cast Commentaries whereby sometimes its relatively dull and at othertimes it can be quite informative; especially if you are interested in the world of English Dubs.

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The most interesting piece of bonus content on this release is without a doubt the first half of the Science Adventure Series Interview; an interview with sees the ADR Director for Robotics Notes (Joel McDonald), J Michael Tatum (voice of Rintaro Okabe) and John Burgmeier (Head Writer) discuss the links between Steins Gate, Robotics Notes and Chaos Head as well as what it was like to work on them all. It’s interesting not just because of their views and opinions because it’s a piece of bonus content that is not usually created and it shows that FUNimation were passionate about the series and it’s franchise.

Specs:

Media: DVD 9 x2
Region: 2
Running Time: 2:12:15 (Disc 1), 1:49:52 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 448kbps (English) & Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Robotics Notes is the anime adaptation of the Japanese visual novel game developed by 5pb and acts as the third instalment into the Science Adventure series; amusingly even if you don’t know any of this you can still enjoy the series for what it is. An intriguing conspiracy styled story that evolves and gets better the further you progress into; unfortunately for us just as it gets good we come to the end of this instalment. Don’t you just hate cliffhangers?

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Cliffhangers potentially aside Robotics Notes follows the story of Kai and Aki, with plenty of support characters thrown in for good measure, as they attempt to secure funding and support for their “Lets Build a life-size version of Gunvarrel” project. However while this is taking place Kai stumbles upon a dark secret and uncovers a potential conspiracy theory that could change the entire world; although while he is trying to wrap heads round it no-one with any influence is willing to help him. Interestingly there is more on offer than just these two storylines, the creator of Kill-Ballad has her own story to share, which presumably ties within the main storyline and each character has their own personal agenda and backstory to share.

Basically there is a lot going off at once and even re-watches of the episodes throw up some interesting results. When it comes to this DVD Release then not a lot can be said; the quality is adequate and just what you’d expect from a DVD, although interestingly majority of the bonus content is on the first DVD Disc as opposed to the second and it has quite a nice menu layout design. A Blu-ray release of this set will also be available; and I’d recommend going for that due to the upgraded visual quality – something which Robotic Notes delivers during its more unique scenes.

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Overall Robotic Notes – Part 1 was a pleasure to watch from start to finish and is one of those sets you can easily spend an afternoon watching without realising it and it is well worth watching if you’ve seen either Chaos Head or Steins Gate, as it falls into the same type of intriguing category. Put bluntly this is a series you must own – especially on Blu-ray!

Score: review-stars-5

Robotics Notes – Part 1 will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 25th August 2014.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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