a.k.a. Mugen no Ryvius
In 2197, a neutrino burst from Sol created a high gravity region in the solar system known as the Sea of Gedult. What came to be known as the Gedult Phenomenon killed millions of people in Earth’s southern hemisphere, but that didn’t stop mankind from reaching for the stars. In 2225, Aiba Kouji is onboard the space station Liebe Delta to train for a career in space. But when an act of sabotage forces the Liebe Delta deep into the Gedult, the remaining adults sacrifice themselves to buy the trainees enough time to escape. Upon their exodus, they find a strange and powerful vessel: the Ryvius. Their newfound ship is strong enough to protect them from enemy warships, but the Ryvius cannot protect all four hundred and eighty-seven survivors from one thing: themselves.
summary by Eek
Highs: Stark, realistic and deep characters; intense and engaging microcosm
Lows: Steep learning curve at the outset; final episode wasn’t all it could’ve been
Back in the eighth grade, I became interested in Lord of the Flies after a friend read out loud a particularly gruesome passage. However, the book became one of my favorites because of how it cleverly used children to look at society and the moralities behind it. Infinite Ryvius does much of the same but with a sci-fi spin.
Where one might expect to find children acting like typical children, you have a cast that’s mature beyond their years. Characters believe in clear ideals, but their ideals are often put to the test or forced to change as situations aboard the Ryvius erupt. Most of the cast members wear their hearts on their sleeves, and it comes at no shock that there’s real strife boiling between many of these people that often come to a head in truly scary clashes. These inter-character conflicts emerge from strongly differing personalities and a continually redefining power structure. As different factions with different ideologies jockey for positions of power, it’s easy to see the series develop into a microcosm for society. A ruling and working class quickly emerge, class friction becomes grittier as stability and happiness sway and the laws change as governing actors are established and overthrown. Just like in reality, no system is inherently better than another; the children onboard the Ryvius eventually discover the limitations of their great power.
In the case of Infinite Ryvius, you are forced to think most of the time, but moreso at the beginning. There’s quite a bit of technological nomenclature (techno babble to some) that you need to become accustomed to in order to fully understand what is happening. In addition, there is so much going on that you’ll be forced to rewind if you blink; the sheer amount of information being given is overwhelming to the point that you might have to re-watch several episodes to take in everything. That being said, the final episode is set aside to show how different characters are from the first episode, and it does this well. However, it dips into being slightly tacky as it sets into motion the possibility of the same scenario erupting again.
With undeniable parallels to Lord of the Flies, Infinite Ryvius is an exercise in power and politics. Just be warned: this isn’t the kind of series that a newcomer to anime should watch. For those who like to think, this is the type of anime that’ll reward your mind greatly.
Highs: Complex characters with complex personalities that evolve as the story unfolds
Lows: Hard to keep track of all the technicalities and the vast number of characters
If author William Golding were alive, he would probably be pleased with this anime. While it is not quite an adaptation of his novel Lord of the Flies, it is fairly evident that he had left an impression on the creators of this story. Teenagers are a great vehicle to present a study in human nature because they lack, or at least have less of, those internal buffers and rationalizations that adults use to keep raw emotions from surfacing. This is indeed a grim, cautionary tale on how humans can turn against each other when survival is at stake.
What makes Infinite Ryvius click is a very well crafted synergy between the story and the character development. I can personally say I have seen few anime that have such a good balance between the airtime of a vast number of characters while using those characterizations to keep the story flowing. None of these two elements has the upper hand, and in this case that is a very good thing. Another commendable aspect of this series is that, regardless of being 26 episodes long, it manages to keep the same quality in animation, which while not spectacular by any means, and serves its purpose well and doesn’t cut corners. The music is fairly standard and, in many cases, almost non existent; it is hard to have a lot of it in such a dialogue-intensive anime.
If there is one element that can be criticized, it is the complexity involved. There are too many characters and subplots to juggle, and on top of that there is a very intricate use of sci-fi terminology which can make even the most intelligent viewer pause and ponder. Anyone who wishes to watch this anime will be better served not waiting long between episodes to watch the next one, lest you end up having to view the previous one again for a refresher. There are some flashback scenes, but most were introduced later in the series and, for once, are a welcomed addition. I have to wonder if the people who originally viewed Infinite Ryvius on a weekly basis had asked for these flashback scenes, because it is strange that it took so long for them to be added.
If you desire an anime with a deep, psychological impact that will have you cussing, laughing and empathizing with the characters, then this is one of the better choices out there. And please don’t be put off by the sci-fi element… it just serves as a way to tell the story but is by no means the genre this anime belongs to exclusively, just like Alien was more of a horror story than science fiction.
Infinite Ryvius can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.