The Spring 2023 Anime Preview Guide
alice gear aegis Expansion
How would you rate episode 0 of
alice gear aegis Expansion ?
Community score: 2.4
How would you rate episode 1 of
alice gear aegis Expansion ?
Community score: 2.8
How would you rate episode 2 of
alice gear aegis Expansion ?
Community score: 3.4
What is this?
Centuries ago, mankind abandoned planet Earth after the Vice, a race of mechanical aliens, drove them from their home into a life adrift in space. Now resigned to starships forged of pieces of Earth's shattered moon, the final hope for humanity lies in the hands of Actresses, young women born with the ability to wield the only weapons that can harm the Vice: Alice Gears, mechanical suits that can finally turn the tide against the alien incursion.
How was the first episode?
Well, that was definitely…cute? So I reviewed the recent 3D action game Alice Gear Aegis CS: Concerto of Simulatrix and it ended up being one of the most “okay” games I've played in a while. It was perfectly fine and functional but held back from the fact that I really didn't care about the abysmally small amount of content that was available outside of just constant battles. Being an extension of a popular Japanese mobile game, there seemed to be a lot of implied depth and relationships between the rather extensive cast that Concerto of Simulatrix just didn't really delve into. With that said, I went into this anime hoping that it would get me to care more about the characters and…it almost did?
I'll be honest; considering how action-packed this franchise seems to be, I'm surprised that the first episode seems to be taking the down-to-earth, slice-of-life approach with this franchise. In fact, there is a very good chance that it might not be focusing on combat at all, given the overall tone, and I was actually happy with that until I saw the execution. When Alice Gear did decide to focus on just a few characters, I did find it rather cute and humorous, particularly with the slapstick and idol humor. I liked those bits more than the running gag of Nodoka comedically lusting after Yotsuyu (I think the anime also loosely implied Nodoka was a stalker as well). Not only did I find those nosebleed bits unfunny, but they also made the episodes pacing drag. When you combine that with the abundant amount of still frame montages, I did feel myself getting pretty bored very quickly.
Much like the game, I don't feel like I'm left with any strong impressions that make me want to continue with the series moving forward. Maybe I'll wait to see what word of mouth says or if fans of the franchise are satisfied with this.
You know, it's funny. Before watching the first episode of alice gear aegis Expansion, I watched the related 2021 OVA by mistake. This OVA is basically Wacky Races. The participants include a team of girls who fuse into a knockoff Kamen Rider, a ninja girl who summons giant frogs, and an idol on a flying drone stage (among others). It ends with the girls forced to give up on the race and unite to fight a literal hurricane threatening to kill the audience, all while riding on an inflatable banana. While this OVA told me nothing of the overall plot or setting—and felt like it was written by a 5-year-old with an overactive imagination on a sugar high—it was at least entertaining (in a “What the heck am I watching?” kind of way). The same cannot be said for the first episode of alice gear aegis Expansion.
As a general rule, a first episode of any series should answer some basic questions like who, what, when, where, why and how. While the “who” is established (at least somewhat), the “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” are completely ignored. All I know of the setting is that there are these people called “Actresses” who fight something in space sometimes. As for the plot, a girl named Nodoka wants to be an Actress but doesn't have the aptitude for it—so the Actresses decide to train her so she can pass the test. That's it. The episode is basically just gags centered around her “special training” or her exploding in a bloody, horny mess whenever Yotsuyu gets too close or says a double entendre.
This is clearly one of those anime made exclusively for those who play the game it is based on. As I am not one of those people, it comes off as a boring yet confusing string of predictable jokes tied together with a cliché plot you've seen a billion times before. Hard pass for me.
alice gear aegis Expansion is the kind of anime that is made for an audience that is already a fan of the product that it is advertising, which in this case is one of those mobile games where you collect a bunch of girls who use their pretty costumes and idol powers to…fight aliens, I think? Honestly, whatever core premise that the game revolves around is secondary to alice gear aegis Expansion, as the show seems to be assuming that its viewers will have already gotten plenty of that in the game, and that what they really want is time to chill and indulge in wacky antics with all of the gacha gals that they know and love. For any of the out-of-towners that are just popping in to be polite, though, the appeal of this one is limited, I think.
I guess that there might be something in it for folks who appreciate a protagonist who is a very animated and very gay little bundle of awkward energy, especially in the context of a science fiction hangout show, but I found Nodoka and all of her obsessive crushing on Yotsuyu to be just a little intense for my current mood. The comedy on display here isn't so much entertaining as it was exhausting, and as nice as the show's production values are, the direction of the anime is fairly pedestrian, and much of the action of the episode is isolated to very bland, isolated settings. The OVA that got added to HIDIVE alongside this premiere has a bit more going on in regards to action and musical spectacle, but I'm not sure how much of that will translate to future episodes of the show.
Overall, alice gear aegis Expansion is far from terrible, but it suffers from the same issues that a lot of the less thoughtful and more insular mobile game adaptations do. It comes across as less of a series that is striving to exist for its own merits and more like a commercial that is advertising to an already converted flock of fans.
This is one mobile game show that is 1000% unconcerned about easing you in. It assumes with total confidence that anyone watching this show is already familiar with – and probably paying money to – the source game. Anyone foolish enough to wander in uninitiated can go to hell. What, you don't recognize this parade of candy-colored girls? You don't already understand why girls called “actresses” occasionally don power armor to fight alien invaders in space? Sounds like a skill issue, scrub. Go install the game and figure it out yourself.
Granted, this anime isn't connected to the game's story but instead functions as side content and comedic shenanigans featuring all your (presumably) favorite characters. At the very least, there are no space battles or serious plot points outside of the cold open, so I'm assuming this is just a fanservice and shenanigans vehicle for existing fans. If that's the case, and you are an existing fan, I also assume you'll enjoy this a hell of a lot more than I did. I spent most of this premiere bored and waiting for it to hit credits, as the low-stakes story of Nodoka passing her Actress exam and getting a job with her favorite mecha musume star wasn't that compelling. If there are any clever easter eggs or in-jokes, I'm not privy to them.
That said, this episode gets a bump just for the production values. While I'm not the biggest fan of the soft, colored linework the show applies, it's used to fantastic effect throughout this premiere. Nodoka has a ton of funny, over-the-top expressions and delivers a smorgasbord of great slapstick humor, which at least held my attention. Though there were more than a few times when Nodoka's squeaky voice tripped the line into annoying, especially at the height of her nose-blood accompanied chipmunk noises. The rest of the girls didn't leave much of an impression, each being defined by a singular gimmick that gets brought out every few minutes for mild chuckles but nothing terribly memorable.
Overall, I feel at a loss because this is not made with me in mind. I don't know the game or these characters, so there's a minimal appeal to seeing them goof around in side stories. It's not a terrible way to spend 30 minutes, but I definitely won't be coming back.
The purpose of alice gear aegis Expansion's episode zero presumably was to interest people in the actual TV series. Regretfully, it had the exact opposite effect on me, and nothing in episode one did anything to remedy that. Quite possibly this is due to an unfamiliarity on my part with the game upon which the show is based, but over the years, I've seen enough series spun off from games I haven't played to suspect that this is not the underlying issue here. No, the problem is that I found the ostensible primary heroine Nodoka intensely annoying. The episode was more interested in showing how cute the Actresses are rather than explaining anything about Vice colonies, emissions, or Actresses at all.
What is an Actress? What a good question that is. From the episode, they appear to be girls (teenagers, naturally) who can fight Vice colonies by using Gear, and if you don't have a proper level of emissions, you can't be one. (Gaseous emissions? Power emissions? Who knows?) Nodoka lacks in the emissions department, but that isn't stopping her from showing up at her favorite Actress' agency looking for work. The other girls hatch a plan to improve her emissions, and that's pretty much the episode right there. Other girls give Nodoka random skill builders or what they hope will prove to be skill builders. Nodoka blows into what looks like one of my dog's toys. Rinse and repeat.
Each girl has a gimmick, although we've only really nailed down two of them thus far. Naturally, each girl has color-coded hair. And of course, Nodoka emits copious amounts of blood from her nose whenever she's too close to her favorite, Yotsuyu – that is, when she's not rolling around squealing like a leaking balloon. It might have been a better plan to start this one with the plot rather than the characters, but that simply may not be the audience they're going for. In any event, when I wasn't annoyed, I was bored, and not even the bright colors on the screen and Nodoka's deceptively cute character design could keep me watching. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
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