The Goro Taniguchi drip this year continues with Infinite Ryvius. This is an anime series that was supposedly saved by Sentai Filmworks, but I had to pick it up on ebay in order to even watch it. Mainly because I don’t want to be a pirate. All the more worth it because this is Goro Taniguchi’s first project where he is the main director of a series. Before then, he has worked on a lot of episode direction at Studio Sunrise, but never had his own role. For as minor as Goro Taniguchi has been hyped compared to a lot of people, this is the first break into this role in the industry before he made Code Geass and other works people don’t remember as much.
The Universe of Infinite Ryvius
Which leads back to Infinite Ryvius itself. This series takes place in the future around 2225 AD. Mankind has spread throughout the solar system from planets to moons to gundam-like space colonies. This happened due to the event in 2137 AD, where plasma erupted from the sun to encapsulate the entire area in what is called the Geduld. It provides a literal space ocean with depths that can crush space ships as they get deeper into it. This works because the Geduld is on a flat plane spread throughout the area it wants to expand. So once again, this is another case of a lot of work being put into a world so it can function. Typical Goro Taniguchi stuff.
To set the series in motion, our main protagonist Kouji Aiba and a lot of other teenagers left the Earth for astronaut training at the Leibe Delta space station. We got some cool shots of him and his current partner Ikumi Oze in spaceship training that felt very good but honest. Then there are poor interactions between Kouji and his brother Yuki who just can’t get along at all with Aoi, the childhood friend both of them know, who has trouble with a crush between them. There are a lot of people provided in the series all over the place with the Zwei, as the training crew learning how to captain, pilot, maintain, command, a spaceship.
Kids Alone in the Night
With that set up comes a little more plot. Suddenly, Leibe Delta is plunged into the depths of the Geduld by an unknown force of adults who are looking for a spaceship. That ship’s name? The Infinite Ryvius. The last bit of the teachers and adult leadership sacrificed themselves to keep the kids on this Leibe Delta alive and to the point where they can actually escape the Geduld. Too bad that didn’t happen too well and these literal hundreds of kids made their way to the ship called the Infinite Ryvius in order to just survive. Also, because the adults were secret people, the Infinite Ryvius got called a terrorist ship is no immediate port for this ship to go to. Drama.
So yeah, that was a lot of set up for just a simple kind of series. Simple in concept, not in execution. There are so many bits of set up and societal build up on the Infinite Ryvius that it takes about nine episodes for the ship to build up a bit of a repertoire with the cast, create some good bits of drama, and then have the robot, called The Vital Guarder. One of the coolest sort of mecha designs from the late 90’s besides Turn A Gundam to me. Especially since the Vital Guarder has so much power and has some of the coolest sort of control system that I couldn’t help but love. There is a large amount of realism placed onto the series to make it feel special.
Weight and Drama
If there is anything to create any sort of way to describe Infinite Ryvius, it’s realistic. Also, angst. Lots and lots of angst. These are hundreds of teenagers locked onto a spaceship trying to survive while no one comes to save them for an extended period of time. Why wouldn’t there be angst? There was no way there wasn’t going to be angst in this setting. Especially with the Zwei and eventually, the Blue Guard, and some other mix ups through different power grabs, that shook up the social dynamics of the Ryvius. The people in the background simply had to exist there as they had to wade through who knows what was going on at the bridge.
Everything has such a heavy weight to it on the show. That is a reason why this supposedly slow moving show is so good. If it didn’t spend a lot of time building a lot of tension or setting up situations, then the moment something big happens wouldn’t have had as much of an impact. Especially with the larger things that happen come in batches. An enemy ship showing up with their vital Guarder could be paired with the ship of power dynamics on the Ryvius’ bridge mid-fight. It’s crazy to think about, but it happens because it’s the perfect time to take advantage of that situation while everyone is distracted. There is a lot of chaos in the show.
The Social Structure of the Ryvius
The major issue over supplies led to a social structure on the ship and a credits system. People who worked got credits to pay for food and goods to survive on. There is also a class of lazy people who just got busy. The multiple people who piloted the giant robot or are bridge crew are given an infinite amount of credits because it is produced by people who decided their own importance. Typical right? Yet, everything else has to work to feed and maintain the ship through different tech jobs. Or do laundry. Or literally anything else. There are duty lists and assigned places for people to sleep. None of this even counts for the cults that also appear on the ship.
Music is one of the key things that keeps the social structure or who is who in the ship so defined. Especially because the music is just so good and diverse. People like the Zwei have very classic space opera music when all of them are on display. This clashes with Blue and his gang who have a bit more hip hop. Everyone in between has a mix. Of course as chaos happens in the series, the music goes all over the place as the parties get mixed up in the second cour when nothing is defined anymore. Music helps tell the story of Infinite Ryvius.
Characters Trying to Survive
With that out of the way, it’s back to character stuff. There really is a lot packed into this two cour series. Kouji is our main character and he has no talent for anything. Yet somehow, he gets placed on the bridge as one of the people that communicates with the ship. So why is this person with no talent for anything given infinite credits? He was there at the right place and time to get that job. Yet his roommate/friend gets infinite credits because he is talented and pilots the Vital Guarder. Same with Kouji’s brother Yuki who has an attitude problem but is talented.
So the series examines the system of the Infinite Ryvius from Kouji’s point of view. He just lives through the system and we see how good or bad it’s going. For the first half, we see that the ship has a normal sort of happy state because Kouji is treated well and Kouji somehow sets up a party for people to enjoy. As the moral and social order disintegrates, suddenly Kouji gets stopped in the hallways because of how weak he is. Kouji is a weak and useless human being who lives on the value of privilege alone until he gets pushed aside by the system too.
His relationship with the Zwei breaks down, Ikumi becomes a leader of the ship and completely ignores Kouji when he becomes nothing. Yuki stays the same while just dismissing Kouji even more than usual. Then it becomes a fact that everyone else becomes useless because their circumstances don’t change based on who is in charge. People can be dismissed and pushed to the side in a moment’s notice without their consent. Important people were only important and in charge because they were only there at the right times and moments to be who they are. No one was really that safe at all there either.
Not Just Lord of the Flies in Space
Some people would call this series something like “Lord of the Flies” but in space and I can and can’t agree with that. Lord of the Flies is a book focused on kids stuck on an island in which these people create their own societal structures. That does happen on Infinite Ryvius somewhat. Kids are stuck on a ship and must make their own way through it until they are actually rescued in the end when everything is at its worst. But the difference is that there is an active outside influence trying to keep Infinite Ryvius isolated from literally everything. That comes in the form of the mecha and space ships that come into contact with the Ryvius. That and the nature of the Ryvius being revealed to be a cause of the chaos on the ship itself too.
That was kind of a spoiler, so let’s hint at yet another one there too.I would also compare Infinite Ryvius into something like Astra Lost in Space too. You know with Astra coming out almost two decades later. There is also a bit of generational trauma with adults trying to force the next generation to solve the current situation for them in order for humanity to survive. So that is a bit different to Astra, because that is a larger bit of generational drama and copies, but some of those ideas play well into all the series. So yeah, that’s all the vague things I have to say about some more of its themes in society. I refuse to push more into that so go watch it if you can find it anywhere
While I didn’t talk about everything happening in Infinite Ryvius in this long post, it is literally impossible to capture everything that happens in Infinite Ryvius because tons of things happen in the ship and there is literally a small town of people to keep track of. Even plenty of minor characters. But it is a show that I really liked even in its smaller moments. I am one of those people who loves meticulous stories like this where everything is plotted out or just allows a plot to happen because the world building is so good. I find that I couldn’t help but enjoy this show with everything it had to offer because there is so much to dive into. I know this series isn’t for everyone because I have other opinions, but I can’t help but enjoy thinking about it.
Easily my favorite Taniguchi show… Planetes not far behind. Those were the first two shows he directed — incidentally, they’re also the most grounded. Ever since Code Geass’ commercial success, it almost feels as if he’s increasingly detached his characters from reality. Now, you could say that’s what made Back Arrow or Estab-Life amusing, in parts. But I hope the pendulum will swing back someday.
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I mean, S-CRY-ED came out between the two series, but I see what you mean somewhat maybe? I’m not sure I agree with what you are saying though.
Missed out on that one. Should probably add it to my list!
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This is a great post! Now I want to check the few first eps… If it clicks, I’m totally finishing it.
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Thanks. Those are still pretty slow episodes, so just beware.
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