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Vandread: The underrated 2000s mecha anime

Written by: Nicole Castro

Published on: January 20, 2022 at 11:48 PHT (GMT+8)


Throwback time!


You know those anime in the early 2000s that you casually watched on TV and looked forward to every day because binge watching on platforms such as Netflix wasn't a thing yet?


Yes, we're going back to that era. And among the many great shows from that time, we need to reminisce Vandread, the sci-fi, mecha anime that centered on men and women literally living on different planets and treating each other like entirely different species.

Vandread main cast | PHOTO COURTESY: Decon Recon

Vandread was a two-season anime comprised of 13 episodes each. Season 1 aired from Oct 3, 2000 to Dec 19, 2000, while season 2 titled Vandread: The Second Stage aired from Oct 5, 2001 to Jan 18, 2002. The show was directed by Takeshi Mori and produced by animation studios Gonzo and Media Factory.

While there are existing light novel and manga adaptations, we will focus on the TV anime as it is the most memorable for fans. It also focuses on more characters instead of the manga which centered mostly on the romance between Hibiki Tokai and Dita Liebely.


Plot

In the Vandread universe, humans have colonized space but with men and women living on entirely different planets (Mejere for the women and Taraak for the men), causing the gender war to be more than just a metaphor.


The male protagonist is Hibiki Tokai, a third-class laborer who takes up a bet to steal a high-tech humanoid robot, known as a Vanguard, from a male attack force battleship about to fight the "evil females." However, things don't go according to plan as he is caught in the battle with the female pirates that causes all of the ship's crew to evacuate, except for Hibiki, Duelo McFile, and Bart Garsus.


Stuck on board and held as prisoners by the female pirates, Hibiki and friends find themselves in an even more complicated situation when the battle for the Vanguard results in a wormhole that sends them to a distant part of the galaxy. The female pirates also discover that the Vanguard can fuse with their machines, called Dreads, resulting in the eponymous mecha Vandread.


In season two, Hibiki and the female pirates rescue an escape pod from the Harvesters (the series' main antagonists). The pod contains a girl, Misty Cornwell of Pluto, the last planet in the Earth's solar system to be harvested, and a virus which enters the ship's systems. When the correct password is entered, the virus shuts down and the crew is given access to the hidden data that the pod brings, revealing why the Earthlings are harvesting their own species.



Highlights
1. The catchy opening theme Trust by Salia

Almost every great anime immediately impresses with a killer opening theme song, and Vandread is no exception. We've lost count how many times we sang "Tatoeba~"


In addition, the opening song showcases a sleek art style that is on par with the likes of other hit mecha anime such as Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (2002-2003). It's extremely rewarding to see the Vanguard and the Dreads fuse, especially since you get three different versions through Dita's, Meia's, and Jura's Dreads.


To jog your memory, here are the three main Vandreads:

Vandread Dita-type | PHOTO COURTESY: Fandom

When Dita's Dread unites with Hibiki's Vanguard, they become the Vandread Dita-type Blue Kachina/Giant (Kachina literally means "life bringer"), a blue giant mecha that has access to two powerful dual energy cannons that act as long-range or short-range weapons.

Vandread Meia-type | PHOTO COURTESY: Fandom

When Meia's Dread unites with Hibiki's Vanguard, they become the Vandread Meia-type – the incredibly high-speed White Wing, which resembles a silver eagle. Its main, as well as only known, form of attack is a high-velocity ram that pierces nearly all enemy units in its path.

Vandread Jura-type | PHOTO COURTESY: Fandom

When Jura's Dread unites with Hibiki's Vanguard, they become the Vandread Jura-type Red Claw, which resembles a red crab with green discs that orbit the machine. This particular Vandread utilizes an enhanced shielding system, which allows it to cover any object up to the size of a planet, making it more of a defensive weapon than an offensive one.

2. This series is equal parts mecha action and harem romcom

Everybody loves romcom, but it's even better when it's backed by a solid plot. Vandread ran away with the "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" catchphrase and built a whole universe around it, taking the gender debate to a literal and entertaining extreme. Moreover, fusing the Vanguards and Dreads to form the Vandreads makes a solid point that men and women working together can bring about never-before-seen miracles.


As Hibiki and the other males live in the battleship with the female pirates, they grow from outright hating each other to supporting each other in trying times. Of course, Hibiki as the protagonist gets the most attention from the ladies, but it's his subtle relationship development with Dita (who goes so far as to cook for him) that gets the entire crew (and us viewers) invested.






3. Women power! Balanced gender dynamics!

Powerful female characters did exist but were fairly uncommon in the 2000s when the Yamato nadeshiko stereotype still prevailed. But Vandread was way ahead of its time and gave us not one, not two, but three powerful main females in the form of Dita, Meia, and Jura. It goes without saying that the rest of the all-female crew are seasoned fighters as well, including the captain Magno Vivan (whom everyone addresses as "Boss").

Vandread main cast | ⒸGonzo, Media Factory

In addition to Hibiki who fights battles with the females, supporting male characters Duelo McFile and Bart Garsus become great assets to the crew as medic and helmsman respectively. Vandread is a truly great show where we get extensive relationship development between men and women, both in the romantic and platonic sense.


#digest #throwbackanime #vandread

 

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