Back when I started the show as it aired the show as it aired on January 13 I liked Beatless. It had coloured me with joy and anticipation since it’s first episode went so well. Compared to the other anime I started at the time, it felt like it could do a lot with it’s premise. Tut Tut. It went out like a light for the whole first half and took a while to set itself on track, and unfortunately not the same track as I felt in episode 1, but hey, it had a direction, so that’s already better than FranXX.
Having said that, Beatless is far from perfect, despite throwing around it’s ideology that robots do not make mistakes (and proving that wrong afterwards) it felt unnatural to see such robots (or hiEs if you may). The plot just kept on throwing random stuff at my face, sometimes Lacia is an idol taken straight from Aikatsu (Aikatsu Robot? Well that’s redundant) and sometimes she’s a fashion idol that makes Arato’s heart throb, not mine. Needless to say, it was inconsistent. It’s inconsistent plot was evidenced in the first 7 weeks of it’s run- I mean, episodes (will explain later) as it tried this thing or that. It began very badly after it’s first episode and couldn’t keep up till around episode 8 or 9 where it decided on one direction and stuck to it. How well that went is for us to judge, and my score can tell that enough. It was horrible in its first half.
Aside from these inconsistencies we also had the shocking revelation that the voice acting for a few actors was bad. Namely Shiori and Kengo. They sounded very much fake, or robotic if you love puns as much as I do. Shiori sounded like she was making her debut and failed at it (I will be very surprised if I find out this actually was her debut). But out with that, a huge problem with the anime was it’s convenience. Whenever a convenient problem came, Arato conveniently solved it and conveniently everything went according to plan. Not the best thing to do to be honest. Apart from that as mentioned these random irrelevant plot points just came along and made the show feel like a cluttered up mess (trying not to jab at FranXX a second time here). Many times I felt irritated by the show not trying to focus properly on whatever the heck it wanted to be doing but alas, rarely did the rabbit go down it’s respectful hole.
Moving away from that we come to another massively irritating part of the anime, the villains. Or should I say whatever the heck they tried to be. Let’s start with Ginga. Watarai Ginga had a lot of potential since he was the former partner of the creator of the Lacia-class hiEs and his backstory could have been done better, but unfortunately they screwed up what could have been a great backstory and instead, mowed him down in terms of development during the series. He felt plastic. Not unlike cliched shounen villains who have no purpose other than “to destroy”. It was pretty irritating to be able to predict when Ginga would come or what Ginga would do, and though that ultimately let him to his super-predictable defeat (in the most shounen way possible), that’s not an excuse especially when that’s who you painted as the real villain. But ok, you do you Beatless.
After that predictable defeat someone had to take his role of villain and they brought out the randomly created and introduced Erika Burrows, which I think is the most Nippon Western name I could come up with, but anyway, apart from showing how cryogenics can be successful (that’s a debate for another day) she proved that Beatless could get a worse villain than Ginga. Her actions were unexplained, her motives were set aside (“I want something interesting”? Pls, you’re rich, go get a PC and play games or something) and the way the show painted her personality was far from what I could call decent. I already complained about Ginga, so this can explain how bad she is. You might say she’s not a villain, but if that’s indeed true, then she has absolutely NO use in this show since she’d just become a nobody.
Methode was introduced as that proud hiE who can beat em up and has good taste in sunglasses (trust me, those sunglasses, I need them) but she was pretty much another cliched villain who didn’t improve. Although she had the motives, the way she carried it out and her brief appearances altogether shunted the true potential of this Character as well, another character with wasted potential. Now we move from bad villains to bad characters overall, namely our idiot MC, Arato. Arato was your average cherry boy. Apart from predictably falling in love with a robot his actions were as he said it himself, idiotic and uncalculated. In episode 19, they revealed what was the point of this incalculable mess of a character but not in the way you’d hope to call decent yet again.
Then we move over to the other hiEs, Kouka was the one with a hard on Onee-san fetish but in all honesty I was rooting for her. She was literally the only character in the show I liked and as such I lost my mind completely in episode 16. If you like Kouka too, her actions in episode 16 will leave you in a fit of rage, since it was unexplained, random and rage inducing. Snowdrop was shown as that Loli robot (great diversity Diomedea) who eats other robots to gain power and can make humans lose their sanity (?) and do weird stuff which was noticed in the first episode just before Arato was rescued by Lacia. To date, I’ve yet to understand what she was doing and why but eh, let’s move on, the last hiE to cover (Methode was covered above) is Saturnus, describing her will be a lot like Erika Burrows, in that it’s a bit of a spoiler, although she has nothing to do in the plot I can freely tell you without spoilers that she has no use at all in the plot. Satisfying the maid fetish fans might have (yet again, great diversity Diomedea), all she did apart from that is go “yes” and “let’s do this” and “alright”. Those were 80% of her lines for the whole show. Underused? You betcha.
Now since I’ve been spewing all the negatives, let’s neutralise with something that is both positive and negative, the sound. First the good, the music was great, the synth tracks used made it only the second show to extensively use synth tracks for it’s soundtrack and BGM this year and needless to say it was well done. The OP/EDs as well did not disappoint. Now here comes the bad. Too much focus was kept into the music to do great in the other places. Production and budgeting wasn’t done well since it was all about making that soundtrack and licensing the music, sadly this killed off the budget to focus on the other parts and so ultimately led to the downfall of the anime. Speaking of production issues, THE DAMN RECAPS. We had around 4-5 recaps for this 24 episode show. Let that seep in. Should a show get this many? I say no. Why did this show have so many recaps? Budgeting? We’ll perhaps never know, but point is, I don’t want to have a recap episode thrown at my face after waiting for a week. It’s frustrating. For those who are binge watching it as well, the episodes are part of the show so it gets really irritating to see the words “Recap Episode” show up in your news feed. It cuts off from the main action badly. Oh wait, that itself is a fault in the show.
It’s transition from one scene to another is random and pretty much tiring to watch. I can’t tell you how fed up I was of this. And let’s not forget the fact that our Lacia-class hiEs were given absolutely NO SENSIBLE EXPLANATION. Apart from very minor dips into their backstories, the hiEs never had their purpose of creation explained apart from one line or the other, lines like “I’m created to help humanity move forward” isn’t going to earn an excuse. You need proper explanation which sadly wasn’t given. Now it’s not all bad though. Apart from being my guilty pleasure of the year it did have good things in it. It’s plot improved considerably in it’s second half, which although wasn’t obviously flawless, it was a nice improvement all the same, as a person who was pissed with the first half even the mediocre-decent bracket it was in felt good to me.
Another important thing is that despite it’s recaps, Beatless wasn’t a rushed show. I never felt that it was rushed most of the time and the pace was pretty good in itself since I could easily watch the show without getting too much information at once. Another important point is that Beatless tried to do something different with it’s main heroine, Lacia. Since this showed it’s true colours in the last quarter of the show I won’t delve in so deeply but it tried to paint her character in it’s complete opposite way she was presented to us ever since the show started had mixed results, surprising because I thought it would fall flat on its face. It was well done since it changed my whole opinion of the past episodes of the show and Lacia herself. Kind of like that FranXX episode 13 which made you go “oh so this is why all this happened”, only that, and please bear with me on this one, it was done much better than FranXX.
If you asked me to compare FranXX and Beatless’ first episodes, FranXX easily beat it but the answer is the complete opposite if you ask me their overall position. Yes. Beatless is better than FranXX. Despite it’s crazed amount of stupidity, Beatless had a direction to follow. FranXX didn’t. It took Beatless 7 episodes to find its purpose and the direction it should be following, FranXX on the other hand couldn’t at all find what it wanted to do, it kept on changing every episode, therefore butchering it’s consistency. If I talked to the Yasaal in January about this he’d have laughed me off the room because both shows certainly didn’t show their true colours until later, FranXX with it’s terrible attempts at relating to teenagers with a horrible consistency and Beatless’ lame cliches coupled with bad villains, constant recaps but a somewhat proper direction (?). They’re close, but Beatless edges out FranXX. Why am I comparing the two? It’s natural to compare two shows of a similar level.
What started out as a guilty pleasure quickly turned into a show that made me impressed how a lame show can at least attempt at standing up and manage to somewhat achieve that. An E for Effort? You bet, might even give it a D+ if you like, because even though it had a lot of issues, Beatless was in itself a guilty pleasure to watch. Oh, and to satisfy all the fetishes with the hiEs, a responsible older partner (Lacia), the wild girl (Kouka), the proud girl (Methode), the Maid (Saturnus) and the Loli (Snowdrop), Diomedea, you sure have satisfied the fetishes. At this rate I might have a fetish of watching bad shows for guilty pleasure if I don’t stop, but to Diomedea’s credit, Good Taste lads. Now we wait for the next few months till those last 4 episodes come out. How unclimactic…
Sound: 8 (Dat synth, dat expense on sound, dat BGM, dem OP/EDs)
Character: 1.5 (Solely because of Lacia last quarter and a few characters [Kouka] here and there is this not a zero)
Enjoyment: 4 (guilty pleasure and somewhat decent improvement in the second half compared to first)