Two weeks ago I claimed I would never pick a disc to review based off the title alone again. It’s quite odd that the system of random luck of picking based off the title alone got me the massive dud School Rumble and also this standout title Elemental Gelade. Based on the manga of the same name, Elemental Gelade, may hit some of the same notes and themes present in the fantasy genre, yet still maintains enough freshness and humour to make it worth at least a look by fans that aren’t completely sick of the genre.
Set in an anachronistic world where flying fortresses travel the skies and farmers still work hard on the ground tending the lands, the Red Lynx sky pirates board another ship and steal valuable cargo and booty. Coud Van Giruet (or Cou for short), a young hot-head looking to prove that he will be the greatest sky pirate ever, stumbles upon a box with a young girl inside named Reverie Metherlence (Ren for Short). Turns out Ren is a Edel Raid, a kind of living weapon. When not in use they look a lot like humans, but when push comes to shove they bond with a human partner to form various different stylish weaponry, such as axes, spikes, blades, chains and other weapons of a medieval ilk.
This of course makes Ren rather valuable to anyone that wants power and it isn’t long before a Mexican Standoff develops on board the sky pirate ship involving the pirates, agents of Arc Aile dedicated to the protection of Edel Raids – whether they want to be protected or not – and mysterious ninja like assassins that almost succeeded in kidnapping Ren. With the pirate ship crashed Cou, Ren and the agents from Arc Aile form a rag tag team with differing agendas in an attempt to get Ren to the legendary Edel Garden where it is said all Edel Raids come from.
It all feels pretty standard fantasy stuff, dash of old and futuristic stuff that you would find in titles like Escaflowne, the sky pirates from Laputa: Castle in the Sky and the merging of different people/robots/objects is a recurring element in various other anime, yet while these elements are sometimes overused in other works they never truly scream out “hey look at me”. Here, they are more just sitting in the corner of a twenty first birthday party just waiting for the right time to make a beneficial difference to the proceedings.
The animation, while serving its purpose didn’t stand out and looked like the production company didn’t have enough funds to make it look spectacular. This seems most evident in scenic shots that are meant to show off the great beauty of the landscapes that this magical land is filled chock full of, but lack details that would make the scenery that much more magical. The music has an occasional Celtic feel to it, enhancing some of the European vibe that comes from the settings and weapons. A show can sometimes feel like it tries too hard if it has no humour and Elemental Gelade contains some great moments in Kuea, a member of the Arc Aile team. Whenever an Edel Raid merges with their chosen host for the purpose of becoming weaponry they have to rest and recharge before they can do it again. In Kuea’s case she eats and when she can’t get food she will often hallucinate that other people are food, with one great moment when Cou, after being separated from the rest of the group, comes across Kuea and her host, the host casually standing still while Kuea tries to chomp on his head like it’s some kind of steak.
Elemental Gelade while unlikely to be the next anime everyone talks about, will entertain fans of the genre even if it’s not the most original of offerings. But it’s still sturdy enough to sit comfortably side by side with other efforts of the field.