Star Driver: Takuto of The Radiance is a 25-episode anime series that aired from 2010 to 2011. The show aired early evenings on Sunday, which allowed for a bigger budget and overall higher quality animation, but the show suffered from the fact that while it was geared more towards a young adult audience, it aired during a time slot where the biggest audience was teens and children. Nevertheless, the show was successful enough to garner the creation of a movie. Thus, Star Drive: The Movie hit theaters last Saturday.
Star Driver tells the story of Takuto Tsunashi, the "Galactic Bishonen," and his battle against the "Glittering Crux Brigade." The Brigade is based on a small island where they are attempting to break 4 seals that prevent Cybodies (giant robots) from being able to function outside a pocket dimension called Zero Time. The story was developed as a merging of the "school life" and "mecha" anime genres, pulling tropes from both and leading to many characters with dual lives as both students of the school located on the island, and members of the Glittering Crux Brigade. Star Driver: The Movie is a recap of the entire series with added scenes. I had never seen the original series, so the movie turned out to be my first exposure to it.
[*Note: This review contains minor spoilers.]
Good — It's An Origin Story
The story begins by showing you the results of everything that came before and then proceeds to tell you what came before. Most anime will start in medias res and spend an episode or 2 on telling you how things got that way. Star Driver begins with a 5 minute expositional battle and then spends the entire rest of the story telling you how things got there. Granted, even in that origin story, there are still some things that need their own explanations, but by the end, after everything has been set up, you find yourself wanting to see what comes next.
Mixed — Just Go With It
Some parts of the story are a little out there, and unless you can leave any bias or preconceived opinions at the door, you may have trouble getting past them. Throughout the story, the main character, Takuto Tsunashi, is called a "Galactic Bishonen" and everyone seems impressed by this fact, but the story never explains just what the hell a "Galactic Bishonen" is. The origins of the giant robots, or Cybodies, is never explained, either. A lot of things in the story just are, and if you can't just shrug and go with the flow, it's likely you'll find yourself picking at these potential plot holes (like the fact that all it takes to completely hide your identity from someone you've spent years around is a simple mask) at the expense of your enjoyment of the overall anime itself.
Bad — The Pacing
The story involves the secret society called the Glittering Crux Brigade and their attempt to break 4 seals. These seals are protected by 4 shrine maidens hidden on the island. Thus, portions of the story revolve around the shrine maidens themselves. This leads to an imbalance in the story's pacing, itself. The story of the 2nd shrine maiden takes up a good portion of the movie and ends up being the most emotional part. By the time the story moved on to the next maiden, I found myself emotionally drained and thinking, "Shit, there's more?"
The movie also suffers (understandably) due to the fact that it's a 25 episode series (about 500 minutes) crammed into a 2 hour movie.
Bad — Nothing New Here Folks
As a recap of the original series, the movie offers nothing new in terms of plot or character development. A few new scenes have been added, but (according to a friend who has seen the TV series) if you've seen the series, you've pretty much seen the movie.
Not only that, but as a story itself, Star Driver offers nothing all that new or unique. The most emotional plot point in the movie was basically the plot twist from *REDACTED*.
I did not see the original Star Driver: Takuto of The Radiance TV series. So, perhaps my opinions of the movie are somewhat different from someone who has. Personally, watching the movie has made me want to watch the entire series to find out what wasn't covered in the movie, but whether I'll act upon this is another matter. Personally, I want to see what comes after the story ends.
Overall, Star Driver: The Movie is enjoyable in a popcorn and soda sense. It's not going change your outlook on life, but if you don't mind the 2 hour plus run time, it's good for an afternoon at the theater. It's also good if you're curious about the series, but don't want to watch all 25 episodes.
Star Driver: The Movie is currently in theaters in Japan.