There have been many examples of shows and games that have affected the culture of Ani-TAY. In my opinion, a disproportionate quantity of it came from an unlikely place: the incredibly campy Valvrave The Liberator, a show as controversial as it is famous on Ani-TAY.
Valvrave the Liberator was a action-mecha show that aired in Spring and Fall of 2013. Valvrave was written by the series composer for Code Geass and produced by Sunrise: the company famous for its Gundam series.
Back in the late 2013 summer season of anime, I decided to embark on an endeavor that I would come to call “Anime Marathon 2013", my little experiment into an anime reviews blog that I decided to partake in after having left all anime alone for several years.
Now, keep in mind that at this time, anime blogging was a thing on Talk Amongst Yourselves (my platform at the time), but it isn’t nearly the operation it is today. There were some odd posts here and there, Sylverfyst’s Trainime series, and some weird obsessions with Oreimo (that’s a different story that’s before my time). Otherwise, it wasn’t very big.
The marathon was just like it sounded, a mad sprint through as much as I possibly could in between my start time (early October 2013) and New Year’s Eve that year. Each anime would get a review, and each anime would be watched in its entirety. With the details worked out, it was really a question of what to watch.
When putting together my first roster, I went with three shows: Sword Art Online, Eureka Seven, and Valvrave the Liberator. There wasn’t a whole lot of deep thought put into that initial roster, but hey!
Valvrave initially made the list largely because of the marketing associated with it. It had been years since I’d watched a Gundam show, and I wanted a good Sunrise mecha show. It seemed like the perfect fit!
Now, it’s important to understand exactly what Valvrave is from here on out. Valvrave is pitched almost entirely like a Gundam show. The entire first episode is a remake of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, complete with the character named Haruto (seen to above) accidentally falling into the cockpit of the resident Super Prototype mecha. He gets in, beats up the bad guys, and it looks like we’re getting into an epic Sunrise show about this teenager taking the fight to the Dorssians!
Yes, this show is not that.
This is a show about Immortal Body-Swapping Space Vampire Mecha Pilots. This is revealed in the last few minutes of the first episode, and not a moment sooner.
This series gained an infamous reputation among everyone that watched it. Valvrave is known for its incredible mood swings, insane plot twists, and generally unstable personality. It is absolutely fantastic in that regard. Half of the time we did not watch this show each week for the story, it was to see how the plot could possibly twist again.
It also has camp. Tons of camp. I’ll let one of my fellows explain it:
Camp: Drowning in it. Valvrave takes nationalist stereotypes, nonsensical plot twists, weird bad guy outfits, preposterous dialogue, and cheesy anime clichés, and filters them through just enough self-awareness to turn them into art.
In addition to all of this, the screenwriter tossed in a love triangle that divided us as much as the show itself did (by the way, Saki is definitely best girl). It divided us in such unique ways too! This show was infuriating and it was amazing.
To recap, Valvrave is an insane camp-ridden mecha show featuring Immortal Body-Swapping Space Vampire Pilots including at least one love triangle of legendary variety. This show was certifiably insane.
All this comes back to why Valvrave the Liberator is a surprisingly important part of Ani-TAY’s culture. Firstly, I loved Valvrave. I really did.
It was gloriously campy at a time that I desperately needed something that was certifiably insane like it. As a result, it became one of my go-to shows throughout the marathon. I’d even go so far as to say it was the glue that held that marathon together.
Funny enough though, my love of Valvrave the Liberator led to a rather familiar face coming along to Ani-TAY: Rockmandash12. He came along to read my review and for some reason decided to stick around to post stuff on the primordial “Ani-TAY”. In a lot of ways, this was the first step as I see it in hindsight to what would eventually become the Ani-TAY we see today, as with Rock came a number of other faces in the coming months. The rest is history.
But wait! That’s not all Valvrave is to
blame thank for. Around the same time as the penultimate episodes of Valvrave, I was binge-watching Code Geass. Since they were both written by the same man, they had a number of similarities.
Those similarities included very similar penultimate episodes for their seasons. Similar in a horrifying way. I had the misfortune of watching Code Geass’ black humor episode, thinking to myself “I need Valvrave to clear my palette”, and then watched the identical episode on Valvrave. All by complete accident.
Finding myself distraught and confused, I did the sensible thing and asked a chatroom I frequented for something to watch that wasn’t that terrifying. The results are almost legend today:
[...]: You should try Muv-Luv Total Eclipse
Very literally, this is where Ani-TAY’s love of Muv-Luv overtly began. Basically a random troll in a chatroom was what caused it.
So, again, to recap, Valvrave was largely the thing that started what I consider modern Ani-TAY, and also the trigger (along with its sibling Code Geass) for the eventual Muv-Luv phenomenon.
Valvrave the Liberator is legitimately an insane show with crazy plot twists, copious camp, and cliche storms of truly epic proportions. Yet, at the same time, it caused not only the first step towards modern Ani-TAY, but resulted in the infamous Muv-Luv pandemic on Ani-TAY.
Generally speaking, it’s the most influential show that early Ani-TAY had. Arguably there hasn’t been one as important even in the time since then. It’s not even that amazing of a show, but it did it anyway!
Do I recommend it? Hell, I don’t know. The crazed narrative is impossible to adequately describe with words and it needs to be seen to be believed.