12 CommentsAnime Analysis, Twelve Days / By Scamp /

12 Days of Anime #7: Ryvius Redemption

The second best anime I watched all year was Infinite Ryvius. An early 00’s production by Sunrise been described by many as ‘Lord of the Flies in Space’, it deals with the story of a group of teenagers stranded on a spaceship and their attempts to get home, while trying to keep control of the growing hysteria and collapse of moral values that happen on their ship. To say Ryvius is hard to sit through is an understatement. Ryvius physically hurts to watch as you see all these characters break down, incapable of handling the immense responsibility thrust upon them (there’s a reason I compared it directly with Evangelion). It’s a gruelling, torturous experience, one that leaves you emotionally drained by the end. But it’s not all doom and gloom. No, because there’s the final episode. I will get heavily into spoilers from here on in, so turn back now and remember that, through all the pain you’ll go through watching this anime, there is redemption at the end.

***Spoilers for the last episode of Infinite Ryvius begin now***

The second last episode of Ryvius saw the characters truly break down once and for all. Airs Blue is still missing on the ship, sending the crew into hysterics. Those seen as not helping the situation had been locked into a hanger and left to die. The totalitarian regime had left those still working in panic and fear. Where it finally all breaks down is when Kouji tries to confront Ikumi’s regime and Ikumi shoots him, sending the entire rest of his entourage into panic. There’s that fantastic moment when an adult finally walks onto the ship for the first time since the start of the series, and the characters suddenly all look at themselves and realise what they had become. Like the end of Lord of the Flies, it was when that burden of responsibility left them that they could finally relax and all that had occurred during that time seemed like it came from another life. It’s a gruelling and not particularly rewarding ending, but it still fit the series well.

But that wasn’t the true end of Ryvius. Instead we got an epilogue, where the characters all went back to the real world, becoming minor celebrities in their own right. They walked around in a bit of a daze, unsure how to come to terms with what had happened upon the ship. It was almost as though the events of those few weeks had never happened. This wasn’t an ending that sat well with me at all.  Horrible things had happened on that ship, and to go back to the real world and pretend such things had never happened struck me as being one of the biggest cop outs ever. You can’t just ignore 25 episodes of development. The characters have to accept and come to terms with what happened throughout the entire course of the series, otherwise everything just goes to waste.

The change occurs when the bigwigs in charge visit the various members of the crew and invite them to pilot that very ship again (it was vital to saving humanity or something, it’s not really important for this post). The important thing here is that the characters were given a choice whether they wanted to go back onto the ship again or not. Those who didn’t want to face what occurred there stayed at home, but all the main characters we had watched during the series took the opportunity. It doesn’t make sense on the face of things why they would go back to that hellhole with the same people they had experienced it with last time all over again. They went back again for redemption. They went back to the ship to face what had happened on there and, through working with these same people again, learn from their mistakes and become better people as a result.

That is a message I can get behind. The characters weren’t universally punished for their actions, but neither were they forgotten. Instead the final episodes gave them the opportunity for redemption, and what’s remarkable is how many of the characters came back, searching for that redemption. Better yet, it takes the pain of the previous 25 episodes and makes them worth sitting through, giving you an upbeat, hopeful ending that still gels perfectly with the series as a whole. It’s one of the best endings of anime I’ve ever seen, giving us a perfect resolution to every single character’s personal conflict in one simple solution. That ending, more than anything else, made Ryvius one of the best anime I’ve ever seen.

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  1. kuromitsu
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:38 am | Permalink

    I didn’t think the epilogue before the request for the characters to go back on the ship was/would’ve been a cop-out. No-one pretended that nothing had happened, it’s just that the episode is set months after the penultimate episode, by which time most characters have already started dealing and moving on. (Not even all of them: there’s no word about Ikumi or Fina, and who knows how whatshername, Ikumi’s ex-girlfriend is dealing with her PTSD.) I imagine there was lots of therapy involved.

    Of course getting the characters back on the ship was what really rounded everything out and gave the ending that the show really needed.

    • Scamp
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      They hadn’t really dealt with it though. Saying ‘time has passed, they got over it’ is a horrible way of dealing with problems. Would Lord of the Rings been better if they said “eventually Sauron just got bored of searching for the One Ring and everything worked out fine”

      OK, I know that isn’t quite what you’re saying, but making the solution being simply timeskipping is not good storytelling

  2. Chris
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    I found that Ryvius had the most inappropriate sound track I have ever heard in any anime series. I mean it was absolute toss, you would get some stupid beat that would immediately pull me out of any dramatic scene. I not sure if it was because I watched the DUB, but I thought the characters were fucking awful. I had to drop the series at about episode 14 because of how I got physically angry every time Kouji would make an appearance. The best part of this series is watching his brother kick the crap out of him.

    • Scamp
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

      But that’s the point! They are meant to be horrible people that make you want to reach through your screen and throttle them. That’s what the story is about!

    • Posted December 19, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Infinite Ryvius has an awesome soundtrack, and I will not hear any different.

  3. Posted December 19, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Sounds like my kinda anime.

  4. Alterego
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Infinite Ryvius is the anime that makes me feel sorry that the protagonists every other anime are also teenagers. Since I got used to thinking of teenagers as “default anime folks”, that are used in all roles from The Mad Scientist to The Pope, and from The Goddess to The Serial Killer, it gets kinda confusing that here, they play the role of ACTUAL TEENAGERS, immature kids with way too much responsibility, and not just “default anime folks” who happen to be immature idiots.

    • Scamp
      Posted December 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Little dig at Steins;Gate in there I see :P

  5. Gunslinger
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Its truly the most excruciating anime .. I have tried thrice to watch it but have never managed to complete it.

    On another note fate/zero is starting to remind me of durara’s final arc… just start killing each other already

  6. romulus
    Posted December 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    I watched it because of your review during summer and it was memorable. I still remember their grief and that weird feeling like there was no protagonist – there was no one to sympathise with. None at all. And yeah, the resolution was kinda fitting and unusual at the same time. They could have been killing each other a bit more of course ;)

    Finally after rio avatar and Un-Go we are getting to the more serious anime moments. I guess we are going to hear about what appealed to you the most this year :D

  7. ojisan
    Posted December 20, 2011 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    Loved it, loved the music, loved the last episode – wasn’t there a moment in it when the corporate rep tried to ‘apologize’ and was told that you can’t just apologize for crap like that? It all struck me as more than a ‘time marches on’ ending. And you’ve t got to admit that it’s a story about characters being forced to change and adapt, unlike say, Evangelion – where everyone’s a prisoner of their personality.

    • Scamp
      Posted December 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

      Interesting comparison to Evangelion, where they never get over their own inhibitions. Especially considering how similar the two are. Just another reason why Ryvius > Evangelion

      (mwahaha go my biased views go)

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