I came away from the first installment of Dragonaut with very mixed feelings. The visuals were pretty impressive, a few of the ideas interesting (the asteroid that's in fact a mobile battle station), and the romance decent, if slightly contrived. However, what remained to be discovered was whether the second half of the series would improve upon the promise hinted to in the first or completely fall apart based on the non-linear nature of the story threads. I just finished the second and final installment of the series and can state with certainty that it did neither of what I initially suspected. It was exactly the same blend of ups and downs as the first set! Sure it's different in many ways, but the end result looks an awful lot like more of the same- for better or worse.
Spanning a pair of discs Dragonaut The Resonance Part 02 comes packaged in two thin packs within an outer cardboard slipcase and consists of episodes 14-26. The show comes in at a total runtime of 315 minutes and wears an appropriate TV 14 rating due to animated violence, a lot of clothed promiscuous adventure qualities, some near nudity and a whole lot of jiggling.
Language options are standard sub & dub with both an English dub (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround) and original Japanese soundtrack (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) & the choice of English subtitled if so inclined to turn them on.
Extras include an English cast commentary over Episode 16, textless opening and closing songs, and a host of fresh Funimation trailers.
The story technically picks up where the initial prose left off in that it involves humanity dealing with the threat of Thanatos, most of what happens throughout the 26-episodes feels like little more than a succession of excuses to have numerous CGI battles involving human-looking individuals who can transform into dragon-like mecha.
The remainder of the prose involves efforts to establish Jin and Toa's disturbed relationship, which mostly involves Jin tracking down Toa across the solar system and Toa ending up saving his life.
The artistry and animation, beyond the clothed fan service (meaning breasts that have more in common with beach balls then human anatomy), is a mixed bag as well. Gonzo has proven time and time again that it is more than capable of dazzling with its use of CG (see my review of Blassreiter for further proof of this), here it results in too much contrast between the computer-generated and non-CG sections. The dragon models are pretty cool looking and harken back to the mecha designs of the early 1980s, but the reason for their unique design are never fully fleshed out.
The story itself doesn't make any strides in sorting itself out much this time around either but I will say that viewers who were comfortable with the time-line jumping in the first set will likely have no complaints with this one.
None of the fault for the non-linear story presentation lands in the lap of the English dub staff either. It scripts comfortably close to the original, with solid casting choices who deliver the type of emotion captured in the original Japanese.
By the time you reach the conclusion of the show, the viewer is left with a feeling of superfluous resolve but many unanswered plot points to consider. It almost feels as though the show got a little too caught up in its own tangents and love interests along the way to cover all of the really big bases (like the motivations/ history of the invading aliens).
In conclusion, it's a bit sad that Dragonaut comes off as such a muddled completed piece because on paper it looks to be one of the finest anime titles to come from Gonzo in some time. It has nearly everything I look for in an anime title- fan service, mecha, clashing civilizations on a grand scale but it simply doesn't play out to meet the potential of the elements contained within. It's safe to say that fans of the original release will likely enjoy this collection for its ability to conclude the tale but for those (like me) who felt the first 13-episodes were a bit lackluster should prepare for more of the same.
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About the reviewer
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing. … more
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With the deadly asteroid Thanatos bearing down on planet Earth, an elite fighting force known as the Dragonauts flies into action. These space junkies can really fill out a uniform, and their courageous Dragon comrades are fearless and foxy in the face of danger. Following the lead of interplanetary lovebirds Jin and Toa, humans and dragons team up for a romp in the lunar hot springs and a showdown with the nefarious Gillard Army. The fate of humanity rests on Jin and Toa, who must harness the power of their cosmic hook-up in order to stop Thanatos and build a new life for a lonely boy and the dragon of his dreams.