Review: Heavy Object

[Synopsis]: Warfare was forever changed with the introduction of titanic, mechanical weapons called ‘Objects’. Their immensity and overwhelming firepower quickly brought an end to the longstanding conventions of modern war and began an era of ‘clean wars’ in which Objects became the metric of a Nation’s power and influence, effectively retiring the need for armed troops and weaker armaments. Two hapless soldiers, Qwenthur Barbotage (Hanae, Natsuki) and Havia Winchell (Ishikawa, Kaito), are one day forced to go toe to toe with an Object. Armed solely with their charisma and ingenuity, the two step onto a battlefield that has long since forgotten the influence of lone soldiers amidst the scale of its destruction.

[Characters]: 

While Heavy Object features a variety of characters over its 24-episodes it most invests itself in its four central cast members of Qwenthur, Havia, Milinda, and Frolaytia. From the beginning of the show it becomes reasonably obvious that none of its characters offer much in terms of character depth or even intrigue. Qwenthur is lighthearted, gets along well with his companions, and sports a cliche white-knight attitude that he and Havia are more than aware of. Outside of these traits he is pretty bland – his seemingly baseless idealism spurring him from conflict to conflict along with his military orders. Havia is in a similar position as he could be described as amicable, vulgar, and even cowardly in a comedic sense however his defining traits stop about there. Frolaytia can mostly be characterized as sadistic but well-humored and Milinda hardly has any character traits to speak of at all. That all being said, the main cast of characters Heavy Object focuses on are incredibly uninteresting and are desperately in want of compelling features.

Though the primary four characters are dull and unexciting, three of them do present something fairly entertaining and enjoyable despite their characterization. If the show did anything right by its characters it was how it was how it displayed the amiable relationship between Qwenthur, Havia, and Frolaytia. Qwenthur and Havia are very buddy-buddy with one another and their shared interests and perversions give them surprisingly good chemistry which is only improved upon in their interactions with Frolaytia who often scolds them as their superior officer. This is probably the single strongest character quality the show has as there is hardly any development to be found. While it doesn’t possess enough individual merit to warrant watching the entire show, seeing the characters genuinely get along with one another was certainly entertaining none the less.

Heavy Object’s main cast members aside, the rest of its cast is entirely forgettable as they only appear intermittently and never possess much in the way of individual qualities that let them stand out. It wasn’t until around episode 17 when the show introduced a handful of new, named characters with distinct character designs that I fully realized just how unpopulated and faceless the show had felt up until that point. The appearance of characters with such overtly stylized designs actually ended up emphasizing how barren and forgettable the cast was instead of reinvigorating it as they might have done.

The show’s antagonists are handled abysmally. Because of the show’s typical format of barraging the viewer with information it becomes hard to attach any goals or motivations listed within the torrent of details to the villains themselves who then subsequently appear more or less as a contextless body before fading out of the story. Factions such as the Faith Organization represent a different problem through their one-dimensional portrayal of dehumanized, religious zealotry. All in all the cast of Heavy Object is both troubled and woefully uninteresting despite the grandiose world they live in.

[Art/Animation]:

The overall art and animation of Heavy Object was average with the show exhibiting intermittent quality drops throughout its run. Due to the mechanical nature and monstrous size of the Objects they are rendered in CG which works well enough for the show. While it doesn’t make too much of an effort to blend its CG into its environment and setting the Objects are so large that the way that they stand out against the scenery serves the show just fine.

The visuals associated with the Objects such as their designs and the damage they inflict are quite interesting in that they both benefit and hinder the show simultaneously. On one hand, the sheer scale of the Objects and the explosions they create through their ammunition and plasma canons really compliments the idea of Objects and their epic qualities as described by the show. In this way the grand CG explosions and the endless hail of gunfire benefits the visuals of the show thematically and makes the Objects seem impressive and lethal.

On the other hand however, because of the raw firepower exhibited by the Objects, combined with the pacing of their skirmishes and how their battles generally unfold throughout the show, they end up feeling borderline ineffective in regards to their function to destroy the other Object. The Objects themselves are built to be tougher than tough and so its understandable that they would sport a high tolerance for sustaining damage however it is not their ability to shrug off damage that is the issue but rather how paltry and inefficient their weapons are at scoring even discernible hits. Because the Objects are usually defeated by single direct hits from the main guns of their opponents or through a single strategic moment usually thought of by Qwenthur, the sheer number of explosions and bullets exchanged leaves the fights feeling boring and meaningless until something of significance happens.

The last thing I’ll mention is the show’s fan-service elements which are fairly pervasive yet dwindle in quantity towards the show’s conclusion. While at times they are played up as comedy a good many instances of the show’s fan-service is downright distracting and exists purely for the purpose of being fan-service. In a show already troubled by uninteresting characters and average visuals, the presence of overt fan-service that doesn’t benefit the show in some capacity just further muddles its delivery and compromises the scenes involved.

[Story]:

While one could speak endlessly about the actual implications of the Objects on the world of the show and how they might impact the viewer’s own suspense of disbelief I think its enough to say that the premise of the show, ignoring the finer details, is fairly interesting. The idea that conflict has moved beyond direct human involvement is an intriguing one and the very plot of the show fully intends to upend this understanding by pitting Qwenthur and Havia against epic monstrosities in a David and Goliath-style struggle. I readily admit that the thematic premise of a world overly-reliant on colossal war-machines being upset by the unfactored influence of human ingenuity and sabotage is a potentially really interesting one. The sentiment that something outdated like human effort can yield results against impossible odds is a unique scenario to explore and though the theme is pervasive it doesn’t reach any compelling conclusions.

Objects, when juxtaposed to the actions of the two heroic saboteurs, Qwenthur and Havia, are both interesting and problematic. They are interesting in that, by having the two survive multiple situations when under direct-fire from Objects, the outcome would further suggest the world’s movement away from human-effective weaponry in favor of armaments better suited for destroying other objects. They are problematic at the same time however because of just how incredibly over-the-top those situations are. In one instance, when Qwenthur and Havia are fired upon by an Object, they avoid death under a torrent of gunfire yet the resulting scene is comedic more than anything. The Object’s inability to dispatch them, whether its weapons were designed for Object-combat or not, somewhat trivializes its gunfire and therein the Objects themselves in a similar way to how the visuals sometimes emphasize their ineffectiveness.

What I would consider to be Heavy Objects most problematic attribute is the manner in which the show handles its information. You can tell from time to time that some very provocative ideas are going into the show however they are completely and totally upset by the show’s presentation. The details and context behind each conflict the show explores and experiences are always delivered in an unrelenting torrent of information, not all of which is even important to the story. While this might come off as an attempt at world building, the meticulous and often tiresome details detract from the actual plot of the show and obscure what information is actually important. Heavy Object in many ways gets entirely caught up in the minutia of its subject matter and tries to deliver all of its information in heaves before moving on to each episode’s action sequences. The result is that any dialogue that isn’t a witty exchange between Qwenthur, Havia, and Frolaytia is thoroughly mind-numbing and forgettable despite some of its overt relevance to the plot of the episode.

The last thing I will touch upon also relates to the way in which Heavy Object presents its story. After the conclusion of Qwenthur and Havia’s first conflict the story moves on and throws them into a very similar situation. You might expect that after the first 2 or 3 or even 4 missions that eventually something will upset the formula that progresses the show in such a way that a conflict of greater consequence arrives however this is not the case. Heavy Object, at times, feels like a 24-episode-long gag where the viewer is supposed to laugh at the ridiculousness of Qwenthur and Havia’s misfortune as the story continues to toy with them by throwing them into yet another scenario involving an Object. In some ways you get what you came for insofar as there are plenty of Objects involved to account for the show’s title but as far as overarching plots, character development, or even significant changes to the show’s formula, Heavy Object comes up short in a lot of ways. The formulaic means of forwarding the story combined with the show’s lackluster characters, boring dialogue, and monotonous Object fights makes for an incredibly tedious show which is why I think its chief problem rests with its presentation.

[Music]:

Though I’ve had far more bad than good to say about Heavy Object up until this point, I believe that its soundtrack is far and away its strongest aspect. While the music behind a scene can’t help the dialogue come across more coherently or make the characters more interesting than they are, it can capitalize on the show’s visuals and themes which I’ve previously expressed are at the very least appealing despite their problems. The soundtrack of Heavy Object exemplifies the heroism of its main duo, what tension there is between two Objects locked in combat, and above all else – the grandness and scale of the Objects themselves. The music compliments the immensity of the show’s aesthetic wonderfully.

[Final Thoughts and Rating]: 

All in all Heavy Object offered a compelling premise yet failed to take proper advantage of it through its lackluster and often dull presentation. The ending was as as insignificant as the rest of the show’s developments in relation to the world and its characters and it used the same approach seen in each of the show’s short arcs without differing meaningfully.

Rating: 4

I gave Heavy Object a 4 because its characters and story played out in an incredibly uninteresting way due its formulaic plot, minutia-obsessed dialogue, and average visuals. The show scores a few points for its entertaining portrayal of comradery between members of its main cast, its highly supportive soundtrack, and the few moments where the some of the good ideas and sentiments of the show shine through. I think the show isn’t entirely inept at conjuring up a tense moment or a somewhat engaging plot development here and there.

[Recommendations]:

I would recommend Heavy Object to action fans as its entirely possible many people wouldn’t find the exchanges between Objects nearly as tedious as I did and in which case they might enjoy the show far more. If you are looking for a show with an immense scale and screen-filling explosions then Heavy Object might be the right show for you. Though the show has comedic aspects I wouldn’t recommend the show as a comedy to anyone unless they were interested in its other genre elements as well.

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