Official Sites: Japanese, English
Additional Links: ANN Entry
Video [Free]: English Dubbed
For HardDoor's anniversary month, what better way to celebrate the occasion than with a free anime selection? And the pick for this month is...Glass Fleet!
You read right, Glass Fleet really is this month's pick. And why not? It's the blog's fourth anniversary, I can do whatever I want. ;)
Aside from that, Glass Fleet, a space opera tale of revolution and destiny, is one of the most underrated, and overkilled, anime in recent memory. Given its wonky production values, bizarre art design, and oddjob, if not hackneyed, characters (that rarely stay on-model) at first sight, one might rightfully believe that the show is doomed to a monumental failure--and that's exactly what many viewers felt when it first aired. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone that made it past the first few episodes, and personally, I was questioning why I was still watching it when I first saw it. And yet, it's a real shame, because those that did missed out on something that became a real treat.
In spite of the mediocrity that permeates the beginning episodes, glimpses of a good story can be seen near its 1/3 mark, and soon after, the production suddenly tightens and the ball begins to roll with some serious purpose. Consistent, quality character animation; intriguing characterizations; moments of daring and maturity; an engaging story; depth: what wasn't present for the first eight episodes now had you anticipating each coming episode. The turnaround in quality from all fronts is one of the steepest I've seen for any anime, and surprisingly, thankfully, it does not let up all the way to the end, capped by one of the gutsiest finales you will see around (and convincingly pulled off, though your mileage may vary).
It may have its occasional rough edges and some may not be too enthralled with the very eclectic designs by okama, much less having to sit through eight or so episodes until it heats up, but Glass Fleet is as good as any sci-fi show you'll see on television and is a true example of something that "gets better later on." Also helping its cause is the one constant in the series: the grand score by Kousuke Yamashita (who worked similar wonders with other GONZO works in Getsumen To Heiki Mina and Dragonaut -The Resonance-, though to greater effect); as well as some genuinely fine visuals from GONZO and Satelight when the show is on point. Content-wise, Glass Fleet certainly has its moments of adult thematics, making it more suitable for older teens and above.
For those that had stopped early on or who are curious to see what the fuss was over Glass Fleet, you have a prime opportunity to give it a(nother) shot as you can watch it online for free (though it's dubbed only on the site, it's a very good one). You can't say that you don't want to waste money on something you may not like here, so try and give it a chance. And if you like it enough, buy it. I definitely will be! :)
As a special anniversary bonus, there is also "the longest movie trailer you've ever seen" coming from Aniplex's new American division, who is streaming the first 23-minutes of the lauded Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW. The latest from creator group "Besame Mucho" (Read or Die/R.O.D., Kamichu!) and A-1 Pictures (a subsidiary studio of Aniplex), the trailer (or "the longest movie preview you've ever seen") gives a pretty good look of what to expect, further representing the continual stream of strong non-Ghibli films over the past few years.
P.S.: Keep in mind that Aniplex is owned by Sony for one particular line of product placement... ;)