Going in to Robotics;Notes it is almost impossible to ignore that semi-colon in the title and all that it represents. That semi-colon has come to represent the ‘Science Adventure’ series and with the reputation the series has following successful outings in Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate it is difficult not to have great expectations of Robotics;Notes. While it doesn’t quite reach the same heights as its predecessors, Robotics;Notes aims to be something different, something unique, but not exactly what fans of the ‘Science Adventure’ series may have been looking for.
This second collection of Robotics;Notes features the final cour of the series and more or less kicks things into overdrive following what was a somewhat meandering first half. We see the foundations laid in the early goings come to fruition in a big way as the whole end of the world conspiracy plot reaches its climax in a rather surprising fashion.
It must be said that the show implements a rather slow and lackadaisical pace that does at times feel rather uneventful, but if you soak it in a little you’ll see there is some deeper machinations at work in this series.
The real backbone of the series is in its characterization though. As I mentioned in my review of collection one, the series story is rather bare-bones, where it shines is its detailed characterization that gives birth to a well-developed and memorable cast.
The entirety of the show really does hinge on how likable its cast is. The characters are each individually unique and interesting in their own ways, with a back-story for each that is genuinely affecting. The problem however falls on the series weak final villain, spoiler alert, Kou Kimijima.
As the Kimijima Reports arc unfolds, it simply gets more and more baffling. To the point where it is somewhat hard to suspend disbelief. Kimijima turns out the be the mastermind behind a huge plot to destroy the world, posthumously might I add. He survives in the digital world in an AR avatar imprint of his mind. This plotline is the series low point and really stretches all believability the series had in terms of its sci-fi concepts. Ultimately Kimijima enacts his evil plot simply because his goal is to see his evil plot succeed. Talk about a half-assed motivation if I’ve ever seen one. It really didn’t make all that much sense and put a damper on an other wise good series.
What worked most for me was the slice-of-life style the series had going for it. The fun little slice-of-life episodes focusing on the club building their robot is when the series was most compelling. It was fun, simple and had heart. Where it loses its footing is when it stepped too far away from that grounding. The over the top elements took the series in an unnecessary dark turn and while some of those elements where genuinely heartbreaking, there were some that were difficult not to laugh at. All in all making for one hell of a mixed bag.
The animation and music continues the superb quality set in the first cour and Madman have included a giant-robot sized load of extras to sink your teeth into making for an all round brilliant Blu-Ray release of the series.
Ultimately Robotics;Notes remains a solid sci-fi series that doesn’t quite live up to the mantle of the ‘Science Adventure’ series. It is offbeat, slow-paced and a spot of fun. While its final arc does have it fair share of missteps it is hard not to be moved by the growth of the Robotics Research Club over the course of the series. These kids who everybody thought were no-good wound up saving the world and accomplishing their dreams in the process. There are some loose threads left hanging, possibly for a potential sequel and I for one would be open to the idea. Robotics;Notes is not your average anime series, it is weird in more ways than one and incredibly difficult to recommend, but if you give it the chance it might just surprise you.
You can purchase Robotics;Notes Collection 2 and join the Robotics Research Club at Madman’s online store.