Aquarion EVOL is set 12,000 years after the events of the original Aquarion anime, and with such a huge time gap there’s not really a direct connection between the two series, but rather a strong spiritual connection. You could very easily watch Aquarion EVOL without watching the prequel, and that’s not to suggest that the original Aquarion was not a good anime, in fact Aquarion was a really solid series that succeeds for the most part at offering something new in the mecha anime genre, with a strong fixation on characters and their relationships, and using human emotions as a driving force for all the mecha action.
Aquarion EVOL is consistent with that original vision, but this time the execution is so much better. Aquarion EVOL feels like a maturity of Aquarion’s vision, and is a much better show in every way in terms of the characters, pacing, visuals, music, and overall story delivery. While Aquarion can be considered to be good, Aquarion EVOL on the other hand can be considered to be something special. It may not become a timeless legend grade like Gundam or Neon Genesis Evangelion, but it is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining experience from the first episode to the finale.
Aquarion EVOL follows a similar premise as its predecessor, except after 12,000 years the dramatic events of Aquarion have now become a myth and legend in the world of EVOL, to the point where it’s become a religion full of fables that some either believe in or don’t. The military academy still persists in EVOL to battle against enemy forces, with an entire cohort of chosen Elements that train to pilot the Vectors, which merge together to form the modern day Aquarion. Now much like the previous series, the act of merging is still just as sensual with heavy sexual undertones, which is why the world of EVOL has implemented stricter rules to prevent hedonistic behaviour such as the sex addic… I mean.. merge addiction we saw in one of the episodes in the original Aquarion. While anyone could merge with anyone in the previous series, the academy in EVOL has separated men and women and prohibited inter-gender merging. To make matters more complicated for the youthful Elements, romance is completely forbidden. Yet, in a world where love crazed youths are torn apart, a destined romance seeks to break this social order.
Right from the start you meet protagonist Amata, an all round nice, but very lonely, guy who was abandoned by his mother when he was young, and so he grows up yearning for love, affection, and compassion… particularly drawn to the legend of the 12,000 year love. During one of his lonely afternoons at the movie theatre he meets Mikono, and immediately the two hit it off based on their similar interests in that particular myth and legend. Of course, the first date quickly goes awry when abductors from the rival planet emerge to attack their city and out comes Aquarion to save the day. In midst of all the chaos, Amata and Mikono find themselves getting chosen by Aquarion as its new Elements, and in all the craziness that ensues the Elements break the golden rule of inter-gender merging… and eventually they break down the wall separating males and females at the academy. Despite things being so out of hand and the academy eventually allowing co-ed operations and training… the law forbidding romance remains intact (oh to be so close and yet so far away).
What Aquarion EVOL does so well is how it captures the anguish and passion that comes with longing for love and romance. EVOL also does a fantastic job of depicting sexual frustration (looking at you, Andy). The one relationship that takes centre stage, among all the romantic endeavours depicted, is the complicated hit or miss romance between Amata and Mikono. Now this pairing is almost as frustrating as that of Ross and Rachel in the American sitcom Friends with the question of will they? constantly hovering. It’s extraordinarily frustrating because of Mikono’s indecisiveness. She leads Amata on, then pushes him away, ignores him for a bit but still gets jealous when he talks to other women. And to make matters worse, she develops a Stockholm affection towards her aggressive peruser (Kagura, one of the main antagonists) who constantly tries to kidnap her. Falling in love with the bad boy while constantly leading on the nice guy… Mikono and her romantic traits are a manifestation of modern day romance mysteries, and frustratingly so.
Of course Amata isn’t a saint either, as he constantly expresses feelings of abandonment, and painfully longs for Mikono, when he has an awesome gal in Zessica very clearly and boldly expressing her love for him. Yes, Amata is that nice guy who complains about being in the friend zone, all while friend-zoning a perfectly fine woman who, quite honestly, is a much better match for him than the person he wants. Aquarion EVOL does a great job of capturing all the frustrations and confusions that come with modern day romance.
Then there’s other relationships that get the spotlight, like the one between Andy and MIX… where Andy develops poetic romantic feelings for MIX’s breasts. It’s so insane and outlandish, not to mention Andy’s obsession with not just digging holes but holes in general. Yes, Aquarion EVOL does a fine job of masking heavy sexual innuendo.
But as crazy, juvenile, and downright frustrating these characters sound, it ends up being a huge compliment to the way they are developed and depicted. After all, you only really react to characters with passionate frustration if you cared enough about them, and in the end the cast of EVOL are an endearing bunch that will entertain and stir you up in a good way. Aquarion EVOL is really about emotional intensity, and there are episodes that really confront and resolve some powerful feelings, in particular that one powerful episode that deals with the coping of, and the acceptance of, death.
Aquarion EVOL is full of energy and each episode ends up being memorable in its own way. The battles are flashy and epic, the pacing is like a roller coaster thrill ride, and each episode ends on a climax that leaves you eager to jump straight to the next one without a break. Best of all, the grand finale of Aquarion EVOL is epic, as all the frustrations and all the plot points build up and resolve into one massive big bang of a closure.
Complementing all the passionate energy and emotion of the series is the incredible music. Poppy songs about love and longing take centre stage, some being energetic and some sombre, but they complement the delivery of the many dramatic moments so well. Especially any scene that involves the frailest drama queen of them all: Yunoha. The visuals are beautiful, and the quality persists with great use of soft and warm lighting effects, and all the dazzling lights to energise the many fight sequences.
One thing that is curious about the English dub, which is quite good by the way, is the frequency of foul language which can feel quite jarring given the context of the anime and the nature of the characters. When I say foul language, I’m talking frequent usage of the F-word. It’s not offensive by any means, just feels strange and out of character whenever someone drops such heavy cuss words. For an anime that’s about longing for romance, these characters sure have quite the mouth on them.
Aquarion EVOL is an entertaining romp, a much better anime than the original Aquarion as it turns up all the love, sex, and romantic anguishes by several notches to deliver one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride, one that is filled with romantic frustrations which are often manifested in epic mech battles. It’s not something that will become a timeless classic, but an anime does not have to become a legend in order to be great. For what it’s worth, Aquarion EVOL is a superbly produced and highly entertaining romantic action mecha anime that will dazzle and frustrate (in a good way) you with its fiery passion.