The Heavy Object anime originally aired during the Fall (Autumn) season of 2015, with great fanfare prior to the first episode. A mecha anime based on a light novel series from Kazuma Kamachi, the author of A Certain Magical Index and A Certain Scientific Railgun easily set the excitement level rather high. This, unfortunately, was probably only a detriment to the series as while decent it never quite manages to reach the heights of its predecessors. Brush all that aside though, and there is a decent mecha series to be had here and one seemly underrated at this point.
Objects – specialised dreadnoughts have changed the meaning of war by rendering human soldiers almost completely obsolete. Virtually invulnerable, Objects have redefined the nature of warfare allowing countries to fight wars with minimal causalities. Only an Object can hope to stand toe to toe against another. Enter Qwenthur Barbotage a student studying Object design, and Havia Winchell, a radar analyst. Serving under the command of Frolaytia Capistrano, their duty is to the support of Object Baby Magnum and its pilot, Milinda Brantini. Leading a rather dull and daily routine, Qwenthur and Havia are suddenly at the mercy of an enemy Object and must use their knowledge of Objects to survive.
Heavy Object, as a fan of the mecha genre, comes as a real oddity it has to be said. It is certainly a mecha series and a fairly decent one at that. The oddity comes into play with the Objects and the whole concept surrounding them. Intended as the ultimate weapon of sorts they are a far cry in terms of design compared to the likes of Mobile Suit Gundam or Macross. I would imagine Objects are probably a more realistic take on what an invulnerable war machine would actually look like. The mecha genre tends to favour the flare and awe of giant robots with laser weaponry and the like. Objects feel a lot less cool, though with a huge emphasis on how many guns and canons can be put on it without it looking too stupid.
The visual appeal of the Objects may not have pulled me in but the idea of them certainly did. It quickly became clear, however, that it wasn’t the Objects themselves that I enjoyed watching but the efforts of Qwenthur and Havia in taking them down with little available to them. This could easily be seen as failing in the mecha genre but it actually offered a different perspective on war involving huge mecha than we are usually presented with. The theme of stealth certainly gave me a sense of tactical espionage à la Metal Gear Solid which again definitely helps set it apart from other series in the genre.
While I like the dynamic of Qwenthur and Havia, they, along with most of the cast, are largely stereotypical character types. It can be fun at times but a lot of the interactions between characters lack depth and meaning usually just relying on generic tropes that have become common practice in anime. With the exception of Frolaytia, none of the characters receives a meaningful backstory in this first half which might be why they don’t feel fully fleshed out quite yet. Hopefully, the second part of the season will focus more on the characters as I feel that can only be a benefit at this point.
Heavy Object features some very nice animation and with J.C.Staff helming the adaptation you wouldn’t expect any less. SANZIGEN handle the 3D CGI side of the visuals and, to be honest, they are mostly decent. An effort has clearly been made to blend the two types of animation to give a more seamless look which works well throughout. Combat between Objects can be a little lacklustre but that is largely down to the design of the mecha rather than the animation.
There’s a slight error in the audio listing of retail units as the box states English 5.1 Surround and Japanese 2.0 Stereo while on-disc tracks are listed as Dolby TrueHD English 2.0 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0. Not a major concern but still something to keep in mind if you’re looking to pick up this release. That said both language options are available and it has to be said that I was rather impressed by the English dub. I dabbled in both and while I prefer the Japanese option the English is definitely a good choice.
Both the opening theme “One More Chance!!” by ALL OFF and the ending theme “Dear Brave” by Kano for the first part of Heavy Object are enjoyable to listen to and the soundtrack is fairly decent.
Extras on-disc include the very same-y standard Episode Commentaries, Textless Opening and Closing title sequences. The textless opening and closing sequence are, however, not textless at all and the on-screen credits cannot be disabled, or, at least, we weren’t able to disable them.
Heavy Object, I have to say, is fairly mediocre, there are some interesting elements and it definitely shakes up the standard mecha formula. That said, though, the characters are pretty bland and the story isn’t that engaging. I do think that the series has a pretty good foundation and if the second half of the series can pull it together with the character depth and story elements then we could have a good mecha series to add to the ranks.