For as long as he can remember, middle school student Chuta Kokonose has always had a voice inside his head, and conversing with it has always caused problems for him socially and academically. Throughout his life, this condition has always cause Chuta to push away his peers, in fear that by making friends it may cause bad things for them, and thus he pushes others away, keeping to himself. But one fateful day, he is suddenly beamed away from Earth by a mysterious group of aliens who refer to themselves as the space police: ēlDLIVE and learns that he has been selected to become an officer. During his exam to become an officer, Chuta discovers the true source of the voice that’s plagued him for years is in fact a legendary alien species known as a Monitalien that if utilised correctly can create some incredibly useful powers. And to top it all off, a familiar class mate of Chuta’s is also here. What awaits Chuta in the world of ēlDLIVE?
Katekyo Hitman Reborn! is one of my favourite Anime series of all time. It has a spot in my Top 9 and it’s a show that I think about almost every single day. It has a special place in my heart reserved only for a select few shows that resonate with me on the most personal of levels.
And ēlDLIVE is, in every way imaginable, a spiritual successor to that incredible series. It’s created by the same Mangaka, it has a similar protagonist with a near identical personality and growth potential and it’s full of just as many wacky and insane ideas that feel both fresh and familiar
So naturally, as a successor to one of my favourite Anime, I have been anticipating this premiere episode for a long, long time. I’ve been excited for this since March last year. And I’m happy to say that this first episode did not disappoint me. At all.
ēlDLIVE’s main strength lies in its protagonist, Chuta, who unlike most Shounen leads is the exact opposite of energetic and full of confidence. Much like Tsuna from Hitman Reborn! Chuta is very reserved and the exact opposite of hero material due to isolating and alienating himself from those around him as a result of his “inner voice”. This alone makes Chuta stand out from most other over the top, happy go lucky, Shounen leads as he feels more relatable and grounded. I love my hyperactive protagonist as much as the next guy, but it’s a real treat to have a lead that I can relate to on a more personal level. But what makes Chuta even more interesting as a protagonist, is his potential for future development and growth. Mangaka Akira Amino is a master when it comes to crafting zero-to-hero protagonists. It’s her specialty, and as someone who has read ahead in the Manga, I can guarantee that Chuta is going to go down a very interesting road and grow a lot as a character, provided the series gets far enough into the source material.
As for the rest of the cast, they’re all incredibly energetic and brimming with personality. From the eccentric and goofy leader of Earth’s ēlDLIVE branch Laine Brick, to the loving, kind and sweet woman that is Chuta’s Aunt, all the way to the cold and stoic love interest in the form of Misuzu, from this episode alone, ēlDLIVE boasts an extremely diverse and likable cast that grace the screen with their presence.
Outside of its protagonist another stand out element is the shows personality and creative energy. The setting is full of life and uniqueness with all kinds of awesome looking technology and weird alien races and the show is jam-packed with a ton of unique ideas that it’s difficult not to love every bit of it. The protagonists super power is a wacky alien-symbiotic being that can manifest his thoughts and desires into the form of a weapon. How can someone not love such an idea? With a superpower as insane as that, and even more crazy ones due further down the road, I can guarantee we’re in for a treat.
In terms of visuals, ēlDLIVE is also pretty great. As a fan of Reborn!, a lot of the character designs feel very familiar, with many of them feeling like they’ve been lifted straight from that shows roster of characters. Reborn! has some of the best character designs to come from a Shounen Jump adaptation and ēlDLIVE stays true to that claim by having some really memorable looking characters each with their own distinct appearance and style. What stands out the most by far though, are the wacky and bizarre looking alien designs, which feel awesomely goofy in the best kind of way.
The setting also looks pretty darn great, with a fantastic array of beautiful looking backgrounds that perfectly convey the intergalactic scale of adventure and wonder that the series is aiming for. It’s colourful, lively and just pleasing to look at.
The animation is also pretty great, with the character animation in particular being absolutely outstanding. ēlDLIVE is animated by Studio Pierrot, so I expected far worse than this. Given Pierrot’s track record, I’m unsure if this will remain consistent, but if this first episode is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.
But what really stands out the most in terms of visual are the incredible scene transitions. I rarely pay attention to this sort of stuff when watching Anime, but ēlDLIVE executed its transitions between scenes so creatively that I struggled to not notice it. From having Chuta walking across the screen to simulate a wipe effect to having a bunch of pop-inspired checkered tiles with crazy amounts of vibrancy make room for a scene change, the series expends every conscious effort to make the jumps from scene to scene as energetic and lively as possible. This is something which even the best directed shows struggle to do effectively in a way that feels significant and the fact that a show like ēlDLIVE of all shows has managed to convey something like this in such a bold and interesting way is quite frankly amazing to me. It’s almost unbelievable.
Oh, and can we talk about that soundtrack? Because it’s awesome! It’s really, really great and I love it. And that Opening is also really, really great.
As for the actual narrative itself, this episode was mostly just setting the stage for what’s to come. We’ve been introduced to the world of ēlDLIVE, its characters its general ideas and overall tone but there’s still a long way to go before we get to the really great and compelling material.
My only real concern is that we may not get enough episodes of this adaptation to do the source material justice. While the final episode count remains unconfirmed, there are rumors that the show is only going to be 12 episodes long, which is far from the number the show needs to really spread its wings and soar to its greatest heights.
If ēlDLIVE manages to stay true to the Manga long enough to get to its best material while keeping up its solid production and incredibly unique visual style, it could wind up being the best Anime of the Season, possibly the entire year.
As a fan of Reborn!, so far, ēlDLIVE is everything I could ever possibly want from a spiritual successor. This premiere episode was a solid start to what will no doubt turn out to be a fantastic and engaging battle Shounen series, and as a lover of such shows, I am hyped. I am so incredibly hyped.
ēlDLIVE is the best show I’ve seen from 2017 thus far and in a season with such a scarce number of attention grabbing shows, it shines bright.
I love this show and I can’t wait for more.
What are your first impressions of ēlDLIVE?