Hello everyone, Kevin recently asked about anyone having watched Gen:lock the new show from the guys over at Rooster Teeth and I figured it would be fun to write up a full review of the first episode. I'm not planning on doing this for the rest of the series like our Gundam podcast or any other shows at the moment. If there is a demand I may consider doing more reviews like this one.
The show does a decent job, despite opening with the same kind of awkward 3d animation found in RWBY, of starting off with the main character introducing his girlfriend to his mother and sister. This scene also does a moderate job of setting the tech level as the visiting two are holograms on a call. Unfortunately shortly after this things start going off the rails. Without any information the city is attacked and without knowing anything about the sides involved or context it loses a lot of meaning. This is one of many things I think the episode could have used the ten minutes it overstays its welcome to fill in. Our heroes are sent to stop this enemy who has deployed some sort of nano or bio-weapon. Upon arriving the Girlfriend, Miranda, functionally disappears for the next ten minutes as we observe random civilians fleeing the attack and a dogfight between the defenders in planes and drones. I may be the only person that is bothered by this scene as I don't think it makes any sense in the fight choreography. Part of the main problem is our main character's fight is largely done with a zoomed out view so it lonly looks like a couple of streaks zooming around the city Flash style.
After we lose the drone we move to the moment that is probably my biggest annoyance with this show. The first episode has a perfect end point at eighteen minutes in. Our hero, the only one to get characterization, sacrifices himself to save the others. As it stands from the start this falls flat for a few reasons our only other named character, Miranda, doesn't really have her own character at this point and now has to take up the narrative. Instead of placing this moment at just over halfway into the episode it should have used the time to instead strengthen the other characters and actually show the ground fight for more than two minutes as the ground-pounders are running away. As it stands at eitghteen minutes we have one character who actually has character dead and no one to take his torch. Other series that have killed their main character had other characters to take that torch, minor spoilers here. Attack on Titan for example when Eren is eaten both Mikasa and Armin are still in play and given enough character of their own that either one could easily carry the series from that point. The way this is done is like killing Kira and expecting Waltfeldt's wife to take up the narrative.
The last major point I really want to get to is the last part in this oddly structured episode one. If I'm honest it feels more like the writer wasn't used to working with the full half-hour he had and wrote for the shorter format that earlier Rooster Teeth productions used. Summed up its the reveal of our main character not dead and the series' Gundam. I feel that this espiode would have worked so much better divided into two which would have let them flesh out more of the ideas here. Primarily by explaining the conflict and adding character to more of their cast. Those that listen to our Its a Gundam podcast will know that we talk a lot about how Gundam Seed does a lot for its characters with a little and Gen Lock doesn't use the time it has to manage anything close. Miranda becomes a Hard-Ass and acquires a scar after the time skip and it would be simple to explain it as well she lost her boyfriend. But since we don't see or know enough about her before that we, the audience, have no way of knowing if that is just how she always was or if its supposed to be related to his death.
For the most part in the series the sundries attached to the frame are pretty good. Most of the voices are done pretty well and there was only one instance where I laughed at the delivery. This a strong point for the series as getting a person into a series with poor voice work, I still have nightmares about the Soul Eater dub, can kick someone out of the series no matter how good everything else might be and cause people to turn it off and stop watching. There are a few lines that made me wince but I've never run into a series that had no wince moments.
I'd have to say there are better mecha series out there. I'd avoid this one if you don't already have a Rooster Teeth subscription. If you already have one there really isn't any reason not to watch it. That said there isn't anything to recommend it if you don't already have the subscription. There are no glaring problems that render the series unwatchable but as this is only the first episode it could very well improve. I usually give a series three episodes before making a judgement but the first one should still hook the viewer. While I had questions, usually a good way to get a person invested they were procedural and without a character I was invested in the questions didn't matter anymore. From an opening episode standpoint and judged only on those merits, Gen Lock is the worst mecha series I've ever seen. The lack of true character investment just kills it for me but you milage may vary. So final Zach rating here. Five out of Ten, potential is here the show isn't a total lost cause but there are better ones. Enjoy.