Review: Star Driver


Anime: Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto
Animation Studio: Bones
Number of Episodes: 25
Length per Episode: Approximately 24 minutes

I am literally typing this after having just watched the livestream for the final episode. I got four hours of sleep last night, but now I can’t stop shaking from adrenaline and couldn’t be more awake. I don’t think I’m going to be able to sleep until after watching the episode subbed.

Also, even though I’ve started typing this, I still don’t know what to score the show as. I’m planning to use this review to help sort out my thoughts about the show.

The plot for Star Driver isn’t anything too complex, but it can be split into two different parts. The first is the school life.snap2

Most of the show takes place at school, or just generally with people hanging out. It’s where a good chunk of the character development takes place, too.

The other half of the plot takes place in Zero Time.snap3

Zero Time is where Takuto fights the members of the Glittering Crux in giant robot battles. The Glittering Crux’s goal isn’t really clear, but they seem more than happy to put themselves in the role of the villain.

Quick plot summary was quick, because the review is what everyone cares about. While on the topic of fighting the Glittering Crux, people were quick to label this series as an “EVIL ROBOT FIGHT OF THE WEEK” kind of show. I’d know, I was one of them. However, this isn’t really the case. While Takuto does fight a new cybody each week, the difference it has from usual “villain of the week” shows is that the characters are still around. While he does fight them, the characters are essentially getting their own episode, which serves as character development. This builds up, so that by the end, you’ve gotten to know basically every character.

Now, a lot of people didn’t really like Star Driver because it never seemed like much was happening, or that nothing was really important. That’s not really true, there’s always some kind of development going on, whether it’s plot-wise or character-wise, it’s just extremely subtle. I know this is the case after watching these last few episodes. I thought about them, and wondered what I’d think of them if I had just jumped into the show at that point, around episode 20. I found myself thinking the episode was about 1/100000 as exciting if I had done that.

You might be noticing a pattern already. I keep mentioning the last few episodes. That’s because, while entire show is certainly interesting, everything is really a buildup for the the last few episodes, starting around the episode 20. The big bad finale.snap4

Star Driver is one of those shows you watch for the ride. I wouldn’t say it’s a show for “shits and giggles,” though. Star Driver is more like the Space Mountain of anime. While you certainly like all roller coasters, and they all have a somewhat similar feel, you can’t help but like one of them more than the others. Whether it’s due to the speed, setting, climax, or some unexplainable reason, you’re drawn to that one roller coaster over all others.

Not all shows you watch for the ride are bad. The two biggest ones that come to mind are Baccano! and Durarara!!, the former of which explicitly states at the ending about how the show was all about the ride. Star Driver is different from those in that the ride up is slower, but once you reach the top, you’re on the edge of your seat from that point on.snap5

The actual ending to the show… wasn’t exactly incredible, but it wasn’t disappointing in any way. I’d say it bordered on ‘good,’ more than anything. While it wasn’t mind-blowing, not having a disappointing ending is actually a pretty big accomplishment, especially nowadays.

The music for Star Driver is also really good. This doesn’t really become most prominent until the end, because, as I’ve already said, the last few episodes are where all the big developments and events happen, but it doesn’t change the fact that the music is some good stuff. Honestly, who didn’t get addicted to Monochrome?

Obviously I know Monochrome is an insert song, I was saying that the music in general was great.

Star Driver also has some odd quirks to it, such as how nobody can tell who’s who even when the only thing they’re using to disguise themselves is a mask, or how Takuto always relies on asspulls to win most of the time. Sure it’s illogical, and the show’s staff never really tries to explain or defend themselves, but they just kind of assume you’ll roll with it, for the sake of the ride. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. A lot of popular shows and movies (such as Inception) will just kind of skim around logic, but don’t ever try to pretend they’re right. It’s all for the sake of the experience and entertainment.

What I actually liked most about Star Driver, though, was the experience in watching the show outside of the show. What I mean is all of the discussions and livestream threads that were going on. To put it more basically, I loved Star Driver’s fanbase. Everyone was always cool with each other, and the number of times I’ve seen chain replies of “(ノゝ∀・)~キラ☆ KIRABOSHI!” somewhere on the Internet was too large to count.

You could argue that it’s biased or dumb to rate a show higher based on the fanbase, but think about it. The show itself actually has a huge part in determining how the fanbase acts and behaves, not to mention these fanbases wouldn’t even exist in the first place without the show. Your experiences with a show when you’re watching it and when you aren’t are factors in my book.

Of course I know not everyone watches the show as it airs. While I haven’t taken the time to consider if the experience would be any different for marathoning the show rather than watching it spaced out, Star Driver is just one of those shows where if you watch it with a buddy or two, at the end you’ll turn to each other and say, “Dude, that was fucking awesome.”

RATING: 10 out of 10.

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2 Comments on “Review: Star Driver”

  1. Well I certainly can’t rate it as high as you did. I gave it a 7 out of 10, and that’s being generous.

    The critics you spoke of were right, nothing seemed to happen and nothing really mattered. The story made it feel like the three main characters were all that was important and after giving myself time to fully digest the show, I find that a bit of a shame. The three characters were interesting in their own way I suppose but I could never really connect the relevance of what was going on to anything else other than the three main characters. Even the threat of the cybodies being introduced to the rest of the world possessed no real significance or danger. Plus it felt all the side characters were, and I feel intentionally, thrown aside in the plot to serve the interests of the three main characters, which was pretty lame. Just think about Takuto’s dad, totally underdeveloped and basically, was only there for his son to get “one good punch” in.

    When this happens it just makes you feel like you’re wasting your time. Especially so, for a 25 episode show.

    That’s not to say I completely loathed the show by any means and I do agree that it did make for a decent ride now and then, with the animation and the corny theatrics, but without any sort of compelling story or characters, it was more slow tractor than fun roller coaster.

    Lastly, it might be safe to say that marathoning the show did indeed hurt it’s chances of enacting a riveting climax as compared to watching week to week because you can quickly realize how repetitive and ultimately uninspiring the show was after having to sit through all those episodes.


    • Riyoga says:

      Well… that’s unfortunate.

      I felt like each episode helped me get to know at least one of the characters a bit more, so I always felt like something was going on. It may just be my love for dialogue talking (pun possibly intended). Plus, I loved the Fish Girl sequences. That small tease of some bigger picture to all the ridiculousness going on, the storybook fashion in which it was told, I’m a sucker for that stuff.
      Oh, and there was that whole “history repeats itself” theme going on, too.

      Yeah, the side characters weren’t as important, but they’re side characters, so it didn’t bother me at all. They all had some kind of quirk to them, and it made them work for me. Could they have done more? Sure, but you could honestly say that for anything about any show. I just drew a line as I watched the show, and it stayed firmly on it.

      Good to know marathoning it didn’t help it at all. I suppose watching the casts quirkiness was more entertaining once a week, rather than readily having the show available to watch.

      Honestly, I mainly like the show because it was fun. It hardly took itself seriously, so yeah, there was no real sense of danger or the like, but it was just good, camp fun. It wasn’t another “I’M YELLING THE JOKE AT YOU ARE YOU LAUGHING YET” comedy, a retarded ecchi, or a boring Shana clone. It was unique, colourful fun.

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