A mecha anime that has fanservice for both male and females, based in high school slice of life, has references to other anime, magical-esque, transformations, catchy insert songs, references outside of anime, and all the while maintaining an interesting plot; this is Star Driver.
Did I just take acid?
The animation of the series is well done, and the stick people aren’t as bad as they are in other series and I like the unique way the mechs are depicted in this series, even if it's campy. The one thing to note is how colorful the series is, I think they may have used every color currently known to the human race in this series. The extensive use of color is most prominent on the Cybodies and the decoration of Zero Time. If that’s not enough color for you some of the Cybodies have weapons called “Star Swords” which are based off gemstones. And of course Takuto’s battle uniform makes you wonder if the people who created the Cybody system think of practicality.
Foreground left to right: Takuto, Sugata, Wako
The series is trying to answer the question what happens when you put Lelouch, as Sugata (Jun Fukuyama) and Light, when he didn’t have his Death Note memories, as Takuto Tsunashi (Mamoru Miyano) after the same girl Wako Agemaki (Saori Hayami) on an island that looks suspiciously like Rokkenjima from Umineko. Sugata is a soft-spoken megane who is engaged to Wako via an arranged marriage, but he doesn’t seem to care much. The arranged marriage is hardly even brought up within the series except to create drama. His foil and protagonist Takuto is outgoing and challenges himself and comes off as a complete dunce. However, from time to time you get the feeling that he may have a deeper character. There are plenty of secondary characters but to analyze them in detail would take far too long and most of them get swept under the rug anyway, wasting a lot of character development on them and creating needless extra corners on the main love triangle.
Interspersed with the love triangle drama we have Cybody battles which take place in “Zero Time” between Takuto and the Glittering Crux who are trying to make the Cybodies able to be used outside of Zero Time. They accomplish this by “breaking” the seals of four maidens, yeah that's only the first of many veiled references. These battles usually happen once an episode and sometimes seem to serve no other purpose than to remind you that there are mechs in this series, particularly in the beginning. As the series progresses they become more integrated. However, without these this series would be simply just another slice of life high school anime. To make up for it they like to splash in references to other mecha anime including Evangelion, Gundam Wing series, and Gurren Lagann. They also make references to “The Little Prince” and the Phoenician alphabet for those who want more obscure references.
Overall the plot has a very good start and makes you wonder where they’re going, but in the end it fails to deliver any resolution to any plot line introduced in the beginning and instead devotes itself to solving a plot line barely hinted at in the beginning and really only brought to light in the last five episodes! The only plot from the beginning that is resolved actually begs more questions than answers and for this it gets a 3.5/5. The interesting plot and fight scenes are canceled out by the lack of resolution in the plot and even the penultimate fight scene is quite dull.