REVIEW: CHROME SHELLED REGIOS – PART 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: VARIOUS / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: TODD HABERKORN, BRINA PALENCIA, MONICA RIAL, ERIC VALE, GREG AYRES, JERRY JEWELL / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
After a lacklustre first part, Chrome Shelled Regios’ latter half picks up the pace somewhat as the contaminoids swarm around Zuellni, Layfon’s past as a disgraced former Heaven’s Blade comes back on him, and forces seemingly greater than anyone can hope to contain begin to surface.
One of the main problems with the first half of the series was that it largely consisted of inconsequential one-shot stories that did little to advance the narrative or maintain viewer interest. Thankfully, these now make way for multi-episode arcs involving electronic spirits – the consciousness and souls of the various regios – and various people being possessed by fallen ones, the violent and unpredictable electronic spirits of regios that have been destroyed by contaminoids. Although making for far more interesting viewing than the petty bickering of teenagers that has thus far dominated proceedings, the short space of time into which they have been crammed gives them far less of an impact than if they had been spread out over the rest of the series.
With pretty much all the character development we’re going to get out of the way, there is now more focus granted to the series’ intense battle sequences. The action is as vibrant as ever, the transforming weaponry continually variable as warriors perform gravity-defying acrobatics, their auras ablaze with chromatic fury, while the monsters fought are as varied in appearance as they are Lovecraftian in hideousness.
In terms of the animation, the Heaven’s Blades themselves are afforded the most lavish character design, but some of them only appear during an extended battle sequence towards the series’ end. Likewise, the mystical weapons they wield with their variant types and myriad powers are often the biggest appeal of premises like these, but the most we see of them is during said fight, where their spectacular abilities are wasted with mere minutes of screen time.
Further plotlines include the recurring appearance of an arrogant and irritating mercenary leader who calls everyone “bub” in an apparent belief that he’s Wolverine, and who is desperate to prove himself a superior fighter to Layfon and overcome his massive inferiority complex; and regular attacks by a doomsday cult in metallic wolf masks who wish to see their transdimensional deity rise to prominence. Also, the random sepia-toned interludes that appear every couple of episodes are finally given some relevance towards the series’ end. Beginning like a hybrid of '40s noir and '90s action, their development into supernatural horror ties into a vague explanation of how the world came to be a contaminated and abomination-infested wasteland. The series’ ultimate resolution doesn’t tie up all the loose ends, relying too much on viewers’ knowledge of the novel series, but while not furnishing a full explanation, it at least offers enough vague allusions to allow you to draw your own conclusions of what it all means.
While these twelve episodes are an improvement on the meandering first half of the show, they are still constrained by the limitations of the restrictive set up, meaning that the series as a whole remains fundamentally lacking in true significance.