Akiho Senomiya is part of the Central Tanegashima High School Robotics Club and dreams of making a life-sized and fully functional replica of Gunvarrel, a robot from an old TV show. Unfortunately, Akiho and her video game obsessed friend Kaito Yashio are the only two students in the club and are facing challenges making this dream a reality. In order to get funding for their robot and continue to maintain their club, Akiho and Kaito have two goals; the first is to win a local robot battle tournament for the prize money, and the second is to find more members for their club. However, the closer they get to their dreams the more complicated things become, and as they find new members to join the Robotics Club and Gunvarrel nears completion, Kaito discovers several secret documents online with help from an AI program. The documents seem to indicate the existence of a massive conspiracy, and as Kaito and the other Robotics Club members find them, they discover that they maybe in over their heads and in much more danger than they thought.
Robotics;Notes is a solid anime that uses its 22 episodes effectively to balance several plots and the character arcs of its protagonists. I recently lamented that the anime Classroom Crisis had a large cast but didn’t use it effectively, relegating anyone other than the mains to background decoration and comedic fodder. Robotics;Notes avoids this by not only making time for Akiho and Kaito, but giving almost all of its named characters time in the spotlight. This leads to understanding, or at the very least appreciating, most characters that appear in the show. This includes the other Robotics Club members like Subaru the robot tournament enthusiast and Frau the internet slang speaking programmer, but also characters like Doc, the owner of the Robo Clinic who supplies the club with most of their equipment, and Mizuka who offers her vast knowledge to anyone who buys and eats one of the passion fruit nikuman she sells at her shop.
However, this doesn’t mean that the character arcs are perfect as the elaboration results in its own flaws. Akiho and Kaito have very familiar character traits that at this point have become stock standard for anime protagonists. Kaito is the teenager who acts bored and aloof, while Akiho is naively passionate and stubborn. It’s not a deal breaker for the show, but it makes the two of them a lot less interesting than the other characters in Robotics;Notes. There also seems to be a setup for a love triangle (and at one point, almost a love square) that trails off and has no resolution for some of the people involved in said love triangle (or square).
I mentioned previously that Robotics;Notes balances several plot points effectively, and this is true for the most part. The series begins with the Akiho and Kaito entering a robot battle tournament and later escalates into a search for mysterious internet documents that have worldwide consequences, but the development of the Robotics Club’s Gunvarrel project is always a continuous theme. A common occurrence in anime is the existence of a simple premise that eventually evolves into a secondary plot that becomes much more sinister and world threatening. In my personal experience, this leads to disappointment when the A plot of an anime is much more engaging than the B plot. In my case, I was invested in Robotics;Notes for the group of kids making a giant robot in their spare time, trying to scrape by with limited resources to make their dream come true. I was ready to be disappointed when the focus of the show changed, but thankfully my disappointment was mitigated when the plot turned into a cyber treasure hunt story, thanks to the continuous presence of the robot building subplot. So while a part of me wishes for my uncomplicated slice of life drama about kids in a school club building a massive robot without a worldwide calamity to interfere, Robotics;Notes still carries both of its plots well thanks to a steady cast of characters and a clear direction.
Robotics;Notes is a good anime, with polished animation and a clear story goal. The plot is assisted by a large cast of characters that are allowed to have personal motivations and arcs thanks to the show’s 22 episodes, without feeling bloated with unimportant filler. There are also a handful of extras included in the discs, including trailers and openings, as well as a few commentaries with voice actors and directors. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a solid anime with an interesting premise and strong cast, Robotics;Notes is definitely worth a look.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.
© Robotics;Notes Partners Licensed by Fuji TV through FCC to FUNimation® Productions, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.