Brave Bang Bravern! – Episode 1

By: Cy Catwell January 19, 20240 Comments
giant red mech

Content Warning: Gun violence, mass death, militarism

What’s it about? Lewis Smith and Ao Isami are on opposite sides of the world and its militarized forces: Lewis, a U.S pilot, and Isami, Japan’s ace. Together, they make up friendly, yet commanding, soldiers from two impactful countries. Yet on a seemingly peaceful day, unknown invaders come to earth, forcing Lewis and Isami to take up arms and take charge, changing their lives forever…

I feel like the assumption on the internet is either you’re into mechs or not, but I find myself in the middle: fascinated by their real-world utility, fascinated by their fictional, fantastical use, and quietly curious all around. I suppose that’s a bit why I picked Brave Bang Bravern! Or… that’s what I’d like to say. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know this was a mecha anime until near its late premiere; but let me tell you, that may just be the best discovery this season.

Japanese mecha launch an attack.

Episode 1 starts off in the midst of battle: the sky is overcast, the sea is choppy, and the sound of mechanics fill the air as one Lewis Smith activates his mech and launches into the fierce volley of war. It’s all hands on deck and guns blazing as the USA engages with Japan, activating a range of missiles, anti-air barrages, and more. Clearly, there’s some level of beef between Japan and the USA…or is there?

Turns out this is all a practice session between fellow G7 countries, mere practice with the world’s newest tools of war in Waikiki. Peace seems to mostly reign, at least right now: Japan and the USA have a still friendly relationship. But then the plot kicks in and the unknown arrives, slaughtering millions across the world with their otherworldly approach. Worse, these alien invaders have their own mechs, stylized by organic shapes cast in a venomous pink and stark white. Looks like it’s up to two of the G7 to save the day…

Things come to a halt in a mock battle between Japan and the USA.

It would be a disservice to not talk about the big machine in the room, i.e. BBB’s mechs. They’re pretty good little guys, and while I’m not a fan of weaponry, I have to admit, I really like them. They remind me a lot of the mecha often shown in Sakura Wars in terms of shape and build. There’s definitely some stylization here—BBB!’s mecha have a very clean, angular style–and honestly, that looks pretty good in their CG style. Overall two thumbs up from me. But that’s not really the most interesting thing here, nor is the really cool alien geometry from Earth’s newest invaders.

It’s the fact that, for me, Japan has military capabilities.

One thing I found interesting is that this isn’t a new branch of the military for Japan; instead, it’s the real-life Self-Defense Force, and they seem to be acting on the level of a full-militarized nation. I wonder if the politics and ramifications of them having active weaponry–currently, as of 2024, Japan has a specific form (rather, lack) of militarization due to Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution–will be explored. I’m not sure it will, though it would certainly find a place here seeing as mecha anime have always been political and always had something to say about the nature of war. I’d really like to see BBB! Explore that but I worry since that it just…won’t. I worry that the alien plot, which vibes a bit like Independence Day, will overtake any talk of the politics of the show.

An alien battle ship approaches Earth through a wormhole.

Brave Bang Bravern! is an interesting premiere: it feels more setup than most, and while we get the inciting incident, it also has a very mellow vibe up until shit hits the fan. That lull kind of makes things feel sluggish in a way, even though there’s a lot of action. Still, the twist ending to this episode is enough to make me hand-wave away some of the lulls in exchange for some dynamic sound and transformation scenes with absolutely rocking music. (Including the fact that one of the mecha has its own theme song, which YES!)

Episode 2 is already available, and I think it’s going to be worth diving in. It’ll likely move past the massive amount of setup done in the premiere and hopefully start to explore the why of an alien invasion: why is this an attack versus a meeting across the stars; why now, and why Earth? These are all questions that I hope this show answers over its run. Currently, this is slated for twelve episodes, as far as I know: time will tell if it can fit a dynamic, satisfying story into that length.

For now, I’m going to add Brave Bang Bravern! to my roster this season. I’d like to see it follow in the canon of mecha anime before it, exploring the nature of war while also showing us some really cool machines.

About the Author : Cy Catwell

Cy Catwell is a Queer Blerd journalist and JP-EN translation & localization editor with a passion for idols, citypop, visual novels, and the iyashikei/healing anime genre.

You can follow their work as a professional Blerd at Backlit Pixels, get snapshots of their out of office life on Instagram at @pixelatedrhapsody, and follow them on their Twitter at @pixelatedlenses.

Read more articles from Cy Catwell

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