Review/discussion about: Heavy Object
The heaviest item I have ever picked up was a giant television in my parents’ basement.
Though, at the time, it felt like I was carrying a medium-sized engine rather than a piece of technology that I once played all of my video games on. I distinctly remember picking it up, but, I had so much trouble, my father had to help out. Even then, when it finally got stashed away, the muscles in my arms convulsed from the strain.
That either says a lot about the TV or a lot about me. Probably both.
Regardless, it weighs nothing compared to the monstrosities created within Heavy Object. I’m talking pounds versus tons. Hundreds of thousands of tons. But more than weight, it also has tons of problems, too.
Heavy Object places Qwenthur and Havia, a student abroad and a radar analyst, in the battlefield of war. However, in this day and age, wars are not fought between foot soldiers but rather huge, hulking, and heavy machines codenamed Objects.
To see these Objects in action, the anime partitions itself into many mini arcs. Each arc, not lasting longer than three episodes and adopting crazy-long titles, follows the same pattern. The Legitimate Kingdom’s (the good guys) Object shows up and cannot succeed on its own. Qwenthur and Havia do the majority of the grunt work. And everybody lives happily ever after.
For twenty-four episodes.
It makes one wonder how this country survived without Qwenthur and Havia since they pretty much win every single battle by themselves. It also causes some frustration with the action. Milinda, the pilot for Baby Magnum (the Object owned by the Legitimate Kingdom), almost never destroys an enemy Object and vice versa. In essence, this leads to a lot of repetition and frustration when the battles involve little more than two giant balls rotating about each other while their artillery, gunfire, and lasers continually miss.
To be fair, each encounter manages to differentiate itself from the others even if they are more or less the same set of events. For example, “The Graveyard of Junk is a Mountain of Rare Metals” sees Qwenthur infiltrating the inside of the Object to stop the Elite that pilots it. And “Tom Thumb Races Through the Oil Field” sees Qwenthur trekking underwater to blow up mines being dragged along by the enemy Object.
Plus, the anime diversifies its setting. Yes, it has a few extra snowy locales, but the anime makes an effort to have the war take place within a dense jungle, rough mountains, and an abandoned city. With the change in locale comes different types of Objects and, hence, new solutions that Qwenthur and Havia must concoct.
To be even more fair, the point of Heavy Object’s pattern, the reason why the bro-buddy duo always arrives to save the day, is to support its biggest theme. That theme? To show that man still has purpose despite the overwhelming reliance on Objects.
Qwenthur and Havia represent a “dying breed” of war: troops. With the advent of war doctrines and these technological behemoths, ground support is rarely needed nowadays. On top of this, they can barely do anything against such monstrosities. But these two demonstrate time and again that what man has created, he can destroy.
Admittedly, this theme undergoes a lot of heavy-handedness in the form of swathing exposition. I.e., hearing Havia cry about man being unable to beat machine (when they have literally been proving otherwise) gets tiresome.
The anime attempts to tackle other themes, such as the darker side of war (notably rape) and the loss of comrades. But these ideas either undergo the same overt explanation or are only briefly thought about without exploration.
Stepping back from the themes and looking solely at the plot developments, the anime sees trouble here as well. Frankly, a lot of the plot points come out of nowhere. The “Mirror of Truth” in the final arc. The spy planted by the Legitimate Kingdom during “The Coal Mine Littered with Stacks of Money.” The so-called “Blind Net” that terrorists were aiming to destroy to attack a resort on the moon. These are just a few examples of the anime coming up with material on the spot.
Simultaneously, the anime can demonstrate a bit of writing know-how. From those same examples, the anime takes advantage of characters or ideas introduced beforehand, making the outcomes feel logical. Like when Qwenthur uses diamonds he stole from that mine or when the villain in the final arc is the same guy they let live earlier in the season. In other words, the plot points start off awkwardly but end up nicely.
Lastly, the anime loves to include sexual moments. More specifically, the anime centers a lot of its comedy and downtime on shenanigans involving a naked Frolaytia or a “mission” to out the boys’ smut stash. Not ecchi but rather provocative. And that makes sense – two boys cooped up in the military gives the sex much-needed context. To put it differently, having this material around does not detract from the experience but instead improves it.
All in all, the anime may not be much more than comedy, action, and sex. But when it does try to be more than that, it cannot carry itself.
The art and animation for Heavy Object teeters on the edge between passable and not quite so.
The Objects themselves are rather dull. They are hunks of metal with giant cannons attached to them. Cool, but, when each one more or less has the same look, with minor variations in dull colors, they aren’t the most pleasant entities in the anime. Although, to be fair, the CGI used to create the objects looks acceptable, maybe even nice, a majority of the time.
Locations are likewise lackluster. Mountainous regions and dense forests are arguably atmospheric, but they do not lend themselves to minute details, inducing the same sense of repetition as the Objects. Plus, more often than not, the areas are vast and open, leaving even less room for artistic flexibility.
Actual animation tends to stray somewhere around average. Explosions explode in a fiery mass of smoke and debris. The Objects strafe, jump, and cruise appropriately. And Frolaytia gets a few extra frames for her breasts and poses to up her sexuality.
The rest of the anime, however, does not stand out. Qwenthur and Havia run around a lot, they do a lot of speaking. But nothing impressive. Nothing awful either (at least, no notable dips). Just an average amount of body movements and facial expressions.
The character designs are the same way with a few exceptions. To be fair, Qwenthur and Havia are somewhat meant to be the all-around Joes. Meaning their short-cropped hair and regular physiques go along with their every-man personas. But their change in gear, depending on the area, comes only with barest of details. “Ohoho” gets her fake design and her actual design, a switch the anime uses for nice comedic effect.
Frolaytia, though, deserves the biggest mention. Her silver hair, tight officer’s uniform, sharp, purple eyes, personal pipe, and bountiful assets turn her into a commander worth leading others and lusting after.
Every other design, however, does not reach the same level. Milinda’s bob-cut blonde hair and purple-and-blue attire, while cute, does not catch the eye. And the rest of the cast are just too plain to mention. Admittedly, that may be the point – despite the Objects, the setting is a realistic one – but they still do not make for enticing designs.
The cast of Heavy Object have a major problem: little is known about them.
The characters who receive the most time are Frolaytia and Havia. Frolaytia decided to join the military to escape the hungry eyes of hormonal men. In essence, her genetics (specifically her ability to create heirs) has made her much sought after. Not as a person or a woman but as an object to continue the family heritage of her “potential” suitors.
Her backstory makes her tough personality and harsh leadership easier to understand; she simply hates being looked down upon. Sadly, that’s the extent of her character. Every other time she’s on screen is used to showcase her sexuality: bending over while playing pool, groaning in the gym, and so on. Even when her backstory turns into a plot point, the anime makes fondling her breasts and calling her a slut the answer to her problem.
Havia is not that much better. As the lesser half to the best-friend pair, he is actually in line to take over as head of his family. Meaning he did not have to join the military. But he chose to anyway as a way to learn and grow and become stronger.
He, more so than Qwenthur, is the funny man, cracking jokes whenever possible. He also acts as the voice of reason. Where Qwenthur is always gung-ho about diving into yet another Object quarrel, Havia argues against the decision, citing the scale, the difficulty, or any other relevant factor that will surely lead to his and his best friend’s demise.
And despite his perverted tendencies and love of women, he betrothed himself to the daughter of a rival family, indicating a sense of maturity that one does not often associate with him.
Similar to Frolaytia, however, Havia does not get much more than this. Indeed, he’s the “lesser half” because Qwenthur usually gets most of the glory. Granted, this imbalanced praise is a joke that the anime uses – Havia getting mistreated does make for some nice comedy – but he rarely gets the commendations he deserves.
Speaking of Qwenthur, even less is known about him. He is a student training and learning in order to become an Object designer. Suffice it to say that his time destroying said Objects has certainly given him a lot of knowledge. Most of the time, though, he spends joking with Havia, staring at Frolaytia, or helping Milinda. Other details are given, such as a father who works for a living or his knack for quick thinking, but his character does not extend beyond these details.
Believe it or not, Milinda has it even worse. Perhaps the worst. She is an Elite, a specialized soldier who controls Objects. Technically a princess, her unemotional personality and unique lifestyle has kept her separated from others. In short, she’s lonely.
Qwenthur turns into her romantic love interest, but that goes nowhere. In fact, her loneliness hardly changes. She is always in the Baby Magnum (and being useless), so she rarely interacts with him. Doubly so for Frolaytia, Havia, and the other characters. She gets next to no backstory, her relationships do not change, and she does not develop as a person. The most the anime gives about her character has to be gleaned from (both of) the ED visuals. Her only role is to pilot the Legitimate Kingdom’s object and occasionally provide a different brand of sexuality.
Still, it’s difficult to call the cast awful when the anime focused on exactly what it wanted to be: a high-action anime featuring two bros, some sexy girls, and a ton of tech. But it still would have been beneficial to see them affected more by their situation, by the outcomes, and by each other.
The music for Heavy Object is arguably its weakest category.
At the minimum, the first opening track and the voice acting performances are worthy of some props. What the first OP does well is combining coolness with a twinge of comedy (in the first half) and a triumphant tone (in the second half). The hard rock, catchy beat, and mixture of both Japanese and English lyrics also contribute to the overall strength of the piece.
As for the voice acting performances, while not top-of-the-line or stand-out, they make the cast fun to listen to throughout. Natsuki Hanae as Qwenthur and Kaito Ishikawa as Havia work well in tandem, providing fast-paced dialogue segments, lots of yelling, and occasional swearing. Shizuka Itou as Frolaytia does not speak fast or yell or swear all that much, but she brings the sex appeal with a sultry voice nonetheless. And while Eri Suzuki as Milinda has a nice monotone way of speaking, she is not around enough to make much of an impact.
The rest of the music finds trouble. The second OP tries to replicate what the first OP did, but it fails. It’s still hard rock, triumphant, and filled with both Japanese and English lyrics. But, this time, the beat is not as catchy, the triumph is not as thrilling, and the singing sounds clunky, out-of-place.
Listening to the ending tracks makes it obvious how different in tone they are from their OP counterparts. Focusing on happiness, the first ED still uses guitar and drums, but the piece backs itself with quieter vocals and a pleasant piano. Unfortunately, the first half is too tame and the second half somewhat comes out of nowhere with emotion – i.e., the two halves do not mesh well together. At the minimum, the last few notes – with just the piano and the singer – make for a sweet little ending.
The second ED, similar to the second OP, follows its former self. Happiness is still the main feeling, but this track has better flow, using background singers, violins, and a tighter transition between the first and second halves. It ends with not as sentimental a note, the vocalist is not a powerhouse, and the track as a whole is pretty boring. But it at least stands taller than the first ED and the second OP.
Last but (maybe) not least, the original soundtrack consists of many a track comprised of lots of techno beats and effects and compositions. A decision made mainly to coincide with the cool-tubular-awesome vibe of the anime – two bros hanging out on a battlefield filled with guns and hot girls. Overall, though, the OST does not leave any lasting impressions despite how fitting it may be.
I had one constant positive that I always looked forward to with this one: Frolaytia. She was a goddess. I loved every scene she was in; I couldn’t get enough of her. She was sexy and tough and amazing.
I also quite liked Qwenthur and Havia’s relationship. Their bickering about what to do or where to go was a lot of fun. It managed to feel as though they really were best bros forced to take part in a bunch of high-stakes missions. Havia making a snide comment, Qwenthur responding back with a witty line. One of my favorite moments with them has Havia tackling Qwenthur to the ground once Havia learns that Qwenthur fondled Frolaytia’s bosom (to help her out of a bind). They made for a silly duo whose exploits had me laughing from time to time.
Action-wise, I was not too enthralled. In the beginning, when the prospect of Qwenthur and crew going up against these massive Objects was fresh, it was a bit interesting to watch. But as the season progressed, it started to drag as the action became more of the same.
However, I will give praise to the “The Graveyard of Junk is a Mountain of Rare Metals” arc. The anime used Qwenthur’s safety word and the semi-love-triangle between him, Milinda, and Ohoho (actual name apparently unknown, which is funny in itself) to make for some really solid episodes.
Speaking of romance, it would have been nice for romance to have more of a foothold in the show. Especially since it is hinted at with both Qwenthur (with Milinda) and Havia (with Lady Vanderbilt, the rival family’s daughter). That route was technically one the anime had no interest in pursuing, but since the feelings were there, I wanted more.
Heavy Object does have positives. Frolaytia and the consistent bro-buddy presentation chief among them. But the negatives overshadow whatever strengths it may have. A misshapen plot, boring art, unexplored characters, lame music, and boring action. In other words, the anime suffers under its own weight.
Story: Bad, lots of action and sex, but the semi-repetitive material, overt handling of its themes, and the shaky plot points cloud those aspects
Animation: Bad, boring art style, about average actual animation, okay character designs
Characters: Bad, Qwenthur, Havia, Frolaytia, and especially Milinda are either lacking in characterization or receive too little of attention, but, considering the focus of the anime, these problems are not a complete deal-breaker
Sound: Bad, good first OP, bad second OP, bad first ED, bad second ED, bad OST, okay VA performances
Enjoyment: Fine, Frolaytia was a goddess, Qwenthur and Havia’s relationship was fun, but the action itself was boring
Final Score: 3/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3