Qualidea Code is a mess. It’s not a mess on the level of last year’s multiple creator disaster Chaos Dragon, but it is a mess nonetheless. Whether it’s a lack of a straight storyline, or some uneven characterization, these first five episodes haven’t done much to instill a whole lot of confidence.
Yet, at the same time, there’s something oddly appealing about this one. Despite the first episode feeling like any other battle harem series opener, with the three cities of Tokyo, Chiba and Kanagawa being protected by their students in a post-apocalyptic environment, it has managed to be different from the norm at the same time.
Focusing on the heads and subheads of each of the aforementioned cities, this series treats itself a lot more seriously than some of these other action series do. This is primarily seen in the way that they’re attempting to tell a story mired in mystery and character depth; although the majority of the characters are too flat to support this.
In particular, these opening episodes have spent their time centered on Ichiya Suzaku and Canaria Utara – the head and subhead respectively of Tokyo.
The hotheaded loner who wishes to save the world with his own strength, Ichiya is about as stereotypical a lead as one can get, but as the first episodes move along it turns out that this series is primed to truly put him through the ringer.
By the end of episode three, Canaria, his subhead and childhood friend who he is clearly in love with despite his acerbic nature towards everyone and everything, suffers from overextending her powers, forcing Ichiya to seek assistance from his students and the other cities (and sparking a change in him). And then comes episode four’s bomb, when Canaria is killed in a post credits sequence (stick around post credits for most of the episodes, there frequently seems to be something).
It’s a great way to actively force a character to evolve and grow, but it’s just too bad that the writing and animation don’t do much to keep up with the potential of these first four episodes. Throughout it comes across as a collection of weak clichés backed up by what is most definitely A-1 Pictures’ worst work in ages.
However, as I’ve mostly avoided discussing episode five, there’s been a subtle shift now that the first third of the series has passed. With the focus shifted from Ichiya to the bubbly, yet troubled, head of Kanagawa Maihime Tenkawa, the fifth episode showed a huge leap in quality in both the writing and characters.
Unlike Ichiya and Canaria, who are your typical battle harem leads, or the head and subhead of Chiba, Kasumi and Asuha Chigusa, who are your typical – although a lot healthier than usual – anime siblings, Maihime and her subhead Hotaru Rindou immediately provide a level of characterization and writing that was missing in the earlier episodes.
As they deal with the aftermath of the death of Canaria, and how Ichiya has degraded almost completely from that, it’s handled with a deft hand that makes the characters far more convincing; despite the death flags being flown throughout the episode.
What has been amazingly consistent in this series has been the audio. The vocal work is top notch, I’m particularly fond of Soma Saito’s work as Ichiya, despite my tepid reaction to the character overall, and Aoi Yuuki’s always lovely as Maihime, but the real star is Taku Iwasaki’s soundtrack.
As the man who created the soundtracks for Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Noragami and Soul Eater (among others), he has put together a great set of music that captures the mood of each scene here. While heavier on vocal tracks than previous soundtracks he has worked on, it manages to make this one distinctive.
Overall though, Qualidea Code has been a mess so far. Inconsistent, particularly in animation and writing, but brimming with potential, it still has time to redeem itself; especially after the great fifth episode.
Episodes 1 – 5 Rating: 6.5/10
Qualidea Code streams new episodes Saturdays on Crunchyroll.