Writer/Artist: Tow Ubukata
Translated by: Translation by Design
Adapted by: Translation by Design
What They Say
The youth of Tatsumiya Island lived ordinary lives, but their peaceful existence was all a lie. The invasion of the Festum, the shining golden enemy, transforms their peaceful island into a high-tech military fortress.
Toh Ubukata, the Fafner series organizer and script writer, novelizes the anime series! The beginning of a whole new Fafner, this novel includes the thoughts of Soshi, Maya, Shoko and more that didn't appear in the anime series along with battles of the Fafner and Festum in Ubukata's exciting style.
Anime fans of robot shows should be familiar with the Fafner series. It should be no surprise that a story about teenagers piloting robots to protect their island from invading aliens was produced by the same person responsible for Evangelion. The prolific Ubukata, who has worked in game design, anime production, manga series and novels, was brought into the production of Fafner to work with the staff in creating the story. Once the anime story was completed, Ubukata was given free reign to write the corresponding novel, Fafner: Dead Aggressor.
Ubukata’s freedom to do what he wanted with the Fafner novel created a story that seems to be a different side of the same coin. A single book could not hope to cover the length of the anime series, so that in itself would force Ubukata to write about a portion of the original story. In addition, Ubukata tends to do a fair amount of tweaking to stories that have different incarnations. His other work on Le Chevalier D’Eon is a good example of how his work in the anime and manga versions created two mirror stories with different secondary characters.
The Fafner story is about the teenage children of a small Japanese island. They seem like the children of any small town anywhere in the world. They attend school, play sports and some have affectionate crushes on their classmates. However, all this changes one day when their island is attacked by an unknown enemy. This attack not only destroys the peaceful lives of the island’s inhabitants, it also shatters the world the children believed they lived in.
The island’s top teenage athlete, Kazuki, and his friends are pulled into an underground complex they never knew existed by their classmate, Soshi. Soshi has always been intelligent and mature for his age, but his classmates would have never believed he would be directly involved with the secret lives of their parents and a military complex designed to protect the island. The way this portion of the story is approached by its creators is quite interesting. All the children of the island have been undergoing hypnotic learning about the truth behind their world. They have learned about the destruction of the outside world, the fact that their island is a floating fortress moving through the seas to evade alien invaders bent on destroying all humans, and the military aspect of the island’s technology. Once the children enter the underground complex, Alvis, their ‘Level’ of understanding is unlocked, the understanding level depending on how much the adults want each child to know. The higher the Level of release, the more the children know about the real world.
Soshi has always had the highest Level of awareness, no small burden to live with for a teenager. Because of the attack, Kazuki’s Level is increased higher than the other kids because his athletic ability will be needed to pilot a massive robot against the invaders. Everything happens so fast that Kazuki gets pulled along in the riptide of war. This leads to the second aspect of this story that I found interesting. To pilot the robot and bring out the best in a soldier, each pilot has a ring placed on each of his or her fingers. These rings pierce the nerves in their fingers and tap into the ‘reptilian’ portion of the human brain. The idea is that the ‘reptilian’ portion of the brain houses the primal fight for survival instincts of man. It is a clever idea and one that plays well against the seemingly mindless attacks of the aliens.
After that first battle, many of Kazuki’s classmates are pulled into military service. Some pilot robots while others work in the medical, research, or tactical fields. The lead up to this part of the story sometimes felt slow, but eventually everything rolls right along. Young adults are forced to struggle with a world of death and their confusing feelings of love for each other. All this before they are old enough to graduate from high school or even experience their first love and heartbreaks.
While this book struggles with the slower parts, I did find it interesting to see more of what happened in the characters younger years. In addition, Ubukata reveals much more of Kazuki’s inner struggle with himself and how he interacts with his father and friends than the anime examined. All in all not a bad book, but those familiar with the Fafner will probably appreciate this novel more than the average reader.