This Star Ain’t Fabulous Enough (Yet)
The first thing that came to mind when I started watching Star Driver was “Star Driver? Is that anything like that Tori Amos song where she sings about being a Starfucker?”
Apparently I wasn’t too far off.
Star Driver’s all about sex, violence, and camp. The bad guys seem to use sex as a device to get their minions to do their bidding, just like any good cult/conspiracy. Part of their conspiracy is about “breaking ” maidens, as if they need to rob them of their virginity or something to attain their goal. Power through sex and all that shit. Robots fight each other, breaking and busting shit like two horny animals fighting over the choice female of the herd or whatever. Hell, the first bad guy was a bull with a cock ring while the second one essentially replayed the “quicker is better” sex metaphor from the first episode of Panty and Stocking. And in the midst of all of this, the show is willing to go over the top and not take itself too seriously.
By all accounts I should be loving the fuck out of this series. And I am digging it, mind you, but it isn’t quite grabbing me as much as it should.
I think part of it has to do with the music. Part of what got me into Utena, Star Driver’s closest relative, was the ritualistic songs that played during the duels. They helped amplify the surrealism of what was going on and added another layer of awesomeness with their mythological references and whatnot. With Star Driver we get some shitty autotune song sung by a chick in a cage while the fights play out fairly typically for a robot show. Said fights are well-animated, but they’re lacking in the same imagery we got from Utena (Although motorcycle dude’s fight approached that level of metaphor.). I hate to say “Utena did it better” or whatever, but I can’t help but think that’s part of it. You gotta go all out, and that’s one area where Star Driver’s holding back far too much.
I think the series will rectify this next bit, but we need to see more of the bad guys. That scene where they’re meeting and discussing what to do about Takuto was fucking awesome. A lot of that had to do with the sheep-like cheering coming from the audience. This scene let us know that far more people than initially believed are in on this conspiracy. This isn’t Utena’s Student Council, this is a campus-wide movement. While we can see who the leaders are, we aren’t entirely sure who may be an agent. Maybe one of the main characters befriends someone only to have them betray them later, or maybe there’s a “sleeper agent” amongst the drama club kids. That scene raised a bunch of questions and is going to lead to some healthy paranoia about any potential character’s motivations. But we need more of this. I know we’re only two episodes in, but this is the aspect of the show that needs to be played up more.
Star Driver just isn’t crazy enough yet. If it’s willing to push the camp and ridiculousness even further, it’ll likely become my favorite show of this season. But if it lingers around and sticks with its current level of “almost there but never quite enough,” it’ll be yet another missed opportunity. A decent one at that, but still a missed opportunity. At least it’s trashy in all the right ways.