SoltyRei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Solty Rei is a series that delivers once it grows the beard, but takes almost 10 episodes to do so.

Before that the show is almost confused as to whether it is comedy or serious drama. The jump between episodes can be severe, eg a deadly serious episode followed by the egregious fan service [1] of the poolside episode. [2]

It is also startling to see the number of shout outs in the character and mecha designs [3]. Kenichi Sonoda doing the conceptual work for Solty Rei explains a lot of this. [4] The Blade Runner references [5] are possibly overdone.

Once it does settle down, Solty Rei just gets better and better. It tackles a number of issues I haven’t seen often in anime such as adoption, and the identity issues around suddenly finding out that you were adopted.

From another angle much, if not most, of the story is about a reluctant adoption that grows into a strong father-daughter bond.

Issues of grief and loss are also seriously tackled, including a lost weekend as the bottle is used to avoid facing the unpleasant truth.

It helps that Roy Revant’s character design is little short of a masterpiece, particularly when he is vulnerable. The transitions from tough bounty hunter to a man shattered by grief are particularly well done.

Naturally the world doesn’t stop while the characters have to deal with these issues, and there is an overarching plot with conspiracies, villains, and some fascinating worldbuilding. Some of the plot twists are a little pat though, but this is a fairly minor flaw.

The ending is worthwhile, but like Xam’d involves a “where are they now” epilogue many years later, and you do need to watch past the end credits to see the real end.

There is a two parter that was dropped from the chronological sequence around episode 9. These are presented as bonus material after the last main episode. I would tend to recommend watching them in this order as otherwise they would delay the show settling down into the serious arc.

It doesn’t hurt that the opening credit song Clover by Meg Rock is fabulous.

With the exception of the fan service, the gender roles are fairly good in this show. The ladies are by and large good at what they do, and even the Yamato Nadeshiko character isn’t afraid to kick some ass when necessary. [6]

I would recommend this overall, but just be aware that your reaction to the first 10 episodes may be somewhat varied.

[1] Every female character ends up in a swimsuit. To be fair, so do a few of the male characters.
[2] Although I will grant that the fanservice special was also funny with a distinct Warner Brothers style to it.
[3] My immediate reaction on seeing the opening credits was “Hey! Knight Sabers!”
[4] And barring one minor 1996 title that I haven’t seen it is the first anime Sonoda has worked on since Gunsmith Cats (1995) which may explain why I didn’t immediately recognise the style.
[5] A grizzled bounty hunter reluctantly “adopting” an android? Fortunately, it is much better than it sounds.
[6] Given that Miranda Maverick runs a bounty hunter agency this is a good thing. Although I do not want to know where she hides those pistols. And her daughter is going to be a holy terror when she grows up. 🙂