Anime Caw of Fame

Caw of Fame Review: Chrome Shelled Regios

What’s it mean to be in the Caw of Fame? It’s a take-off on Hall of Fame, and since crows make the sound “caw…”

Well, I think it’s funny.

For a series to earn this “honor,” it has to meet these two criteria: the last episode has to have debuted at least a year ago and I have to like the series. A lot. As in re-watching it over and over.

Without any more fanfare, please welcome Chrome Shelled Regios to the Caw of Fame!

Chrome Shelled Regios: What’s it About?

Felli Loss, a Nen-I operator, sees Mayshen in danger and broadcasts a telepathic plea for help. Capture from the Funimation stream.
Felli Loss, a Nen-I operator, sees Mayshen in danger and broadcasts a telepathic plea for help. Capture from the Funimation stream.

Chrome Shelled Regios takes place in desolate and destroyed world. Humans cannot survive for long in the wild, so most of them congregate in gigantic mobile cities called Regios. Not only is the world inhospitable, but it’s full of savage creatures called Contaminoids. They come in all shapes and sizes. The smallest can kill a human; the largest can destroy a Regios. Despite the odds, humanity struggles onward in part through diversity. Some cities excel at combat and authority, like Glendan, whose Queen rules over the Heavens Blades. They are gifted warriors who wield weapons far beyond what a normal human could handle. Other cities, like Zuellni, are mobile universities. Each Regios is managed and controlled by its own Electronic Spirit. Zuellni takes the shape of a small and mischievous girl when she appears to her people.

Sometimes, two Regios will meet and conduct a dangerous and sometimes lethal game of capture the flag. The winner takes resources from the loser. The world is harsh, so the Regios have to compete for dwindling resources. As Chrome Shelled Regios begins, Zuellni had just lost such a competition, and she was down to a single mine containing critical natural resources.

Characters and Plot

As soon as he rescued Mayshen, Layfon knew the he'd not be able to hide his abilities. Capture from the Funimation stream.
As soon as he rescued Mayshen, Layfon knew the he’d not be able to hide his abilities. Capture from the Funimation stream.

The series opens with Layfon Alseif riding a roaming bus across the wasteland. Those buses travel between the giant Regios, which stride across the desolate landscape to keep ahead of the huge, hungry, and profoundly dangerous Contaminoids. Layfon’s destination, Zuellni, is an academic city, a mobile university that teaches multiple disciplines. His goal is simple: immerse himself in a general-purpose curriculum, find a basic, entry-level job, keep his head down, and live a quiet life.

Unfortunately, fate (whose reins are now in the hands of the Head of the Student Council, Karian Loss) had a different plan. Even before the entrance ceremony, a fight broke out between two military arts students. Some of the kids run for help. Another new student, Mayshen Torinden, tries to hide as the two combatants tear up the courtyard. Unfortunately, she ends up trapped under a huge porch as the two two fighters accidentally destroy its support pillars. Dozens of meters away, not even paying attention as he walks in the opposite direction, Layfon suddenly hears a voice in his head saying, “Danger! Someone help her!”

Before the roof can crush her, Layfon uses almost inhuman speed to pick her up and shield her from the crashing rubble. Nina Antalk, a military arts student, arrived on the scene expecting to break up the fight. Instead, she stands amazed at Layfon’s feat.

Nina commands a military platoon that just happened to have an opening. She approached Karian to ask that he give Layfon to her for her platoon. All through the conversation, Layfon complained that he just wanted peace; he wanted to stay as far away from the military as possible. He lost the argument. When he reports for Nina’s first training session, he finds that the voice he had heard in his head belonged to Felli Loss, Karian’s sister and a gifted Nen-I operator. Nen-I operators use telepathy to communicate within their platoons. They can also use telekinesis to send out probes to perform reconnaissance across wide areas.

Why did Layfon want to escape his past? Why did he leave his home Regios and travel to Zuellni? Why didn’t hearing a voice in his head seem unusual? How did Karian learn about Layfon’s past, and what’s Karian’s plan for Layfon? These are some of the questions that get the story started.

What I Liked About It

Layfon's worst fear came to pass: Nina, who witnessed him saving Mayshen, wanted him for her military arts platoon. Capture from the Funimation stream.
Layfon’s worst fear came to pass: Nina, who witnessed him saving Mayshen, wanted him for her military arts platoon. Capture from the Funimation stream.

Chrome Shelled Regios captured Layfon’s sense of exhaustion in a way I found compelling. I don’t want to give too much away, so I won’t go into detail. But in his past, he had amazing powers, many of which he still possessed when he arrived in Zuellni. But he had seen enough, and done enough, that he wanted nothing more to do with fighting, or with power, or with politics. He just wanted solitude. When he couldn’t have it, he almost rebelled and left his new friends in the lurch.

Nina’s typical in some ways: she’s gung-ho and competitive. She wants to protect Zuellni, and she wants to lead her platoon to victory in the inner-city competitions. But her experience and strength isn’t necessarily up to the challenge. She grew up in Zuellni, an academic city whose most brutal opponents had been other Regios. She hadn’t seen real combat like Layfon or the Glendan Heavens Blades had seen. The scene when she first faces the Contaminoids is amazing. People all around her are dying; nothing she does even injures the smallest Contaminoids. Faced with an overwhelming foe, what does she as a warrior do?

Later, there’s a great scene where her idealism crashes into Layfon’s realism. She can’t fathom what he’s saying. To her, he sounds like a coward, and to him, she sounds like an idiot. Chrome Shelled Regios is at its best when it gives its characters the leeway to get under each other’s skin ad work through the consequences.

Other characters are interesting, too. Felli Loss, like most Nen-I operators, is an extreme introvert. She, too, is sick of fighting, and she’s sick of her brother manipulating her. Yet she sees a hidden strength in Layfon that captures her imagination and that begins to open her mind to a different perspective on the world. Mayshen, the young woman Layfon rescued in the first episode, falls helplessly in love with him. Yet, among humans, he’s about as inaccessible as they come, and watching her try to overcome that gulf is both dramatic and endearing. Her friend, Naruki Gerni (an aspiring municipal police officer) and Mifi Rotten (a journalism student) encourage Mayshen. They also become friends with Layfon, so there’re some enjoyable scenes as those characters play off each other.

In the sixth episode, Gerni felt guilty for having forced Layfon to help her. But Layfon being Layfon, he was honestly glad to help. Capture from the DVD (available from Amazon).

I thought the soundtrack was powerful and, at times, poignant. I purchased the OP from CD Japan (I have no relationship to them — just thought you might be interested). The multiple versions of the ED were pleasantly full of ennui (“you always told me tender lies,” the ED named Yasashii Uso said).

The costumes and character designs are enjoyable. I love how Felli’s hair glows when she’s using her power.

In some ways, the series is conventional: a main male character, surrounded by powerful, capable, and beautiful women, takes on a brutal and lethal world. Chrome Shelled Regios manages to rise above the standard harem forms largely through the great characters. Gerni starts out as and remains Layfon’s friend; she doesn’t fall in love him any more than Mifi does. They interact and face drama like friends would. His primary love interests are Nina (though she’s the tsundere one who would never admit it), a woman from his home Regios, and Felli. Yet, they don’t fawn over him, and he isn’t completely clueless about their affection (well, maybe with the woman from his home…). Their relationships are more realistic and, for me as a viewer, much more emotionally satisfying.

Even beyond than that, Chrome Shelled Regios deals with a theme that’s always fascinated me: how does someone deal with an absolute ton of natural talent when the expectations of friends, acquaintances, and even the whole world are contradictory? Does great power in and of itself carry certain social responsibilities? Does social injustice within the social framework have any effect on the execution of those responsibilities? What’s the relationship between staying alive and idealism? Or is there any relationship?

I encourage you to give Chrome Shelled Regios a try. It’s streaming on Funimation. Stay with it until episode 5, which is probably my favorite episode in the whole series. If by episode 5 the relationship between Layfon and Felli, and between the two of them and the rest of their platoon, hasn’t captured your imagination, then it probably won’t.

So. What do you think of Chrome Shelled Regios?

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