Andy W. Hol saved Aquarion EVOL from mediocrity.
He isn’t the only great thing about this series. I loved Fudo’s puns/koans/whatevers. I loved the ridiculous fight scenes. I loved that frog doll, and was supremely disappointed when it turned out there was an invisible girl holding it. I was totally hoping it was just a frog with mecha pilot skills. But it was Andy who made this show for me.
It’s the whole hole thing. He doesn’t just have the power to dig. His entire outlook on life is based around his power. Digging is his identity, and the way he’s characterized is brilliantly focused on this one trait. He’s the guy who wants to break down barriers the most, and he does so through tunneling under that wall separating the guys and girls. His hole shtick ties into the donut metaphor so prevalent early in the series, showing that what’s absent is just as important as what’s present. It even makes for a cool visual cue as he sinks into the ground when in despair. He has a simple gimmick, but it’s carried out to its full potential, and it makes him the most sympathetic and interesting character in the whole series.
Then they go and top it off by having his counter-point be a girl whose power is to literally fill holes, except she has a metaphorical “hole” in her heart. So the dude who digs holes– who at times finds the very concept of filling a hole tantamount to death– finds his greatest character moment as he fills someone else’s hole. Andy and Mix’s relationship does a better job of illustrating all of the yin-yang shit going on in this series than anything else happening. Holes make this series whole.
But yeah, everything else in the series is decent enough. My biggest gripe was the lack of real villains. This series needed a serious dose of monster of the week to spruce things up. Those initial fights with Kagura and Jin had that vibe to them. They brought new tricks each time they faced off against the Aquarion kids, but after a certain point all of that was tossed aside. We needed more guys from the other world to come over, each with their own gimmick. We needed more confrontations between the various Aquarion kids and forces from the other side. We needed real rivalries beyond Amata and Kagura. We needed to see all of these cool powers get a real badass moment where only one guy or girl’s power could save the day. Fujoshi girl’s rotting powers needed a chance to show off. The same with “southern” dude and a few others. These cool tricks were set up, but there was little payoff. It wasn’t anticlimactic, it was just wasted. Thankfully, when stuff did happen, it was pretty damn awesome. The best bit was probably the banana episode, with the whole hot spring thing. Won’t go too much into it, but yeah, that episode pretty much nailed everything that this series did right.
In the end, all this ridiculous stuff helped stave off the series’ relentlessly positive, hopeful, sickening attitude. If Aquarion didn’t have dudes compelling men to murder one another with music, diseases that turn women into men, and everything resembling a stuffed animal being called a “cat,” I don’t think I would have liked it. This is an example of style over substance, and that style is brilliantly whacked.