Valvrave the Liberator, Season One – Review

Yeaaaa Valvrave. I had a lot of fun with this one, as I hope is clear in my review. I couldn’t get in all my favorite ridiculous quotes and moments, but Valvrave offers so many that it’d be impossible not to miss some. I also get in some discussion of narrative tension and plot twists that somewhat echoes my earlier post on the subject. The one interesting thing I couldn’t find time to mention was the show’s focus on social media as a form of power – I liked how consistently Valvrave returned to that idea, but since it didn’t really go anywhere and didn’t directly play off any of the other stuff I talked about, I couldn’t find a way to gracefully include it in the review. And the review was long enough as it is – this is close to my longest piece for ANN, actually.

My full ANN review is available here. If you want the loose notes that actually get to revel in Valvrave’s silliness, they’re below!


Episode 1

Humanity’s expanding into space

Dyson Spheres accelerate that process – spheres that surround stars, gaining power from their proximity

The show is bright and colorful

Opening with an eating competition

The character designs are wispy and angular – detailed eyes, lots of fluffy hair

Haruto is the dude, Shoko is the girl

“EHHHH?” count: 1:30

Oh shit, someone already murdered! Things are moving fast

Dorssia and ARUS are the two major nations, apparently?

Emphasizing people using tech to connect to each other – everyone talking by texting. A nice trick

And quickly scanning a huge number of characters

Haruto likes Shoko, of course

Marie is Shoko’s quiet friend

“She’d be a babe if she were quiet.” What a lady’s man Haruto is

The spies here are preeetty obvious

White-hair is clearly a calculator

“I wish we lived in a world where there wasn’t stuff like winning and losing.” OH HARUTO

White-hair HATES compromise… and actually goes over to challenge him on it

“Happiness can’t be split into ‘halfsies’. What will you do if someone hits you even if you don’t want to fight?”

Wow, super professional, crazy superspy

Time for swimsuits!

The show’s disconnect between drama and silliness is already pretty clear

The art is so shiny

And the superspies are in

Haruto’s gonna confess!

L-elf is the white-haired dude

And his commander is basically a space general

“Shoko, I’m in…” BIG EXPLOSION goddamnit these shows

Love confessions interrupted by space invasion. Valvrave in a nutshell

Are the flying craft traditionally animated? Dang

The Dorssians are attacking!

Okay, JIOR is actually the small neutral country

Wow, L-elf just killed like a dozen dudes

Aaand L-elf’s companions are totally nutso

And Shoko gets blown away. Motivation: established

“Shoko, this is no time to be playing hide-and-seek!” This writing

“You just have to accept it! She’s dead!” THIS WRITING



This is a show you kind of have to watch with a sense of humor about the whole thing. It starts pretty dumb

And off he goes in the robot

The robot has katanas, of course

“Do you resign as a human being?” Nice interface

Tech girl uses her internet powers to virally show off the attack on JIOR. I really like that element of the show

“Dying without getting revenge?” That’s not very peaceful of you, Haruto

“If you can’t concede, you have to fight.”

Crazy glowy effects for the mech transformation

“We won’t lose to a military that’s never known war!” Even the random baddies are hamming it up

The mech has a scythe, too? Alright

Wow, the fights look fantastic. Glowing particles and graceful movement. There’s CG, but it’s really well implemented

And Marie just fondles the teacher’s boobs. Okay

They keep focusing on social networking

Stabbed by L-elf! Twists left and right!

“I won again, Lieselotte.”


That first episode. lol

Episode 2

The robot’s Valvrave, of course

L-elf shoots a gun out of his friend’s hand BEHIND HIS OWN BACK, looking the other way. Brilliant work

All of L-elf’s friends’ names are equally ridiculous

Oshit, it’s Haruto in L-elf’s body. TWISTS EVERYWHERE THEY CAN’T STOP TWISTING

And now L-elf’s subordinate gets his own primal scream

The show uses bright colors, deep blues, lots of neon – there’s just a lot of vibrancy in the aesthetic. The robot designs are colorful, too

Dorssia now controls their home

“Why should I hand over my cell to you people?” Cellphones are power

The JIOR homeland has surrendered. “The country of JIOR no longer exists!”

They decide to accept it’s Haruto after rocks-paper-scissors

Wow, lovely sunset shots. Full array of colors

A-drei is the angry, mopy subordinate

Now Haruto’s killing people like crazy too. THIS SHOW IS SERIOUS

“Why did they make it humanoid?” It’s nice to see a scientist asking that about a robot

And now Haruto’s friend is piloting a helicopter. “I guess this doesn’t handle like a bike!”

“This will turn me back to normal?” “That’s how it usually works in the movies.” Makes sense. This whole show runs on Hollywood logic

Sure is fast-paced, though! We’re really running through content at a fun clip

Haruto’s plan is to kick the enemy stronghold until they go away

Space looks so good in this show

Alright, now it’s clear the mech is CG. But it still looks great

And oh my god, those energy shimmers behind it are gorgeous

Great explosions, too. Top notch visual production

A-drei’s gonna fight!

The enemy mechs aren’t humanoids, because why would they be? Again, a nice detail

The kind of show where enemies dramatically announce their superiority and attacks

Rukino’s the black-haired girl


“I didn’t shoot anyone!” actually you shot a lot of people

And crazy subordinate is just excited to fight L-elf


She got in the car, and that protected her. My god, this show

Reception’s pretty bad in spaaaaace

He has to come back to confess! TIME TO FIGHT

The mech goes past 100 heat, and starts moving towards SIX SIX SIX

“What comes after 666.” “POSSIBILITY.” OH MY GOD

I’m not drunk enough for this


And why is L-elf helping him, anyway?

Wow, shiny

The robot commits seppuku to power up

The ARUS fleet has arrived!

Ono, now Haruto thinks he’s a monster!!!1

“Shoko, your t-shirt is lame!” “UWAAAAA”


“I’ve been turned into a freak! I don’t have the right to tell her how I really feel…” HOW COULD SHE EVER LOVE A MONSTER LIKE MEEEEE

Every plot twist elicits half a gasp and half a giggle, but the giggles tend to win out

Episode 3

Dorssia is the new Europe/Asia/Africa (so basically the evil Russian empire), ARUS is the Americas (so basically the useless United States), and Jior, the tiny, peace-loving Japanese middle ground

And L-elf just somehow predicts the next crisis down to every detail, and gives Haruto a cryptic message to figure out about it. This show is DUUUUUMB

The music works pretty well – it’s a little overbearing emotionally, but the whole show is that way, so it works

Senator Figaro of ARUS has come to save JIOR! I bet he’s totally trustworthy

Black-haired girl is determined to turn this into a love triangle

Everyone loves Haruto!

“We’re all safe now!” Hurray, show over

“You kept our brigade of 5000 men held down all by yourself.” Oh L-elf

Shower scene time

“Adults are sleazeballs.” Rukino has baggage


Oshit they said the V word

Figaro wants to talk to Haruto. HMMMmm

Speak to your people, Haruto!

Soccer teams inviting Haruto to their match from the field. Social media is powerful!

Obviously ARUS want to use him as a symbol

“Really losing is when you die.” HARUTO DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THAT

L-elf… unscrews a screw from his chair, throws it into the light above him, uses the falling glass to cut himself free, and murders everyone. “FREEDOM ACQUIRED.” my god

“BLITZENDEGEN.” Yeah alright so they’re the evil Germans

Haruto’s being a willing pawn to avoid fighting

Shoko’s the childhood friend, even

Student council pres, the snooty blond dude, is the big brother of the tech girl


L-elf muttering his CALCULATIONS to himself

He’s like Lelouch and Suzaku at once.

“I can’t believe it took them fifteen minutes to realize I escaped. Proficiency Assessment: E” THIS GUY

Aaand now they just can’t shoot him. And he leaps down a massive shaft, and just… rolls off the end? What?

Now he’s sending dudes into space

Preeeetty explosions

God, this animation’s great


“Next up is an earthquake? Come on, we’re in space.” TIME FOR A SPACEQUAKE

Shoko finds tech girl, bruiser dude finds Haruto

A SMOKE ATTACK! Which… somehow defeats a spaceship. Because obviously spaceships all rely on line-of-sight window technology

Tense guitars and strings! Just standard background music, though

“Plan D7… complete.”

“Make a pact with me, Haruto. We’re going to liberate Dorssia.”

Episode 4

ARUS is going to use JIOR’s technology. No!

L-elf wants to change Galssia FROM THE INSIDE

“With your abilities and the Valvrave, my revolution will come five years earlier.” Once again, a direct line stolen from Geass

Techy girl is freaking out about someone finding her

More about Haruto having to “get his hands dirty”. He’s already killed a bunch of people, though

“My predictions are effectively prophecies.” Yeah, that’s a problem

“We’re not on the same wavelength at all.” Oh L-elf, so cold

And the Valvrave blows up the soldier who tries to use it

They’re abandoning the students! Stupid ARUS jerks!


“I’M AN ADULT. WE LIE.” This show is super smart

The kids will have to solve this!

“I’M NOT LYING. I KNOW, I’LL TAKE OFF MY SHIRT.” and it… it… works???

Does this show even have writers? Was there a writing staff?

And they distract the guards by singing the school song!


This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen

“You’ve been held prisoner? That means you didn’t hang up on me!” Oh Shoko

Punk dude is blocking Figaro’s tank

“Call me Moses. I’m ABOUT TO PART THIS SEA OF STUDENTS.” A work of genius

And yeah, Haruto’s power is just a knockoff version of the Geass

I mean, Code Geass wasn’t a shown known for its narrative brilliance, but this…

Everything but the school is captured by Dorssia!

Shoko will sway Haruto’s heart!

Shoko suggests threatening to give the robot to ARUS if Dorssia does anything to their families

And now we just get a huge pile of robot space fights. Guess they had some animators with hands free this episode

“Instead of relying on others, let’s stand on our own two feet!” Yeah! Let’s separate our module from the array, and stop relying on the sun’s energy! wait

And now they’re going to form a country

When plot twists are this dumb, there’s never any tension or “of course!” moments. There’s just “what dumb thing will this show think of next”

Yeah, the battle/pump-up music is all pretty generic

Shoko is the daughter of the Prime Minister

L-elf lets out an evil laugh

Episode 5

Starting off with the kids raiding the supermarket now that they’re apparently a country. Yes, this is a long-term solution to their problems

“We’re establishing a set of rules, and are getting by.” Yes, I’m sure that’ll cover it

“We’re enjoying ourselves in this Neverland, that’s free of adults.” This show hates adults so much jeez

Scientist-doctor dude appears

And there’s some fanservice

The ARUS citizens like the kids, and so ARUS is siding with them for the political points

Dorssia is like half Germany, half Rome

“The state is power!”

“What demon did you make a deal with?” Valvrave technology is way past what humans normally can do

Ah, the one adult guy is the physics teacher. He’s gonna try to figure out the Valvrave

Oh great, they made a donation page for their country

And now the entire sphere has lost power, somehow. Unsurprising

Off to fix the sphere!

Thug dude is saving nerd dude!

Ono, student council girl is challenging Shoko’s authority!

But Rukino won’t take no shit

“I don’t want any more of my classmates to die on me!” Thug’s got a heart of gold. There’s not really much to any of these characters

Aaand Shoko tries to defuse the situation with Jingle Bells

Takahi (student council girl) is apparently also into Haruto. Everybody is!

Aaand now they’ve decided to make an idol music video. Sure

“I know I am hero in my life”

This episode was basically just a bunch of stuff happening, and this song is… yeah

More Valvraves!

And now Rukino kissed him!

And the robot says “Is this sex?” WHAT IS THIS SHOW

Episode 6

“Why did you…” “I want to be famous.” Yeaaah go Saki!

“Give up my humanity? That’s fine by me. I hate humanity!” Go Saki! Clearly the best character so far

And she grabs a tarp to be her cape. It’s nice to see someone just enjoying having an awesome robot

A shame no one aside from Haruto buys into his dumb “I’m a monster” spiel

Some top-speed Saki backstory. WAIT SHE’S LYING DAAANG

And Saki seduces Takahi in Haruto’s body

Ono, angry German dude has been taken off the mission

Saki’s marketing herself as Haruto’s love interest to play off his popularity. Saki’s taking the show’s focus on popular support/social media in a good direction

Aaand now Haruto’s being literally pulled between two women. Welp

“I need to become famous. If you don’t leave your mark on the world, you just fade away and become forgotten.”

Dorssians are attacking!

Yeah Dorssians, you do that telling exposition to each other thing

Saki’s robot is named Carmilla

Wow, Saki’s robot kicks ass. Flying disk things

Fight scenes still look great

Again, the show’s colors are a highlight

Uh oh, their opponent this time is a glasses pusher

Welp, there goes Senator whatshisface

Takahi literally puts on a cheerleader outfit to cheer them on

Shoko abuses Saki’s need to be a star to get her moving again

And now she has a new power – dancing through space, I guess

The show works off emotional logic more than plot logic, but there’s so little going on beneath the surface…

Insert songs! Eh

Overcoming her bad childhood memories through BEING FAMOUS

And Team Dorssia blasts off again

Episode 7

“Third Galactic Empire, Calendar Year 214”

“Even after 200 years, a promise is a promise.” FUTURE SAKI. VAMPIRES NEVER DIE

“Vice President, go fetch the ‘Student Council Property’ stickers.” Yep, put stickers on the robots, that’ll keep ‘em safe

The characters being silly teenagers is actually respected by the plot. There’s no sense to it – the show just loves teenagers so much

I really have to emphasize the thread of obsession with childhood thinking and fear of adults in this show. But it’s written by adults, obviously. Is it pandering? What is it?

Oh no, the robots were grown!

The punk’s name is “Thunder.” Lol

Haruto feels like his body isn’t his own. Like he’s actually dead

Aina’s the pigtailed girl. She just got her first character moment scene, guess she’s dead now

Aw jeez, Takahi isn’t interested in Satomi (the prez) anymore


L-elf just hands Shoko his cheat sheet for winning everything. “BUT IT’S SO LOGICAL. WHY DOESN’T SHE UNDERSTAND.”

His “rationality” and cleverness basically immediately fall apart when the show wants to create arbitrary conflict

“I don’t think you’re a monster. I think you’re touched by God.” Oh Aina, you’re so nice. AND SO DOOMED

Why did L-elf even send Haruto a recording from earlier if… you know what, nevermind

Burst out laughing at Haruto getting shot up. Woops

The show just works to set up big dramatic moments, but there’s no grounding for them. It just drags the plot towards them however it can

Ono, the enemies developed an anti-Valvrave sticky tape thing!

“Do you seriously expect me to trust you?” Haruto u so dumb

God, the stupid victory song. So tired of this music

“It’s fast!”

“Our plan has failed! Retreat, Team Dorssia!”


And Haruto discovers an image of a girl in L-elf’s pocket

Episode 8

True Calendar, Year 61

And now we’re in the weird Russia-Germany of Dorssia

L-elf’s a prisoner as a child

And somehow runs into the pink-haired princess

Yep. “Your highness”

Nice crazy strings here

“Six hours. That’s how long you have until this country of yours falls.” OH L-ELF

God, the lighting and color work in this show is so nice. Lovely sunset with Saki on the hill


I swear, Aina’s boyfriend still hasn’t had his name mentioned

Aaand they also don’t mention it in this scene

Every single person is freaking out over Aina’s death. Surely people died during the initial invasion?

No, this is just a dumb show. People only die on-screen, and wars only involve five or six deaths tops

Everything this show does just desperately fights against its own desire to be taken seriously

A-drei still holds out hope for L-elf!

“Akira’s talking to someone besides me?!?!?” Prez is freaking out

Sweet, Haruto’s got a badass red suit now

Aina’s boyfriend wants a Valvrave

Man, this CG sure does look good

Oooh, I like the wailing guitars of this part. Solid score

And now somehow Dorssia is attacking them with actual boats. There’s just no rhyme or reason to their defenses or non-defenses

Damn, really nice shot transition to glasses-pusher assessing the field. The show is pretty professionally constructed

“Aina, I’m going to avenge you!”-gets shot immediately


“EIGHT PEOPLE. Give me the chance, and I’ll defeat the Dorssians at the cost of only eight lives.” L-elf just never speaks like a real person. He speaks like a plot contrivance, and it’s incredibly aggravating

Haruto so sentimental

And L-elf just sits up on the table, the straps falling away from him. Amazing

Ooh, attacking the ocean to both cool their Valvraves and fuck up the boats is the first legitimately clever plan they’ve had

The princess was nice to him. “You and your halfsies. That sentimentality…”

And some dumb space vampire stuff

Episode 9

Aina memorial online

“Rest in peace.” And everyone clicks the “Like” button. Cut to her boyfriend sitting alone in the rubble. The show is actually pretty sad and clever when it comes to the social media stuff

The Valvrave AI is hungry

“Module 77 is on route to the Moon, which is neutral territory.”

“Nothing is a bigger nuisance than the hopes of people who have no talent.” Nice, L-elf

Aina’s boyfriend is practicing rifle assembly to get revenge

Haruto and Shoko are both worried about him. They’re pretty cute

The Dorssians are attacking!

The show doesn’t really have any forward narrative momentum – the kids are just floating through space and occasionally getting attacked. The overt plot is largely just an excuse for repeated conflicts to give the kids room to move along their character journeys

But really, the two should be moving in sequence – dramatic, plot-shifting events should result in individual character changes

Shoko will warm L-elf’s frozen heart!

The Dorssians really are Team Rocket

Thunder and Inuzuka arguing over Valvraves

“I don’t want to do this for everyone. I want to fight for myself!” Go Inuzuka!

And it’s all according to keikaku, of course

Yeah, the point of this episode doesn’t have anything to do with Dorssia – it’s just 100% about this particular teenager learning to do things for himself. The overt plot is entirely a backdrop for small character journeys – but those characters and character journeys are simplistic, and the plot is so ridiculous that it kinda draws attention. Plus the show wants the plot to be exciting

God, their robots are so silly

“It has eight arms?!” “Ten, including its original two!” “I know that!”


Inuzuka’s back to his old self again

And the show finally reveals that all of Module 77 was dedicated to the Valvraves

Episode 10

Valvraves were made possible by the Runes

“Every last student here is genetically modified”

“This is your classic ‘immortal anti-hero’ deal! Do we have a special pose or something?” Oh wow, Thunder is actually the first person to call out the contrived nature of their situation

“So much for being alone together…” Poor Saki

Shoko being friends with Akira

Inuzuka’s the first one to suggest actually experimenting to see how their bodies work

Time for an election for the prime minister of JIOR!

Thunder’s pretty great

Aaand Haruto attempts to attack the vice president, and Saki plays it off as… him trying to sexually assault her? Okay

Shoko has to be convinced to run. Fortunately EVERYONE LOVES HER

Oh dang, seems like Shoko’s dad is dead


See, this stuff just comes up in single episodes. There’s no continuity to the drama, because the show seems to only be plotted five minutes in advance

Saki’s trying break ‘em up now

“When we get to the moon, let’s hold a school festival!” Nice, Shoko

This show’s theme is basically “be young”

“We’re fighting a war. We don’t have the luxury of holding a school festival!”

“We don’t know when we might die. That’s why we have to hold a school festival!” Oh wow

And then it happens

And it’s contrasted against Shoko’s speech. Cheaaaaap

“This says that Shoko won” says Saki. Wow. It’s just… yep, they just use it to continue both the trite love triangle nonsense and the silly space vampires lore.

I mean, of course they do. What else would they do? This show’s a child – it can only frame any choices it makes in terms of its own childish priorities. Nothing means anything

Episode 11

Oshit, Shoko’s dad is on trial with the Dorssians. Well, I’m sure he’ll get a fair shake

“Once we get to the Moon, everything will be okay.” DUN DUN DUN

And now the whole student council is essentially the cabinet of this new country

“I refuse to let you apologize to me.” Alright Saki

Yep, they’re just using this to further the love triangle crap. Wow

And now Akira’s panicking. Gotta respect her anxiety, Shoko

And now Saki and Haruto are basically… going on a date

Yep, Saki’s using this to gain power in the love triangle. I guess that kind of works for her character, but it’s just… guh

Enemy of the week time

Now that they’ve got four colors of light trails, the fights look even more glorious

L-elf’s plan relies on the enemies being dumb and predictable as fuck. Fortunately, they always are

L-elf’s superpower is knowing his enemies are cartoon villains

“You cowards!” “To adults, that’s a compliment. Worrying about methods and aesthetics is a childish affectation. Using any means, however dirty, to achieve one’s objective is what an adult does.” DAMN ADULTS!

Shoko has to make the order to KILL HER OWN FATHER DUN DUN DUN

“Abandon the other citizens of JIOR!”

“It’s an adult’s job to return to the earth to make new flowers grow…” Wow, the first Good Adult and their line is “I must die for the children.” YEP

Oh no, it’s L-elf’s master! He knows all his moves!


“Rukino Saki, will you marry me?” WAAAAAT FUCK YOU SHOW

Episode 12

Back with future Saki, and what looks to be L-elf’s son. QUESTION MARKS???

“I want you to let me spend the rest of my life paying for what I did.” GOD DAMNIT HARUTO

Thank god Saki turns him down. Saki continues to be the one decent character in this show

Wow, they’re killing the students with poison gas.

“That’s so like you, Cain, a man who puts results ahead of methods.” This dialogue

Such dynamic direction in this space fight stuff!

Pretty sure half of Thunder’s dialogue has been “It’s Thunder!” in response to people calling him Yamada

“She had a rough time at school a long time ago. That’s why she’s scared of going outside.”

Ono dead students


And now Team Rocket’s plan is to heat irons and attach them to the Valvraves to overheat them

“Impossible… how can he be beating me?” Because the plot has decided you don’t win this one, L-elf

Funny that they’re making the Akira-Shoko narrative as central as the other plots here. Reflective of Valvrave’s ultimate character focus


Nice character animation

The Akira stuff is actually the best part of this episode. At least it’s based in a legitimate character conflict

It’s another Valvrave! Akira time!

Akira saves the day!




And his mech has its own little AI person, who’s apparently Haruto’s mech’s brother


12 thoughts on “Valvrave the Liberator, Season One – Review

  1. I’m amused by the spectrum of notes you take. It’s like pure surface commentary here, timestamp interpretation with Utena, and then Monogatari smack dab in the middle alternating between interpretation and quips on Araragi’s grossness.

  2. Pretty funny stuff.

    But, as a side note, I’m glad that you did notice Saki and Akira had some of the better character beats in this show. As dumb as it is, not all the writing is equally bad, so to speak. I think the series as a whole could have been improved by reducing the cast size and focusing on them more. Alas, it didn’t turn out that way.

  3. Wait until you get to the second season and realise that the entire show is a romanticised allegory for the rise of Nazi Germany.

    I wish I was making this up.

    • That’s probably the weirdest and most absurd way to interpret it. You get a cookie for creativity.

      • It actually has a surprising amount going for it, despite how ludicrous it sounds. L-Elf is Adolf Hitler, Haruto is Ernst Rohm, Dorssia is the Weimar Republic (complete with ‘stab in the back’ removal of its benevolent royal family), and the Magiuses are the Elders of Zion, complete with blood libel. Watch it again with that in mind (if you have the inclination to watch Valvrave more than once), and you’ll find a surprising amount going for it.

        • I mean, the fact that they end up founding the literal Third Galactic Reich after genociding the secretive race of evil Jewish vampires is kiiind of a hint.

  4. And you haven’t even seen Haruto’s father yet.

    His intrduction must be one of my favourite moment in the whole serie.

    • Lol. I think I just dropped the show around there, mid season 2. There’s funny dumb, and then there’s no-seriously-this-is-way-too-much dumb XD.

      • That actually had the opposite effect on me.
        I was still expecting something out of it up to this point, but after that point it was perfectly clear nothing good will comes out of this.
        Quite a liberating thought.

        In some way, it’s impressive how this show can makes all the bad decisions one after another, and top itself in stupidity and nonsense.

  5. “Valvrave the Liberator season one: is it good, so bad it’s good, or just plain bad? Nick Creamer investigates.”

    Do you write this part too?

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