The dress code is about to be violated. That's the aptly worded blurb on the back of Freezing's DVD case, and man they weren't kidding. Based on a long running manga comic book, Freezing is one of those anime shows, heavy on fan service, that is targeted at an adolescent male audience with an appetite for animated flesh. If you are on the cusp of maturing to full-blown hentai this could well be the series for you, but those with a distain for Japanese animation's objectification of women are best served keeping their distance from this three disc DVD set currently available to buy from Manga Entertainment.
Set in the near future, this twelve episode series tells the tale of how extra-dimensional invaders known as Nova are wrecking havoc on Earth. To counter the alien threat the Earth forces use teams of genetically enhanced human beings called Pandoras. These super powered beauties have the might to take down a Nova, but need to be paired with a male "Limiter" who is tasked with nullifying the invader's freezing aura, that would otherwise render anything in its range motionless. Forcing guys and gals to work together in order to save the world? Sounds like an un-tactful way of shoehorning some sexual tension into the story.
Freezing's protagonist is the blonde buxom Satellizer el Bridget who is presently training to become a fully-fledged Pandora at the West Genetics Academy. Dubbed "the untouchable queen" by her fellow trainees, as she won't permit anyone to lay a finger on her, Satellizer has earned the reputation of being the second year's mightiest Pandora despite the handicap of refusing to work with a Limiter. That all changes however when Kazuya Aoi, the brother of a famous Pandora who perished at the hands of the Nova years earlier, transfers to the academy. Kazuya is drawn to Satellizer given her resemblance to his late sister and wishes to become her Limiter.
Although Satellizer isn't initially interested in a partner, a bond begins to form between the two culminating in Satellizer rescuing Kazuya from the unwanted attentions of a seductive third year student. The ensuing scrap between Ms Bridget and the succubus in question is brought to the attention of the third year trainees who are not best amused. Satellizer is disliked on campus for being a loose cannon and the incident involving her disrespecting an upperclassman is deemed to be one transgression too many. The upper ranked third years decide the time has come to teach Satellizer some discipline.
I've read a number of reviews on Freezing and the vast majority of them have been critical. Having watched the show I can see why as the series has some deep flaws. The biggest one is that the first two thirds of the show aren't very good. The premise of superhuman lasses protecting the world from an alien menace is right up my alley, but unfortunately it gets shoved into the background in favor of episodic duels between Satellizer and the third years that are unjustly bullying her. Why is the security so lax in a military academy? I cannot believe how the staff tolerate potentially fatal battles between promising candidates, especially when they be may called at any moment to protect Earth from attack.
Another problem with the early episodes is the introduction of a new character named Rana, which derails the blossoming romance between Satellizer and Kazuya. Rana has decided that Kazuya is her destined partner and will stop at nothing to secure his affections. The resulting rivalry between Satellizer and Rana is no doubt intended to spice things up narratively, but I found it to be nothing more than an annoyance. Rather than establishing a potential love triangle, Rana is nothing more than a third wheel stalling the growth of the leads' relationship
Given that the series is promoted as being mindless eye candy it shouldn't be surprising that the characterization of the cast is weak. That said I did find myself taking a shine to Satellizer once her backstory is revealed. In combat her never say die spirit comes from her mother's dying words, which is rather touching. We also learn that she isn't the heartless loner others purport her to be. Satellizer's distant demeanor stems from the sexual abuse she suffered during her childhood. Her interactions with Kazuya help to overcome these deep-seated issues revealing her true nature. As Satellizer opens up to others its sweet to see her transform from a badass to a socially inept gal who gets easily flustered.
Kazuya on the other hand isn't as well fleshed out. He lacks any real charisma making him easily forgettable. Clearly the focus of the show is on the female fighters. Although none of them have the depth of Satellizer they each have distinct personalities, unique fighting styles and cosmetically all look very different. Given the demographic the show is catering to it doesn't hurt to have a broad range of ladies on display. No matter what your taste there's bound to be one girl that takes your fancy. I'm sure over in Japan this franchise is making a killing selling merchandise, such as display figurines, to the hormonal fans of the cartoon.
So after writing all that I suppose most of you will expect me to give Freezing a terrible score. Well despite it's failings I find myself having to award it a very low three stars. Perhaps I am a perv who succumbed to the charms of the titillating beauties on show, but I actually enjoyed the third DVD's content. It signaled the arrival of the Nova, ending the petty schoolyard squabbles between the West Genetic Academy girls. The ensuing combat between the Pandoras and Nova is exciting (think Dragonball with the pointless powering up and cursing trimmed away) making me appreciate the show from a purely action standpoint. The attractive character designs and above average artwork don't hurt either. I even enjoyed the music including the J-Pop opening/closing themes along with the electronic/instrumental scores that play in the background during each episode.
If nudity bothers you feel free to knock a star off my rating because I cannot imagine you will find much to like about the show. Although the fan service is the franchise's selling point it ironically will also put off many viewers. Some people will find it crass whilst others will find it too silly to follow. To be honest I can't blame them. It's hard to get invested in a fight when you have the distraction of boobs hanging out of torn garments that were never suitable for battle in the first place (seriously how much protection can a panty flaunting mini skirt offer.) Having girls lose their kit in a fight is nothing new for anime, but Freezing would have benefitted from not treating itself so seriously.
The nudity can be bothersome as it feels mean spirited at times. Characters are depicted in humiliating poses, which make me wonder if the artists are just using the project as an avenue to release latent bondage fantasies. It's very different to something like Sekirei. That anime wasn't shy about stripping its characters either, but it used slapstick humor to make the fan service less creepy (think flashing in a Benny Hill skit.) Still I think the show has potential. Near the end shadowy figures hint at a greater conspiracy that could make season two's plot more captivating... bah who am I kidding. They'll probably just give us more super powered mud wrestling with tits bouncing everywhere.