Clockwork Planet: Lacklustre Storytelling makes Bad Sci-fi

I’ll admit, the title of the anime intrigued me a bit. While I wasn’t expecting anything related to Clockwork Orange, I also wasn’t expecting lazy storytelling in a sci-fi anime that actually has great potential.

Note that this isn’t a review; rather thoughts after watching eight episodes.

Dull characters

Many of the main characters are one-dimensional and dull. Maybe that’s because three of them are literally androids.

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Feels like the illustrator and animators played mix-and-match on a couple of Nendoroids.

First, we have our Mary Stu protagonist, Naoto Miura, a high school kid that’s a savant (he has super-hearing powers) and a pervert. Good job, anime, for perpetuating and encouraging the beta male autist stereotype. There are only two modes that Naoto can engage in. Either he’s being a real help for the team (by listening or suddenly being a genius when it’s convenient for the plot) or being a lecherous pervert with a severe android fetish. As the story progress, Naoto contributes minimally to the team’s progress unless the plot wants him to. He’s the ultimate plot device. In other words, a tool.

Next, we have Marie Bell Breguet, the only sane and likeable person in the troupe. She’s a loli genius who graduated from Harvard (probably) and is basically a princess who decided to say “Fuck it, I’m gonna be an engineer”. As the only sane person in the group, Marie Bell supposedly acts as an anchor for the entire group. Yet, Marie Bell’s character is completely overshadowed by the stupid Naoto most of the time, which is sad, since it could have been a great way to show women can also be engineers and good at their jobs. I also like Halter, Marie Bell’s own bodyguard android. He’s manly as fuck.

RyuZU (it’s spelt like that) is in league with Naoto for being there as a plot device and Deus Ex Machina whenever they need one. Being ridiculously overpowered and equipped with the power to enter “imaginary time”, she’ll be there hacking and slashing through military droids whenever Naoto orders her to. When she’s not being a literal killing machine, she’s the anime’s prime sexualisation object. Her character’s as dull as the matte-finished plastic on her Figma if it ever comes out: she’s practically a machine that latches on to Naoto. On equal setting with RyuZU is AnchoR, another android who was created by Y. Equally overpowered and equipped with the power of “Perpetual Gear” (Shit, the writer of the series must either be a huge clock otaku or was threatened by their editor who’s on the payroll of Patek Phillipe), AnchoR is an android designed to be cute as fuck and fill in the typical imouto role. And when she’s not being cute, she’s sending things to another dimension.

Opposing the main troupe is the shady government people, military, and the terrorists, who are in a power struggle to control the entire world. And there are electromagnetic weapons, which are basically nukes, that are in the hands of a terrorist. And Japan somehow is under military rule with an emasculated civilian government. And there’s a military conspiracy.

But yeah, politics is boring, let’s not put any of that in our anime and focus on Naoto ogling on RyuZU’s perfect body.

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She’s a robot, so this is ok

Lacklustre storytelling leaves many holes and questions

Clockwork Planet starts off with a quick information dump about how a vague disaster happened and destroyed Earth (they repeat this again in the middle so you won’t forget it). With the Earth destroyed, humanity was on the verge of destruction until one scientist called Y came up with a crazy idea: to rebuild the world with nothing but gears. Hence Clockwork Planet, an entire planet made entirely of clock gears was born 1,000 years ago.

Right off the bat, we are slapped in the face with the typical “vague apocalypse” trope. As if we haven’t had enough of these things. Anyway, since this is science-fiction, I’ll let slide the fact that clock gears alone would be sufficient in rebuilding an entire fricking planet. How are you supposed to grow crops if there’s no soil? What would people eat? Where does water come from? And while Y was rebuilding the planet, how did people live?

Fast forward to the present day, we have Marie Bell determined to uncover a vast conspiracy that she feels the opposing groups are involved in. The anime’s story is then about exploring this conspiracy, which seems to be related a lot with Y. At the same time, RyuZU suddenly comes to Naoto literally falling out of the sky. Once Naoto repairs RyuZU by screwing one gear and meets Marie Bell afterwards, the group assembles and travels everywhere to help Marie Bell stop this mysterious conspiracy that I still don’t know about.

Many of the moments in this anime, which were supposed to have some impact, seem to be forced and comical. For example, Naoto suddenly asking RyuZU to marry him. It comes out of nowhere and was cringey as fuck. The only genuine moment I felt was Marie Bell’s despair when she saw Naoto and RyuZU plunge into the Deep Underground. Which was then ruined by Naoto’s sudden appearance from a sewer manhole with RyuZU.

Furthermore, I felt that the idea of an entire planet made up only of gears would be an interesting concept to explore. Yet the anime doesn’t try to go into the hard parts (like what Log Horizon does) and glosses over it in favour of Naoto being a pervert. Also, the presence of androids that can act exactly like humans. I thought Halter was a human until I realised that he could punch the living shit out of a car. Would this mean that in Clockwork Planet‘s society, androids are gradually replacing people? It would make sense since the entire planet is made of gears, thus making androids more suited to the planet’s environment.

How do RyuZU and AnchoR’s superpowers work? RyuZU can move in hyperspace, while AnchoR can summon things from hyperspace. How can androids comprised of gears be capable of violating the laws of physics?

The more I watch, the more questions I have.

Closing

As of episode 8, the story has progressed quite nicely, albeit with many holes here and there and at an awkward pace. However, most of the time, I find myself skipping scenes that are blatantly filler fans-service. Clockwork Planet isn’t really something you should devote your time to if you came looking for good sci-fi. As a light novel adaptation, don’t expect anything too deep. But do stay for AnchoR headpats.

 

 

 

 

 

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