Shows You Might Have Missed: Heavy Object

Adapted from Kamachi Kazuma's (of Magical Index fame) series of Light novels, Heavy Object sci-fi/mecha show set in a near future version of our world where the coming of the titular "Objects" have brought a whole new paradigm shift to modern warfare.

Imagine for instance, 100-metre tall mobile fortresses immune to all current conventional weaponry, with main guns that can level a city with ease, laser weapons denying any and all airspace around it, and more than capable of shrugging off nukes whilst maneuvering at hundreds of miles per hours. The arrival of these Objects have made conventional infantry, tanks and aircraft obsolete, with Objects being the only countermeasure to another Object. Battles pretty much boiled down to the quality and quantity of the Objects brought to bear, and has been so for decades between the new world powers. Now imagine, a couple of lowly infantrymen managed to destroy an Object all by themselves, and what that mean to the status quo.

And in this new type of world we meet our main duo, Qwenthur and Havia. Qwenthur is a battlefield student learning to become an Object designer due to his fascination with them and a dream of propelling his career into the big leagues. His best friend (?) Havia hails from a noble lineage, but works as a radar analyst in hopes of gaining the prestige and renown require to earn his inheritance as the head of the family. The duo are assigned to the 37th Mobile Maintenance Battalion and its Object the Baby Magnum. Joining the duo in their merry (mis)adventures is pilot elite of the Baby Magnum, Milinda, and their commander Floyleytia.

Due to Objects being largely the sole deciders of any conflict, wars between them have became touted as relatively bloodless "clean wars" as no one other than the pilot is believed to be at risk, and the faction that lost their object can only accept unconditional surrender and safely back off. It's all nice and good as an unspoken rule, but not everyone plays by the book, as many a poor sod will find out the hard way. It's in such a situation our protagonists find themselves in after a routine expedition ends in the loss of the Baby Magnum and its valuable support staff are hunted down by the opposing Object. In a last ditch attempt to rescue their captured pilot and buy enough time for the evacuation, the duo with some technical know-how and enough luck managed to do the impossible: downing an entire object while on-foot. Hailed as heroes after the fact, the pair are convinced of their success and the comfortable life that awaits them. However, the upper brass has quite different plans for them, less anyone is dull enough to not make full use of Object destroying human-WMDs. And so the pair together with the 37th battalion is whisked off to another battlefront to face yet another new Object.

After this point, owing to its source material, Heavy Object will adopt a simple plot structure where our heroes are sent off to a new front, encounter new advanced Objects or some smaller threats, and cobble together a way to win the day. As their own Baby Magnum is an older model 1st Generation jack of all trades and master of none, the 37th battalion often finds itself on the backfoot against the newer, more specialised 2nd generation. Its then mostly to Qwenthur and Havia to find a way to turn the tides while their veteran pilot stalls for time. Being the kind of show that it is, its not much of about IF they will succeed (less it'll be a very short show), but of how they will do it. The main appeal of the show is seeing what new difficult situations they are put in and the crazy (but surprisingly practical) ways they will get out of it.

Despite the solid rapport between Qwenthur, Havia and Millinda, the characters themselves do not receive too much in terms of development and backstory, as the focus is usually placed more on the plot of the individual arcs and its setting. What does carry over between arcs and is gradually built up is the world building aspects of the show. Set in the near future our world post World War 3, the advent of Objects have changed much of the political landscape, borders are much more fluid and the once national borders have given way for 4 major power blocks that are less based on any geographical location or ethnicity, but rather on established belief systems and the world is split between them haphazardly as the rapidly changing borders resulted in messy borders akin to stained glass. 

As mentioned previously, Object wars are generally considered clean as their was hardly any point for a losing faction to resist an object. Objects themselves were deterrents to any full-blown wars as much as they are weapons. But if the once invincible Objects can be destroyed time and again by two flesh and blood soldiers, it stands to reason other can too. If Objects lose their value as deterrents, bloody conflicts may well resume. Heavy Object does touch on the ramifications of their actions as no small number of people are concerned about protecting (or destroying) the comfortable status quo, but sadly the more interesting story bits are still unadapted 8 other novels.

Technically, Heavy Object is a competent production, solid and nice looking but rarely amazing, and the same can be said about it soundtrack. Its nice to finally see the Objects themselves fully colored and animated, and the scenes where they are in the maintenance hangers are especially well-done. Of note is the quality of animation makes a significant improvement halfway through the season, as Object versus Object battles become more prominent.

One thing that may be problem (or boon) for some viewers is the amount of fan-service in the show, particularly from the commander Froyleytia. Titillating camera angles are abound in any non-action scene where females are present and while never super over the top nor depraved, in present often enough to be significant.

Overall, I would say I personally did enjoy the show quite a bit. While often taking a backseat to the seasonal blockbusters, Heavy Object is always a solid watch, never wow-inducing but provides plenty of entertainment for a weekly watch. You always know what you're getting from an episode of Heavy Object, and for my money that's not at all a bad thing. If you're in the market for a different, more grounded non-space opera mecha series, this series may be well worth a try.


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