Robotics;Notes is an anime that progressed through a series of ups and downs. During its ups, the anime was amusing and entertaining with an ominous mystery and a robotics theme that was both strong and appropriate. During its downs, the series was a curious and confusing mess with a story that felt disjointed and incoherent that bounced between two very different sides in a ‘Robotics’ half and a ‘Notes’ half. And though the series cycled between these high points and low points, the second half of the anime saw a general trend downward with its obvious peaks in the first half and its lowest valleys in the latter half. Just what happened to Robotics;Notes to take it from a promising and entertaining anime to one with an unclear, directionless plot with highly questionable storytelling.
Perhaps the biggest flaw that Robotics;Notes committed was that it could never commit to a specific story or that its story felt fragmented and disorganized. Throughout middle and second half of the anime, Robotics;Notes split into two halves with Aki, Subaru and Junna trying to recreate a giant robot in the form of GunPro-2 and with Kai and Frau searching for the Kimijima Reports scattered around Tanegashima. The two sides never felt connected or linked. You’d have half an episode devoted to some characters doing one activity and another group somewhere else doing something completely unrelated. As this style progressed, the two began to feel more isolated with the Robotics half being fun and carefree while the Notes side was serious business. This method of storytelling essentially divided the anime into two separate halves and kept the series fragmented until the final episodes. And while the two sides did eventually meet up, the damage had already been done with this inexplicable and incoherent style of storytelling. Doesn’t help that much of the progress then was also redundant (building the robot and completing those random tasks), which ate up valuable time for more meaningful character or plot development. Of course, this was not the only factor that caused Robotics;Notes to steadily decline through its second half. Another major problem the series never addressed was how it never finished or resolved its various subplots.
Remember why Frau moved to Tanegashima? She was searching for her mother who vanished one day and had heard she was seen in Tanegashima. Did we ever get any sort of ending or resolution on this critical subplot? Nope, it was ignored. What about the story of Subaru and his conflicts with his father over hobby robots or robotics in general? With his knowledge and expertise able to help save the world from catastrophe, did Subaru’s father forgive his son and allow him to pursue a career that best suits his character? Nah, we never received closure on that, either. And what about Aki and her sister reuniting and rediscovering their earnest and genial relationship? Surely that had some resolution after Misaki woke up after the whole ordeal… no? You mean arguably the second biggest plot, one of the most central storylines and themes of the series was neglected in the finale? You’ve gotta be joking me. What about the monopoles that appeared out of nowhere, piled up in a storage room and were essential to powering GunPro-1 to victory? What do you mean no? What about the explanation for why Aki and Kai have Elephant-Mouse Syndrome following the SS Anemone incident? No? What about Airi? Or Sawada back in Tokyo? Or with JAXA? No, no, and… oh wait, they eventually launched a rocket, but what about Nae and Aki’s father, the characters that played vital roles in the series? I could go on and on about these unresolved plot points and character stories but the point has been made: Robotics;Notes never provided any significant or meaningful resolution to numerous subplots that it had started. The fact that they all remain unresolved and unfinished speaks poorly to the planning and execution of the series and can be blamed on the plot progression and the storytelling of the series. And even the final resolution for the main storyline was a bit underwhelming too, but at least it was addressed and answered. Still, the fact that virtually every other storyline remained incomplete is another reason why Robotics;Notes saw a constant decline in its second half.
Beyond these two reasons are a host of other smaller, nitpick-ier and arguable reasons why Robotics;Notes failed in its second half. Still, the series had a number of positives and merits throughout which caused the show to fluctuate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ on an almost too frequent basis. Then again, that’s entirely up to personal opinion and debate, especially depending on how the audience tolerates the questionable storytelling and unfinished subplots. Robotics;Notes had very little problems in other areas of the anime, such as with its characters, its setting, its themes and its music (the animation could’ve been better), but it needed a massive overhaul with its plot, its progressions and how it linked each individual storyline together to amass a complete and comprehendible story. With such a plot, Robotics;Notes would have been an outstanding and enjoyable anime. Instead, the final version of Robotics;Notes is a reminder that a proper story and appropriate storytelling are some of the most essential aspects when watching an anime and that neglecting them for whatever reason can ultimately ruin what would otherwise be a fantastic and remarkable anime.
So what exactly do you put on your resume after you save the world? Given how frequent the theme is in anime, you’d figure there’d be some thought and discussion on what happens to a hero in the aftermath of saving the world (and one that isn’t a comedy anime either!) and when they’re looking for work. And what about everyone else who assisted in the project too, what are they going to write on their resumes: “Helped construct the robot that saved the lives of 5 billion people. Also started at third base on the baseball team”? I’d love to see what Kai’s and Aki’s and Frau’s and everyone’s lives are like following the thwarting of Kimijima’s inhumane and evil experiments. Although given what we saw and the general direction of the ending, you figure that Kai and Aki will end up working for JAXA with Kai setting his sights for space. Well, you figure after everything he did in this anime that his resume would be a smash-hit at JAXA.