Cool Creative Combo
It hasn’t even been a month and I’m already back with another father-daughter review in Solty Rei. During one of our weekly Anime Music Quiz games, the opening for this show played and several players brought the absence of this title on my list to my attention. A Gonzo show? A father-daughter show? Well, sounds like a gross oversight on my part. So now that the meme is out of the way, just how exactly does Solty Rei stack up?
I’ve been a long-time fan of Gonzo’s work, just look back at the very first review I ever wrote and that’s proof enough. I still haven’t seen all of them though, either out of disinterest or simply not knowing a show exists, and the latter is what occurred with Solty Rei because it’s everything I already like on paper at least. Gonzo shows are ambitious, often failing to fully deliver, but I would almost never say they are boring. In this anime’s case, a lot of the same problems can be seen here.
The main plot of Solty Rei is that a bounty hunter named Roy Revant who’s been looking for his daughter ever since a natural disaster occurred. She could be dead for all he knows, but he still hasn’t given up hope. Fate intervenes when Roy encounters a strange young girl, the titular Solty, whom he later (begrudgingly) adopts, which leads to the pair becoming embroiled in a government conspiracy that is centered around not only the tragic event, but Roy’s missing daughter as well.
Roy really wants nothing to do with Solty at first…
This quick synopsis kind of leaves out the best part though, it’s a sci-fi story that feels just familiar enough to our day-to-day while still containing just enough fantasy that the world is interesting on its own. Once the last quarter of the show kicks in, you get to see the depth of this which was really awesome. Unfortunately, this is where the show also runs into a bulk of its issues.
Solty Rei is supposed to be a father-daughter story, and it kind of is for at least the first quarter of the show. It’s not devoid of action or tension, but it keeps things on the lighter side, almost being a full-blown slice of life series at times. There’s nothing wrong with that, in fact I do enjoy that, but for this show it doesn’t really work amazingly. That’s why it transitions out of this into a more serious story.
Around episode 14 the show kicks things into high gear and truly becomes amazing. The trade for this, however, is the father-daughter story takes a backseat to everything else there. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s a constant driver and motivation (especially for Roy), but overall Solty Rei is less about being exclusively a father-daughter story in an attempt to having other compelling narrative elements to follow. For awhile, this works in the anime’s favor because, as I’ve said, the following 6 or so episodes from 14 are straight bangers.
It’s not until the show settles into the final few episodes where problems really creep in. The anime tries too much, and too quickly for for everything to work. I wouldn’t say the ending of the show is bad, it hits on an emotional level, but from a more critical angle there are obvious issues. I don’t think anyone watching this show wouldn’t notice them without spoiling things. To put it simply, it rushes into things and the narrative beats don’t hit right as a result.
When Solty Rei works, it really does. This is usually when it focuses on its sci-fi elements and cast members outside of Roy and Solty, who are unfortunately, kind of the least interesting characters in the show. At its worst, the anime can have you rolling your eyes a bit. There’s nothing here that’s a deal-breaker, and overall the product delivers a fairly solid action story with some nicer slice of life moments, however, the dated nature of the show is going to be a hurdle for some folks who may otherwise be interested in it.
In terms of what Gonzo usually puts out, I’d say this was a good effort on their end. I’ve seen a lot better from the studio but I’ve also seen much worse. Since the series doesn’t rely on a ton of CGI I can safely say that it holds up better than some of their other titles, but the character designs are a bit chunky and feel dated even when the show came out. Again, it’s not a bad thing per se, but it will be a turn-off for some of you.
As a father-daughter show, it counts, but I struggle to categorize it alongside many of the shows I’ve talked about in the past. The story being told here is more mature, and as a result, abandons a lot of the appeal that comes with this kind of show. I don’t think this is a bad thing, and in Solty Rei’s case, I actually think it is to the show’s benefit, but if you are looking for a straight father-daughter experience, this isn’t it.
All said and done, I enjoyed this one but wish it could have gotten all the way there. I’m satisfied with the conclusion, it hits the emotional beats well, but from a more logical perspective I fail to connect with it fully. That leaves me in a more conflicted state than normal with a show like this because I recommend it, but can’t help to feel like I need to put a big asterisk on it for the reasons I’ve outlined above. Ultimately, this one gets an A+ for effort, but sits more at the B level for the final grade.
What are your thoughts on Solty Rei? There’s a lot to unpack in this one and I’d love to hear what worked for you and what didn’t in the comments below. If you enjoy my work please consider giving me your support by becoming a Patron or making a one-time donation through Ko-fi with the buttons below. Thanks for reading, and see you for the next one!