World Trigger (Seasons 1-3)
The world is being subjected to serial invasions by aliens called Neighbors, but an agency called Border has adapted the Neighbor technology to give its agents superpowers to defeat the invaders. Osamu Mikumo joins Border to help Chika Amatori find her missing brother (who was his tutor), and they are joined by a young man who's a Neighbor himself, named Yuma Kuga, forming an earnest (though challenged) trio that has to prove itself to the Border agency.
"Neighbors" seems an awfully affectionate way to refer to alien invaders who are razing your cities and killing (and, maybe more significantly, abducting) your citizens, but there IS a kind of logic about this naming. More later.
But first, I'm going to go on a seemingly irrelevant rant about One Piece. I watched an episode or two of it a long time ago, and was pretty unimpressed; and I have NO IDEA how a show like that can be stretched to over a thousand episodes (and counting.) If anything like a thousand episodes' worth of events happened in Real Time, I'd expect Monkey D. Luffy and crew to be Wizened Old Geezers by now. (That's ageist, but I AM a Wizened Old Geezer, and irrelevant rants are pretty much expected of us.)
But World Trigger, now, there's a show that's cleverly DESIGNED to run forever.
First, we need the carrot- the reward that keeps the audience coming back in the hopes of (eventually) receiving. In the case of World Trigger, it's the recovery of some persons who, either by abduction or of their own free wills, are likely now on the Neighbor worlds. Yes, that's "worlds"; there are a number of them, some more hostile toward Earth than others. (This is why the "Neighbors" moniker makes a certain amount of sense; the worlds collectively can be called the "Neighborhood".) Of course, to search for individuals who might be scattered among many worlds may take a little time...
And even before THAT, our little band of heroes needs to earn the right to go, through competitions against other Border teams. (Border agents are typically grouped in 3-or-4-person teams.) So there's an extended period of intramural fights (which are effectively to the death; I'll get to how THAT works in a bit), which our team needs to win to qualify to go. (The Third Season of the show is nearly entirely these qualifying bouts.)
The show can be further stretched out either with some genuine value-added (repelling a Neighbor invasion or two), or just padded out with recaps. The recaps in the First Season get so lengthy that the opening credits for the episodes wind up being placed near the middle of the episodes. Seriously.
So what do these invaders want from us? It's not our women (Mars Needs Women and a multitude of other 50's Sci-Fi films); it's not our water (Oblivion). It's not even, as was once quipped in an episode of MASH, our bathrooms. (I always suspected that the alien women in Blue Drop were after our men, but I don't remember the show every explicitly acknowledging that; the show had too much class.) No, the Neighbors are after our Trion.
Trion, you see, is created by an invisible "Trion gland" in humans, and is a form of energy I suppose, though the Triggers, Neighbors technology that humans have adapted to their own purposes, can manifest it in a material form (our heroes fight in "Trion bodies" instead of their own), or as material weapons firing Trion energy. Some people naturally have more Trion energy than others (and can thus wield more powerful weapons); some have much less. Our lead character, Osamu, has very little Trion energy, and is regarded as not much of a contender, but he's resolute, and does his best to advance his little trio (with Chika and Kuga).
Kuga is a different sort. While Osamu is a mensch (defined as a person of honor and integrity) who is usually a rule follower, where Kuga comes from they practice more of a tit-for-tat form of justice, and there are some early scenes that get some delightful humor out of their differences in philosophy. Kuga IS "strong with the Trion", though he wants Osamu to be the leader of their little group, which means Osamu has to work extra hard on things like tactics.
(As I said, everyone fights in Trion bodies; I was wondering what happened to their REAL bodies when this took place, but except for Kuga the show never makes this clear. Trion bodies can be shot up quite a bit more than human bodies and still function (they're commonly dismembered during fights); AND the humans have added a "bail out" feature to the Neighbors technology, which allows them to return to their human bodies when the Trion bodies become too damaged to keep fighting at all. As Kuga would say, "How convenient!". This also means that few of the Border agents are REALLY killed, and, with more recruits clamoring to join Border, I can understand why, despite the huge Headquarters building, they still had to add annexes to accommodate the burgeoning population of agents.)
Our third member of Osamu's little squad, Chika, was not one of my favorite characters. She's supposed to be a little younger than the others, but she actually LOOKS like a child, and I never cared much for her character design (especially her over-wide mouth in some depictions.) She has a tremendous amount of Trion, but she's assigned the role of Sniper, and there's one big problem- she doesn't want to shoot anybody. With Osamu earnest (but weak in Trion), and Chika strong in Trion but finding it difficult to do the duties of her position, for quite a while Kuga is the only really strong fighter they have, but they finally DO add a fourth (STRONG) member.
I DID like a few particular plotlines, and a few of the characters, quite a bit. For plot arcs, the Xeno-and-Lilith arc (from the First Season) would have brought a smile to the lips of another Osamu, Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy). As far as characters go, I did like Osamu himself quite a bit, but my favorite character in the whole thing was Kirie Konami, a member of the larger team that Osamu's trio is sort of a subset of. She's hyper-credulous, quick to believe whatever she's told (and another member of her team constantly trolls her with lies, just to get a rise out of her.) But she's a pretty terrific Berserker in actual combat, and for some reason she seems the most approachable one of the cast. (Wiki says she was a "breakout" character, so I guess others felt the same way.) Some other characters that are important to the story, but I had a lower opinion of, included Yuichi Jin (a "lone wolf" Border agent and serial sexual harasser, but one with precognitive powers, who seems to think that Osamu's success is critical to the overall effort against the Neighbors), and Ai Kitora, who acts classically tsundere toward Osamu (meaning she treats him with scorn, but seems unusually interested in him.)
I suppose Osamu's a good example of a character who everyone disparages as weak, but who does whatever he can to prove himself regardless, so there's THAT. AND Kirie of course. We may ALL be Wizened Old Geezers before the story actually CONCLUDES, but I have to say that I WAS pretty satisfied with the ending of Season Three. This put me in a pretty forgiving mood. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: Right Stuf rates the Blu-Ray 13+, on violence I suppose. (Again, people get shot up and skewered quite a bit, but few actually DIE.) No fanservice.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (99/99)
World Trigger (Seasons 1-3) © 2014/2015/2021 Daisuke Ashihara/Shueisha, Toei Animation
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