Review of Gunparade March (2003)
An alien invasion followed WW2. Fifty years later, near the turn of the millennium, the monstrous enemy has pushed mankind back to just a few spots on the planet, including Japan. A number of youths serve as pilots of the latest mecha there, receiving military briefings in their own classroom.
Apocalyptic alternate-history mecha action. Based on a strategy game. This is a minority opinion, but I consider this a successful Neon Genesis Evangelion clone alongside Gasaraki (1998). Where Gasaraki strays toward greater seriousness, Gunparade uses simple characters and comedy in a school setting. Like NGE, its episodes have dual titles in Japanese and English.
As an example of how the school comedy genre meshes with the apocalypse genre in this production, a beribboned little cutie reminiscent of Ground Defense Force Mao-chan (2002) is necessary to the unit because of her supernatural abilities, and the military-industrial process whereby she obtained those abilities is what tragically stunts her mental and physical growth. This solution does not have the brilliance or depth of NGE’s Rei, but it is a solution. It stands as a good example of how the Japanese animation industry implements its famous eclecticism with established patterns and tolerable contrasts.