Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto (translated as Radiant Takuto or Takuto of the Radiance) is a Humongous Mechaanime series created and animated by BONES and produced by Aniplex, which ran as part of the Fall 2010 lineup and has been licensed for the USA by Bandai Entertainment. Episodes are being added to Hulu and can be found here. US viewers can also watch this show at Crunchyroll.On Southern Cross Island, Wako Agemaki and her fiance Sugata Shindo find a boy passed out on the beach. This boy is Takuto Tsunashi, a transfer student at Southern Cross High, who was so excited to begin his new life that when he missed his ferry, he swam across the sea himself.So begins Star Driver, a show about high school and the joy of youth.Beneath the school, a sinister organization called the Glittering Crux Brigade is trying to awaken the giant robot Cybodies. To this end, they are kidnapping the four Maidens of the island to undo the four seals on Zero Time, a hidden dimension that captures active Cybodies so they can't exist in the real world. They've broken one, and Wako is next up. Takuto is too late to save her, and the Glittering Crux escapes into Zero Time... but then Takuto follows them, calling his own Cybody Tauburn and transforming into the Galactic Pretty Boy.So begins Star Driver, a show about mecha and lots and lots of camp.Star Driver is an eclectic combination of Humongous Mecha, high school, shonen, and Magical Girl tropes that brings together Soul Eater director Takuya Igarashi and Revolutionary Girl Utena writer Yoji Enokido for their first joint project since Ouran High School Host Club. It's notable for its beautiful animation, bizarre Jigsaw Puzzle Plot, FAAAABULOUSness, eclectic cast of characters, love of Genre-Busting, and numerous Shout Outs to popular anime shows.This page has a character sheet, as well as Crowning Moment of Awesome, Funny, Heartwarming, and Tear Jerker pages.The Movie was released on February 9th 2013.(Which despite the title is just a glorified Recap Episode with about 3 minutes of new footage.)
Antagonist Title: 'Star Driver' is almost always used to refer to the opponent of the week; Takuto himself is usually called the 'Galactic Pretty Boy.'
Anti-Villain: Pretty much all of Glittering Crux are either not really all that evil or have many redeeming qualities, with the exceptions being the members of Vanishing Age... and even a couple of those are less 'clearly evil' and more 'short on obvious positive features'.
Armor-Piercing Slap: Takuto delivers one to Sugata in an attempt to wake him up. In response, he's not so pleased.
Arranged Marriage: Between Wako and Sugata. Not that either of them seem to give much of a damn about it. Ryousuke and Takuto's mother were engaged in Backstory, but it did not turn out well
A bit during the battle in episode 13. The mechs look a lot more sketchy while fighting, almost like a storyboard. Done again in the final episode, when Tauburn has to face all the previous mechs he fought.
In episode 25, the art becomes black and white when Takuto Falcon Punches Head for the second time, One Piece style.
Attack Drone: After Takuto uses the "It'll Be Alright" spell given to him by Mizuno in battle, the pieces of Tauburn's skirt suddenly fly off and start shooting down the balls of energy the enemy was using against him.
Bad-Guy Bar: Vanishing Age holds their meetings in one.
Beam Spam: Used by a few Cybodies. Samekh combines this with Wave Motion Gun, due to its sheer size - what would be a Wave Motion Gun for any other Cybody is used as part of Beam Spam for Samekh. In the final episode he brings out a real barrage of beams.
Betty and Veronica: Sugata and Takuto for Wako. She ends up choosing both of them, according to Word of God, having realized she's painfully in love with them both.
Sugata's maids, Tiger and Jaguar, are well-versed in taijutsu, according to their bios and the fight in episode 6, not to mention their real jobs: killing Sugata should he try to leave the island. Takuto himself could also count as this. Also, Sugata himself.
Wako proves that even she has lines you don't cross with her in Episode 19.
Cast of Snowflakes: Every character is distinguishable from another, even without the wacky hairstyles.
Catch Phrase: "It's a _____!" is basically one for Takuto, usually "pinch" being the chosen word. He also has "Chesto!" when he launches a powerful attack, as well as "Flair!" and "Tau radiance fills the Galaxy!", when he does a Finishing Move.
Character Development: Particularly noticeable with Mrs. Watanabe by episode 12, to the point that one of her personal 'staff' deigns the comment, "She's having more fun these days, isn't she?" And although a few of the cast's development (including her own) begins early on, it progresses at a much quicker pace for the rest of the Glittering Crux (and even the main trio) from this episode on.
Takuto bringing out Sugata's knife in episode 19 as Sugata's birthday present to Wako began as a symbolic gift representing Sugata's care for Wako, but then shows up again later in the episode helping Wako.
Chekhov's Gunman: Mizuno is first seen riding a bus with the North Maiden, Wako, and the class president. We don't find out her name an importance until later. Canny viewers realized that these were all four Maidens.
Combat Pragmatist: Takuto, actually. Normally it doesn't come up since he has everybody overmatched, but in the cases where he doesn't, he's quick to take advantage of his opponent letting their guard down.
Combat Stilettos: The Tauburn. Yes, Takuto pirouettes in a giant robot with high heels.
Confusion Fu: This is pretty much the reason for Takuto's spotless winning streak: he makes a point of never showing a skill or ability unless it's absolutely necessary in surviving the fight so that the Glittering Crux have no idea what their opponent is capable of (and thus have no way to counter it) even a dozen battles into the series.
CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable): Wako to Takuto, of all things. Though the main problems of the trope are averted; Wako performs CPR correctly and the scene fades out before the usual "magical revival" occurs.
The ruins hidden on the island and what sort of civilization might've inhabited them are never really expounded upon.
The drama club's play (and by extension its sequel, the North Maiden's Sam the Squid-Piercer story) seems to parallel whatever conflict occurred between Samekh and Ayingott that resulted in Ayingott being crushed in Samekh's hand, but this is never told to the audience with full disclosure either.
Whatever the Entropeople are and who that second, boyish voice Sarina speaks with are not explained.
That second voice is actually Vice President.
Custom Uniform of Sexy: Most of the important characters/cybody pilots among the Glittering Crux Brigade get a custom uniform. The number of them that aren'tStripperiffic can be counted on one hand.
Deadpan Snarker: Benio has her moments, especially when watching show-off fights in Zero Time. And Sugata, who nonchalantly invokes topics like Sacred First Kiss or what Takuto might do when meeting with a mysterious girl.
Death Glare: Courtesy of Wako in episode 19. If the glare wasn't scary enough, the knife probably was.
Boy, there sure are a lot of guys queuing up to break Wako's 'seal', aren't there?
The maidens having to be nude to be the power source of the mech.
The end of episode 8, what with all that prolonged, synchronized panting from Takuto and Sugata...
Then there's Head in episode 16, where he talks about people with weak marks "wither" in sight of his "sword"... A more disturbing instance would be Mizuno's panicking when Head was about to break the West seal
Not to the show itself (at least, not yet), but the fish girl's story ends with Sam killing his girlfriend in order to achieve his dream of flying out into the galaxy, and once he gets there he finds it not as amazing as he'd hoped.
Dramatic Wind: This happens when Takuto confronts Sugata in Episode 8.
Dramatic Pause: After Takuto's and Sugata's fight in Zero Time, a good half-minute is used for a scene of them just panting heavily.
Lampshaded by Takuto in regards to the "abandoned" gold mine.
Eating squid in Sakana's story.
Foreshadowing: In early episodes in the classroom, whenever Sugata is mentioned, the camera shot would include or focus on Keito regardless of who was talking to whom.
Functional Magic: The cybodies and associated powers are called magic during the Show Within a Show drama club play. Of course, that entire episode was absolutely dripping with metaphor and symbolism, so take it with a grain of salt.
Genre Savvy: Wako and Takuto have some rather impressive moments of this. Wako in episode 19, when she figures out that Kou has taken over Takuto's body, and promptly puts a knife to her throat in about 10 seconds, and Takuto in episode 23, when he subverts his fathers fakes stranger act, and belts him right in the face.
Gratuitous English: "It's a pinch!" and any other variations of that phrase minus the "pinch".
Gratuitous French: "Apprivoise", the activation phrase for any Cybody, is French for "tame". The Star Swords are named after gems reworked in French. "Sapphire" becomes "Saphir", "Diamond" becomes Diamant, and so on.
Gray Rain of Depression: In Episode 15, after Mizuno overhears Takuto willing to duel him to get Sugata to break his engagement with Wako (as reward for a bet). Cue Mizuno riding atop the bus as per usual, but amidst heavy rain and dark clouds.
"Groundhog Day" Loop: How the Maidens are kept on the island. Attempting to leave triggers one, as Mizuno finds to her horror.
Hypocritical Humor: While under the effects of her first phase, Midori goes around offering kisses through the glass. Kanako (note that such a kiss was used as an Establishing Character Moment for her) considers this slutty, apparently because Midori is offering kisses as opposed to accepting propositions from boys.
I Am Not Left-Handed: Used twice in episode 3. First, Takuto reveals that he's actually a Dual Wielding swordsman. Then, after the battle is over, it's revealed that Takashi is also "marked", meaning he can use a third phase Cybody too.
Karma Houdini: Head. Admittedly, we don't see what happens after the credits roll, but our last image of him is being somewhat moody, with his friend only commenting on the situation in a bemused manner. Given the whole, you know, kill the world and travel through time to fulfill an insane fantasy ploy he just tried to pull, you'd think maybe there'd be some kind of rejection or punishment...
The King's Pillar ( Sugata's First Phase) has effects similar to this. However, it appears to only function on Cybodies below Third Phase. Then, when apprivoised into Samekh, He pulls off the king of Kill Sats.
Wako showed she has her own variation on one in Episode 21 (Appropriately enough by RPG standards, Wako as a Maiden offers a debuff as opposed to damage output).
With the exception of the drama club members, every fellow student that Takuto is seen talking to is a member of Glittering Cross. The dorm RA is one of the leaders, and two of the other leaders are Takuto's classmates and actually sit next to him in class.
Another leader is the school's nurse.
Lonely at the Top: Head mentions that he's sacrificed so much in order to pursue his ambition, including two relationships that resulted in his ex-girlfriends (Takuto's mother and the North Maiden) dumping him and leaving the island forever. And his entire reason for going after Samekh's Time Travel power is so he can back what he lost.
Eva uses Christianity, RahXephon uses Mayan...Star Driver uses Phoenician. Pretty much every Star Driver's name has a connection to the Phoenician letter their Cybody is named after. Tsunashi can be written as 十 (he wears a Tau, hence Tauburn, which means "mark"), Sugata can be written as 丰, and Agemaki can be written as 丫. Sakana-chan (Fish-girl in the translation) is so named because her mark, "Nun", means "fish." Yet another clue before the reveal of Keito as the East Maiden was that Nichi is written as 日, which looks just like the Phoenician letter heth (meaning "wall" in Phoenician).
In the play in episode 22, the main trio are playing characters named after the English translation of their letters. Takuto is Mark, Sugata is Columner (Column/Pillar), and Wako is Kleis (feminine form of Klaus, which sounds like 'Claws' which are hook shaped.)
Motorcycle On The Coast Road: Done by Tetsuya in the opening and second episode, but he would get away with it often, living on an island and all.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: Takuto is a major offender with this trope, though with him being a Showy Invincible Hero and based on the previously unexplored level of camp in the series, it's all but expected. What's not expected is Wako invoking this in Episode 19.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In her attempts to protect Mizuno from the Crux, Marino ended up inadvertently revealing that her sister was the West Maiden to, at the very least, Head and Ivrogne.
Ninja Maid: Tiger and Jaguar was revealed to be this on episode 6.
Nobody Can Die: At least the director and writersaid so. Confirmed, as of the final episode. Not one character has died as a result of Cybody combat, nor have any characters been implied to have died during the run of the story.
Noodle People: Not to the extent as, say CLAMP's recent works, but the character designs are quite spindly nonetheless.
Not a Date: Completely averted in episode 6. Wako literally exclaims to Takuto that they're going on a date when she decides to take him to the city part of the island.
Not So Different: Keito reveals to Takuto that she also felt like a she was "in the way" when she used to be childhood friends with Sugata and Wako, mirroring Takuto's uncertainties of being a "third wheel" in the same relationship.
Subversions abound; on a few occasions there is no fight, once or twice there's a fight but no song (such as when the Maiden is occupied), and very rarely the song starts, but the fight does not. This is demonstrated best with the East Maiden, whose song only appears twice, and only one of those occasions accompanies a battle.
Onion Tears: Sugata. According to Wako, that is the first time he ever cries.
Opera Gloves: Sugata, Takuto and Wako's outfits in the the movie have these.
Paper-Thin Disguise: The Glittering Crux members may wear very extravagant outfits and wear very large masks, but they do absolutely nothing to change their very unique and noticeable hairstyles between their secret and normal identities besides maybe wearing a hat. Even if their masks cover half their faces and they do a decent job of changing their voices, the audience can immediately figure out who is a Glittering Crux member. Nearly the entire cast, on the other hand, are routinely shocked when a Glittering Crux member reveals their true identities.
Not entirely true. Glittering Crux members approach each other out of costume on a couple occasions, but feel the need to confirm they have the right person with their organization's secret handshake the first time they do so. There's no sign the costumes fool anyone (if they've met in-costume, they can recognize each other out-of-costume and vice-versa), so much as everyone puts some effort into pretending to be Ordinary High School Students when not fighting each other in Zero Time.
Mizuno and Marino were also abandoned by their father, and their mother left to search for him. Well, Mizuno was abandoned. Marino just came into being because Mizuno's mother left.
Poor Communication Kills: Sora was in love with her fiancé Ryousuke, but Ryousuke never openly revealed that he felt the same way, leading Sora to think that her feelings were unrequited, and so she started to fall for Tokio instead. Ryousuke only reveals that he did love Sora by giving her the pocketwatch that he always kept that had her picture after it is revealed she is pregnant with Tokio's child, Takuto.
Benio's first phase can certainly be played this way - it's activated with a kiss.
While not specific to any one individual, those who don't get frozen during Zero Time could certainly use that fact in this way.
Ginta uses his first phase to spy on Wako while she's purifying herself.
When Kou and Madoka were possessing Takuto and Sugata's bodies, they were only a few seconds from making out with each other before Wako showed up.
Power Trio: Takuto, Wako, and Sugata, if the ending is any indicator.
Id: Takuto. Completely and entirely driven by his impulses and desires.
Superego: Sugata. Calm, coolheaded, and rational.
Ego: Wako. An exact balance between the two.
It's even lampshaded by Takuto and Sarina in Episode 6, though Takuto initially worries that they were never really a Power Trio and instead "a couple and their third wheel."
Prequel: In universe example. The play put on by Midnight Flight seems to be a prequel to Sakana-chan's story, detailing the King's Start of Darkness.
Product Placement: Marino has some very conspicuous Aqua Timez and 9nine posters in her room. (Aqua Timez and 9nine being the band responsible for the opening and ending themes respectively.) Likewise, Takuto has posters labelled "Mono-chrome" (Sakana-chan's Maiden song) and "Drive Star" in his room.
In Episode 14, Mizuno's hairdresser suggests "going Gangan for love". Later, when she volunteers to participate in the Drama Club's play, Wako calls her "a Young Gangan". Young Gangan is the name of the magazine in which the Star Driver manga is serialized.
Replacement Goldfish: The North Maiden could have possibly been one to Head/Tokio, given his relationship to Sora.
Rescue Romance: Between Takuto and Wako. Wako saves Takuto's life when she finds him washed ashore and performs CPR on him. Takuto returns the favor by saving Wako when she is captured by the Glittering Crux Brigade.
The Reveal: Episode 17 finally confirmed what most viewers had already figured out. That Keito is the east maiden.
Episode 20 reveals that yes, Head is Takuto's father.
Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Vice President of the drama club...who is a tiny fox. Which, in episode 22, is revealed to also be an alien.
Episode 22 is basically this trope and the play reveals a lot of backstory about the Cybodies..
Sealed Evil in a Can: Samekh, the King Cybody. At the end of the series, it gets unsealed, and Sugata sacrifices himself to seal it again. Subverted when Takuto realizes that eventually it could get unsealed, so he finishes unsealing it and destroys it.
Also, the line about Mizuno being a weirdo outcast and a "witch."
Katashiro's past shares some similarities with Mikage/Nemuro's, with Head/Tokio/Reiji playing Akio to Sora's Tokiko.
The boxing ring that forms during Takuto and Kanako's fight looks conspicuously similar to the one from G Gundam's second OP.
Madoka and Kou. Let's see, two girls, one is blonde, the other turquoise-haired, they're a couple ... Hmmm...
The main branches of the Glittering Star and Takuto's Galactic Pretty Boy costume take inspiration from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. The author's earlier novel Night Flight likely provided the source for the drama club's name.
More than that, in Episode 4 Takuto outright says "The essential is invisible to the eyes."
Sugata's King's Pillar looks a lot like the Seven Swell, only the former is blue while the latter is the entire rainbow.
The links provided all show Vanishing. Perhaps they've finally made up their mind. Makes sense, Vanishing does fit better than Banishing.
Would also make sense because it ties into Head's first phase, which makes his age vanish...
Spit Take: Wako does this when Sugata asks Takuto if he's had his first kiss.
Starcrossed Lovers: Sam and the girl he loves in the North Maiden's story, as the galactic ship Sam receives from the king will only work if her blood is spilled, but episode 8 reveals that Sam really loved sailing through the galaxy more and the girl was a more or less vessel in achieving his goal.
Also, seemingly Head and the North Maiden.
And in episode 20 it reveals that Head and Sora were this as well. Takuto was the result.
Stealth Insult: Keito discreetly disparages Wako for her indecisiveness (i.e: Called Wako a whore) in Episode 24.
I'm not like you or my Aunt.
Stock Footage: Pretty standard fare for a mecha/action show. The Glittering Star getting into the cybercasket, Tauburn's entrance into Zero Time, Takuto pulling out his Star Swords, etc.
Stripperiffic: Benio's, Simone's, and Kanako's outfits bare copious amounts of skin, and Kanako herself practically looks like a dominatrix in hers. Of the female Order members, only Nichi dresses 'sensibly', and even then her shoulders are exposed, and cleavage, to boot.
Suck Out the Poison: Done by Keito on Takuto when a mind-controlled snake bites his leg. Oh, and she also wraps a tourniquet around his leg as if that would stop the poison from flowing any further.
Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Professor Silver knows what he's doing. Take, for example, his development of the Overphase System, which he likens to a "phase 3.5"; the 3.5 is inaccurate because according to Word Of God, the fourth phase entails nothing but the unsealing of the ultimate Cybody, King Samekh. The guy made up a further measure of synchronization.
This Cannot Be!: Most of Takuto's opponents have this reaction when he comes up with a new way to win in every battle. Head's in episode 16 is probably the most notable, since he is usually so smug and confident.
¡Three Amigos!: Takuto, Sugata, and Wako. Sugata, Wako, and Keito in their childhood. Takuto had this relationship with his two childhood friends Natsuo and Hana in Episode 16. Tokio, Sora, and Ryousuke are revealed to have been one as well in Episode 20.
Time Travel: Samekh's true power. It allows Samekh's pilot to go back in time by draining the libido (lifeforce) of the entire planet.
Town with a Dark Secret: Southern Cross Isle. Half the school at least seems to be in on the whole Ancient Conspiracy business, and they're not terribly accommodating to outsiders who butt in. Especially not one who is closer to their goal than they are.
Tragic Keepsake: The watch that Takuto received from his mother. It reminds Ryousuke of the tragic Love Triangle between him, Sora and Head. Takuto is blissfully unaware of that story so far.
Tokio's relationship with Sora and Ryousuke ends up as this... with unpleasant results.
The Unreveal: We never do get told Takuto's First Phase, though rather large hints are thrown around in the last episode that it is somethng to do with his sight. Exactly what he can "still see" is left a mystery though.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: Seemingly more than a few girls for Sugata. His level of interest on any particular girl hasn't been delved into yet, though he is protective of anyone he cares about, seen more clearly in later episodes when it comes to Wako or Takuto.
Takuto reveals to be one after an interview states that he had a crush on Hana, but backed off since Hana had feelings for Natsuo.
George and Tetsuya for Benio, who's in love with Sugata.
Unwanted Harem: Takuto. While there's hints about Wako, she's not the only girl interested in him. Mizuno, Marino, Kanako, and possibly as of now Benio.
Villainous Rescue: Believe it or not, Kou saves Wako's seal from being broken by Camel Star in Episode 20
Waif-Fu: Kanako demonstrates that she doesn't need a giant robot to kick ass in Episode 12, when she knocks out George, head of the boxing club in two punches. To hear her tell it, most folks go down in one.
And the Whams just keep on coming: Episode 17 has Head and his division Vanishing Age usurp the entire Glittering Crux and BLOW UP the cybercaskets, effectively removing all pilots without "true marks" from the battles with Takuto.
Episode 23. Sugata joins the Glittering Crux.Holy shit.
Episode 24: Keito kisses Sugata, Keito reveals herself to Wako and Takuto, Sugata reveals himself to Wako and Takuto, Head breaks the East Maiden's seal, and King Samekh is revived.
Episode 25. Head Gundam Jacks Samekh. Sugata sacrifices himself to seal up Samekh.
Window Love: It's a big trend for a boy to go outside to a different class and ask a girl to kiss against the window to show affection without being too serious. Kanako in particular loves doing this, since it gives her a way to flirt without cheating on her husband.
The World Is Not Ready: During the finale, the leaders of the Glittering Crux wonder if the Cybodies were something humans were never meant to have, but the cybody Daletos "tells" Simone that the Cybodies were something that humans were supposed to aspire for.
World of Camp: Possibly one of the standouts in the history of Mecha anime.
Then again it works to the Crux's advantage if it causes someone's libido levels to rise...
In fact, it seems that the more important a character, the more they follow this trope. Even if they don't have oddly colored hair, they'll at least, like Keito, have hair that is more vibrantly colored than all the background characters.
You Have Failed Me: A relatively benign example. Glittering Cross members lose their Star Driver (pilot) status if they let a valuable Cybody be destroyed. They don't seem to suffer any other consequences.
Which is perfectly fair, as well. It would get a little uncomfortable for the Crux if they had to explain away the "disappearance" of every person who loses to Tauburn. Plus, you don't have to worry about your scientists betraying you as easily.
That, and it seems that they were working on a plan to regenerate the Cybodies anyway, and probably realized that saving up on pilots (some of which vow onscreen to get stronger) for the more intensified third level was a good idea.