The mecha series remains one of the most popular genres of science fiction. There’s just something satisfying about seeing giant robots in action, whether it’s fighting massive monsters or other giant robots. Rooster Teeth, the creators of the popular web series RWBY, make an impact on the genre with their new show gen:LOCK.
Set fifty years in the future, gen:LOCK follows the soldiers of the military unit Vanguard as they fight against the oppressive Union who are hellbent on bringing the entire world under their control. Complicating matters, the Union have managed to weaponize a form of nanites which consume everything in their path. With people being driven from their homes and the world teetering on the brink of chaos, the Vanguard enlists the services of brilliant scientist Rufus Weller (David Tennant). Weller has developed the “Holon” technology where a Vanguard pilot digitally interfaces with a giant mecha; achieving this is known as “GenLock.” Ace pilot Julian Chase (Michael B. Jordan), the first pilot to ever achieve GenLock, and several other pilots are humanity’s last hope.
gen:LOCK grabbed me from the first minute and refused to let go. It is a gorgeous looking, well-written show. You can tell the cast and crew are bringing everything to the table. Like RWBY, gen:LOCK is a cel-shaded animated show, but it looks far more fluid and sharper than its predecessor. The attention to detail, the Vanguard pilots, and Chase’s Holon mech are all stunning. Series creator Gray Haddock wears his influences on his sleeve as there are nods to series like Mobile Suit Gundam, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Pacific Rim, yet the story never feels derivative. In fact, there is a twist in the first episode that I never expected and it serves as the main emotional thrust of the series.
The cast is stellar. Jordan, who is also a producer on the show via his company Outlier Society, brings his trademark charm and enthusiasm to Chase; he’s long expressed his love for anime, and you can tell that he’s having a blast voicing the mech pilot. Dakota Fanning plays Chase’s fellow Vanguard soldier/love interest Miranda Chase and the chemistry between them is wonderful. The highlight of the cast, though, is Tennant as Doctor Weller. Though the “quirky scientist” trope is played out, he puts his own spin on it and in the process brings a much-needed levity to the show.
If there is one issue the show has, it is that its villains are essentially ciphers. We don’t know anything about the Union or why are they attacking cities. What is their end goal other than world domination? It’s possible these questions will be answered in future episodes, but I can’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed. The heroes fighting wave after wave of faceless soldiers can only take you so far. If you love the mecha genre, or you’re a fan of RWBY, then gen:LOCK is worth the price of a subscription to Rooster Teeth. I can’t wait for future episodes.
The first two episodes of gen:LOCK are currently streaming on Rooster Teeth.
gen:Lock Episode 1 and 2
gen:LOCK grabbed me from the first minute and refused to let go. It is a gorgeous looking, well-written show. You can tell the cast and crew are bringing everything to the table. Like RWBY, gen:LOCK is a cel-shaded animated show, but it looks far more fluid and sharper than its predecessor.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.