YouTube’s mecha anime ‘Obsolete’ is surprisingly good

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Well here’s something that’s flying completely under the radar: Obsolete is a mecha-based anime, featuring music by Skrillex, which is part of the YouTube Originals series.

Originals are projects backed by YouTube which are usually reserved for subscribers to their Premium service. In the past these have been looked down upon (cough cough Scare PewDiePie) and many new entries don’t get a fair shake due to their platform while similar endeavours on places like Netflix do.

Obsolete’s full first season launched yesterday and we’ve watched it all to bring you a recommendation. We didn’t skip out on sleep or anything like that, as the show is extremely short at just six episodes of around 13 minutes each.

The premise of Obsolete is that aliens visit Earth and offer a trade: a thousand kilograms of limestone in exchange for an Exo Frame. These mechs are stronger and faster than humans, can communicate with their pilots telepathically, and are dirt cheap due to the weird price the aliens have put on them.

You can watch the trailer featuring the theme song by Skrillex and Nik Roos below.

Okay, we know what you’re thinking, that does look extremely rough. The full CG look which many anime fans hate combined with a very low frame rate doesn’t leave the best first impression.

Thankfully, in the show, this is less noticeable. While it is still an eyesore in scenes mostly featuring humans, battles involving the Exo Frames, tanks and other vehicles look much better.

That’s the first big draw we want to point out here: Obsolete has a massive focus on machine combat. Ever wanted to see mechs skiing down a mountain? Suicide underwater mechs attacking an oil refinery? What about a squad of marines in Exo Frames in open warfare against a similar squad with mortars?

The first season of Obsolete is rife with these battles with most episodes being one long battle book ended with some plot and dialogue. Again, some of it is rough around the edges, but most of it is a real treat.

Another positive point here is the story, which is a bit spoiled right there in the title. Due to the ubiquity and power of the Exo Frames, much of the previous world order is becoming obsolete. The first world countries with all their military might find themselves at a massive disadvantage when smaller countries start to weaponise their Exo Frames.

Outside of war the mechs can be used for everything from farming to transport, with one character even noting that the automotive industry is in turmoil following the arrival of the aliens and their tech.

Because of this mechs in Obsolete aren’t just some cool weapons of war which are part of the background like a tank or helicopter, like in many other animes, but are the central driving force of the story.

That being said some may be disappointed to find that the episodes are not chronological and are better seen as standalone vignettes which are tied together by themes and recurring characters. If this show gets a second season, hopefully this will all come together.

Thankfully you don’t have to take our word for it, as the first episode of the show is available to watch for free, and is not geo-locked. It’s embedded at the bottom of the story.

Unfortunately the same can not be said for the rest of the show. To watch episodes two to six you will need a YouTube Premium subscription, and you will need to live in a country where it is officially available. Alternatively, use a VPN like we did.

Those not willing to part with their money will be happy to know that, each week, a new episode will be released for free viewers to watch, and those episodes will be supported with adverts instead.

Premium subscribers, on the other hand, can watch all six episodes right now with no adverts.

Obsolete is entirely voiced in Japanese, but does feature full subtitles for English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

While the free option is tempting, we’re also going to recommend picking up at least one month’s worth of Premium, as we feel it’s now worth it. Aside from Obsolete, we highly recommend Cobra Kai and Impulse. The former is a surprisingly fun continuation of the Karate Kid featuring all the old cast, and the latter is a great bit of sci-fi featuring a girl with teleportation powers.

You should be able to watch through all three shows on a single month of Premium.

Clinton Matos

Clinton Matos

Clinton has been a programmer, engineering student, project manager, asset controller and even a farrier. Now he handles the maker side of