This show is truly a mixed bag of sorts.
Let us start of with the plot. We have these alien Festums which assimilate anything - but we are not given clear explanations on where they are from, and what their purposes are. An insufficient explanation of the enemy - not good at all.
The first couple of episodes are extremely slow and can be apinful to watch. The same crew that made Gundam SEED made Fafner and the Plagiarism is painful. Gundam SEED - young kid, forced into cockpit, does some great piloting. Fafner - ditto.
Another serious plagiarism issue is how they ripped off the mechanics from "Neon Genesis Evangelion" bigtime. It is simply not original.
The "rules" which this virtual world operate again are not explaned clearly and is overly-complex. The purpose of "mieles", and the reason Tsubaki had to go at the end is simply unclear and over-complex.
We do however see great interaction between the main characters, friendships formed and strained and some notable people killed off at the right timing to give the show a sense of "realism" - that not everyone lives. There is some great character development there and the actions and reactions to situations are good.
The music - it is THE best music I have come across in the world of anime. The music simply matches perfectly. The opening and ending by Angela is simply PERFECT. The episodes tend to end with the male lead narrating, with an uncertain future. The quiet introduction to the ending theme during the narration is excellent, and the piano variation of the ending theme is sometimes used in extremely sad circumstances. Simply excellent.
The queer music used whenever a Festum comes in for attack is simply SPOT ON.
The quality of animation is...stunning. The scenery, the effects are simply eye candy. Fafner ranks among the top in my head for visuals. Character design is a little unorthodox, with some people complaing of those "whiskers" on their cheeks.
So a truly mixed bag. The beauty of the characters, their personalities, comradeship and friendship really kept me going, if not the plot. Although this is actually a favourate of mine, I cannot deny its rather disturbing shortcomings.
The combination of the superb animation, music, characters and the atrocious originality and presentation of the plot (plot is original though), I think it fair to give this an 8.5/10, bearing in mind a 9.2 means "average" at TV.com
On my personal "British University" scale, 5.1/10.moreless