Spring has come! Flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer, and new anime series have arrived! This season I’ll be trying out a few First Impression Reviews, and I’ll be starting this off with my most anticipated series of the season: Mekakucity Actors.
Before I start this review, I must inform you, the readers, that I will be reviewing this series unbiasedly. I’m as much of a fan of Kagerou Project as the next. Believe me, I’ve even imported some stuff directly from Comiket in Japan for this series. However, you may find me saying some things that would sound very unlike a fan of this series.
What is Mekakucity Actors?
Mekakucity Actors is the anime adaptation of one of the hottest trending series in Japan known as Kagerou Project. Kagerou Project is a Vocaloid song series created by a multimedia artist by the name of Shizen no Teki P, also known as Jin. Look back on my past 2 articles to find out a bit more about the series:
The series follows the story of children who traveled through the phenomenon known as the Kagerou Days, and came into possession of eyes with special powers. Among these children is a girl who can erase her own presence/existence, a boy who can deceive others with his appearance, an indestructible cyborg, a mischievous AI, and a hikkikomori-NEET (who doesn’t have powers, but is essential to the story overall). Each character possesses a dark past, and the series follows their struggles in the present.
Shaft, the animation studio that animated Madoka Magica and Bakemonogatari, took up this series and announced it back in 2012. The series is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, the person who directed the two aforementioned Shaft series. Jin himself wrote the script for the series and even composed the opening theme song. Jin’s partner and illustrator for Kagerou Project, Shidu, also took part in creating the visuals for the opening and ending themes.
What I Expected Before Watching: Super Special Awsome
So like I said before, I’m a huge fan of the series. When I heard that Kagerou Project was finally going to get an anime, I flipped out. I had high expectations for this series since I saw that Shaft would be animating it and the original creators would be taking part in making it as well. I adored Shaft’s series like Monogatari , Madoka Magica, and Nisekoi. I thought that they’d be the perfect people for the job and do this series justice. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
First Impression: It Could’ve Been Better
No, really. This series could have been a LOT better. When I first saw the episode, I was too caught up in my initial fangirl mode to notice the faults. However, after watching it for a second time with a friend, I noticed the faults I neglected to see before.
What the Hell?! This is a Monogatari Rehash!
This is most definitely not a good thing. Akiyuki Shinbo tends to inject his own personal style and elements into almost all the series he directs. You’ll see his style be really prevalent in the Monogatari series, Madoka Magica, Sayonara Zetsubou-Sensei, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, and Nisekoi. I’d forgive Shinbo for doing this a little bit, but no. What the ACTUAL Hell. You can’t go and literally turn this into another Bakemonogatari.
The way the backgrounds stood out more than the characters really irked me. In almost all of Shinbo’s series, the backgrounds are a lot more detailed than the characters themselves. Mekekucity Actors is no exception. For example:
How dare they re-use a scene from Bakemonogatari and use it in this anime?! I’m actually pretty livid about this. A lot of people mistook Shintaro as Araragi from Monogatari and I can’t blame them after seeing this scene.
The head tilts. The freaking head tilts. You just couldn’t leave the head tilts out of this magnificent series could you?! Was that too much to ask for Shinbo?! Stop doing that! It’s bad for their necks!
It was fine the first two times, but now it’s getting old. What was interesting before is now just something really unoriginal. Well aside from this being exactly like Monogatari, there were still a couple of other stuff that bothered me as well.
Much “Quality”. Such Detail. Not Wow
Some of you may not be familiar with the way the term “Quality” is used in some parts of Otaku Fandom. It refers to those moments in animation where the detail is bad, and I don’t mean bad. I mean “crayon-colored bodies with a couple of lines that barely make out a face” bad. I’m obviously over exaggerating things, but the first episode was filled with lots of “quality” scenes. Like these:
Luckily, animation studios tend to fix scenes like these for the Bluray releases. It should be expected of Shaft to clear up the messes they made in the first episode.
I’m not sure if I should blame this on Shaft or the original source material. I’ll admit that the KagePro series has a slow start, and Jinzou Enemy is clearly one of the reasons why. For almost half of the episode, you literally just see a NEET talking to his AI. For people unfamiliar with the KagePro series, I can bet that they found themselves bored to death because of this. The only redeeming quality that may have saved them from becoming too disinterested was the energetic and adorable Ene.
It should also be noted that Seto was in the hostage situation, while in the light novel and manga he was not. It goes to show how Shaft will be compressing the story as much as possible due to this being an eleven episode series. I’m not even sure if the series will end with Route 1′s ending or Route XX’s ending.
The Opening Was Nice
As said before, Jin composed the opening theme song himself. Maria from Garnidelia (who sang the 2nd Kill la Kill opening) also sang the vocals. I did find the detail of the visuals for the opening theme to be a little lacking, and some of it looked like a poor imitation of Shidu’s art style. Despite that, I did think that the opening may interest some viewers as to what may happen later on in the series. Maybe it’ll convince them that the rest of the episodes won’t be like the first. It was also a treat to hear another song by Jin though. I can’t wait to hear a Vocaloid version that’ll be sung by IA.
I really expected more out of this adaptation to be honest. I was really hyped because I love Kagerou Project. I love the characters and I love the story, but I feel like Shaft just shat all over them. It is only the first episode, so there’s not much I can say about the series as a whole so far. However, since I am a KagePro fan, this isn’t going to diminish my love for the series any less. I’m definitely going to enjoy Mekakucity Actors, but not as much as I initially hoped. If you feel a little disappointed as well from the hype, I recommend that you go listen to the songs. Maybe listening to Kagerou Days or Children Record might brighten your opinion of the series.