Thursday, July 3, 2014

Anime: Mekakucity Actors

Mekakucity Actors is an anime produced by SHAFT and directed by Akiyuki Shinbo. It is (I feel loosely) based on/part of the "Kagerou Project", by Jin AKA "Shinzen no Teki P", who I believe also wrote the screenplay. In addition to these things, it's an anime I wish I hadn't watched. I originally wanted to go in depth, but then I realized this would go on forever if I did that. Instead, I'm gonna do this like normal and hopefully that will get my point across.

The plot is just terrible, with it's main problem being jack shit happens and few things are ever explained, and those that are, are explained poorly. The majority of the show takes place in backstory episodes, which are just kinda shoved in all over the place. Because of this the main storyline becomes something that's never there and you don't care about. Let me summarize the entire thing, it won't take long. Shintaro needs a new keyboard and goes to get one, getting caught in a hostage situation when he gets to the store. He escapes with the help of a group called the Mekakushi Dan, and defeats the criminals with the strange cyber girl named Ene who was in his phone. He wakes up in their headquarters and wacky things happen. His sister also became a member. The Mekakushi Dan go to visit the grave of their former leader, and then Ene tells a boy named Kano about her past and her relationship with a boy named Konoha. During that Shintaro meets said boy though he is now a robot or something and he saves some kids. After that Kano takes Ene to her original body(because she wasn't always cyber) and tells her about their former leader Ayano. Shintaro also goes back to the Mekakushi Dan and sees a photo of Ayano, who he knew. This somehow allows him to bring her out of a realm it turns out she was trapped in(I don't know either). Everyone ends up convening on the location where Ene and Kano are and they all confront the bad guy they barely know about. He takes over Konoha's robo body, but luckily Shintaro and Ayano show up to do nothing. The little girl named Marry defeats the bad guy with love and friendship they never showed them having. Also it's briefly mentioned they've been in a time loop for a long time now. They all lived happily ever after.

You might be thinking I've left a lot out. I haven't. I've only left out stuff that was told in backstory. them talking a bit about their powers, and some half assed sitting around talking moments that I think were supposed to be character development. If it was confusing for you, good! It won't make much more sense actually watching it. Most things are unexplained: The villain's motivation, the robo body, how the villain got to the real world, how Shintaro got Ayano out, how Kano knew where Ene's body was, how Shintaro had vague memories of the past, who the hell those people who attacked them were, why I watched all of this, etc.. It's pretty damn bad.

The characters don't fare much better. With some exceptions I don't hate any of them, but I don't particularly like any of them either. Because they are hardly ever in the show there isn't much, or at least proper, character development. This combined with the fact I've seen these kinds of characters plenty ends up making them really bland as well as two dimensional. The characters I liked ended up being the ones with actual development: Ene, Ayano, and the medusa Azami. Other than that the characters really fall flat and I can't care about them. The worst offender would probably be the villain, who is just generically evil. As I said his motivation and how he does things is never explained, so he ends up being aggravating. Why did he trick Azami into making the false world? How did he get to the real one if he wasn't one of her power snakes? How did he switch bodies from Ayano's Dad to Konoha? Are you confused? GOOD! Then it's like watching the show. Another problem the characters have is a lack of chemistry. Even the characters who have actually been friends for years and were shown to have been in flashback don't seem like they really are.

A lot of this seems to stem from the show being only 12 episodes, but paced like it has two cours instead of one. Things happen at a snails pace for the episode amount and they spend a lot of time with backstory, and yet it also feels too fast paced at times as if they're just leaving shit out(because they are). Since they never focus on the present enough I cannot care about the characters, or believe they were such good friends they defeated the evil baddy after spending about a day or so with each other. Sure, it may be somewhat believable that the one who were friends previously would be, but about half the Mekakushi Dan at that point were people they just met. And even then, like I said, there is no chemistry so the real friends don't feel like them. The only characters who had any were Ene and Konoha in the flashback, and also Azami and her family... also in flashback. Finally though, the show is just a mess; shit happens and there is little to no explanation, and it feels all over the place.

The animation is also pretty shit. It's a SHAFT anime and it's the TV broadcast version, so of course there's gonna be QUALITY. Unfortunately, the entire show doesn't look very good. Some of it comes from trying to emulate the source material's style, but even then it just doesn't look very good. The character art looks half-assed, there are oddly placed lens flares that look awful, shit loads of oddly placed cuts, shit with people's shadows that either seems pretentious or just plain looks wrong, and there's really obvious QUALITY just right fucking there you can't miss it. Even Madoka Magica's TV broadcast looked better than this so I can only assume one of the parties involved didn't care how it looked. Though a lot of it is obviously Shinbo's bad direction. So yeah it looks bad. Also, one episode starts with some weird CG or Rotoscoping thing and it's just weird and serves no purpose.

Sound is a bit better. The music is by Teddyloid, and for the most part it's good. It's nothing fantastic, but it's much better than the rest of the trainwreck. Like seeing a few people make it out of the wreckage; at least we have that. The OP is also very good, and the ED is alright too. The voice acting is alright, with some seiyuu I've heard before, and also HanaKana because she's in literally everything. Sadly though it kinda seems as if they turned in half-assed performances because I wouldn't say the voice work is all that great. Or maybe they just had a bad/lazy adr guy. I don't think SHAFT cared about this at all.

Final Thoughts: I think the only reason I watched this is because some of the episodes were actually kinda good and I hoped the rest would be. But nope, they weren't. The ending is the worst by far though, which actually made me drop it 2 points from the 5/10 I was planning to give it on MAL. It almost seems like they realized "Holy shit, we need an ending!" and slapped it together. There's just so much wrong with this show that I can't explain all of it without going on for hours. I may not think SHAFT is as good as many say, but they're capable of more than this. I may not think Shinbo is as good as most say(decidedly so), but he's capable of more than this. I may not think Jin is as good a writer as the Kagerou Project fanbase says, but he's capable of more than this. At least, from what I've read of the manga. I think that's helped by the fact it's not paced horribly.

After much deliberation, I give Mekakucity Actors 2 glowing red eyes out of 5. If that's confusing, it's because I barely talked about the things I liked. Ene, Ayano, and Azami's stories were all pretty good for the most part and if the whole show had been of that quality it might have gotten a 4/5... maybe.