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  • Genre: Super powers, Action, Drama 
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: Shaft

 

Something is happening… All over the city, teenagers with mysterious “eye based” powers are awakening and coming together to form the group known as Mekakushi Dan but why? The unexplained events that seem to be happening all over are speeding up but where is all this leading and what does Shintarō Kisaragi, an 18-year-old hikiNEET with no apparent powers and his suspicious AI Ene, have to do with any of it? This isn’t a summary – I’m actually asking!

I’ve been seeing random images of this anime pop up here and there for some time now but I never really heard anything about the actual show. I have often admitted to being somewhat isolated from the anime community at large but still it seemed very particular to have all this disembodied art floating around without at least some passing reference to the context in which it exists. If this was a ploy to pique my interest, it worked!

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What’s happening here?

Mekakucity Actors is visually impressive or at the very least distinctive. It utilizes a thicker outline to give the images more impact and the contrast is way up creating a sort of visual punch. It also uses a number of interesting graphic devices. Wait actually make that all graphic devices – it uses all of them.  Symbolic use of colour, monochrome and duochrome scenes, grey crowd scenes to isolate characters, pop art, line art, different drawing techniques, unusual camera angles, x ray vision, weird character poses, 3d, symbolic imagery overlays….I’m missing quite a few. Sadly, no marionettes were used and it left a huge gap in my opinion. To be honest, all those tricks were quite interesting at first and I was wondering why this show had not been more popular based on the strength of its visuals alone but it soon became too busy and overwhelming rather than interesting. I guess there can really be too much of a good thing.

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It reminded me of Lain a little

For all the effort that was so obviously put into creating a distinctive look to the animation, I found the designs to be rather lackluster. Not bad per say, by any means, just somewhat ordinary with some character faces being so similar that I couldn’t tell them apart at all in close up. Because jump cuts and nonlinear storytelling are used (I’m telling you – marionettes were the only thing missing) the similar face designs became that much more confusing.

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Just a face in the crowd

The plot itself starts out rather promisingly, if a bit scattered. I’m not saying that we necessarily needed another super powered teen anime out there but I also have nothing against it. The setup was confusing but the disparate story elements were slowly falling into place and connections were being gradually revealed. Unfortunately, the story is just as overloaded with tricks as the pictures are, and a huge number of plot devices were thrown in. Aside from the nonlinear storyline with unannounced flashbacks, there was also the use of different PoV characters for each episode, unreliable narrators, 3rd party narrating, religious and folkloric symbolism, dream sequences, heavy surrealism, and non-narrated plot scenes (as in music videos plugged into the story as integral parts of the narrative). The fact that I was able to follow along for the most part is, all things considered, actually pretty impressive. But if the plot bites off more than it can chew, it finally chokes at about episode 9 and the conclusion is just a cluttered mess of story elements and plot holes.

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Gaping!

Moreover, there’s this odd tonal dissonance, at least in the first part of the series. Up until the mysterious origins of the characters are revealed, the show is often quite funny with the usual anime sight gags and little jokes. Nothing too exceptional but pleasant enough. However, everything is delivered in a super serious tone with a slightly menacing mood which makes you actually doubt there was humor there at all. By the time I adjusted to this, the show had shifted to pretty heavy drama and my efforts were in vain  The characters are a similar shamble but rather than being overambitious, they are simply a little too shallow to make up for the rest.

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Why is she dressed like Alice you ask – I don’t know…

I know it sounds like I hated this show but I didn’t. Let’s not go crazy, I didn’t like it but I’m not mad at it. A tiny bit of research (i.e. the first thing written on the Wiki page) revealed that this show is actually part of a “mixed-media project” and that’s exactly how it comes across. More precisely, the entire time I was watching this I kept thinking that it felt like a student art film. I could picture an excited animation major recalling all their favorite works, picking out distinctive elements and then deciding to include them ALL. If one of these was good – then 79 is going to be phenomenal! If anything, it felt almost like there was a lack of maturity and experience on part of the production team. Since I didn’t read the Wiki page beyond that first sentence, I don’t know if this was actually helmed by veterans, but if it’s a freshman effort, then it would explain a lot. And going on that assumption, I would actually say that it showed some promise for the creative team. I wouldn’t watch this again but I would like to see what they do next.

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Stay tuned

Random rant – For a show rooted in vocaloid music videos, the intro was really bland.

Favorite character: Shuuya Kano

What this anime taught me: I can stare blankly at pretty pictures for hours

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

Suggested drink: Velvet Jukebox

  • Every time eyes glow red – drink
  • Every time we see clocks for no reason – drink
  • Every time they use pop art – drink
  • Every time there is use of surreal imagery – furrow your brow
  • Every time a character looks over their shoulder – drink
  • Every time Kido hurts someone – drink
  • Every time Mary is a clutz – sigh
  • Every time we see a snake – nod knowingly
  • Every time the show becomes a music video – dance?
  • Every time we see stylish gears – drink
  • Every time wa new visual trick is used – drink more!

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