• Alt Titles: Hamatora THE ANIMATION
  • Genre: Action, comedy, mystery, drama, supernatural
  • Hamatora Episodes: 12
  • reHamatora Episodes: 12
  • Studio: NAZ, Lerche

Have you ever had a friend that’s just always a little bit better than you? You like them and they’re a cool guy and all, but you wish you could beat them just once. And they’re super chill about it too. You know that guys. Well, Nice is that guy. And on top of it all, he happens to be a minimum holder. One of those rare people with abilities that shouldn’t be. You would think life would be easy for a guy like that and yet he’s forced to scrape together a living by taking up petty detective jobs with his partner Murasaki. Also, his name is Nice. That couldn’t have been easy in high school… And to make things worst, things are stirring up in the minimum holder community. Someone seems to be murdering them. Monsters are popping up here and there. Public opinion is getting grim. And no one even knows if those things are related.

A while ago I watched a show called Gatchaman Crowds. It was a pretty badly rated show with its share of narrative problems which I only stuck with because I fell in love with the visuals. I did end up enjoying it quite a bit. Though I still can’t deny its shortcoming. Well, I picked up Hamatora because something about the key visuals and summary reminded me of Gatchaman.

the visuals can be striking

One thing I should point out is that the production for the second season re:Hamatora moved from NAZ to Lerche studio and the difference is clearly visible. Still, I do like the look of both seasons. The character designs are efficient. A bit bland but I’ll get back to it. I found the art style attractive and I appreciated the variety.

The backgrounds are quite pretty. It’s set in Yokohama and between this and BSD, I’m slowly getting convinced that it’s probably the city to visit on my next trip to Japan. I have a soft spot for cities with giant Ferris wheels in the middle.

Chinatown is awesome too

Overall, the images are highly contrasted and sharpened which gives Hamatora a very particular look without any obvious tampering. I also enjoyed how random things would get colour gradients. I dunno. It was fun….

That animation and sound design are sort of choppy in the first season but those really get a noticeable boost in re:Hamatora. All in all the production of the second season is quite good although there are a few debatable choices. Like the idea of putting transitional eyecatches along with a cool guitar riff between most scenes. Forget suspending any disbelief here. I really liked it in the first episode or two but it got old fast.

the very last eyecatch was pretty great though

Hamatora and re:Hamatora work together. They are not exactly one long story but the events of the first season strongly inform the second so you can’t really skip it. On its face, it’s a pretty standard superhuman/mutant story with the added flavour that they are “detectives”…kinda.

The first season has a few stray cases for them to solve which are all tied together by the fact that someone is murdering minimum holders for some reason. I actually really enjoyed the serial murder storyline. I felt it was both genuinely suspenseful and interesting. It was well-paced and the stakes were balanced. It kept me coming back to find out what happens next.

Of course to the ultimate bad guy was disappointing. Very few fictional serial killers can actually live up an entire season’s worth of buildup but it was o.k. It didn’t destroy my enjoyment of the season in any way. And then the last few seconds of the last episode dropped such a major and unexpected cliffhanger that I was actually speechless for a while. I knew I had to start the second season right away.

don’t flatter yourself, you’re no Makishima. But you want to be!

In retrospect, that was probably a mistake. I would have likely enjoyed the second season much more if I had taken a breather between the two. The second season gets a lot loftier (and messier) with its story and messages. It seems to be trying to make some grandiose points about society and the way we treat the exceptional but it doesn’t quite get there. Almost everything I could tell you would be a spoiler but let’s say that the main tension moves from finding out who is killing minimum holders to finding out why someone is trying to unmake them. And the reasons are very different.

In both seasons the suspense is maintained well and there are some truly intriguing elements. I would say season 2 is paced a bit more awkwardly. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was just not quite there yet while watching Hamatora.

I just can’t put my finger on it…

For instance, the characters are fine but they are all very generic. I liked them and found a few very pretty. You’ve seen these characters before though, and better. Maybe if they had been developed a bit more or had more consistent and satisfying arcs. Maybe if they were a bit more subtle. And I can’t help but feel that the issue here is that whoever was scripting them, hadn’t had that much experience scripting characters. Or maybe the issue was there right at creation. My impression wouldn’t change though.

And I felt similarly about the plot. The central concepts weren’t bad but they didn’t come together all that well. And the writers didn’t seem to know how to organically progress the story along. I would say that a lot of my favourite episodes were the stand-alone fillers. It seems the team was simply better suited (in my opinion) ton shorter, simpler narratives without any grand points to bring across.

This is not to say that I thought Hamatora was bad. I have watched much worse. If I had to bottom-line it, I would say Hamatora felt like the first draft of a great show. And that means that I would watch another season, but I’m not starting a petition to get one!

Favourite character : Art – cause he is, you know…art… sorry

Suggested drink: a White Russian (I have my reasons!)

  • Every time Birthday is a pest – take a sip
  • Every time Master is grinding coffee  – get some
    • every time Master is drying dishes – think about doing the dishes later
  • Every time Nice is broke  – gasp!
  • Every time we see the informant – cheer!
  • Every time we see a brain (not in the op) – take a sip
  • Every time Hajime is eating or hungry – get a light snack
  • Every time anyone chooses their path – take a sip
  • Every time Facultas academy is mentioned – switch to water
  • Every time Ratio takes something too seriously – take a sip
  • Every time Art has a fatherly relationship with Gasquet – awww and aaaawwwwww
  • Every time we see little Art or little Nive – squeee
  • Every time anyone is worried about Art – take a sip
  • Every time we see Ishigami-san  – take a sip
  • Every time Nice losses it – oh no!

In case you’re new here, I have a Pinterest with all my screencaps (there are a lot!). If you can’t find a show you are looking for in my main boards, just go to Anime Screenshots. I move the shows I have reviewed there. Of course, I’m still going to add a few images here!

If you’re curious about the colours. Season 2 decided to go with a grim desaturated palette.

9 thoughts

  1. I really enjoyed Hamatora and the crazy colour scheme and weird powers. Some of the characters have ended up on my top 5 lists over the years. I’ll admit, it never quite lives up to its own potential, but it is still a fun ride if you go in knowing it can’t quite hold up to its own lofty goals.

  2. A detective story eh? Haven’t seen one of those in awhile. Question does it involve some criminal organization in which the MC has to solve a string of murders to expose?

  3. Hey a show I actually watched, though I did not return for the second season. To me nowadays I would say this kind of feels like a rought draft for My Hero Academia.. mix in with a splash of Tokyo Ghoul and maybe a bit Jet Set Radio.

    I did enjoy myself a fair bit.. but for the overarching story I feel it could never escape making the obvious plot choices. So while I enjoyed it on an episode base.. when I look back it kinda felt more boring.. then while I experienced it?!

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