Being a long time reader of 沙村広明 / Hiroaki Samura’s various works, especially 無限の住人 / Blade of the Immortal (though I still maintain the Inhabitant of Infinity has the better ring to it), I have been keen to get a look at the anime adaption which has just started airing. It is far from a complete disaster, but in various respects I can’t help but think it falls short of even my modest expectations.
I have been quite interested to see how this anime adaptation would turn out; whilst it may be too early to write this title off, am I left with some unexpectedly grave misgivings. I did not really expect a masterpiece, but unfortunately my expectations of a merely average anime may yet not be met.
One of the most immediately notable things about the style of illustration developed by Hiroaki Samura is how accomplished it is artistically, as well as stylistically. Unfortunately, none of this has been carried over into the anime; characters look extremely plain as a result, and I can’t help but think more ambitious art direction would have resulted in something quite special.
None of the stylishly accentuated realism of the original carries over, and characters and their environments seem both to be uninspired. For such a visually striking original work to be rendered so conservatively, or unskilfully, is not something I expected, even having seen the published shots; I don’t expect Zetsubou Sensei like visual quality throughout, but what’s been in the traditional showcase of the first episdode so far is quite staid.
Perhaps it will improve as the series progresses and with the DVD editions, but I have my doubts over whether even this will be sufficient.
The animation itself is fairly average, and whilst there are a few nice stylistic touches here and there, most of it is just unremarkable; the gore of the original, which gave it so much in the way of grotesque realism, is also not really done justice (I don’t expect rigourous anatomical dissections, but at least they could have avoided the Fist of the North Star style comical gore explosions, or the excessive use of “screen flash” style fights).
There are a few very nice Zetsubou Sensei style visual cuts, but really I would have hoped for more of this sort of thing to overcome the otherwise dull style, and make up for the loss of detail as compared to the manga.
I hesitate to comment on voice acting having seen so few of the major characters, but it seems quite passable. As I recall (and this is one of the reasons I haven’t revisited the manga as yet) the dialogue in the original tended not to be overly exceptional, and at times was downright clichéd, which also comes through in the anime, though perhaps it is unfair to blame them for this.
The worst aspect of what I have seen so far is the score – clearly taste plays a role, but I am quite happy to say that it is unqualifiedly abysmal. Of all the possible musical styles they could have adopted, they have selected the worst, and least becoming, music possible.
I have no strong preferences on this – whether they had scored it with traditional Japanese music, or anachronistic rock/hiphop/electronic ala Samurai Champloo, or opted for something minimalistic or experimental, if skilfully carried off the results could have been impressive, and added a great deal to the work (certainly this would have gone a long way to ameliorating any visual deficiencies).
The mishmash of distinctly bad music dumped onto the work achieves none of this, however.
Regarding the story, narrative, etc, there seems little real deviation from the original work so far (not that I would mind either way), and since I have no wish to disseminate spoilers or pass premature judgement, I shall refrain from further comment on this.
Hopefully they will keep at least some of the maniacal parts of the original work – they were most interesting.
Do you think they will keep all the manji/swastika motifs in the NA release? As I recall the English manga had them, so they should be fine…
OP is the best part, but the music is atrocious, as throughout.
Don’t get used to it though, there’s very little like this in this episode at least.
As you can doubtless tell, I am not overly impressed so far, though I still intend to give it more of a chance, although perhaps waiting for a DVD release with the hopeful prospect of visual reworking and less pointless censorship is the wisest course.
Perhaps those not familiar with the original will be in a better position to forgive certain of the shortcomings; whatever the case, it is far from unqualifiedly awful so you may wish to give it a chance.