ANIME REVIEW: MEKAKUCITY ACTORS
“If I hadn’t met you that day, the world might’ve turned out to be a dull place.”
Words mean nothing when it comes to a show like this.
But I’ll try.
Not very often do we see a story where there are so many well developed, complex characters that intertwine with one another to create a layered web of plot like this. This entire 12 episode series was practically a build-up of each and every character getting to tell their own story about the tragedies they experienced before everyone and everything collided together into one big climax. Mekakucity Actors is an explosion of story, music, and style.
‘Enter Shintaro Kisaragi, 18-year old NEET who is forced to step foot outside his room for the first time in two years due to the antics of his A.I. companion and “roommate,” Ene. What happens next? Shintaro walks straight into a hostage situation.’ This is the summary that I read before watching Mekakucity Actors. Do NOT do what I did, because I walked into this show expecting something completely different from what I was given (which turned out in my favor). SHAFT’s newest anime can be best described as a supernatural tragedy, which at its core is a story about love, loss, and friendship. If I had to pick, I’d say that Shintaro is the main character and focus of this story, but that’s really stretching it. There’s several episodes where he doesn’t even make an appearance, as the entire plot is meant to focus on several characters known as the “Mekakushi-Dan,” literally the “Blindfold Gang.” The Mekakushi-Dan are a group of teenagers that have all somehow manifested strange ocular powers, and have banded together to find the answer to this mysterious ability.
I’ve always been a sucker for shows that focus primarily on its characters and introduces a wide, interconnected cast. But I haven’t seen a story this incredible since Durarara!! NO, this is better. The amount of raw emotion Mekakucity Actors is able to invoke in its viewers is mind-blowing, and certain moments will shake you to your core or give you goosebumps. (SPOILER: One of my favorite moments in particular is when the young boy Hibiya throws himself in front of a truck to save the girl he loves, despite what a bitch she is) Again, what links together all these wildly different people are the friendships and promises that remain strong despite what horrors they face. And boy, does some really unlucky shit happen to several of these characters.
Production-wise, Studio SHAFT is at its finest moment here. There’s no production studio that could’ve done a better job than them. That signature style of POVs and suspenseful cliffhangers fits perfectly with original creator Jin’s story, including their knack for periodic mind-fuck moments. The backgrounds are unnecessarily detailed, color has a primary effect in its presentation, and the music is absolutely stellar. What a better way to wrap up such a story than with an updated version of Jin’s “Summertime Record”??
To be honest, things felt quite rushed towards the last two episodes of Mekakucity Actors, with lots of plot development occurring sans explanation. But, there’s a reason for this. It’s not due to poor writing, nor is it a lack of production money. Mekakucity Actors is based off of something called Kagerou Daze, created by songwriter Jin which is an entire series of songs, Youtube videos, light novels and manga. Each song and video and novel tells another story, another piece to the plot of Kagerou Daze. I have found that in order to fully understand the plot of Mekakucity Actors, it is absolutely crucial to go watch the videos and read the novels. For fans that are already familiar with the material prior to Mekakucity Actors, the ending does actually make complete sense. If the show were to re-explain plot elements from previous stories and incarnations, it would just feel like unnecessary re-emphasis. Being a complete stranger to Kagerou Daze and walking into Mekakucity Actors knowing nothing, I had to scroll through comments and do research in order to figure this out. And I love it. That means that there’s so much more to this story I haven’t discovered yet, and that I have plenty of reason to go back and rewatch Mekakucity Actors over and over again. It’s a brilliant multimedia project, really. I have great respect for the minds that managed to conceive something so large and creatively challenging.
Mekakucity Actors is just one tale in a larger story that includes many worlds and many characters. From the heart behind each and every character to the beautiful and resonating music, it’s just one wild ride. This show nails every emotional note with style, and its just perfect marks all across the board. The one problem I had with this show was my utter confusion in completing the show, only to realize that there was so much more to the story than I originally thought. I’ll be continuing to watch all the videos and read the novels after I’m done watching Episode 12 for the 8th time in a row. As a closing comment, I will simply say this:
Never judge a book by its cover. ESPECIALLY when it comes to anime.
OUR SCORE: 10/10
SOREDEWA, MATA ASHITA.
-Andrew (Head of A7)
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