Title: Mekakucity Actors (Kagerou Project)
Format: TV anime
Genre: supernatural, tragedy
Series Creator: Jin (Shizen no Teki-P)
Series Director: Yuki Yase, Akiyuki Shinbo
Series length: 12 episodes
Original Airing dates: April 12, 2014 – June 28, 2014
Reviewed format: high def download with fan subs
“Shintaro Kisaragi is an 18-year old hiki-NEET who has not left his room in two years, engrossing himself with his computer and the internet. However, on August 14, due to the messing about of the cyber girl Ene, who lives inside his computer, Shintaro spills soda on his computer keyboard and is forced to go outside to buy a new one, due to the fact that during the Obon festival none of the stores will deliver until August 17. Shintaro- goes to the department store, where a group of criminals break in and hold the people inside hostage for ransom. Here he comes in contact with a group of teenagers calling themselves the “Mekakushi Dan” (lit. “Blindfold Gang”), who stop the robbery with their mysterious eye powers and force Shintaro into joining their group.”
Mekakucity Actors is the latest work from the prolific & strange director Shinbo Akiyuki, his 2nd series after Nisekoi earlier this year (review here), & based upon the multimedia project Kagerou Project that combines Vocaloids & Light Novels.
It also combines two of my (current) pet hates.
Shinbo’s distinct style that he 1st brought to the fore in Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei that featured a combination of lingering shots, rapid cuts, flashcards inserted over scenes describing characters’ internal thoughts, weird positioning/posing of bodies as well as non sequitur shots of almost random objects, characters or buildings. This crossed over into the aforementioned Bakemonotagari series, where is was considered bold & refreshing from your standard animation style but now Shinbo has used it so often without variation that it feels trite, tired & cliche.
Separate of Shinbo’s direction, the plot & delivery of the series does not do anything great, interesting or original to give it much merit.
The framing device of each episode is that it focuses on certain characters as part of their story is told in am almost non-linear fashion; where it intercuts past & present experience as characters tell their stories & perspectives, as well as jumps to seemingly unrelated events. Each episode finishes with an also seemingly unrelated coda in a childish/storybook animation style about a lonely (then murderous) monster looking to understand its place in the world.
Because of this disjointed narrative style, flitting between characters, you don’t actually get to spend much time getting to know them all (or the ones that are meant to be important) in any significant way. Plus all of these narrative arcs are told in parallel with each other, so when all the characters do finally come together & the meaning behind their powers, past & connections are all revealed, it has no weight -thus is lacks any true impact. The last few episodes where they do finally get to explain everything have this vexing feeling of being pretty token & hollow efforts; like not much thought was put in to connect things properly. Especially the revelation that they’re operating on an all too cliched timeloop that wasn’t even hinted at in any early episodes.
The characters are frankly pretty annoying & underdeveloped. Some fans have really latched onto them, especially the Hatsune Miku parody/clone Ene. But that is more related to the usual non-canon fan nonsense which I can honestly never be bothered with or can be bothered to understand.
I honestly don’t have the heart to critique this series any further. It’s not something that I can willingly recommend. If you enjoy Shinbo’s previous auteur style work, you’ll dig this but if you want something interesting with substance to the story & characters, you’re far better off looking at any other series out there in all honesty.