Sunday, 2 July 2017

Anime review #7 - Speed Grapher

Speed Grapher by Minoru Niki (2005)

Cat and mouse game with a cardboard face MacGuffin flying around on the screen

I have to admit it took me some time to figure out what the title of this anime was about, but it hardly matters. "Grapher" can only refer to "photographer", but speed is not a big factor in this anime per se. Patience is, though, as is the ability to withstand crappy writing. Speed Grapher was interesting for 2-3 episodes - but so was Naruto. Eventually, it turned into one of the most horrible pieces of SHLOCK I have ever been terrorised with in my life.

"I feel like a button..."
"I am indifferent about everything."
Setting:

Speed Grapher depicts a world (or rather Japan) where money is everything and everything can be in turn bought by money. So basically, it's like the real world but a lot more honest! Corruption runs amok among politicians and in the course of events this factor actually leads to the loss of souvereignty as international troops invade Japan! All of this could have made for a very interesting setting, but alas! it was wasted on a banal plot involving supernatural powers for no reason (*facepalm*) and unsatanly abysmal (but not abyssal) characters.

A few nice points here and there show how SEXY financial power and money itself as an object can be, but those pale into insignificance alongside the "meat" of this show, the storyline, which is as bland as unseasoned chicken. Try to eat 24 episodes' worth of that! I dare you!

Story:

Tatsumi Saiga, an established war photographer, investigates a secret de Sadian club which on first glance seems rather similar to the one depicted in Juliette (just with a lot less gay sex). However, the secret "VIP" membership buys high ranking politicians and businessmen something more than sex: their DNA is altered upon receiving bodily fluids from the "goddess" owned by the club, 15-year-old Kagura, who unwillingly participates in the process drugged and unaware. These customers are hence turned into useless monsters-of-the-week, most of them with spider powers for some reason. The same thing accidentally happens to Saiga, who upon being kissed by Kagura receives the power to make things explode by photographing them. Such a power would usually be OP, but of course, since Saiga is the "hero" protagonist, it has to be immediately overshadowed by the big bad's power of using his blood to achieve pretty much anything he wants - with deadly results.

So Saiga decides to rescue Kagura, who turns out to be the blandest cardboard face ever to float across a screen (even Hinata in Naruto has more of a personality! Wow, I can't believe I just typed that...), but not to FUCK her (cause she is "only" 15 which you would never even know from just watching the anime, where this tidbit is mentioned maybe once, and not 16 which magically would be (more?) legal then...) but just to keep her around for no discernible reason. Saiga has nothing but trouble because of this, as Kagura is kidnapped more often than Mokuba in Yugioh the Abridged Series (basically once every 3 episodes...) and he has to re-rescue her each and every time, which causes so much unnecessary stress in his life he eventually goes BLIND from it. Holy shit! Well, I for one'd be rather dead than blind. (I'd be rather dead than anything, but that is beside the point. Actually, I'd rather be a billionaire than dead because then I could make my movie.) To top it off, the abovementioned monsters-of-the-week are despatched against the couple at regular intervals - but as this is essentially a SHONEN anime (even though it features adult themes), the monsters are defeated without even breaking a sweat or a leg. What a twits! By the way, Saiga never has a lightbulb moment of coming up with the concept of a DISGUISE or just simply cutting Kagura's hair which is odd enough to make her instantly recognisable.

To spice up things, we are given a horny freak female police officer who consistently stalks Saiga, thinks nothing of raping him while he is unconsicous and is an overall bane on an already very poor anime, like a bee circling you while you are standing in a packed crowd of five thousand screaming pre-teens having to endure a Justin Bieber concert because your mother sent you there to watch over your little sister who thinks Bieber is a great musician and the cutest boy ever. And then your little sister got raped and you got stung by that bee. In the COCK. Yeah, that's really what Ginza reminded me of.

Anyway, eventually Kagura gets kidnapped for the final and last time, Saiga has to face off with Suitengu (that is the name of the villain and mastermind), Saiga goes blind and Suitengu kills himself, causing a massive economical crisis by essentially lighting a lot of paper money on flames (killing thousands of people, which is conveniently ignored in the anime - but by the fact a large part of Tokyo is LIT ON FIRE, it's a certainty!) A few years later, Saiga is still blind as a mole, has still not fucked Kagura, which would have been her only purpose (I wouldn't usually say something like that, but she really is nothing more than a blowup doll that moves and talks just a little more!), and that's pretty much it!

And the fact I could not find Speed Grapher hentai on Google speaks for itself! Such a thing had never happened before!
And not the good kind either...
Characters:

Saiga is a no-nonsense badass, which, coupled with the horrendously plain female sidekick, makes for an unappealingly dull situation. His relationship with Ginza which borders on sadomasochism would be interesting if it wasn't so downplayed. He has no reason to live for other than taking pictures, so when that is taken away from him (by Kagura), he instead adopts the concept of protecting Kagura from vague danger instead of turning her front side into a zipper with a big knife and drawing out the organs to devour them (with a side of fava beans) to (possibly) be cured of his affliction which would have been the logical course of action. Even when things go bad for him (danger of going blind from using supernatural abilities to fight monsters, losing his job and livelihood, getting stalked by mobsters and his crazy girlfriend), he never actually makes any attempt to CHANGE his lifestyle or anything. Suitengu would have paid a king's ransom (or rather bounty) for Kagura, and Saiga never had the slightest reason to be particularly loyal to her, just the same way one wouldn't especially miss a dog eaten by a crocodile when he could just go and buy a dozen more dogs AND crocodiles and some slaves to pick cotton! In a world where money is supposedly everything, a one-dimensional character like Saiga just isn't particularly interesting to watch. An evil badass (think Light Yagami - or even Dark Yagami!) would have had a field day in this setting and would have provided for an interesting story by himself.

Kagura is the goddess of blandness. She grows up spoiled rich and subjugated by her crazy and cruel mother. Of course when that witch finally croaks, Kagura storms back to her and when her mother dies without ever having cared for her even a tiny bit, Kagura doesn't even realise that. She is naive and innocent, yet that trait is never used to endear her to the viewer for some reason! It is like the creators of Speed Grapher aimed to write the most unimaginatively boring character possible and succeeded. What a smashing success! Speaking of which, there is a scene where Kagura tries to smash a window to escape and is physically (and hilariously) REPELLED by an inanimate object! That is how low her charisma score is! And Kagura's brain tumor arc is turned into a mockery when it turns out she has to... menstruate to be cured. Bleed for your life! Menstruate that tumor! From your brain! Why does that plot line sound like something feminists these days would come up with... Anyway, Kagura is the textbook MacGuffin, everybody wants to have her so the plot is about just that. During watching the last few episodes of SG I was thinking that I prefer Hinata from Naruto to Kagura as a character... that should tell you exactly how bland she really is! (Not as bland as Lain though, but that should go without saying.) If Hitler had a dog, and that dog had rabies and AIDS and the bubonic plague, and it could only bark in Mexican - I would rather fuck that dog than say something positive about Kagura!

Maybe pasting in whatever random shit I can find on Google has worn out its welcome...
"Mein dog has ein nice Arschloch!"

Suitengu is the villain of the show, and originally that works just fine and dandy. However, he turns out to be ridiculously OP and capable of killing pretty much anybody he wants. Even worse, a bullshit twist at the end destroys his character by making him hate money, hate the system, hate Japan etc. because a long time ago a rich guy forced his kid sister into prostitution, had him raped too for good measure and made into a child soldier or whatever. In the culmination of this onslaught of tripe it turns out he saved Saiga in a foreign country while they were both buried under rubble by... playing a music box. What pathetic SHLOCK! So in the end, he doesn't kill Saiga which would actually have been merciful in that situation as Saiga had lost his eyesight permanently by then, and basically commits suicide, blowing up all the money IN JAPAN in the process, killing thousands in the process off-screen as mentioned above and bankrupts the entire country - which conveniently recovers in just a few years. SHLOCK!

There are also a few boring henchman like the guy with the dog nose who can magically turn into a wolf but is killed by the female cop in like five seconds (I didn't make that up!) Some additional henchmen could've run with the money, but instead go back INTO A BURNING SKYSCRAPER to buy Suitenguu like five seconds which is never necessary in the first place and of course turns out to be just another slice of patheticness on a shit sandwich (I think that is what the minimum-wage Burger King employees are talking about when they ask you whether you want cheese on your Crispy Chicken). And an overacting gay dancer or whatever. Who cares.

Themes:

Absolute power corrupts a lot, and money is pure evil or something. And it is totally ok to be bland as fuck as long as you have a cute face.

Final verdict:

Speed Grapher was not good. In fact, it was very bad. The good thing about bad anime like this one is that they are very easy to review, unlike stuff such as Madoka and Higurashi. The bad thing is of course that they are a pain to get through after you realise you are watching something that cannot just be saved in the last episode by some miraculous crazy genius twist. Avoid.

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