It is very rare that there is ever an anime I am dead-set on watching while it airs. Mekaku City Actors is an exception. For those of you that don’t know, Mekaku City Actors is based off of a series of vocaloid songs, light novels, and a manga, all known collectively as The Kagerou Project. I’ve only listened to the songs and read a bit of the manga, so while I’m very interested in the plot and characters, the majority of the story still eludes me. The Kagerou Project doesn’t have a very straight-forward story line, and when there are fan theories are based on other fan theories, it can be hard to figure out what’s going on. I have no idea if the Mekaku City Actors anime is going to be any good, but I hope that, if nothing else, it might clear up the plot a little a little for me.
Episode 1: Artificial Enemy
The story opens with a sort of dream-sequence scene, involving a girl who I will not name, because I think that might be considered a spoiler, but who is important to the story and, incidentally, my favourite character.
After that, the story begins where I expected it to. Shintaro Kisaragi is a hikikomori who has not left his room in two years, and would live in complete solitude but for the annoying cyber girl named Ene who lives as a virus in his computer.
One day, everything goes downhill when Shintaro spills some soda on his keyboard, utterly destroying it, and is forced to leave his home in the first time in two years.
To Shintaro, it is already bad enough that this means he has to go outside and interact with other people. Unfortunately, this is also the day that a group of terrorists attack the department store. So, with his hands tied, surrounded by some rather…odd individuals, Shintaro needs to think up some way to escape.
This was more or less what I thought it would be. It’s not a bad first episode, but it isn’t ground-breaking either. The animation is very stylistic to SHAFT, which I should have expected but didn’t. Although it’s different from the manga art and the song PVs, I do think it suits the story. The voices are mostly pretty good. Ene’s voice is driving me crazy, but it’s supposed to be irritating, so I can’t really fault them for that choice. It kind of hurts to listen to. I think this episode made for a solid start.
Episode 2: Kisaragi Attention
Although it did contain some new and exciting things, almost all the material in episode 1 was familiar to me. Episode 2 has began to dabble with parts of the story that either I’m not familiar with, having never read the light novels, or are actually completely new.
Watchers new to the story are probably disappointed that the second episode doesn’t resolve the cliffhanger ending of the first. Instead, it skips back to the beginning of the day. While Shintaro Kisaragi was stuck in his room, Momo Kisaragi, a sixteen year old teen idol, was in a late-to-school rush.
She had actually left her home an hour early, but unfortunately, she can’t walk very far without someone stopping her to chat. She is late, and her teacher, Kenjirou, scolds her accordingly. He confronts her about her terrible grades and test scores, and I was amused to see more of his character, since I don’t really know much about him.
Then, things start to get a little weird. And when the entire plotline of Mekaku City Actors is a little weird to begin with, that’s saying something. Momo begins to imagine what it would be like if she had to repeat her first year of high school, and she imagines all of her classmates as…tape recorders. Do you know what this kind of weirdness reminded me of? Revolutionary Girl Utena.
Luckily, Mekaku City Actors doesn’t seem like it will be half as befuddling as Rev. Girl Utena. (Not that Rev. Girl Utena was bad…just confusing) After Momo’s teacher is done chewing her out, we get treated to her backstory, most of which was new to me. Although vague and full of symbolism, it does actually end up making some sense.
After the flashback sequence ends, we’re brought back to the current events, which involve Momo getting some time off, which should have been a good thing, but, as with Shintaro’s trip to the store, turns out a little disastrous.
Based on these two episodes alone, Mekaku City Actors has yet to prove itself a good adaptation of The Kagerou Project. It hasn’t disappointed me, but it hasn’t impressed me yet, either. What worries me most is that the Kagerou project has such interesting concepts and characters…but if they aren’t executed right, it could easily be dull and mediocre, which would make me quite sad. But even though I haven’t liked everything I’ve seen, I want very badly to believe that this is going to be a good show, and I know others do, too. So we shall just have to be patient and, huddling in front of our computers every Saturday, watch the story unfold, whether it be a poor adaptation or a masterpiece.