Mekaku City Actors episodes 1 and 2: Artificial Enemy and Kisaragi Attention

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.

Red Scarf Girl...or Ayano
She’s voiced by the same seiyuu as Nagisa Furukawa. Make of that what you will.

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.

Leaning against the fourth wall
Like making his room spacious and clean when it was supposed to be small and full of junk? Oh, they’re just making fun of us now…

 

Ene, or Takane Enomoto, when she was a human.
How Ene introduced herself two years prior to the story’s start. It’s too bad she didn’t warn him how annoying she could be.

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.

Brake a keyboard, get a holiday's worth of of bad luck.
If something can go wrong, it must go wrong at the worst time possible.

 

What many of us don't want to admit.
These are no idle words. The fact that he actually leaves his house is proof of that.

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.

Kido Tsubomi
A completely average, every-day person that Shintaro just happened to run into. As normal as all the other characters, I assure you.

 

Melalu City Actors
How every trip to the mall should go.

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.

Momo Kisuragi.
I dunno, something tells me she’s not going to make it…

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.

Mekaku City Actors
I still don’t have an answer to questions like this.

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.

Momo Kisuragi
But I wanted the anime to make things LESS confusing…

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.

Note that Momo and Shintaro have the same family name.
An allusion to the one part of Momo’s backstory I do know.

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.

Hibiya
We’ll be seeing more of this kid, if there was any doubt.

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.

Murasaki Lynna

Stories have always fascinated Lynna, whether they are told in books, anime, music, or doodles in the margins of her accounting homework. She hails from Canada, and when she isn’t busy with life or obsessing over some anime or webcomic, she is working on writing her own stories, so that she might one day unleash them upon the world.

5 thoughts on “Mekaku City Actors episodes 1 and 2: Artificial Enemy and Kisaragi Attention

  1. Just in case, I think I should read the manga first before watching this, or perhaps don’t watch at all, I don’t know.. :p I would actually LOVE to read the light novels first, but translations is at a standstill, and I can’t read moonrunes.

    1. The manga has been a bit of a mix so far…Although there were lots of great parts I enjoyed, there were some parts that were a little dull, and the transitions from story-arc to story-arc were kind of jarring. I really enjoyed seeing the characters interact with each other. Apparently, the manga is going off on a completely different storyline now–I haven’t read any of it in a while, though I do intend to finish it.
      I’m still hoping that, if the anime is popular enough, there will be an official translation of the light novels. I found some on tumblr, but they really weren’t very good translations.
      I’m assuming you’ve listened to the songs?

      1. I haven’t finish listening to all the songs (and their lyrics), only got about the first 10 done. I think it’s actually very unique – using songs to tell a story. But since this way of storytelling is such an indirect approach, one would had to rely on the symbolism and lyrics for interpretation, which is actually pretty fun. Although a lot still doesn’t make sense to me until I googled and check out the “answers”, lol.

        I just read the manga and stopped right at the arc regarding how Ene turned into a cyber. Very “feels-inducing”.. xD The next arc after that seems to revolve around Kagerou Daze but I think the arc’s not completed by now so I will hold off reading the manga until then. I actually think the transitions of the manga is fine, if anything, it’s much more sequential than the songs.. which is obvious considering the medium, I guess. There was one plot twist in the manga that had me scratching my head though, and am still wondering if that’s an original plot point from the manga or if it will be reveal in the later Kagerou Project songs which I still haven’t hear. One song I would really love for the manga to expand upon though, is Toumei Answer.

        1. I’ve heard that the Heat-Haze arc in the manga is where the plot starts to deviate. That’s pretty much where I stopped reading. And yes, Ene’s arc has probably been my favourite so far. What was the plot twist?
          I would really love to see more about Toumei answer, as Ayano is my favourite. Have you seen Ayano’ s Happiness Theory? It expands upon it, but mostly in the way of telling us what Ayano’s motivations were. Or at least, hinting at them.

          1. [SPOILERS AHEAD]
            About the plot twist, it’s about Konoha (I think it’s Dark Konoha) shooting everyone to death.

            But at this point, I had actually listened to all the songs, and that plot twist [at least] made some sort of sense. I said [some sort] of sense because there’s no way I can grasp all the plot of KagePro 100%.. xD And yes, I had heard Ayano’s Theory of Happiness and it answered a lot of questions raised in Toumei Answer, it was also nice to see the “founder” of the mekakushi dan^^

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