Saori HayamiYurika KuboDaisuke NamikawaRika Tachibana
Frankenstein Family
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2018: F
Also known as: Jikken-hin Kazoku: Creatures Family Days
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2018
Director: Wei Tianxing
Writer: Cai Zhiheng
Original creator: Yanai
Actor: Daisuke Namikawa, Kazuma Horie, Nanako Mori, Riho Sugiyama, Rika Tachibana, Sakiko Uran, Saori Hayami, Yoshiko Ikuta, Youhei Tadano, Yuko Sasamoto, Yurika Kubo
Keywords: anime, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Website category: Anime 2018
Review date: 23 October 2019
Jikken hin Kazoku Creatures Family Days
Tanis is an eleven-year-old boy and the youngest of five siblings. He'd like to have a normal family, but that's never going to happen. Their parents (now in jail) were mad scientists. They used their children as guinea pigs and turned them into:
1. Snow (male, 17 years old) is a dog-boy. Sometimes he's a dog and sometimes he's a boy.
2. Ashise (female, 16 years old) can grow plants from her head and photosynthesise.
3. Aisley (female, 16 years old) is a spider-girl. As well as her human limbs, she has four arachnid ones growing from her back. She can also scuttle and leap with spider-speed, basically making her an anime Spider-Man. She can even spin webs. When a dog bites one of her apparently human legs in ep.2, its teeth break. She's a bit short-tempered, though, and she's liable to eat bugs.
4. Suishi (female, 14 years old) is a telepath. Probably as a result, she has no social skills and avoids people.
5. Tanis (male, 11 years old) is physically normal, but a genius. He thinks he hasn't been modified. Well, maybe he's right and maybe he isn't. He's become the family's de facto leader, but he's also a small boy who'd be completely lost without his siblings. He's got no sense of direction, for a start.
As a show, it's nice. A bit lightweight and you'd never call it gripping, but it's charming enough. You know everything will turn out okay. These five sweet, kind, moderately pathetic children will bumble through their daily lives and get to grips with their self-inflicted problems. They'll learn lessons like "it's okay not to be the same", of which I approve.
Incidentally, the monster ones (the three oldest) all have multiple forms. Sometimes they can pass for human, if necessary taking drugs to suppress their biology. (How does a drug make extra limbs disappear? I don't think I'm meant to be asking that question.) They'll also have their standard mildly monstrous form... but there are other options too. There will be a mega-monster form, in which their extra genes have gone completely berserk. They all hate being like that, though.
The most interesting thing about the show, though, is its live-action extras.
This was a Japan-Taiwan co-production, you see. The director, producer, scriptwriter, character designer and creator of the original manga are all Taiwanese. What's more, for some reason, Chinese anime tend to have erratic and usually shorter running times. I don't get it. Are they only broadcast online or something? You look down one of them and the episode lengths will go 19 minutes, 15 minutes, 18 minutes, etc. However this show aired in Japan and Taiwan simultaneously, so the Japanese version (which I watched) had to find a bunch of filler to pad out the episodes to a standard length. They do this with:
(a) "story so far" summaries at the start.
(b) the equivalent of DVD extras at the end. You'll be watching light-hearted interviews with some voice actors, composer, singer, Japanese manga editor or even fans at a convention. What superpower would they like to have? (This gets some cool answers.) Which is their favourite character? All this was my favourite part of the show, partly because the people being interviewed tend to be likeable and partly because it's interesting to see behind the scenes of anime and manga. I loved Riho Sugiyama, who plays Tanis. She's mental. Her choice of superpower, was "the ability to become a small boy". However I was slightly unnerved by Yurika Kubo, who's a completely nice, normal young lady but has a face that you'd swear must have been Photoshopped. It hasn't been. This is video footage. She really looks like that. I think it's the distance between her eyes.
I'd recommend watching this show for the live-action segments. The anime itself is okay, but not that memorable. It's nice and sometimes funny, but the under-length episodes and the gentle tone mean that I don't feel as if I've watched twelve episodes' worth of anime. You could cover this material comfortably in six. That doesn't mean it's not likeable, though.