Fumiyo KohinataSumire MorohoshiSumire UesakaJapanese
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2017: I
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Director: Keiichi Sato, Shuhei Yabuta
Writer: Hiroshi Seko
Original creator: Hiroya Oku
Actor: Fumiyo Kohinata, Kanata Hongo, Nijiro Murakami, Sumire Morohoshi, Sumire Uesaka
Keywords: anime, SF, superhero
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 11 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=19670
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 26 October 2018
It's pretty cool... until the last episode, which gets really stupid. However that's just a road bump caused by a big new story direction and it doesn't kill all the good stuff we've had until then. You can laugh it off.
Inuyashiki is the name of our hero. He's a pathetic little old man who looks about twenty years older than his real age and has so little presence that even his family barely notice when he's in the room. (He has teenage children, but you'll assume he's their grandad.) He gets diagnosed with terminal cancer in ep.1, but doesn't tell anyone because they won't pay attention long enough to listen.
Then, one day, aliens kill him. It was an accident. They were joyriding or something. They then resurrect him with alien technology before flying off never to be seen again, which leaves him somewhat changed. He still looks the same, but he's now a machine. His body can open up and spit out death rays or jet engines. He can fly. He can punch holes in skyscrapers. He doesn't quite have Superman-level power, but he's not far off.
Fortunately Inuyashiki's a nice old chap. Unfortunately that's not true of the teenager who got the same alien-rebuild treatment.
The show's clearly a riff on comic-book superheroes. (The antagonist teenager's even called Hiro, like the Japanese hero in Heroes.) Inuyashiki and Hiro basically have superpowers, although it's a lot more drastic than that and Inuyashiki isn't sure if he's even the real Inuyashiki any more. He's a machine. He can pick up mobile phone signals and plug into USB cables. Both Inuyashiki and Hiro are trying to reconnect and feel human again. The difference is that Inyashiki gets it by helping people, whereas Hiro will discover that he can get it by choosing a house at random, walking in and killing everyone who lives there. Have you ever seen a child literally drown in his father's blood? No? Well, here's your chance.
That's not nice, obviously. This show has a gift for creating characters who, uh, aren't nice. The bullies who hunt the homeless, the kidnapping rapist yakuza and the gloating online trolls are all people you'll be very, very happy to see brought down a peg. (Inuyashiki doesn't kill his enemies, mind you, although he's good at finding non-lethal punishments that are deliciously satisfying. He'll want them to feel remorse. Hiro... uh, isn't so merciful.) On the slight downside, the show's liable to be a bit heavy-handed in setting up its innocent victims. Maybe they've only just phoned up their ex-wives and they're about to start a new job the next day, or else maybe they're going to get married. It's not a subtle approach, but it works.
Hiro's a more interesting character than Inuyashiki. I like the latter, mind you. He's great. I never got tired of seeing a doddery old grandad superhero. However his clear, honest and straightforward morality means you always understand him, whereas Hiro's much less predictable. He's not just bad. There are people he cares about and he's capable of being protective and nice to them. He can feel grief. It's just that he sees a frighteningly clear distinction between friends/family and everyone else. The former he cherishes, but he can't even process the idea that someone might have a negative reaction to murdering lots of strangers. He's capable of good, as well as evil. He can make decisions at the drop of a hat and completely change his behaviour. It's almost as if Hiro becomes the (very very very dark) anti-hero, while Inuyashiki's his antagonist.
It's an unpredictable show. It can be shockingly brutal, scary or heartwarming. Sometimes it's even funny! When this show decides to go for laughs, it's surprisingly effective.
Inuyashiki vs. Hiro is great, even though they almost never meet. That's most of the show. Good superhero vs. unpredictably bad superhero. I could have watched that all day. However there's also that last-episode plot development that isn't as effective. There's an asteroid, you see. It's going to hit the Earth. They've known it's coming for a while. Obviously that's not good... but, to be honest, I don't think that needed to be a problem. Inuyashiki and Hiro can fly in space, so one of them just needed to go up there and push it. You don't have to smash it up. Just give it a nudge so that it misses the Earth. Hurrah!
They don't do that. They wait until the last minute. D'oh. Well, never mind. Inuyashiki's still an indestructible superweapon who's practically a human nuke. Go on, up you go. Save the world. Seems obvious, right? Well, not to the characters in this story. Everyone bursts into floods of tears, saying "don't go", "don't do it", "think of yourself", etc. even though he's the only hope for the planet Earth. They're behaving as if he'd be leaving on a suicide mission, whereas in fact the real suicide mission would be not to go.
He flies up there, obviously. (Surprise, surprise.) On arriving there, does he try to nudge the asteroid off course? Nope. He tries to pulverise it. The only permitted narrative option is to try to smash a seventy-mile-wide rock.
Sheesh. What an idiot. Admittedly this is justifiable, since Inuyashiki's a doddery old man with no clue about this superhero lark. He's as science-minded as an earthworm. Even so, though... what an idiot.
Even with that last-minute hiccup, though, this is a cool show. Pretty dark at times. Sometimes borderline depressing, but sometimes entertaining as hell and/or funny. It's shining an unsympathetic light on some aspects of modern life and human nature in general. (In ep.11, for a few seconds that includes Donald Trump.) It's an noitaminA show, i.e. for more mature audiences. Not for children. Now I'm keen to see this year's live-action film version too.