Tsuyoshi KoyamaKenji AkabaneDaisuke SakaguchiMasami Kikuchi
Kado: The Right Answer
Episode 1 also reviewed here: Anime 1st episodes 2017: K
Also known as: Seikaisuru Kado
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2017
Director: Kazuya Murata, Masaki Watanabe
Writer: Mado Nozaki
Actor: Daisuke Sakaguchi, Hiroaki Miura, Hiroshi Naka, Hisayoshi Suganuma, Kenji Akabane, M.A.O, Masami Kikuchi, Rie Kugimiya, Ryoko Shiraishi, Shiro Saito, Shizuka Itou, Soma Saito, Takuma Terashima, Takuya Kirimoto, Tetsuo Goto, Tsuyoshi Koyama, Yusuke Handa
Keywords: anime, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 14 episodes, but starting from ep.0 and including a recap episode (6.5)
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=19011
Website category: Anime 2017
Review date: 15 December 2018
Seikaisuru Kado
I wanted to love it. It's doing all kinds of cool, unique stuff and it's championing intelligence. It's trying to be serious, thoughtful hard SF.
Unfortunately, though, I found it a bit of a slog to reach the final episode and I was delighted to delete all my copies the moment I'd finished. It lost me in ep.5. The show's capable of being stupid and/or boring, while its ending has been controversial (although I quite liked it).
It's a First Contact series. An alien visits Earth, but he's not even from our dimensions, let alone our universe. He calls his home the anisotropic and he travels in a cube 2 km wide that can either drift harmlessly through solid objects or shrug off tank shells. He can reach through other dimensions and make his apparently severed hands pop up any distance from his body. His name's Yaha-kui zaShunina.
This isn't an anime First Contact ("they're cat girls with boobs and they're going to live in your bedroom!") nor a Hollywood one ("pack heat and kick ass!"). Yaha-kui zaShunina finds mankind almost as incomprehensible as we find him, but he's bringing gifts. These are, literally, civilisation-changing. What's more, the human cast are sensible adults doing their jobs. The protagonist is Japan's top negotiator and the supporting cast includes other negotiators, the prime minister, the Assistant Secretary for National Public Safety Commission, the Cabinet Secretariat of National Security Agency information team, etc. They're not wacky. They don't share their private lives. They're professionals in a high-pressure situation.
Well, except for Kanata Shinawa. She's an adorable geek scientist and often the main (or the only) source of entertainment.
(It also doesn't help that this is a CGI-animated series, so the cast will sometimes have CGI Face. The show usually avoids this problem, though, and I thought the CGI was well done.)
Anyway, for a while I was enthusiastic. It could be slightly dull sometimes, but I wanted to see where they'd take this premise. I liked Shindou's guiding principle ("a successful negotiation isn't about winning or losing, but about giving both sides what they want") and there was plenty of cool stuff in the human race and Yaha-kui zaShunina gradually working out each other.
Then, alas, came ep.5. (Well, it starts in ep.4.)
Yaha-kui zaShunina's just given the human race some Wam, which generate unlimited free energy. Obviously this will tear a hole in the world economy, so plenty of countries have something to say about this. So far, so good. I enjoyed the show's cynicism about the UN, the international community and the likely consequences for global warming.
Then, though, the UN passed a resolution demanding unconditional surrender of the Wam, threatening both economic sanctions and military action. For me, this broke the show. I couldn't believe in it any more. The great powers playing dirty... yeah, that's a no-brainer. Their choice of action, though, is bullshit, because...
(a) the international community just wouldn't invade Japan. It's the world's third-biggest economy, it has the world's fourth-biggest military (the JSDF) and invading it was a terrifying prospect even when it was on the ropes at the end of World War Two. Here they've also got a super-alien. Also (and more importantly), you just don't escalate like that with a big friendly power unless you're a rogue regime doing it for shits and giggles, like Russia. Even in the Trump/Brexit era, that's a special level of dumb... but I suppose it's an unprecedented situation. I'd have been okay had there been no other problems, but...
(b) Yaha-kui zaShunina can make more Wam whenever he likes.
(c) no one's considered what Yaha-kui zaShunina might think about all this. He's trying to give Wam to all of humanity. Pissing off an extra-dimensional superbeing probably isn't clever, especially after he's only been here a few days. This won't be the end of his tricks. The Wam was just stage one.
(d) The only way of controlling the Wam supply would have been for the UN to demand that Japan surrender Yaha-kui zaShunina himself. Fortunately the show realises that that wouldn't work.
Admittedly this is resolved with a pretty cool development, but it was already too late for me. The show had put a gun to its head and pulled the trigger.
Then, later, the show again got stupid! I don't mind Saraka Tsukai believing that humanity shouldn't have been given the Wam. That wouldn't have been my position and it's particularly surprising from the International Negotiator for the Ministry on behalf of the Japanese government... but hey. Fictional characters are allowed to disagree with you, especially when later developments give us a much more satisfying insight into their motivations. No, what bugged me was the simplistic level of her debate. We shouldn't have the Wam because, ooh, look at the pretty flowers. She's in a role that effectively makes her responsible for the entire human race. My problem isn't just that she's ignoring all the genuine issues that would indeed deserve discussion, but that the show and the other characters are letting her get away with it. ("Leave humanity alone" is a more valid position if you don't think we're trashing the planet, for instance, although conversely you could argue that giving us infinite energy would just accelerate that process. That debate never gets started.)
Then we have the ending. I think some viewers rejected it because it's pulling magical stuff from its arse, but I thought that was fine. It's not just justified, but almost mandatory. That's what happens with extra-dimensional beings. Sometimes it's a bit "oh okay", but some of it fits pretty well and feels like a satisfying development within the show's SF rules. (Warning: not all viewers agreed with me.)
On the other hand, though, it's also a rather conventional ending for an unconventional show. I'd have loved it had they been able to resolve everything through negotiation, ideally with Shindou's maxim of both sides getting what they want. (They'd even been building that up in ep.11, which I liked a lot.)
There's a lot to like here. I'm sure many people will have loved it, from the Lovecraftian ideas of ep.8 to the way the show's sincerely trying to grapple with complex ideas. There's undeniably a lot of intelligence here. (It's just not consistent.) The show's exploring all kinds of viewpoints, while it also gets less dry in the later episodes. However as a whole, I think the show has a problem with drama. Everyone's usually sensible and reasonable, so the show resorts to generating opposition through stupidity.
To be honest, I didn't usually feel like watching this one. I couldn't be bothered. I was forcing myself a bit. However the show's attempting lots of interesting things and it doesn't feel like other anime. Mileage will vary a lot on this one.