Hein (fub) wrote,

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Finished series: Speed Grapher

We've finished watching Speed Grapher. My first episode review is here.

Saiga is a photographer who gets to the bottom of things. He takes the pictures others don't, and he made his name as a war photographer. He gets the assignment to cover a 'secret club' that is located underneath Roppongi, where the members can get anything. The club is run by the elusive Suitengu, a manager of the influential Tennousu Group.
Saiga manages to infiltrate the club, and witnesses a ceremony. Instead of the club member, he gets kissed by 'the goddess', and he gains a special ability: whatever he points his camera at, explodes when he takes the picture.

Saiga escapes with the goddess, who turns out to be none other than Tennousu Kagara, the daughter of the head of the Group, Lady Shinsen. Kagara was brought into a trance, and she is quite shocked that all the depraved things she saw in her trance (that she thought were just nightmares) were actually real!
Obviously, Suitengu can't let Kagara go that easily, and she gets recaptured. She does plead Saiga for help, and he decides to spring her from her guilded cage.

And so begins a confused story. You see, Kagara is a mutant -- a virus in her body fluids activates another virus that one may or may not carry. The DNA of the carriers is rewritten, so that their innermost wish is fulfilled -- but how rewritten DNA can cause people to turn into biomechanical monsters remains completely unexplained...
As such, Kagara is a very valuable resource for Suitengu, who has been infected with the virus himself. He has prehensile blood (just how cool is that for a concept!?). Suitengu uses his influence in the secret club to gain influence in the political and financial circles, and while Shinsen knows of the club and actively sponsors it, she is completely unaware of the machinations of Suitengu who is striving to become the owner of the Tennozou Group.
While Saiga and Kagara are on the run, Suitengu sends his henchmen after them (my favourite was the head-honcho, the one who lacks a nose and wears frilly suits), aided by various of the 'ascended' who use their abilities to try to get Kagara back from Saiga.

Then it is revealed where Suitengu's lust for money and power comes from. He has quite a history himself, and he is trying to get back at the world that killed his parents and sold him and his sister in slavery. It is quite confrontational to discover that you can actually have sympathy for someone as cold and calculating as Suitengu -- his motivations are certainly believable.
Of course, it all comes to an end in huge explosions, and all is well afterwards (unless you had all of your life's savings invested in the Tennozou Group).

Visually, the series is pretty good, drawn in a semi-realistic style that reminds of Witch Hunter Robin. Done by Gonzo, you know that especially the mechanical designs and animation are top-notch. Character animation is lagging slightly behind.
The music is nothing to get overly excited about, but the makers do get serious bonus points for using 'Girls on Film' by Duran Duran as the opening theme. Especially the second opening animation does a real good job of mixing the music with the visuals.

Good points:
- Action-packed;
- Good animation.
Bad points:
- Rather paranoid and unrealistic story;
- Loses narrative thrust along the way.

Overall, I'd have to say that it's a decent series, but perhaps it was a bit too long. The endless episodes of the henchmen giving chase to Saiga and Kagara get a bit repetitive after a while. A 7.
Tags: anime, full review

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