Post Reply Blinded in the Haze: MEKAKUCITY ACTORS
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Posted 5/8/14
by edsamac

Blinded in the Haze: Mekakucity Actors
review by edsamac


When was the last time you sat down to listen to a radio drama? Let me rephrase that: have you ever tried listening to a musical drama whose plot scenarios were all told in the form of a song? People in the West may not have had their fair share of radio dramas as they would have it in Japan, but the Kagerou Project is one of those few such works that have seemed to revive this otherwise niché segment of creative storytelling. What started out as a song-series by Vocaloid music artist Jin (AKA Shizen no Teki-P) would eventually turn into a massive following of viewers on Nico Nico Douga, a 5-book light novel series, and now a television Anime Series featuring its cast of characters in unabashed, multi-colored, HDTV glory.

Shintaro Kisaragi is a shut-in who encounters a certain "super hacker" online going by the name of "Ene". Her avatar appears to be a sort of artificial intelligence capable of interacting with the unemployed Shintaro.

Mekakucity Actors follows each individual song track story from the original Kagerou Project song series - AKA “Heat Haze Daze” - produced by Vocaloid songwriter JIN (Shizen no Teki-P). The story talks about the events surrounding a certain Mekakushi Dan (“Blindfold Gang”) - a group of teenagers who possess unique powers manifest by a change in their eye-color. The series itself has multiple story lines overlapping in an omnibus fashion, initially starting off with Shintaro Kisaragi and his misadventures with a mysterious Artificial Intelligence-like interface named “Ene”, followed by the initial encounters of Momo Kisaragi (sister of Shintaro) and the so called Mekakushi Dan. This is eventually succeeded by a time loop arc between a certain Hibiya Amamiya and Hiyori Asahina wherein the two repeat an endless cycle of saving one another from a traffic accident, only to have one or the other die in the process.

Hiyori Asahina is just one of many characters introduced in the story. Her contribution to it, if anything at all, is yet to be seen.

Unless you’ve actually listened to the song series or tried reading the light novels, the synopsis may sound very confused and highly convoluted at this point - as it should be. At the discretion of the original creator Jin, a sense of vagueness permeates the whole story as if left dazed during a hot summer solstice. Perhaps this is the reason behind the whole name of the project, but the use of teenagers with superpowers speaks little of anything even remotely inspiring. If anything, the source material as a song series and light novel would be more than sufficient for a darling audience wiling to tolerate its obtuse appeal. Would the same translate in the anime version of the franchise?

Director Akiyuki Shimbo's unique approach to cinematography and visual direction grants Mekakucity Actors a very intriguing appeal.

Give it to Director Akiyuki Shimbo (Monogatari series, Puella Magi Madoka Magica) to highlight the peculiar approach of the story with his visually stimulating approach to cinematography and character development. Instead of vague and uninspiring, we get intriguing and provocative. Though character development remains to be seen, the first few episodes worked well enough to interweave the seemingly disconnected story lines into a palatable whole, working more as an appetizer for the subsequent digests to come. Of course, things wouldn’t be complete without throwing in the original songs to which each episode title takes its inspiration from - all of which are re-performed by various artists instead of the original Vocaloid version. I would have liked to have heard Miku and the original versions, but it’s refreshing to hear variations every now and then. The result is an interesting visual interpretation of the stories told by the songs as (hopefully) would have been envisioned by Jin in his original renditions and musical videos.

In the end, however, Mekakucity Actors turns out more to be a visual fiasco with a somewhat fragile base. The storyline is, if anything, only lightly tempered with enigmatic but generic teenage characters having otherwise unmoving character motives. The series thrives on confusion and seemingly unrelated story lines, perhaps in hopes of tying the ends together with a pleasing outcome. I do not know what exactly that outcome will be, but it seems that if there is any reason to continue pursuing this series, it would be out of pure adoration to the series as a fan or basic appreciation for the compelling art and style of direction. For what it’s worth, a forgiving viewer may want to try familiarize themselves with the song series, as is available on Nico Nico Douga or YouTube for viewing. Otherwise, Mekakucity Actors leaves its viewers blindfolded - per its name sake - wandering around a maze of stories in a misty haze of sorts. Those who appreciate unique approaches to story telling may find this an interesting watch, but the oh so impatient may find themselves struggling to look for an exit.
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Posted 5/8/14
My thoughts on this in the regular discussion thread!

I used this to make sense of this anime and it works for me! I like crazy abstract styles anyway!

I am quite fond of the animation style and the storyline. I watched and liked both Kyousogiga and Serial Experiments Lain which this anime reminds me of! Both have wild animation and crazy storylines so I feel comfortable with this!

BTW I spent like two hours listening to the music and it also helps at least for me!

Anime Likeness

MCA Heat Haze / Serial Experiments Lain The use of power lines in background





MCA / Kyousogiga Both are so abstract and people liked Kyousogiga even if they didnt understand it!






http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-841919/mekaku-city-actors?pg=22#46443575
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Posted 5/11/14 , edited 5/11/14
As with Kyousogiga, both are actually more of conceptual art than anything, but the latter is decidedly more so than the Kagerou Daze project. I personally enjoyed Kyousogiga for it's Avant Garde style and deconstructive approach to the Lewis Carol original, but in the end it can only be appreciated in the perplexity of its form. Content wise, it doesn't provide much.

Unless you're really looking for something meaningful or memorable in terms of story, these type of conceptual "abstract" shows probably won't suffice. And I'm talking about "story" here. I'm actually very pleased with the treatment the show is being given under the hands of Shinbo-Kantoku. I've been a fan of his style for quite some time now, but I'm quite aware that there are a handful of people out there who find the style a bit too eclectic for their tastes.

YMMV on this one, really, but it's worth the watch if you like form over content.


FLjerry2011 wrote:
MCA / Kyousogiga Both are so abstract and people liked Kyousogiga even if they didnt understand it!


In response to conceptual art, this is a form of impressionism in that the viewer is moved more by the way the visuals/experience of watching makes them feel, more than anything else. I'm quite the fan of impressionism myself, but these are the type of shows that usually don't garner much of a following. More reason to add to the YMMV tag.
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Posted 5/13/14
I really love this anime, but that is mostly because of the art and animations.
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Posted 5/14/14
Honestly, i was actually listening to the music not really knowing what it was xD
Even though it made sense, i still couldn't catch that it was a complete story from different scenarios. Now that the long awaited anime has come out, its making more sense to me. Call me slow but thats how it is rofl. Love it so much though sadly I'm not watching it on CR (sniff sniff) but its not one of those leech sites, thank goodness. Anyway, this is a very fine anime and i know I'm going to follow it to the very end.
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