OP Sequence

OP: 「daze」 by Jin ft. MARiA from GARNiDELiA

「人造エネミー」 (Jinzoo Enemii)
“Artificial Enemy”

The Short: Although a testament to the growth of an important Vocaloid video series and the Kagerou world, observers familiar with Shaft and the series may be slightly disappointed at this premiere episode, but should indeed wait out longer to see if conditions improve and speed up.

The Long: It is important to examine MEKAKUCITY ACTORS from certain viewpoints. Collectively, these perspectives give this anime’s premiere a very conflicted feel. Given my own familiarity with the Kagerou Project and SHAFT’s potential ability, I am personally disappointed in this premiere. Before you go ripping my head off fellow fans, let me explain myself slowly, piece by piece, as to what lead me to this conclusion and that was I’m saying is that this premiere was disappointing, but that I still have hope for the show.

Ironically, Ene points out that Shintaro is always on the internet complaining about the faithfulness of a show and choice of seiyuu–that is exactly what I’m going to do here, except for much different reasons.

Part 0: The History

Before we delve too much into specifics, we should first delve a little into the history that preceded this week’s episode. Feel free to ignore this part if you’re already familiar with the Kagerou Project.

MEKAKUCITY ACTORS is an anime adaption of the manga, Kagerou Daze by Shinzen no Teki-P, which in itself is an adaption of a light novel written by the same person which in itself is an adaption of the various Vocaloid music videos written by the same person. Of these, arguably the most famous one is the titular Kagerou Daze, which depicts a sad story reminiscent of a butterfly effect tragedy. Each story of the videos, collectively labeled the Kagerou Project, depicts an individual with a cursed power or situation, all of which supposedly occur in the same world as every other video.

The reception and popularity of these videos was largely positive, due to a number of factors. One, each video specifically tells an emotional story within the span of approximately five minutes, a sort of musical storytelling that was different from a large majority of Vocaloid songs. Second, each video was animated with unique characters in their own distinct style. Third, as each video came out, people began connecting the dots and envisioning the world which all of these stories were set in. Instead of being individual standalone stories (which they easily were as is), there was a sense of connectedness between the stories, which lead people to anticipate even more the release of the next video, not just for the sake of quality story and song, but for the sake of continuing to expand the universe. Lastly, the songs were outright catchy in themselves, with Vocaloids Miku and IA providing beautiful vocals for the majority of the songs. People loved the series for all these reasons, leaving thousands of comments and generating many covers of the song on Nico Nico Douga. The entire video series is 22 videos long, which eventually culminated in synthesizing all the character’s worlds together.

Eventually, Shizen no Teki-P decided to formally unite all of these stories into one cohesive plot, which gave birth to what we now formally call the light novel Kagerou Daze. This soon also gave birth to a manga, which started in June of 2012. Given the popularity of the series as a whole, it was eventually picked up by animation company SHAFT, and as a result producing what we see today.

Now that we’ve reached this point, shall we see how the adaption has fared thus far?

Part I: The Adaption

Episode one of MEKAKUCITY ACTORS corresponds with the first two chapters of the manga, Artificial Enemy I and II. At a macro plot level, the series is very faithful to its paper counterpart thus far, with the only significant addition being the foreshadowing of future characters as a prologue. We are properly introduced to Shintaro (Terashima Takuma), a NEET whose main defining quality is being the constant center of attention of a digital avatar and program, “Ene” (Asumi Kana). Having been forced to go outside thanks to some soda spilling on his keyboard, Shintaro finds his lack of social ability damning, as well as his lack of resolve to deny Ene a ride on the ferris wheel. However, Shintaro soon finds himself meeting interesting people, being in interesting situations, and slowly finding out that he can’t go back to his NEET lifestyle any longer.

In terms of plot faithfulness, everything is okay. However, what’s important to note is the interpretation of characters from the manga to the anime. Here, let straight out say it: it’s not looking good.

Within the manga, Shintaro is portrayed in a less pathetic manner, where it becomes a bearable trait to witness. In the manga, we see a Shintaro recognizes how bad his NEET life is, to the point where he’s at least making Vocaloid songs to try and make it big. His interactions with Ene are also much more gentle, where he perceives Ene as a definite annoyance, but has a lot more heart and patience for her.

Within the anime though, Shintaro has become transformed into a real pathetic mess, where all he does is browse and comment on image boards and forums (supposedly), all while accepting his lifestyle freely. His dynamic with Ene is also a whole lot harsher, where it seems he derives no benefit with her being around. Whereas in the manga it was alright to view Shintaro as a struggling individual accompanied by Ene, we see a distinctive transformation in the anime that makes his character a whole lot more boring.

The real change though lies with Ene, who is much more annoying and harsher than she was in the manga. Whereas in the manga her subtle wit and careful manipulation of Shintaro allowed her to accomplish the goal of getting Shintaro outside, it seems that the anime portrays an Ene with more…stubborn methods such as, “bother master until he loses his mind and just goes, and then continue to bother him and never stop talking.” It is true that Ene is supposed to be a persistent character, but her portrayal here takes it to an almost unbearable level.

Due to this, the premiere episode was actually extremely slow and borderline boring to watch. While it was interesting to see the rest of the Kagerou cast introduced, the pacing of this episode was way too slow and drawn out. Even without the source material for reference, it was a borderline pain to witness Shintaro get verbally abused for half an episode.

But alas, it was not just the adaption that made things bad, but rather something else–the production.

Part II: The Production

I respect SHAFT as a company. I also respect a lot of the people onboard the staff, with Shinbou Akiyuki, known for Madoka, as director, Shizen no Teki-P as scriptwriter himself, and TeddyLoid (Panty and Stocking) on the music, it seemed that MEKAKUCITY ACTORS was destined for greatness.

Or so we thought. It could very well be that this show ends up being the greatest thing we see in 2014, but as of episode one, it seems far from that goal. Firstly, the animation and draw quality is VERY lazy compared to usual SHAFT standards. Standalone, the animation is passable, but when we see how much work was put into SHAFT’s other Spring 2014 offerings of Hanamonogatari and Nisekoi, it seems like MEKAKUCITY ACTORS got well…shafted in the percent of work the company dedicated to its production. Animated segments throughout the episode usually were hiding these production cuts with awkwardly composed scenes (that TV falling scene anyone?), and anything that wasn’t a foreground element was terribly drawn by second animators. The backgrounds were also overly simple, not in the minimalist elegance that the Monogatari series is known for, but just flat-out lazy and uninspiring.

Lastly, in terms of animation, it seems that whoever was in charge of animation direction for this show really wanted to put that SHAFT-style into the show, even if it feels out of place and overused. Certain examples that stood out were the Zetsubou-sensei despair shots, the signature SHAFT-tilt, the Monogatari-esque eye definition, and the Hidamari-like widening. Perhaps this last point is more a personal peeve than anything else, but at least, having seen all these styles, it seemed inappropriate to stuff them all into this show–it makes the series seem like a SHAFT homage lazily done than a story about the Kagerou Project.

Part III: The Future and Conclusions

Perhaps I’m being too harsh because of the high expectations I set, but I can’t be the only person feeling this way. For many a SHAFTed fan, for many a Kagerou follower, this premiere was not the lighting flame that we were hoping to see.

However, this is not the end, and I swear this isn’t me saying I’m dropping this series (ironically, I have an apology to make for that soon). I still have hope for this series to really pick up and become interesting, since the characters that the Kagerou Project portrays and the powers that they hold are one of the finest pieces of storytelling I’ve seen in anime thus far. I just hope that the story does pick up, and that it really isn’t the case that this has become a back-burner story to appease fans, but that the first episode was merely a hiccup that precedes some amazing things to come.




End Card


  1. Zanibas,

    Did you really drop Nobunaga the Fool? If so why and your reason because lately you seem to keep dropping them season after season. First Golden Time and now Nobunaga, you should just do a wait and see approach before blogging any show because it is annoying when you keep dropping shows left and right when the anime is at the 2nd cour and you don’t give out a proper reason on why you drop it said X show in the first place.

    P.S. what is your twitter? so that I can respond to you easily.

    1. I plan to address this legitimate complaint in a separate post that addresses both Golden Time and Nobunaga the Fool–you can flame me all you want then.

      tl;dr until then–I’m sorry, the reasons I do so are really pathetic, but I plan to change from here on out. I realize that this is very similar to what one of our writers did in the past, and it pains me so that I’m repeating it.

      My twitter is @Zanibas btw, if you really want to start a conversation now.

    2. Nobunaga has fallen apart at the seams recently, not much else to say. It is cliche-ridden, stereotypical, and features poor character development. Considering the amount of new mecha-based shows we have this season, it doesn’t stand up very well against the competition.

    3. I wouldn’t say Nobunaga is THAT bad but eh,average I guess? More or less based on preferences. I don’t mind the drop though as there wasn’t much to talk about. It’s more of a “watch,enjoy & don’t think much about it” anime,but not the Valvrave kind.

      But ugh,Golden Time,that show turned out so bad,objectively bad…It’s one of the few recent anime that I regret watching,despite the high expectations many people had “because it was set in college”(I was one of them too though…). If you ask me,it would’ve been hard to even say anything good about it. Also,it wasn’t something you could have fun by pointing out how bad it was either since it was simply frustrating.

      There are always a few good anime(sometimes very good) that don’t get blogged because of time constraints so I’m all for the writers using their time on such shows,rather than the average/below average ones just for the sake of seeing it through.

      1. I think you’re being too harsh on Golden Time. True, the anime was unimpressive, but the characters themselves are strong enough to carry the show through the shitty animation and uninspired directing.

      2. @Mocha

        Maybe it does if you like the characters but no way if you don’t. I found nearly all of them to be quite frustrating,starting with our main couple all the way to 2D-kun & crew. Don’t even get me started on Ghost Banri.

      3. most ridiculous, biggest cop-out ending (which also defied the established logic within the series) gave it the final kick into the abyss of “good premise, horrid execution” series.

      1. Yeah, that happens..Too bad for Random C, since Nisekoi is only getting better and better each episode. Sure it’s full of clichés..but it’ so damn funny, I could care less. XD

        Helvetica Standard
      2. Nisekoi might be the best cliched show I’ve seen lately! You already know most of the characters reactions but it’s such a treat to watch them that you don’t care! Nisekoi for president please!

  2. It’s not bad, although I have the benefit (curse?) of watching this with no prior knowledge of the series. Nothing in this episode screams disaster and indeed can simply be related back to the “episode one curse” most shows seem to experience.

    Definitely going to require a few more episodes to form an opinion, but so far it has my attention.

  3. This may be out of blue, and sorry for out of topic, I notice Bakamochi is not here anymore, so does anyone know where she is? Like is she still in RandomC anymore?
    Sorry for off topic, I really miss her……….
    Thank you. 🙂

  4. *nods*

    I agree on all accounts, and am glad to find yet another KagePro who had the same reaction to this episode as I did- or lack thereof. As you said, “for many a Kagerou follower, this premiere was not the lighting flame that we were hoping to see.” Perhaps we both made the mistake of going into this expecting that hazily dazed, red-hued flame to spark during the premiere… Or perhaps we’re both just being too critical.

    I will continue to watch this adaptation to the end, and I really, really hope that it does the PV’s that I’ve watched, as well as the Manga that I’ve read justice.

  5. The only upside for me was that Shintaro is actually a stud in the anime adaption. Either ways, I do agree with you. For me I wouldn’t have cared much for the little wrong things going on if it wasn’t for the actual mall robbery at the end. They changed that scene too much just so it would fit with the current “Shaft-style” they were going for. I’ll still watch this…I guess. But if it doesn’t improve I’ll just switch over to the manga. Also thanks zannibas for posting the link to all 22 Kagerou Project videos ^_^, since I’m new to them I’ve been meaning to search for them.

  6. Hmmm… it’s kind of hard to explain my feelings regarding this. I haven’t read any of the written media for Kagepro so I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from the anime since Jin has the wonderful task of connecting all of his songs together into a single narrative. (He’s quite the busy guy with this show. He’s the producer, music composer, and in charge of the script and series composition.)

    What I can say is that it feels like a poor man’s Monogatari. It’s very dialogue heavy, but the banter lacks the wit and colourfulness of NisiOisin’s brainchild. The background’s also seemed to lack something and I found I was getting pretty annoyed when I had to look at this-


    for something like 5 minutes straight. (This could be attributed to SHAFT also doing Nisekoi as well this season since I’m not too sure if they’ve ever done two series running at the same time before.)

    Hopefully it improves because, unlike Mahouka (which also had a seemingly drab first episode in the excitement factor), this one doesn’t scream potential.

    1. Indeed. This feels like a retread of a retread of a retread. So much so, that there’s no tire left.

      I didn’t feel anything for any of the characters. That kind of interplay worked in Monogatari because it was well-written– Araragi was an M who could also Tsukommi, and the characters were likable on some level. They were messed up, but still lovable.

      Not these characters.

      Ene was manipulative and whiny, and the (forgettable) guy was just awful in every way. I couldn’t muster any positive emotions for either of them after 5 minutes, let alone 20. Sure, there were other people in flashbacks/flashforwards, but none of it made sense, so I failed my saving throw against not caring. (2d10, rolled a 03. Whoa, almost a critical fail!)

      As a creator, you really want to muster up something positive in your viewers’ emotions if you want people to watch your show, especially people who haven’t watched all 22 of your videos, or read any of your stuff, or love your songs. Fanboys are going to watch: it’s a given. But if you want to make a break-out anything, then it needs to connect to casual viewers, or else it will die in a corner somewhere.

      I’ll try again next week, but I’m not holding my breath until then.

  7. I don’t know anything about Kagepro beforehand so… I am honestly enjoy Mekakushi. Greatly. Especially with Nisekoi is a horribly written harem anime, Mekakushi give a fresh breath to me this season. All the unique tic-tac-talk, edgy background, and seeming like engaging mysteries…

    This is a real SHAFT to me, I kinda watch Mekakumonogatari. Looking forward to next episodes.

  8. Not having read the source material, I thought it was pretty interesting. This may sound wierd, but I actually like how pathetic the main character is. Here he acts like a real neet, someone with below average social skills and also lacks the drive to improve his lifestyle. I thought it was a realistic portrayal of someone who’s been shut-in for 2 years. Normally, I disdain these kind of protagonists, but I feel like here it works in this setting. As for En, I thought it was a bit annoying how pushy she was, but I also felt like it was a nice contrast to the MC’s behavior of not wanting to do anything. I also enjoyed how verbally hurtful her words were, because the protagonist isn’t really hurt by it, here he seems to like his lifestyle so it’s alright for her to poke fun at him.

    Of course, I can definitely see why those who are familiar with the source material would be put off by the premiere since the two characters act so differently. Personally I liked this episode and am looking forward to more.

  9. I agree with a lot of the points you made–how Shaft really enforced their animating style into the show, how the personalities of Ene and Shintaro were somewhat changed, and how some frames were just drawn wonky. The episode indeed had a few flaws.

    However, since this is a total new “story,” not really following the source material, so far, I still have hope that they can make this series good.

    I could see that this adaption has taken a darker tone compared to the light novel and manga. The good thing about it is that the darker tone actually fits this anime adaption so far, as Kagerou Project does have a darker side to it.

    The only thing I’m really worried about is how they’re going to tell this story with a massive cast of characters in 12 episodes.

    Thank you for blogging this, Zanibas! I’m looking forward to future posts.

    1. I hope my future posts will focus in more on the positive aspects of the emerging characters rather than gripes I have with the presentation :).

      Glad to see this has some anticipation from RandomC!

  10. Sorry, but I’m watching this because of the mouth close-ups, the dynamic, pointless camera angles, and the dialogue that has no purpose to the plot other than to entertain the viewer. And no, I’m not being sarcastic (>.>)….

  11. As someone who has watched the MVs but has not read the manga, I quite enjoyed this episode. I honestly don’t feel like the storyline of Kagepro will be all that great when you expand upon it so relying on Shinbo’s regular tricks might actually be a good idea. What I only want is entertainment + some cohesiveness to the story.

    If this were in regular animation, I think I would have gotten bored real fast but I really enjoyed this one.

    Besides, didn’t Jin do the scripting?

  12. the coloring scheme of this anime, is kinda, awkward… TOO MUCH RED… but, heck, i dont care ABOUT THE ART or how it was animated, ITS ALL ABOUT THE STORY that gives a manga or anime its REAL, TRUE COLOR and KAGEROU DAYS (mekaku city actors) have that.

    as a faithful kagerou days/jin P fan, i will stick to the anime as how i stick to the manga… i know, this anime will kick asses of other anime soon enough.

    the mall terrorist attack is just the start of it… the real story will unfold around episode 3 or 4 (depends on the pace of the anime) since it is clear episode 2 will be dedicated to shintaro kisaragi imouto, momo and her recruitment to MEKAKUSHI DAN.

    The Last Idiot
    1. and as an add on, i kinda agree… with zanibas… it seems, the art could be better but, looks like all the best animators SHAFT have was put into NISEKOI and what was left to kagerou days was, 2nd rate animators and few part timers (yes there are part timer animators)

      The Last Idiot
  13. Except people can’t completely blame Shinbou for this as the original writer JIN is still writing the adaption. If the characters are acting slightly different, then the fault is with the writer, which is coincidentally the same person.

  14. Project was doomed when Shizen no Teki-P was announced as scriptwriter………. he has never been that good of a writer and the only explanation why Shaft would let him write the script would be because they don’t give a damn and sees the series as a brain dead easy cash grab on the fans. The plot of the KagePro has always been akin to the plot in those progressive rock/metal concept albums and it was always going to be difficult to turn it into a more coherent, compelling version without fans guessing the meaning of the songs.

  15. I just want to know how you end Kagerou Project! Why you no make awesome anime with all the elements from the light novels? I didn’t understand the last video, but it seemed like a happy ending… but what happened, though?!

    1. Considering how there are 22 videos, the manga/ln are ongoing, and that there’s only been a one-cour announced so far, I don’t think you’re going to get your answer :(.

  16. I wanted to like this so badly…but the production value was just so awful. I love Shaft to pieces as my favorite studio, but this just looked like a mess. I’ll watch for a couple more episodes, though I’m sure I’ll be wondering where the fuck the budget went for this.

  17. I wouldn’t blame Shaft entirely for the less-than-stellar premiere (though the production looked decidedly lazy in comparison to past works – and for a first episode to boot). While the Kagerou Project has a huge following, it’s comparable to that of Homestuck and the like in the West. Jin’s a talented musician, don’t get me wrong. He’s just not a great writer. Having briefly shifted through the various materials that make up the “Kagerou Project”, I can’t help but comment on how amateurish it all is.

  18. Maybe, just maybe, SHAFT tried to improvise a bit from the original novel. Shintaro didn’t make vocaloid music videos, but browsing image board with Yuno and Sayaka Miki’s picture in it (saw it from the site that was hold by Ene)to leave a bit SHAFT-y mark. And maybe Ene and Shintaro’s interaction was made to be more harsh to portray the theme of “Artificial ENEMY”.

  19. Thank god I’m not the only one who thought this looked like a Bakemonogatari episode. XD
    Over all, the animation really could’ve been better. But I’m just so happy that it finally came out, that I care little about else. Also…


  20. Yea, disagree,

    I thought this was among the five or so best things i have seen in the last year.
    I thought the animation was beautiful and minimalist, the story fun and the style incredible.

  21. Wow. Just went back and reread the first chapter of the manga – Ene really is like a completely different character. Her likeability was really cut down by this adaptation, or at least her character interpreted in a different and more annoying way.

  22. what disappoint me the most of the premiere is the animation quality seeing how much can SHAFT actually do, or maybe it’s just me that expects too much from them

    regarding the characters tho, I can’t quite agree since you referencing their behaviour on the manga cause I don’t think the manga itself is really portraying the characters that accurate. The anime version of ene is really harsh, sure but I personally thought it’s more fitting on anime cause they need more of dynamic interaction inside a 1080×720 screen for the whole 25 minutes.

    but yeah, the excitement that we should’ve experienced was totally put off by the LAZY animation 8|

  23. I think Shaft wasn’t the right studio for this anime (Don’t get me wrong I like their work but not particularly this one)I just think that the animation Done here was bad and I was hoping for something better because I enjoyed Kagerou days very much and was waiting for this to come out for months. When I finnaly watch it I got dissapointed .The recource material was good enough ( though I know Shaft is doing something new ) I still think their changing things too much. They even changed the MC’s room ( Was that really neccesary? ) and twik the character personality and behevior . I not saying it has a BAD animation I just think it could be better and compered to the manga th drawing is more deccent .


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