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Hitori no Shita: The Outcast – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「ARCADIA」 by (Lilith)

「張家の秘密?」 (Zhang-ke no Himitsu?)
“The Zhang Family’s Secret”

Hitori no Shita: THE OUTCAST’s debut falls primarily victim to one fatal flaw—but one which can easily be amended in subsequent episodes.

Based on a Chinese webcomic of the same name—which has amassed over three hundred million views—Hitori no Shita: THE OUTCAST is a series written in China and produced/animated in Japan, making this a somewhat rare breed of cross-nation collaboration. The story follows Zhang Chulan (Tamaru Atsushi), who lives his life as a typical college student. He decides to stop by his small hometown in the country one weekend to visit his grandfather’s grave only to find it exhumed, and the body stolen. He finds there a strange girl—the start of a whole new life for our pony tail-wearin’ punk.

Hitori no Shita THE OUTCAST’s debut is not perfect—not by any stretch of the imagination. Its many offenses include awkward, jagged animation, uninspired music, and comedic beats that don’t hit their mark. However, these flaws fall to the wayside when compared to the episode’s largest drawback. It’s far more concerned with hinting at the prospect of a larger story and cast of colorful characters than focusing on—what I think—is most crucial to the kind of action, superpower show this series aims to become: the protagonist.

From the show’s debut, we get very little sense of who this guy is, what his motivations are, what drives him, and so on. Now don’t get me wrong—there wasn’t nothing to chew off here. We get the idea that he despises the small-scale confines of his former home, and is generally petulant and self-concerned. However, we only get the most tepid impressions of this—the episode doesn’t go much deeper than fleeting instances. He is an otherwise unremarkable and poorly characterized individual—a big issue in a show like this, which will largely be driven by the lead character. The livelihood of superpower-based shonen shows like these—I feel—is rooted in the depth and characterization of the protagonist. To engage the viewer and keep them invested in his or her general on-goings. Everything else falls in line accordingly.

As a result of this poor development, a lot of the plot’s details fail to intrigue me. Elements of the supernatural are introduced hastily and without much rhyme or reason. It’s okay—even conventional—for elements of the “other world” to be introduced as jarringly irregular, so long as these perceptions are rooted from the perspective of the protagonist. Again, since very little effort was made to really introduce us to our lens for the series onward, I couldn’t help but feel that the supernatural elements sort of just came and went.

That being said, the show is not without its redeeming qualities. I don’t think there was a lot of expectation going into this one, but the series showcases potential for a really worthwhile watch. Though the show awkwardly introduces zombies without much rhyme or reason, it’s cool that an Asian property is delving into such a well-worn territory in the West. As someone who’s never really bought into the zombie craze, I’m excited to see how this fresh cultural perspective will utilize the property.

And as I said before, though the protagonist wasn’t really fleshed out, at least he didn’t come off as boring and bland. He has a personality, certainly. He’s sort of immature and snarky and childish—and that’s something to go off of. Likeable? No, but something. That’s something the show can provide depth and backstory to, down the line, in order to substantialize his character. He isn’t all the likable, but that provides room for growth and empathy as he is further developed. Though this initial episode did not impress, it leaves the door open for feasible improvement. The show can really grow, and I’m hoping nothing but the best for the series, really. It’s unusual to see a multi-nation collaboration like this succeed in anime. Though it’s unrefined as of now, Hitori no Shita: THE OUTCAST can very realistically go nowhere but up from here so long as it focuses more on its protagonist from here on out.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「In the Dawn」 by (Affective Synergy)

Preview

July 15, 2016 at 10:17 pm
10 comments »
  • July 15, 2016 at 10:32 pmBlue

    You really hit the nail on the head with what’s wrong with the first episode. When I watched it, I was really uninterested after a few minutes but couldn’t but my finger on why. It’s…just so weak in so many areas there’s not much to latch on to here.

  • July 15, 2016 at 11:31 pmdaikama

    Agree concerning the ML. While not say at Qualidea Code levels, he did irk me. On the one hand, I suppose there’s more “depth” to him than a truly generic “bland” nice guy ML. On the other hand, annoying is annoying, and personally I’m more likely to drop a show for an annoying protagonist than say a bland one I can tolerate. Him wanting to ditch the small town for the big city and having a bit of an ego for now being a “big city boy” is OK.

    However, IMO he acts like an idiot too much too often. I mean, yeah, just keep telling her to stop as she slowly, so very, very slowly, tries to bury you alive in an open grave. Yep, that’s sure to work. [/sarcasm] Him rapidly going from frightened & crying for help to false bravado didn’t help either. Frankly, if she wanted to kill him, I don’t know why she just didn’t use her zombie chopping cleaver to kill him first, then bury him. There’s usually a set order to these things. Yeah, I know, need him around for the story, but still…

    Honestly, the entire cast did nothing for me. The girl might turn into a somewhat “baka-adorable” type, but that remains to be seen. I have my doubts about the ML, but possible he improves. The antagonists (I assume they are given the crazy “Yum! Corpses for dinner!” lip licking) gave the impression of generic evil types. Comedy wise, there was one good moment IMO, but the rest fell flat.

    Fights? Eh, nothing great here either IMO. Production wise, this doesn’t look that great. Maybe unfair after watching Kabaneri (which had a decent budget) last season, but those are some pretty wussy zombies. One goes down with a simple kick. O.o. Others just perfunctorily get chopped in half (that’s one hell of a meat cleaver) before the girl splits, thus allowing ML to “show off” his superpower… off screen. *shrugs*

    Overall, Meh. Very meh, and ML not helping. Sure, a lot of upside potential/room for improvement, but one could say that for any underwhelming opening episode. Not seeing that as really a plus here. Giving this one more shot since I find the underlying story a little interesting.

  • July 16, 2016 at 1:56 amBamboo Blade Cat

    The overall was just ok, sort of meh, as was mentioned. It was interesting enough that I’ll watch the next episode. Definitely a series on the bubble.

  • July 16, 2016 at 7:36 amqwert

    So does anyone know what the hell is up with the naming conventions in this show? I know the characters are all Chinese but I have zero clue how Chinese names work so the dissonance between the phonetics and what’s being used in the subs is totally throwing me off.

    Like the main character’s name sounds like Cho Soran but the subs call him Zhang Chulan, and the woman’s sounds like Hoho but written as Baobao.

    • July 16, 2016 at 10:21 amBamboo Blade Cat

      My best guess, since it’s in Japanese, perhaps they’re just saying it incorrectly or using the wrong dialect?

    • July 16, 2016 at 12:00 pmAICW

      Simple. What you’re reading on the subtitles are the pinyin romanizations of the characters’ names. However, the Japanese voice actors are reading the names through the Japanese readings of the hanzi (kanji). This is not incorrect at all. It’s similar to how other names are translated across languages. Like the name “William” but is Guillermo in Spanish and Giacomo in Italian. Or “Michael” which is Miguel in Spanish, Mikhail in Russian, and Michele in French.

      • July 17, 2016 at 12:07 amBamboo Blade Cat

        That’s sort of what I meant, and not that they were saying it incorrectly (that was poorly worded, my mistake), which resulted in the different pronunciations.

  • July 16, 2016 at 7:39 amET

    Starts off being just bland but quickly approaches a strange mixture of ridiculousness and boredom. Not even Saori Hayami can carry this stinker forward by herself.

  • July 18, 2016 at 9:31 amkushieda

    In the show’s defense, the zombies are actually Jiangshi (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangshi) which is older than the western zombie stories.

  • August 7, 2016 at 11:08 amTJ

    Does anybody have an idea where to find the original webcomic/manga. I am very curious and would like to read it.