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: 「In the Dawn」 by (Affective Synergy)