「Conductor to Contract」
When judging a series, the three episode rule exists to prevent any preemptive call on the merits/weaknesses present. It’s not a hard and fast rule—and entirely subject to personal taste and patience—but it does encourage better objectivity in the long run. For Hand Shakers though, three episodes will likely be hard pressed to change initial opinions.
Hand Shakers’ problems are immediate from the get go, with the largest culprit being the animation. Although one should know what one is getting into with GoHands (the producers of K), it seems like the studio decided to go more experimental and less quality control this time around. Panoramic shots greet nearly every major environment, with heavy emphasis on crowd scenes in particular. Normally this would be intriguingly novel, but the idea loses its charm after experiencing it several times in a row. Combine that with some seriously distorted perspective shots, shaky camera movements, and claustrophobic colour schemes, and the whole thing risks turning into a vertigo-inducing mess. That doesn’t even touch on the 3D either, which at times works seamlessly with the 2D artwork—particularly in character-centered scenes like those crowds—but often runs at a different frame rate to the 2D, simply enhancing all the aforementioned cinematic issues and aggravating the viewer’s focus. The chain CGI and those hilarious breast physics just add the cherry on top to this dilapidated mix.
Synopsis does not help Hand Shakers’ case either, where once again technobabble meets meek protagonist and his fated meeting with the girl meant only for him. This style of story has been done numerous times before, with Revelation of Babel, Ziggurat, and Nimrod stand in terms for whichever battle plot is the flavour of the
week season. Personally Hand Shakers’ premise reminds me of C: the Money of Soul and Possibility Control currently, but such opinions are always liable to change. Case in point that bondage scene immediately out the gate, which certainly raises the audiovisual stakes going forward. The one real curiosity I have though is the whole hand holding aspect, which definitely is something new for this type of story. It’s unclear what the boundaries on that are requirement, especially given Tazuna (Saito Soma) and Koyori (Morohoshi Sumire) switched their held hands on a couple of occasions, and Bind and Break noticeably never held their own at times. At least next episode looks to explore this idea of constantly needing to lock fingers with your love partner further.
Although impossible to objectively call a series only one episode in, there’s no denying Hand Shaker has already dug itself one hefty hole. With little chance of any serious change in animation style going forward, Hand Shakers’ success will likely come down to its story, which–while currently unknown–does not invite any serious promise as of yet. I’m always open to changing my mind, but unless Hand Shakers shows good improvement going forward, this one will quickly find itself slotted in with the likes of Big Order and Coppelion.