OP Sequence

OP: 「Error」 by GARNiDELiA

「Analog Hack」

The setting of Beatless isn’t extraordinarily complex, but there’s one thing that I really want to know: how advanced is the average HiE? We’re reminded constantly that Lacia is a super-special model of android, but she’s really more than even that, right? And our erstwhile protagonist (what was his name again? He’s so very forgettable) knows it. So the story’s going something like this: the kid meets Lacia, some piece of rogue military technology or the like, out of pure coincidence, she uses an incredible electronic warfare weapon right in front of him, he decides to take ownership of her (‘it followed me home!’), and then goes on with his life as if nothing was strange. Is nothing strange? Does this happen all the time? Even if not, it seems like an awful waste of a warbot to just have her play dress-ups.

To be fair, the secondary cast are a bit savvier than Arato (right, his name was Arato). They, at least, can sense that there is supposed to be a plot hook here and seem to be actively investigating it. It’s good that somebody is, because plot does seem more interesting than the awkward flirting, but alas Beatless still seems intent on investing more into its daily life with robot segments. There are two necessary side-effects of this decision. One, the protagonist has to be, at least at this moment, irreparably thick, devoid of both wit and curiosity so that he will neither see the plot right in front of his eyes nor endeavour to seek it out. Second, with the plot so firmly rejected by the protagonist it rebounds onto the secondary cast, making the protagonist look increasingly irrelevant. This makes Arato a rather frustrating as our point-of-view character; he’s not supposed to be an idiot, yet acts like one, occasionally showing hints of recognition that suddenly owning a piece of unexplainable super-technology of unknown original like Lacia may be a serious matter, yet never willing to engage his cerebral cortex for deeper contemplation.

At this point I can’t really tell if Beatless expects too little from its viewers or too much. On the one hand, it feels like they keep pushing the relatively shallow boy meets cute-robot-girl angle because hard sci-fi doesn’t sell well with a modern audience, but on the other hand it does bury hard sci-fi underneath the surface that we need to dig to find. In this episode, when I first saw the death-bot turned fashion model subplot I must confess that my first reaction was, ‘What the hell is this bollocks?’. And indeed, the sequence didn’t sit well with me. For one, manufacturing obsession with trends to control the masses sounded far too Brave New World, a hint of dystopia in this otherwise bright future, only there was nobody who called it out. As we went further, though, I considered that maybe this was the intended effect after all. They drop the title of this episode — Analog Hack — near the end, but it’s just a fancy term for psychological manipulation, with robots. I don’t think the episode actually explains it that well, but how I see it is that in Beatless we have these robots that are even better at acting like humans than actual humans. They are capable of emulating any personality, skillset, or behaviour model so long as they have the correct programming (‘clouds’, whatever). This makes them, like the functional psychopath, perfect manipulators. Consider this: an AI designed to convince us they are people is already a layer of manipulation. With sufficient understanding of human psychology, they can manipulate even more. One HiE can emulate authority to act as law enforcement. Multiple HiEs can coordinate to move a crowd. On a subconscious level, human beings use body language, subtext, and emotional cues on each other all the time. On a conscious level, actors are trained to elicit specific responses from the audience with the most subtle of expressions and gestures. Heck, when we watch anime we can cry at a sad scene or whatever even though it isn’t real because of careful timing of dialogue and music and whatever. But there is a willing suspension of disbelief there. What if, instead, we were surrounded by psychopaths and being consciously manipulated every moment of our lives? Beatless notes why some people don’t like HiEs in its setting. They don’t like being manipulated, being ‘hacked’. Do we empathise with these robots because it feels like they have a ‘soul’, or are they just tricking us? Consider every cutesy gesture of Lacia’s. By her own admission, all her actions are calculated. Arato is clearly fond of her, but everything she does around him is designed to be liked. Does that make her actions more sinister? Or is it fine as long as we can’t tell?

And that was how five minutes of the show became more interesting than the other 20. I admit that I may be amusing myself a lot more than Beatless is, but there were interesting ideas that set me off. I really hope that Beatless will grow more courageous about exploring these ideas it goes along. At some point Arato will become a functional character and not just an unnecessary weight on the plot. The third episode usually ends Act I and truly opens up the narrative. Let’s see if it Beatless can manage a show of strength there.




      1. that’s true, that’s why you look at the number of people who voted for such rating, generally +5k is enough to be 99.9% precise, also what matters is the time the show aired at, for example within the first 500 votes on it it’s either very low or very high it’s same as irrelevant, or for example a show can take a big hit if it was good 80% of the way then suddenly it pulls Guilty Gear. It is strange to say but you need experience observing rating charts, of course a lot of people are skeptical of rating like yourself from lack thereof.

      2. @Melia
        It’s possible my source of scepticism is an alleged 0.1% margin of error for a measure composed of any number of people who are no more informed than any other, tasked only with converting their immediate feelings in any given week into an abstract number. Mood gauge, sure. Rating, I wouldn’t bank on it.

  1. They’re not making a great case for the “robots are people too” concept when it’s coming from a character who displays such extreme levels of stupidity as Arato. Maybe that’s the idea, and this is going for a “robots really aren’t people” approach? Might as well just go all the way and give it an everyone dies ending to round out the depression, in that case.

    1. Judging by the tagline, it could very well be the point that there is a certain irrationality to treating robots as humans. And the message could be that such irrationality is okay. After all, the Turing test is bandied about in science fiction all the time, and it’s only measure is whether a machine can fool us into thinking it is human.

      Not that Beatless necessarily has the will or the time to explore that idea, but that shouldn’t stop us from thinking about it.

  2. Well, now the “Robots” can not also cook, clean up and everything. No now she are even Idols

    Perhaps she can also Dance on the Battlefield, while snugs in the firing and killing on her performance for the fans

    This Girls are to Perfect. That make them untouchable and this little guy got super Lucky.. I think envy would only come from this.. Why she choose him and not me, that are way better!?

  3. ‘What the hell is this bollocks?’

    Indeed. Lots more infodumping followed by “cute escaped killing machine is now a famous fashion model”. And we didn’t even get “walking in on cute robot girl in the shower” either.

  4. ep 1 was good then ep2 turn to shit like wtf did i just watch… the plot disappeared, the pacing was horrible and it ended randomly. The mood they had from ep 1 was completely gone???

  5. Well that actually reminds me of many magical girlfriends anime in 90s. They always started out so dull, boring, and trite, where the jokes hardly landed and the “interaction” between the main guy and the heroine always so one sided and cringeworthy. Half into the season and BAM! shit suddenly got real, add some tragic past and angst and….well, the dissonance such scenario creates always kills me

  6. I’d never heard of this series, but the season preview hyped it up a bit and I was excited. This is now the most generic BS out there. Super killer robot that turns into domesticated house maid, that turns into super fashion idol within like a day. This show can’t get any more ludicrous. First drop of the season (well, simultaneous drop with the exactly the same generic Grancrest Senki).

      1. Well, it contains every generic wish-fulfillment trope in the anime playbook for this type of series. The fact that it contains so many doesn’t make it special, its what makes it ludicrous.

        Same thing for Death March (another show I’m now dropping). Contains every isekai trope imaginable. It’s so over the top generic, that it’s ludicrous.

      2. @seltzermx
        I’m also a bit quizzical about ‘over-the-top generic’, but no matter.

        Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment, because it’s more interesting that way. Isn’t Lacia being the perfect wish-fulfilment robot the point? Isn’t that the issue with HiEs, that they essentially supersede humanity by doing everything better in a perfectly calculated fashion? Lacia constantly reaffirms that Arato trusts her, but when her entire personality is a fabrication, should he?

      3. See, that’s a series I’d be interested in watching. But, unless they’re playing the ultimate long con and surprise us, I seriously doubt that’s what going on here.

        And I am truly sad about this one. I saw the images of the figures and the posters from the season preview, and I liked that art style, but here they just went for standard anime fare.

        Maybe I’m getting old, or have finally seen too many shows that the repeating patterns annoy me.

        *Yells at kids to get off his lawn*

  7. I’m hoping this will turn into a shit-hits-the-fan kind of show where they lure you in with cute robot girls then everybody dies in some conspiracy plot like madoka or mgrp…and that it just doesn’t suck

  8. I said i’ll wait until episode 3 but this one really wanted to make me stop watching right away.

    Again the setting and storytelling were completely butchered, to the point i had to rewind the episode in order to make sure i did not miss something, ie. the scene where Arato decides to make his hIE work as a model.
    The following scene (street modeling) was of an unprecedented awkwardness, i struggled to not hit the stop button on my remote.

  9. I actually like the fashion show sequence since it showed how good HiEs are at social engineering. No need of prior experience, just download data from the cloud and they could assemble a crowd of ten thousand people. Any HiE can do it if given access. I think it just made normal fashion models obsolete. Getting even 1% of the sales looked like some good money for one day.

    Of course, the start of the episode already set the bar low. Seeing Lacia’s change in body language was interesting and I still believe in her admission that she has no soul. Also nice to see the side effects of the “analogue hack”, especially when looking at what’s his names friend. I think the whole family except the little sister have a negative view of HiE.

  10. Passerby – Well done my fren…as you have delved much deeper into this episode than i could ever have. I was just annoyed that i was watching a fashion show and a budding love relationship with boy and girl. Granted later i tried to think they was something deeper to the whole thing but was struggling… 🙂


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