Earlier this year, Hand Shakers was an anime that was met with high anticipation. The studio behind it was responsible for the critically acclaimed K, as well as some guilty pleasures like the Seitokai Yakuindomo and Princess Lover series. Now to me, hype is the worst thing that could happen to a series, as it polarizes the fans who will love trash if you throw it at them, from the critics who see these shows as the most god-awful pieces of crap ever to have been committed to animation.
And with such anticipation, that’s exactly what happened. A monumental letdown to fans, that has since become a cult classic to challenge would-be anime critics into getting aggravated over this series for all of its terrible direction. And yes, it is terrible.
Well… I just finished a reality hurdle that has been bogging me down for the past 6 months just yesterday, so I’m in a much better mood to tackle said “garbage.” And… well… it’s bad… like… if you really love the innocence of anime, stay away from this series, kinda bad. But if you’re like me, and think that determining whether a show is good or bad in itself is rather superficial… uhm… it’s not as bad as you might think…?
Happy belated Valentine’s Day, everyone!
Now don’t get me wrong. I love romance anime. In fact, it’s probably the most covered genre I have done on this blog! So whenever an entire holiday that’s pretty much about sweet erotic love comes around, I always have this urge to tear it all down to show just how silly it is. Now I would call this one of my traditions around February 14, but… I missed my opportunity to make fun of it last year. (Then again, I have also tackled romance around White Day.)
Anyway, that’s enough excuses. If I’m going to break down a romance anime, I’m going to do this right. I need a good series. A popular series. One that exploits the harem genre to its fullest, and oddly enough one of the better series I’ve seen recently in the sub-genre (you heard me), because if you’re going to make a harem series, at least make sure the guy will passionately kiss anyone!
Do you like anime? Anime where the hero is awesome? The girls are cute? The villains are multi-layered? And the plot sucks you into its narrative? Well then prepare to throw everything you thought you knew about anime out the window (although the girl is still cute)!
Created by one of the most successful artists in the manga/anime industry Rumiko Takahashi, Rin-ne is the anti-anime, where the hero is… okay, the girl is average, the villains are just dumb, and the plot punches you in the gut for expecting anything more than flat-out comedy. AND IT’S GLORIOUS!
After all, this anime makes fun of the one thing fans hate to love and critics love to hate: the tropes.
There is a tale in Chinese and Japanese folklore about a red thread. Because of its divine properties, it cannot be seen, nor felt. You will never even notice that it’s there. But by some other worldly chance, the red thread will always bind two people together, across time and space. It is said that two people who are bound by this red thread will make history together.
For modern interpreters, the meaning of this tale is rather simple: the two who are bound by this red thread are soul mates; and thus, they will be romantically attracted to each other. But if you were to ask a classic Eastern interpreter, the red thread goes beyond just erotic love. A higher love, you might say. It is this quality of the red thread that I am reminded of when I saw one of the highest grossing anime films of 2016 recently: Your Name.
The time travel. The murder mystery. The unflinching domestic violence. The reference to the Tale of the Spider’s Thread. The determined mother. The humanized criminal. The nihilistic plot. The town superhero. There are a lot of things to talk about in this series, but there is one theme I want to focus on for this review: the will of the artist.
Why? Because somehow I feel like only the artist (which I will keep ambiguous) could possibly coast us along and weave together every last detail of this series and make sense of all of it, from the protagonist’s struggle to the words from the pizza girl. And also, it’s the main reason I consider this a great series, despite the fact that (here we go) I found this anime to be annoying.
That’s not to say that I didn’t like it. I just… as a critic… look, do I really have to spell out how overly idealistic this series about an unlikely superhero is?