Hand Shakers – 01 (First Impressions)

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Jist: Tazuna is a quiet high school student who loves to tinker with and fix things, getting so focused he loses track of time. One day he comes across a hospital bed not unlike the one where he watched his younger sister die.

Tazuna takes the girl Koyori’s hand, and receives the “Revelation of Babel.” He’s then attacked and chased by a pair like him and Koyoti, Break and Bind, but with Koyori he learns to summon millions of gears he can fashion as shields and swords with which to fight back.

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First of all, this show is very elaborate and shiny. Those who watched K or its sequel are no strangers to Suzuki Shingo’s baroque style that employs sweeping camera angles that fly around not one but many animated characters, nearly photo-realistic settings, and super-saturated colors.

There isn’t a single shot in this that doesn’t have something going on, whether it’s highlighted dust motes, lens flares or sun rays, or any other number of tiny details. I’ll be honest: it was a little overhwelming, especially after the relative stillness of ACCA.

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It also reminded me a bit of the Star Wars prequel films. Let me explain: their producer, Rick McCallum, spoke with pride about how dense every frame is, how much is going on at once. But while a little bit of chaos is nice, put too much shit in every single frame, without any kind of hierarchy, and the audience’s eye can’t focus on any of it and basically throws up its eye-hands. In other words, too much stuff and too much excitement can be static and boring.

There’s no denying Shingo’s ambition, or the fact he makes a damned impressive and distinctive-looking show here. But there are many instances where the cracks show, and where frame rates slow to the point we’re back in the mid-nineties, watching PSOne cutscenes.

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Not only that, Break and Bind’s rain of chains simply aren’t interesting enough to occupy as much screeen time as they do. It’s fun watching Tazuna and Koyori dart through a tripped-out alternate dimension of the city, dodging the chains from the BDSM couple…until it isn’t.

There’s more to dislike: Tazuna’s inner stream-of-consciousness to open the episode (and his running commentary throughout) was generic, uninspiring shonen-speak. Break is your typical loud-mouthed one-dimensional villain (ironic considering how much in this show is 3D), and female characters’ busts are a size too big and bouncy for my personal taste.

Hand Shakers is big on jargon (babel, ziggurat, nimrods) but small on telling us what the heck is going on and why. So far, the characters of Hand Shakers are being literally and figuratively out-shined by their environment. And like Lily’s reverse tower card, that’s not a good sign.

There were some nice isolated moments of music/animation/character synergy; that and the overall scope of the visuals are good enough for a 6, but—and I can’t believe I’m saying this about this show—I’m going to need a lot more.

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Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

6 thoughts on “Hand Shakers – 01 (First Impressions)”

  1. Ever had the experience of wanting to meet someone who you think might be interesting, but when you meet them they turn to be an empty bore? That’s this show. I found it execrable and wanted to turn it off halfway but fought those feelings and stuck it out to the end of the episode to no good purpose.

  2. Handshakers did a lot of things I dislike in the first episode. It jumped straight into action with almost no explanation as how, what or why. It tossed the cliches in heavily, such as a dying imouto and a crazy professor. And It took elements from myth completely out of context to name its magical elements, which is always a cheap device I feel. The art style is very precise and ‘CGIed’ to the max which despite its 3D elements gives it a kind of flat feel which adds to its artificiality. Character design is cliche 101 and its S&M elements were totally gratuitous. So for me when I said execrable, I meant execrable!

    Thankfully there are enough good shows around this season to not feel a loss with Handshakers. I will also be watching Zestiria 2, and there are also lots of good comedies around with Konosuba, Akiba Strip, and Gabriel Dropout to keep me engaged. :)

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