Seikaisuru Kado – 04

This week opens with a charmingly weird interaction between Shindou and the government. As the first two passengers leave Kado, he rejects the government’s request to represent Japan at the negotiation table (a role that would give him equal power to the prime minister) and even asks to be fired from all his earthly responsibilities. Everyone chuckles. Shindou has such an oddly specific need for fair play and balance.

Off at UN headquarters, the security council is pressuring Japan to turn over the Wan. In a nice anti-nationalist twist, the Japanese officials understand this view point (they agree if any other nation had Wan, they would ask the same) and would agree to the terms… except Yaha-kui zaShunina doesn’t want them to. To zaShunina, governments are a great structure for security, but they don’t eat bread, and his gift of bread is for the people who eat it: humanity at large.

Meanwhile, scientists are puzzled by the Wam, which appear to have 6 distinct shapes when observed atomically, and have an adaptive charge that immediately raises or lowers voltage to the needs of any connected device. Each Wam could be used as batteries for a phone or to replace an entire power plant. And it’s green energy too, producing no CO2.

The episode comes to a close with the UN giving Japan an ultimatum that includes military action. However, Yaha-kui zaShunina seems to have a plan…

Verdict: Seikaisuru Kado employs many nice framing techniques, including reflections and looking through spaces at the people who are talking. It gives many scenes a great sense of scale, or pushes characters closer together or farther apart. The stiff animations still look silly and the ‘action’ is almost entirely talking but there’s a lot of ‘smart art’ here.

That use of space extended to the clutter in it as well. I noticed the cgi model for the military tank in episode one repurposed as a toy in the background, and a no CO2 poster hanging on the board during the green energy discussion. Lots of little details that, if you have the patience to go back to previous episodes, could tell a small story on their own.

The music is still hilariously terrible and Hanamori’s annoying whiny personality feels out of place in the thoughtful setting. Doctor Crazy too.

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Seikaisuru Kado – 03

The Gist: Yaha-kui zaShunina and Shindou have their first true sit-down with the Japanese government and, zaShunina asks the event be open to the press, the world at large. From literally the smallest demonstration, the results are overwhelming for the humans across the table.

zaShunina demonstrates that he is an Anisotropic being by moving his hand through extra-dimensional space, first to slowly grab a bottle of water then to point through himself at Kado. Then he describes Kado, which is a device that allows the connection of Anisotropic and 3D space, and that one possible benefit of this is that he can provide humankind with effectively infinite electrical energy…

What really sells Seikaisuru Kado’s alien mood is the cautious and deliberately precise pace of the dialog. zaShunina understands that meaning is lost through communication — in fact he makes a point of human language intentionally leaving room for interpretation, even without the extra layers of facial expression. However, despite his cautious choice of words and objection to humanization of terms, his alien-ness ad potential confusion shine through.

His explanation of ‘why come to Japan’ using a story about bread and the sharing of plenty, as it relates to an alien concept of Unocle, which has some impact on the physiological impact of Anisotropic space, defies any precise understanding. More over, when this story leads him to offer ‘Wan,’ a multi-dimensional method of providing infinite electricity to all mankind, no one knows what to do. Of course, it didn’t help that he easily cut all power in the area to demonstrate that it could be restored with 2 little balls (which he explains are actually the same object)

Verdict: Kado provides a uniquely methodical tale that blends cautious optimism against uncertainty and dread. You could even call it existential, as it shows us a broad range of human responses to the same information and doesn’t appear to judge which of those responses if correct or ‘better.’ Even though the mad-scientist character annoys me (she feels like a contrived cartoon character and not a person) this alien situation may prove her responses are just as valid, or more, than anyone else’s.

That same pace and weirdness do hold Kado back from being exciting. There’s no action to speak of and, by design, we don’t really know any of the characters enough to grip their agendas. But the cast is generally likable, thoughtful, and the ensuing weirdness is worth you watch.

Seikaisuru Kado – 02

The Gist: 23 hours earlier, Shindou wakes up and begins to explore the news surroundings. The plane is not moving, no signals penetrate, not even light reflects beyond the windows. However, the air is clear as they all would have died by now if it were not.

Exploring further, Shindou decides to leave the plane and quite quickly makes first contact. It’s not an altogether pleasant experience, as the alien first digs through his mind, and then deconstructs his smart phone before understanding how to communicate. Even then, there are gaps in understanding.

Within those gaps, it is clear the passengers are trapped for about 30 days. While they may leave individually within shorter periods of time, their entire mass cannot, and only Shindou is valuable enough to send in advance to help communicate with the government outside.

On the surface, it appears the alien wants to advance humanity but we don’t see many details. More importantly, and interestingly, he advises humanity always think—that trying to discover if he is friend or foe at all times is the right decision moving forward.

Verdict: I dug the first contact sequence. Visuals aside, it had all the right beats, including the thought process from Shindou (not even knowing if it is an alien, a supernatural phenomena or a true god).

The alien’s message is pretty neat, too. It doesn’t rule out that he’s an enemy and it ties in nicely with the message of the show: you never know until long after the fact.

As another, totally random detail, the checklist from the plane’s officers felt grounded and felt believable. It’s a nice change from the slightly silly government big wigs we saw last week…and the eyeroll-inducing mad scientist.

The music is still terrible though.

Seikaisuru Kado – 00

The Gist: The month leading up to the arrival of the alien object in episode one saw Shindou negotiating with an old factory manager over the buy out of the factory land by the government for a event hall. Except that’s not exactly what is going on, or what anyone actually wants Shindou to do. However, they don’t know that until Shindou shows them an alternative through networking and effort.

See, the bureaucrat who is pushing for the sale is just looking for a way to help the old factory owner retire with a little more money. So the hall and the purchase aren’t really the important thing here, which Shindou gets due to the length of time the project has sat in a desk drawer unrealized, and from photos around the factory owner’s office. So he researches other things the factory could do, assesses the workers’ skill, and links them to a government scientist and boom! a month later, they have a prototype for low friction plating, worth billions of yen…

Verdict: Not only does this episode flesh out the characters better, it foreshadows Shindou’s need to be part of (and value in) a greater stakes project. Without this exposure to his working style and all the people around him (including the non-mad scientist from episode one) episode one feels flat.

However, as a stand alone episode, zero only sets things up for the series. What I mean is, it doesn’t feel like a complete product on its own either. Unfortunately, I didn’t know episode zero existed so it’s going to take another episode for me to re-adjust my appreciation for the show. For now, my take on it is much improved but still cautious.

And god damn, that background music is trying way too hard :)

Seikaisuru Kado – 01 (First Impressions)

The Gist: Kojirou Shindou Cabinet Office Director-General for Policy Planning, is at Haneda Airport for a business trip… then his airplane gets absorbed by a giant glowy cube, 2 kilometers from edge to edge.

A lot of bland meetings amongst politicians ensue, featuring a so wacky it hurts female mad scientist and various attempts to ‘save’ the passengers. Despite emitting visible light, the cube emits no radiation and absorbs pretty much everything aimed at it. (RADAR and AP Tank rounds alike)

Then an alien pops out. Or a god. He says hello to humanity, Shindou standing by his side…

You should give Kado a look because it hints at an interesting core idea — that we all spend our lives never knowing what is right or the right thing to say (during a negotiation) because we aren’t gods — and then throws a god into the mix. (probably requiring a degree of negotiation of the protagonist)

Despite being fully rendered CG, it doesn’t look horrible either. Don’t get me wrong! I loved Knights of Sidonia but the color pallet was very limited and the environments were only functional because of the scifi setting. Kado manages a much broader range of color, real world environments, and items. (It just doesn’t do a great job in the animation department, I’m afraid)

You can probably skip Kado because, despite interesting potential, the first episode was very dull. Characters aren’t so much introduced as thrown in front of the viewer with a wall of text describing their role in government. Everything is stiff due to the CGI rendering. And god damn that scientist is just annoying as hell — and cliché.

Verdict: There’s no denying I’m curious who “Yaha-Kui zaShunina” is and I do enjoy the distortion effects of his technology. But that’s about it. Oddly, the music was the biggest stand out for me. Is that enough to review the show going forward?

Maybe? At least for one more episode…