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Himitsu Agentman

April 7, 2010

Hey, Senko no Night Raid. Hi. Nice to meet you. I’m Landon. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you since I first heard about you a few months ago. You sounded like a genuinely unique fella/lady/genderless entity, since you’re shooting for stuff that most series tend to avoid. For the most part you were spot-on with your first episode, but I’d like to address some concerns I have after our first meet-up.

You’re an action show, and unlike certain other series, you deliver on your promises. You build up to an action scene and you actually show the action scene. The problem is that most of your action scenes are a little, how do you say, imperfect. I’ll give you the final action sequence. The way the main dude fought off those militia dudes with his telekinetic powers was reasonably executed. The problems come from your other action scenes.

That car chase at the beginning of the episode felt awkward. The CG cards didn’t have any “weight” to them, and they felt like they were floating across the screen. There was no real sense of speed or intensity in that scene. And the way they handled and made turns felt really unnatural. And the scene on the boat at the end of said chase didn’t have much of a flow to it. The bad guys just sort of stood there as the main dudes dismantled them. They were distracted far too long by that horn honking, and they were far too easy on the dude that clumsily jumped onto the boat and hung on for his life.

I get the feeling that you aren’t used to showing action scenes. Maybe it’s because your studio isn’t used to producing them. I don’t know, I don’t keep up with this stuff the way some people do. I do know that your predecessor in your timeslot wasn’t much on action, and I’m assuming y’all were made by the same people. Maybe they just need to get more experience when it comes to staging action scenes. Like I said, the last sequence was pretty decent. Maybe this is just the case of first time jitters and things will improve with time.

I’m willing to give you that since everything else you did was pretty snazzy.

You can ignore all of the people bitching about the bad Mandarin. Yes, the main dude does speak the language pretty poorly. The problem is that these fans assume that “spy” equates to “someone deep undercover pretending to be one of the locals and blending seamlessly into the culture.” You don’t need to blend in and speak the local dialect perfectly to be a spy, especially when it comes to fictional agents like these. More often than not, when it comes to being a “spy” in a movie or TV series or whatever, there’s little in the way of trying to have said character function perfectly within whatever society they operate. Watch the Bourne Identity movies. When Matt Damon speaks another language, it isn’t near fluent. His character knows enough to get by and communicate with others. That’s all you need when you’re the sort of “spy” who is more concerned with shooting people, assassinating people, and blowing up people. That’s what you’re getting at, Night Raid. These agents are black ops types. They know what they need to know to get by, but they aren’t trying to “be” Chinese, so it makes perfect sense for the dude to struggle with his lines.

And hell, look at You Only Live Twice. James Bond was supposed to be a Japanese dude in that movie. Sean Connery as an Asian. I love Bond, but even I can say that you’ve already outclasses Bond in that department, Night Raid.

I dig the super powers, and I dig that they don’t try to explain them in any way from the get-go. We’re forced to figure out what, exactly, each person can do based on what they do rather than having some talking head sit there and explain it to us before seeing said power activate. The main dude obviously has TK powers that can be used in various ways. He also has some sort of “timer” on his powers that’s loosely defined and left to our imagination. I dig that as well. We’re not sure what his weakness is, other than “he can only use it to a certain degree for a certain amount of time.” I’m sure we’ll see more of his power and more of its weakness as the series progresses, and I’m loving that we have to learn about it as we progress. That’s a nice touch there, Night Raid. Props to you for taking the Darker Than Black approach to super powers and not the “almost ever other anime series” approach.

And props to you for avoiding being historically accurate. Yes, you’re utilizing historical fact to build a setting, but you’re not being a slave to history. This is the sort of historical fiction that I dig: What we’re seeing isn’t historically accurate, but it at least tries to capture the same “feel” of the time by using historical facts as “seasoning.” It’s one of the reasons why Indiana Jones is so awesome. Yeah, all of the stuff about the Ark and the Temple of Doom are completely fictional, but there were Nazis and other stuff like that during that time period. No one complained that Indy was taking liberties with history, so I hope no one does the same with you, Night Raid. If they do, slap them upside the head.

I hope you get those kinks with the action worked out, Night Raid. You have the goods to shape up into a really awesome series.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2010 12:42 AM

    I think you pretty well hit it. The show wasn’t bad, but the action wasn’t great. Since the DtB comparison is inevitable, compare the opening sequence of DtB (season 1) with the opener here. DtB had a crazy roof jumping scene, then a very cool fight. Night Raid had some people talking. One guy tried to shoot the other and missed (for mysterious reasons). I think DtB wins that one hands down.

    Now, they might turn it around, because they clearly have some good ideas.

  2. April 8, 2010 2:29 PM

    Well, the difference between Indiana Jones and what people were afraid Night Raid would be is that while the Indiana Jones flicks are pro-America, they aren’t completely over the top and obnoxious with it, and Indy is fighting some clearly terrible people that nobody loves . . . while Night Raid is portraying a part of history where the Japanese weren’t doing particularly great things that should be glorified. And considering Japan’s stance with its history — although every country whitewashes its history to some extent — I think the worries were at least somewhat warranted.

    However, I’m with you in that this first episode doesn’t really present anything to be worried about. The agents are working under the guy who is all, “EAST ASIA YEAH” but seem kind of skeptical of him (not to mention, unless I completely misinterpreted it, he seems to be an upcoming target anyway), and nothing else really jumps out at me as blatant glorification. It would be kind of silly to be uber PC and avoid having characters like that anyway. Plus while some people seem to be skeptical of the whole, “Dudes, we’re not trying to alter history here” I take it mostly as the production studio saying, “Yeah, we’re just trying to make a kickass spy story.” I’m definitely sticking with Night Raid.

  3. April 8, 2010 3:24 PM

    It’s animated by A-1 and as far as I can remember the closest they’ve come to doing action was a baseball anime, Big Windup. Actually, that baseball anime was by far the best animated sports anime I’d ever seen. It actually showed people throwing and hitting the ball rather than a bunch of static shots with speed lines and whoosh sounds.

    But yeah, that wasn’t exactly the best animated car chase around


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