By Long Shot Contributor Brett Bennett:
Serial Killer on the loose!
I am not one who particularly cares for the gruesome criminal-type shows. Blood, guts, and gore are subjects that I generally prefer to be kept in the war and/or historical genres. I had a stint of watching Bones, CSI, and SVU but my speed of crime shows is more along the lines of Foyle’s War, Poirot, Sherlock, and Columbo. My wife affectionately calls my tastes “old lady murder mystery,” but I like to think of it more along the lines of “refined,” where the story and characters don’t need the added support of grim to make it stand out from the crowd. So my initial thought after reading a brief synopsis of this graphic serial killer thriller was that this anime was probably not going to make it past the third episode with me. Boy was I wrong!
Super Heroes with a Twist?
The show picks up right away with a tongue-in-cheek philosophical conversation two guys are having over their mobile. We come to find that one, Murasaki, is trying to reason through an existential explanation to the other, Nice, that it is rather ridiculous to cause a scene at the bank because they won’t let him withdraw his last 430 yen in the account. All this is happening while the bank teller is trying to let Nice know that the bank is being robbed by heavily armed masked men. Someone is just in the wrong place at the wrong time. In this case, it just happens to be the bank robbers. Murasaki and Nice make up the private detective group known as Hamatora and coincidentally have “super powers” known as Minimums. Those bank robbers never stood a chance!
A Fistful of Dollars or A Few Dollars More…
The episodes progress the story much like every other anime worth its salt by introducing and revealing tidbits of background on the list of supporting characters and their relationships to the cast collective. Nice is the carefree nice guy who never has any money because he is picky about what job the duo chooses to do. Whereas Murasaki is his practical counterpart that is there to balance out the team and offer his sage advice – even when it isn’t asked for. They make their “office” in a coffee shop where they rent a table to conduct interviews and other business transactions. As the duo takes on jobs from new clients, ranging from a middle school student who is worried about his missing teacher to the Yokohama Police force asking for help because they are spread too thin, they start realizing that all of the bizarre mysteries that they are involved with all come back around to a serial killer’s brain robbing spree…and he is only targeting Minimums.
Or maybe a penny for my thoughts.
Without giving away too many spoilers, this show gives its audience a little bit of everything that is expected all while keeping them on the edge of their seat: superhero battles, visits to the local spa, a special event beach triathlon, and the season-closing battle on a runaway cargo ship in the harbor. What starts as a happy-go-lucky Starsky and Hutch-esque crime story turns into a dark and disturbed murder conspiracy. This one is definitely not something the kids could watch alongside me.
Another quick mention before I get into the final breakdown, this show is dialogue heavy and that means for you non-Japanese understanding folk like me there are a LOT of subtitles going on. At some points there are two different people talking in the background while two others are quickly discussing an entirely different situation in the foreground. Be prepared to either pause to read or lose some of the extra flavor context.
The writers of Hamatora really deserve a pat on the back. While Season One was only twelve episodes long, they keep the plot moving along quickly while throwing in extra little bonuses along the way. I am definitely interested in seeing if they can keep it going with Season Two.
9 out of 10.
Overall, I am impressed but nothing really jumping out as spectacular with the cast. I was pleased to see that they included a couple of the iconic anthropomorphic cat characters though. Everyone had a decent background story and personality to cover the spectrum of what you would expect in an anime.
8 out of 10.
Ok. Wow! Seriously I mean WOW and many times over, WOW! The artists really give you a feeling of what modern day Yokohama looks like in extreme detail. Talking photo realism detail here. There are these gorgeous little photo montages of the city that they throw up sometimes when the story cuts to an event that is taking place in a different part of town. They could have easily omitted from the show, as they literally blip up on and off the screen in a blink of an eye, and it would have still been something to behold but with these added snapshots you feel like you are flying past all of the local landmarks just on the way to the next scene. The action scenes blur into an acid trip explosion of color whenever the characters super powers are activated. My thoughts are that the producers found some amazing talent in their studio and wanted to show it off. I am glad they did. Something else I am looking forward too in Season Two.
10 out of 10!
Check out this trailer for a smattering of what this show has to offer.
So I wasn’t overly impressed so much by the actual songs…sorry to the guys whoever wrote the songs but I didn’t even feel like looking you up. It reminds me of Matchbox 20 meets Muse meets sappy songwriter. Albeit, I couldn’t even pretend to sing along because there were no subtitles so that might have played a small part in my lack of interest in the songs. I suppose they must have blew the subtitle budget on the actual storyline for this because of all the dialogue. Normally, I would have just skipped past the opening and closing credits but for one small thing: the art was so damn amazing that I found myself mesmerized time and time again by it before I even realized I could have skipped it.
+0 extra points. Kudos again to the artist!
So there you have it. If you are looking for a good mystery solving show that turns creepy dark all while being drawn by some modern day Michaelangelos and you don’t mind testing the limits of your speed reading capabilities then this is a show for you. Personally, I am glad that I stumbled across this one on Crunchyroll. I rate Hamatora with a BOOYAH! Definitely recommend.
Know of any other mind blowing artful masterpieces out there? Then please let me know. Keep calm and watch anime.