[TIL] Element Hunters – Sometimes I Don’t Like! [UPDATED]

You know how this category is called “Things I Like”? I guess sometimes we have to post about things we don’t like. Maybe I should use another category, or just remove the TIL tag? Feel free to chip in in the comments.

Anyway, Element Hunters is a new anime, which Dattebayo is currently fansubbing, so I’ve decided I’d give it a whirl. The first episode was awful, but I decided I should check at least the second episode as well, it was still awful. Now I’ll give you a slightly more comprehensive run-down, but in case it wasn’t clear; the show is horrible.

SPOILER ALERT: I spoil so you won’t have to suffer through this.

Short synopsis: The year is 2029 AD, and elements from the periodic table disappear into Nega(tive)-Earth. This causes ALL the places on our Earth (at least) with these elements to lose them, causing things to be ruined, disappear, earthquakes (if something disappears from Earth’s molten core), etc. They have teams of “Element Hunters” who go and hunt the creatures who “take” the Elements.

I’d post here the opening theme, but on youtube you can find the video without an audio, and the audio without a video, because it seems the company asked for the OP not to be uploaded (weird?). So I linked you instead.

Now I’ll discuss that opening song. The quality of the art is what you’ll see in the series, basically. Just with a bit less action. Yes, they look like crap wearing their suits, kinda like cyborg monkeys (I’m thinking of Planet of the Apes here; I know apes are not monkeys). And no, they don’t have two eyebrow lines, that really thick line is their eyelashes(!). The art style did not impress me at all, I kinda liked the monster which reminded me of some Digimon mashup with Kagutsuchi, from Mai-HiME.
In general, the art is reminiscent of Digimon, or what I’d like to call “B-grade anime” but worse, with influence from western cartoons that are C-grade for art. Only Dr. Carr looks like it was drawn with care and looks good. This is also why you won’t see screenshots from the anime. I couldn’t make myself take them.

As for the song of the opening, according to YouTube the singer is Ishikawa Chiaki. I like the song overall, but I think it could have used cranking up a bit. The volume should have been turned up by a couple of notches, and the song could have used more energy, more vigor, more shouting in it. It gets closer at the last five seconds or so, but while it’s a good song, it could’ve been great.

So instead, I’ll link you to the Promotional Video of the anime. It’s better than what I’ve watched, and shows you even more what the art style is like, and generally tells you more of the history of the world (like the year it’s in!) than the first two episodes. I’ve forgot to say above, but while the characters look pretty much like crap, or like what is aimed at shows for 8-10 year olds, the backgrounds are lush, lavishly drawn and beautiful.

But while it’s nice for a promotional video to drum up some interest, how horrible things are when the first episode makes you throw your hands in the air in disgust?
The characters are stupid, and go along the ride, without thought. The “main” character of the main three, Ren, is stupid, can’t do well on tests, acts before he thinks, etc. His female friend Kiara acts without thought as well, and only Homi spends some time thinking. But this is because he’s the timid character.

The show has so much bad science that it makes other anime look as if they were written by people with Ph.D. in the natural sciences.
The main enemies are life-forms native to Nega-Earth which when they attract 5 elements become hostile and transform into monstrosities, some of their powers depend on their fifth element. Such as a Carbon QEX (that’s what they’re called) employing a carbon nano-tube.
Anyway, QEX stands for “Quint Essence X”. Quientessence being one of the names of “Ether” or “Dark Matter”, and for some reason X stands for 5, when it should be V — X is 10 in Roman numerals.

The reason only children, and only special children, can go to Nega-Earth, is because through Apoptosis, grown-ups had lost the ability to see/interact with the right material. Though if you click on the Wikipedia link, you’ll see this is not exactly what programmed cell-death is about.
The QEX the characters defeat in the first episode is defeated by making it eat a potato, so that its hydrogen would connect with its fifth element of Nitrogen, and it’d disperse. Oh, and it was impervious to normal attacks because it had done something with regards to Bose-Einstein Condensation, no less!

The scientist who had collected our team, Dr. Carr, tells them that there’s a reason that what the main government does, of just hunting for the QEX, getting the element back, and returning it to earth, will fail, for one reason. What reason? She says she won’t explain now as it’ll only confuse matters… yes, matters could be confused even farther!

There is one point of light, which is actually an explanation one could expect and accept in Sci-Fi media. When asked how the portal they use to get to the Nega-Earth works, the answer is that “Currently no one knows”. This is an accepted answer, and makes more sense than coming up with horrible, horrible science.

I also dislike the “Cartoon logic”, which doesn’t seem to be in effect most of the time, and isn’t used for comedic relief, such as when Ren drops several hundred feet off a slope curled around a rock, and bounces right back.

Towards the end of the second episode, the adult is willing to throw the children into danger, untrained, and some of them balk. The adult tried to guilt-trip them into it, and they refuse. We get about half a minute with each character’s family, and this is where the show has some potential. Families that are suffering from problems, or Ren’s parents that seem sane and caring, and worried about their stupid, careless child (He’s not brave, he just doesn’t think about what he’s doing).

Summary:
This show is more or less unadulterated crap. The story is weak, the action is weak, the characters are super-cliched, including the government’s team which will form the opposition/competition. It could be a show 8 year olds will enjoy, and heck, maybe even at 13 year olds you’ll pass the time in front of it if it were on TV and you were bored. But those kids could point to an endless array of shows that are better than it.

The Good: Opening Song’s audio is nice. Backgrounds are great. Dattebayo’s translation is as good as always.
The Bad: Bad drawing, crappy animation, crappy character development. AWFUL science.
Score: 3/10. Give it a pass people.

I guess it’s only fitting we’ll end with the Ending theme. Again, audio only and video only. This doesn’t have the redeeming qualities of the opening even. It’s basically a crappy song, and then they sing through the Elements’ Periodic Table. Yes, this reminded me of Poke’Mon’s original ending where they went through the Poke’Mon list. Here you’ll see something else I forgot, or didn’t bother, to note above: The Elements’ shape, and I don’t know if it’s only their representation or not, is a photoshopped version of their letters on the Periodic Table. Another meh.

Update:

You know, when you make errors, admit them!

If you look up “Quintessential” on dictionary.com you’ll see its source.  It does indeed refer to Dark Matter, which I don’t think is surprising or accidental (Ether=Dark Matter, for those who look to connect these things), but the source comes from, indeed, “Quinta Essentia” which means “Fifth Element”. The “X” stands for, well, it’s a variable, it stands for the fifth element the “QEX” attracted being “Fifth Element [x]“.

I’m not too worried by this, show has plenty of bad science still :)

Also, here are reviews of the first two episodes by “Taan” on Hey Say Anime. They are much more entertaining than my review, and have more pictures, which I know people like.  It’s amusing how we more or less reached the same conclusions though :)

Anyway, first episode and second episode.

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13 comments on “[TIL] Element Hunters – Sometimes I Don’t Like! [UPDATED]

  1. Snark says:

    Sounds like pretty much every other shounen show ever made -_-;

    Anyways, added you to the blogroll >;)

    • Guy says:

      In concept.

      It’s like two shows, or two books, could have the same concept, and very disparate executions.
      Ideas are easy, even good ideas. Making them work out is hard.

      And thanks :)

  2. gunstray says:

    … My motivation for watching this show, was to see those kids get beaten by the element potassium.

  3. T.I.P. says:

    Hmm…I thought “TIL” = “Today in Life”. ^^;; Oh well. I haven’t watched Element Hunters, and it seems like I won’t be watching this one at all…especially after seeing the words “crappy animation”. ^^

  4. A2ZOMG says:

    You should not judge a book by its cover. Watching only 2 episodes is NOT sufficient for reviewing a show.

    This show by the way is ridiculously underrated and actually very solid in terms of character and plot development. You however wouldn’t know since you’re an amateur critic who doesn’t have the patience to give each show a fair chance.

    • Guy says:

      I’m sorry you feel that way, but, a couple of things:
      1. I make it clear that this is based on the first two episodes, so it’s not like I claimed to have knowledge I did not. If you take that into consideration, then everything I said is “legitimate”.

      2. You can consider it “First impressions”; and this is important, but if a show makes me suffer after two episodes, then it doesn’t matter how great it turns out to be after, cause I won’t be watching it. It made its “pitch” to me, its “Trailer”, and it didn’t make me want to watch it. That’s a lost customer.

      P.S. If I’d watched this series when I was 13, and there wasn’t much else to watch, then maybe I’d have watched it. It is not THAT much worse than DigiMon, though it is. But with me having to go to the effort to get it, and with there being an endless amount of superior shows for me to watch? It doesn’t cut it, not by a long shot. But hey, so long you enjoy it, that’s what matters.

  5. A2ZOMG says:

    An endless number of superior shows? lol you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Basing an opinion of an entire show on 2 episodes is still not how you review a show. There’s a lot of shows that look good at first glance but are actually complete utter shit like Seikken no Blacksmith. So yeah if I just watched two episodes of that show I could say “omg this show is amazing and Luke is a badass” when in actuality the show demonstrates extremely poor character development and an extremely weak main protagonist.

    Element Hunters on the contrary starts off somewhat weak, but a few episodes in, the story and character development becomes ridiculously good.

    It’s definitely better than a lot of the shows that are getting released these days, since this show actually has a complex conflict, AMAZING character background development, and quite a few serious moments. There’s really not too many other shows that are beating this one in terms of raw story.

    • Guy says:

      If you look up what my TIL posts mean, they are defined as not being reviews. They’re my impression and thoughts, not just of the show, but which I’ve had after watching the show.

      The first two episodes didn’t make me want to keep on watching, so I made a post about the impression I’ve had at that point. In fact, I even made a post at some point about first impressions. I posted what I thought, about the point I got to.
      To be honest, every show needs to keep making you come back, each and every episode, the moment you stop, they lost. So it’s a fair feedback.

  6. bobfredson says:

    One thing you barely touch on–and indeed, only glibly acknowledge–is that this program is made to educate children. The intended audience isn’t adults with degrees in science, but rather grade-school age children. The characters are prepubescent, with the same age, tendencies, and (albeit exaggerated) behaviors as the children most likely watching the program. Yes, Ren is exuberant and often acts without thinking, but really, what 11-year-old boy slows down to think through the consequences of his words and actions when faced with the possibility to save the earth? (or maybe just the possibility of two scoops if ice cream for dessert?). As for the science, I think the show does an admirable job of making the periodic table come to life–literally–and introducing the building blocks of chemistry to children. Repeating the elements’ names, depicting them visually, and identifying them by number and symbol all aid in the recognition and retention of the elements of the periodic table. The same goes for the ending song, which serves as a mnemonic device to memorize elements. The series doesn’t have any higher goals than to introduce to children to science–specifically the periodic table (not scientific theory!), and I think it succeeds.

    You deducted points for cartoon logic? It’s a cartoon. For children. Did you really think that showing a characters broken, bloody body after a fall would be anything other than inappropriate? If that’s a breaking point for you, you must not handle any visual media (anime/TV/movie) well.

    • Guy says:

      1. And this is the most relevant comment, this is a “TIL” post – “Things I Like”, it’s not meant as a review. It’s a semi review that focuses on my thoughts, feelings, and impressions.

      As such, it being aimed at children is a point I mention “in passing” (I dedicate a paragraph to it), because it’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is what I thought of the show, regardless of its target crowd. Also, most people who read this blog aren’t children either, as such, you could imagine it being aimed at kids is irrelevant when it comes to whether they’d like it or not.

      Finally, there are more than a few shows aimed at children I’ve enjoyed. How about Avatar: The Last Airbender, enjoyed by many adults?

      2. Yeah, it’s very Poke’Mon when it comes to the elements, but trying to pass it off as an educational show feels very forced to me. It’s a show meant to entertain with a thin veneer of education.
      Finally, without polling many children, any point on its success or lack thereof here is pointless. I don’t buy that education was a main goal for the show either.

      3. About cartoon logic, first I’ll refer you to point #1. The points are a mixture of how good a show is and how much I liked it. Since I can deduct points for anything I dislike, this makes perfect sense. There’d be a post on this at some point.
      And while you’re right, and “cartoon logic” is to be expected, I even say that in the post. Sometimes it’s grating and feels like it doesn’t belong, especially in non-comedy shows. It’s all about how it felt in the context.

  7. ruko says:

    I agree with A2ZOMG about Element Hunters. My favorite anime.It helps you learn the chemical elements like bobfredson said.I love the music and the storyline.

    • Guy says:

      I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it. We can like something even though we appreciate it’s not the best, or appreciate something as a masterpiece we just didn’t like.

      So long you’ve liked it, and I’m sure others have as well, then it’s good that you’ve watched it. Just wasn’t the show for me :)

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