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).
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.
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 :)