Ok, so it’s been more time than I realized since the last entry, so let’s give you a “Things I Like” entry! Anyway, Speed Grapher is an anime I’ve watched a couple years back, dubbed. It was on the cables, one anime every night, during the week-days. It was not… very good, let us say that.
This is a “Things I Like” post, and as such, it’s not a review per-se, but my thoughts on the series. Spoilers should come as no surprise, this post will have a certain amount of spoilers.
Speed Grapher follows photographer Tatsumi Saiga, who used to photograph war zones and wars. He covers a secretive club where all the movers and shakers congregate, and get to enjoy rituals of decadence. He gets kissed by their “Goddess”,Kagura, a young rich girl who is infected with a sort of virus, that if she kisses some people they die, and others, especially those who were exposed to it before (as Saiga was in one of the secret labs on an island he covered) get to develop super powers.
You could say that these super powers are personality dependant, and depend on some strong facet or obsession of the character in question. Saiga gets to blow up things he takes photographs of; a woman who loves diamonds can turn her body into a moving diamond; someone with tattoos can get them to detach and attack people, etc. In a way, all of these people are decadent and obsessed (except for the “Main Villain”, who got a different story), and their powers make manifest their obsessions, as weapons.
Saiga takes Kagura, frees her, and they all go and try to either escape or capture them, depending on whose side they are on.
It sounds good thus far, doesn’t it? Well, I wasn’t too enamored by it, and I wonder how much of it had to do with the voice acting. We’ve got Christopher Sabat playing the role, and I couldn’t help but this of his role of Lord Zetta in Makai Kingdom. This wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t feel so forced, so fake, every time he uttered a curse, and it just didn’t sound like a real person saying “Fuck!” but like a caricature.
Monica Rial portrays Kagura, and I am not sure why, but she chose to use “Falsetto”, which is questionable as she’s already a woman. Maybe she wanted to try and do “Young, scared girl”? Anyway, it ended up being grating and incredibly annoying. Only in the short section where Kagura sang I could actually listen to it. And after 24 episodes, the sound of this character got very old.
Oh yeah, her “bodily fluids” grant people super-powers, and even though she looks like that, she gets drugs that keep her from reaching puberty… Freud would have had a field-day here!
Choji Suitengou, the main villain was portrayed by Christopher Ayres, who may have used the “Sultry” voice a bit too heavily, but actually it sounded ok. The cries of “Suitengou!” by Kagura were another nerve that was grated constantly during the series.
We also had Ginza, a cop who is violent, corrupt, dresses like a prostitute and tries to get Saiga to be with her against his will, and she’s his greatest ally. Bob, the token homosexual, that aside from an annoying voice was also the stupidest character in the show; I was almost embarassed to watch him. He did have a moment or two when he acted like a human instead of a caricature, but it was rare.
The series had some promise, but aside from the voice acting, the animation was only ok. But seriously, that’s the importance of voice acting (there were also some other soundtrack issues, but I don’t remember what they were at this point, but I bothered to write it down, over two years ago, so it probably was something consequential). Voice acting is the same as acting. There’s a reason they give actors awards and money; the story is what we connect to, or at least it is the meat, but the actors are the vehicle that not only drives the story towards us, but drives our emotional connection.
We think of the movie, we think of the series, and speak of how something moved us, but what we connect to, what we latch onto, it’s the actors, the characters. In an animated series the animation of the characters, their subtle expressions also matter, but the voice is paramount. It is best for the voice acting to compliment and be complimented by the animation, but when they clash so horribly, the suspension of disbelief is broken.
Furthermore, most of the characters in the series, and this includes both the supporting cast of the “Good guys” and the “Evil guys” did not merit much thought, attention, or sympathy. They were crazy, caricatures, or just annoying. Suitengou caring for his subordinates and some of his subordinates being human was almost the only thing to care for (and the segment with the man who owed Suitengou money, and his son, that was good). For the most part, I just did not care, and as I’ve said before, that’s a sin when it comes to media, for me (unless it’s a “Don’t think about it” piece).
The enemies were too “Monster of the week” flavour, and there was not enough build-up. The revelation about how much Kagura’s mother is detestable did not resound deeply, and Suitengou’s past, well, we did care about that. The last moments with Kagura and Saiga were a saving grace in comparison, but I’m not sure they were worth surviving the whole series for.
Score: 4/10 Rotten Dubbings. I think if the dubbing was good, it could’ve been anywhere from 6 to 8, but I guess I’ll never know. The show tries to appear “Mature and edgy”, but the more it tries, the more it appears like a poser.