Koroshiya-san: The Hired Gun Review

This is review number two hundred and sixty three AND a half. This anime is part of the Fall 2013 lineup. I’m once again doing another “less than five minute” anime thanks to the rules of my review poll. I’m starting to lose my patience with these shows but I’m sure I’ve ranted enough in the actual review. Anyways, the anime I’ll be reviewing is a three minute show called Koroshiya The Hired Gun. It’s a ten episode anime about an assassin and a bunch of funny skits. It’s pretty good, I guess. Let’s read on.

Story

This show is about an assassin named Koroshiya and his everyday life. Assassins are considered cold hearted bastards that do illegal things for a price. They’re ruthless and they lack morals. I guess the plot twist in this show is that assassins are just like you and me. They have their own quirky attitude when they’re alone and they also goof off during work. They’d have time to eat burgers with fellow assassins and even go shopping with their apprentice. Yes, the show is about the dark and evil things that assassins do but it gives it a spin by putting in some fluffiness from time to time. Koroshiya may walk down a path full of blood and illegal activities but he is also a regular person that is caught up in his own routine like hanging out with friends and taking care of his chores. It’s certainly not you’re ordinary tale about assassins.

Taking the Pants Off

I once called these “less than five minute” anime as some sort of novelty in the anime industry. I’ve seen and reviewed five of them and three more coming soon in this particular lineup. This is getting ridiculous. For some odd reason, studios have this idea that they can make it big by doing these kinds of anime. To be fair, if you’re a first time studio, then you test the waters by adapting a four panel and crunching it down to fit a five minute or less format. You aren’t betting big money when you’re such a green studio. This is the case for most “less than five minute” shows. No named first time studios are penetrating the industry in a small whimper like a homeless rat invading someone else’s house. It was fun at first. I mean, slice of life four panels getting short adaptations are fine. No one is getting hurt. When you see five or six in a single lineup though, I think it’s come to a point where it’s starting to get a bit ridiculous. We don’t need this many and, since most of them are forgettable, we don’t really care how many you crunch out. Sadly, it’s a trend now. Less than five minute anime is slowly becoming a niche for that bored Japanese guy that has nothing good to watch on TV. How are these f*cking things becoming popular? I don’t get it. It needs to stop. I might skip all these shows in the next lineup I’m reviewing if it grows to something more than five or six shows. Anyways, this particular show is OK. It has its good and bad parts. A show about the life of an assassin sounds like a nice premise. It provided a few laughs but it also left me a bit lost at some of its episodes. It was good enough to waste three minutes on so I guess you’re getting what you’d expect from a three minute show.

The show is about the things you’d expect from something about assassins. It has our main character killing people, talking smack with some policemen and even scaring off some of his competition. What you won’t expect from the show though is how it tries to go out of character. I guess that’s the main appeal of the show. It establishes a word full of cops and bad guys but then spin it into something funny and unpredictably stupid. Four panel manga are often about a gag to be dished out in, shockingly, four panels only so I guess adapting them into three minute shows isn’t such a bad idea. This is what you’d expect from this one as well. Each episode is about a simple gag of how serious people go off character and becomes stupidly funny individuals. The idea certainly works but the gags are often a bit of a hit and miss. Some jokes are truly funny. Some are just stupid fun while some are pretty off the mark. It’s a mixed bag that prevents you from truly enjoying the anime.

The smart thing about the show though is that it features a wide variety of characters. Some episode features a single character and works some gags around them. This is pretty smart because you’re getting something new in each episode and it doesn’t become a bit repetitive. This is bad as well though because you’re constantly adjusting to the pace of the show with how it changes things with no warning. It’s mostly good since it doesn’t really matter if the status quo changes since it’ll end in three minutes anyways. As I said though, there are good jokes. There are simple stupid and then there are some bad ones. Let’s go at it one by one to discover the upsides and downsides of this anime.

There are episodes about Koroshiya himself. He is a serious assassin that often goes a bit loopy in certain situations. There are some episodes that involves Koroshiya blushing as he tries to get a haircut or how he’ll clean a dirty house after he kills his target. He’s a quirky character and the episodes about him being un-assassin like and more stupid idiot-like makes up for some stupid fun. These are OK episodes. I mean, you’ll see how this assassin acts when he’s not killing people and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the things you’d discover. It has an easy setup and the jokes are executed pretty decently. It may not make you laugh but you can still see how good the whole thing was presented. If he isn’t doing stupid things by himself then he’ll be doing it with his apprentice or his fellow assassins. Most of the time, you’d expect serious talks from these characters. I mean, fellow killers and a kid being taught to be a killer are dark on its own. The show does something weird and tries to make these particular setups more fluffy. You’d see hard boiled killers blushing.

You’ll see Koroshiya hand a dirty magazine to his apprentice.

You’d even see three men fighting at the bathroom.

Yes, dear gawd, this show is undeniably stupid. Some would say that it’s pointless and I do agree with that as well. I think that’s the first thing you’d say after you watch an episode but, again, it’s only three minutes long. Doing anything complex at this point would just be even more stupid than what it already is.

There are some gags though that I really like. They’re the same setup as the previous OK ones but I think these ones were just really funny in its own way. It setup more perfectly than the rest of the gags. The ones I like the most involves Koroshiya and this detective that is trying to bring him in. It has the usual setup. It’s about two opposing side swearing hatred to each other. One is an agent of the law that protects peace and order. The other is a law breaker with no sense of morality left in him. The episodes involving this two starts out simple enough. They would be indifferent to each other but somewhere along the lines, they’d start blushing and would go all BL on each other. With no reason whatsoever, these two would start getting all friendly on each other and then display some act of mutual understanding that often leaves the audience a bit uncomfortable. It’s pretty damn ingenious, actually. I often find myself really laughing hard at how a simple conversation between the two can turn out into something deeply disturbing and borderline yaoi. The lovely part is how it starts out normal and just goes unintentionally disturbing. The cop would tell Koroshiya that he’ll catch him by the tail and then it just goes south from there.

The other gag I like from the show is those between Koroshiya and his victims. There are scenes where Koroshiya would be in front of a man lying on the floor begging for his life. The poor man would have blood on his head and Koroshiya would say something ominous before doing the deed. It starts out normal as well. It’s something you’d expect from an assassin scene where the victim is about to be offed but then Koroshiya would do something with the victim. He’ll pull a gag. It’s as stupid as the rest of the show but it also possesses the charm of the show. It catches you off guard as you realize the anime is about to go retarded. The moment the gag is unleased is pretty damn funny. Koroshiya doing something out of place with a victim has wonderful execution to it. It really gives the show a pretty nice appeal.

This show also has some bad gags to it. It’s really along the lines of “I don’t really get it” more than actually being bad. Most of show’s setup takes a bit of background briefing but some of them are just too far off for me to really understand and appreciate. There was this one gag where Koroshiya converses with a girl and the gag of those scenes involves the girl yelling out various words. I think it’s a play on words or something but the show goes a bit too fast for me to really understand. Koroshiya would burst out with a nose bleed so I’m guessing it was a dirty play on words or something. I don’t get it and I spent a lot of time re-watching that certain episode just to understand it. It was just really a miss for me to really get into. A bunch of the gags in the show has this kind of miss effect. You’re often wondering what the goal of the gag was and it’s a bit annoying when you’re stumped coming up with a decent answer. Some of the good episodes contain at least one of these. Some of them though are really just lame that, even if you understand them, I don’t think you’ll ever find it funny. It’s a three minute show so something like this is to be expected.

OperaHouse is another one of those small time studios making an above par show just to get noticed. This has got to stop. Less than five minute anime used to be just simple filler you can watch to waste time. It’s not meant to be taken seriously. New studios aren’t encouraged to make a flash animated show as their first releases. To be honest, the whole thing is pointless. Are these kinds of anime really good enough to make a studio known? This is like a celebration of the mediocre and this seriously has to stop. PA Works worked as sub animators to develop a style it can adapt before releasing their first anime. KyoAni did the same and gambled their all on every work they release starting from those Key Visual adaptations. It’s sad that new studios can get away with mediocrity. They should be burned. I am even handed on this review since I am impartial but I am no longer liking the fact that these less than five minute anime are becoming a trend. Either pay your dues or just back off. Gonzo is good enough to remind me how mediocrity has a firm grasp on the anime industry. We don’t need no named nobodys ruining the fun for everybody else as well. Gonzo sucks.

Sight and Sound

hiredgun6

Character design is done by this dude named Haruki who was credited as Chiku in this anime. He is part of the doujin circle that adapted the visuals of Katsura Masakazu, the author of Video Girl Ai and Zetman. They copied the way the face are drawn and that distinct style of sexiness that Katsura seems to have mastered. The group then made a bunch of smut using the design. Google “Sense. Manga” and checked the images to get an idea. Haruki is an established mangaka now though. Although his smut isn’t that noticeable in this show, one thing is fairly obvious. This guy knows how to make great body proportions on characters. The way the characters are drawn and the way the four panel looks makes it stand out. It’s very detailed and you really wouldn’t think this was from a four panel. Koroshiya has a great body. He is tall and he has a muscular build that is enhanced by the way he dresses. He has this tight suit that is unbuttoned to expose that sexy body imprinted on his white undershirt. It’s pretty minimal since it’s a flash animation but the amount of details is still kept intact and it does elevate the look of the show. The rest of the characters are overly detailed as well. From their hair design to the tall build they have. It’s pretty impressive if you consider this anime was rendered in flash.

The animation is atrocious. This was done in flash so you can’t expect smooth transitions. The jarring effects of the cheap look of a flash animation were nicely overcome by the show but you can tell the movements are clunky. OperaHouse did a great job at making sure the anime isn’t your regular flash animated show though. There is some great attention to detail at how characters move and some complicated movements that you usually won’t see in flash like a quarter turn movement or a frontal movement since flash is usually a side to side motion. They employ different camera angles and they made sure there is some frame by frame animation in certain scenes. It’s a really sophisticated flash show and I do like that part of the show. Perhaps my favorite though is the background work of the show. First of all, the color palette is pretty similar to flash but the detail work is pretty great. Nothing is half assed and you’ll notice how each set is nicely presented. There are no cheap images or anything of the sort. Everything looked clean and decent which is pretty hard to do in flash. The director has a great eye. I can tell that much. I am also a fan of the various painted things in the show. It was given a nice 3D look by the artist. It doesn’t look flat. Instead, it was given depth and it now looks complex. It really gives the show a pretty great look that you can easily watch without being distracted by the cheap flash animation the show utilized.

The anime has no ED. The OP is “the end” by Mix Speaker’s,Inc. This is a really cool song. It has a cool feel to it with the way the rhythm is performed and the singer’s voice is pretty cool. It complements the already dashing lyrics to make it a really awesome song. The OP sequence is like a really nice spy movie with the way the characters are introduced. The animation still looks a bit clunky but once you get over it, you’ll realize how wonderful the OP is. It actually tells a better story than the actual show. It takes up one minute of the three minute show but I think it’s worth it.

Overall Score

3/10 “It’s a decent show albeit forgettable like the rest of these less than five minute shows.”

It had a few good laughs and I do love the initial premise of the show. I think it can easily fit a regular runtime if the studio had enough balls to do it. The idea of a hitman having a yaoi relationship with a cop is enough reason for me to try and watch it. If you like some stupid comedy then you should check the show out. The animation may put you off though but I think the content is still worth trying.

Thoughts~

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