This is review number three hundred and sixty nine. This anime is part of the Summer 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Re: Hamatora. It’s a twelve episode anime continuing the awesomeness of Hamatora. It took me awhile to finish this though, because it just broke my heart. This anime is just disappointing. Let’s read on.
How do I explain it? You know how sometimes something bothers you, but you can’t put your finger on it? Yeah, you do. “There’s something I should remember, but I just can’t remember”, that sort of thing. Most of the time, it doesn’t really matter. Even if you do remember what it is, it’s not anything important. But if I actually forgot something important and didn’t realize it, I- oh, sorry. What was I talking about again?
– Nice (opening narration), episode 9
Taking the Pants Off
I really enjoyed the first season of Hamatora. It isn’t anything special, but I just love the potential it has. Studio NAZ really did something unique and worthwhile with a concept most people would equate to an X-men rip off. The show’s concept is really a bit bland, but the story tries to spice it up. It’s has a cool take on a mystery and a smart overall story similar to Gatchman Crowds crossing path with Psychopass. I just really love it, and my personal experience with the show is really good. I came into the second season really excited. The first season ended with Art, the guy with no super powers, killing his best friend to signal his rise to be the second season’s antagonist. I had a lot of bright scenarios in my head about the second season of Hamatora. The first one was just so unique and entertaining that I can’t wait how they’ll top it next. I mean, I can’t wait how Studio NAZ will top the first season. Oh, what’s that? Studio NAZ isn’t in charge of the second season? Why?
It’s not really uncommon for an anime to change studios between seasons. Durarara’s proceeding seasons aren’t handled by the original studio, and there’s really only one reason for that: poor sales. The determining factor for an anime to be considered a success is when the DVD and BD sales earn a significant profit for the studio. It’s not about ratings in Japan, but it’s more about the amount of sales the anime can conjure up. This is basically the same game KyoAni has perfected wherein they can literally give no sh*t whatsoever, but they know they’ll still turn a profit with any kind of show they churn out. I f*cking hat KyoAni for this, but the sales are the blood that is pumping this business. So what happened to Hamatora? Well, Studio NAZ’s first season had poor sales. The anime has already announced a second season though, and Hamatora is really high on its “mixed-media” project concept. Along with a manga, Hamatora also had a game, a novel and a stage play so they can’t back out now. A second season will happen no matter what. Instead of letting NAZ just run the ship towards the iceberg though, big shots decided to salvage the series by shifting studios. It’s a last ditch attempt to save the series, and they wanted this anime to really succeed, I guess. They let Studio Lerche handle the second season, and the result is a bit…disastrous. Hamatora is a great show, but the only legacy it’ll leave behind is the title transitions from the second season.
Imagine being impressed by the first season and you hyped yourself for the awesomeness of the second season, but suddenly you watch the first episode and it just bombard you with constant title transitions with an annoying music every f*cking time. I can’t really just explain it. You need to experience it as well. You’re trying to understand the story, remember the events of the first season and then suddenly the show just does this, a lot:
That killed me. It really did. More importantly, I can’t believe people at Studio Lerche put this anime together and they didn’t realize that the transitions are annoying. I bet they wanted to add more, or something. I personally think the staff behind this anime and the director, Seiji Kishi, didn’t really want to do this second season so they wanted to make it as unbearable as possible. This is what you get when you force a second season. I know Seiji Kishi’s work and it usually isn’t this bad. He’ll always try to make his anime cool, and this approach often comes with a lot of effort from him. Re: Hamatora just felt so subdued and forced. You can feel the disdain from the animators. They don’t give a sh*t about this second season, but it’s like they’re just forced to do it. The result is a show that lacks the appeal of the first season, a convoluted clusterf*ck of a story and annoying title transitions. Seriously, I barely made past the first episode because of those f*cking transitions. I don’t mind the transitions themselves, but the sound is just an audio assault every time.
Anyways, what’s the story about? It still follows the Hamatora Detective Agency, but there’s no more detective work here. Instead, it centers on a big conspiracy involving Art and a bunch of stray “Minimum Holders” – a fancy word for mutants – where they plan to just let the world burn. It’s a giant clusterf*ck from the very beginning and the anime really just throws a lot at the viewers. Hamatora has a manga, and you can tell the anime is just trying to consume as much of the original source as possible as if desperately trying to end it all. It was very painful for me, because I really loved the first season. It didn’t rush the story, and it knew to cover up its flaws with some smart story elements. The second season is just rushed beyond belief, and it covered a lot of arcs that could fit four seasons if it went by the first season’s pace. There’s too many stuff going on, and it just feel like nobody cared. To be fair, the main gist of the various plot points is interesting, and they’d be great if developed properly. Unfortunately, this anime just looks like it was designed to fail from the very moment you witnessed those gawd damn title transitions. This is all very depressing for me, because I had very high expectation for this show. Damn it, never again.
So let’s take a look at where the anime sucked hard. First of all, it didn’t really acknowledge the existence of the first season. The first season ended with Art killing Nice. It means that he’ll be villain after being heavily tainted by Moral, the villain of the first season. Art’s main appeal is that he is a smart and hardworking guy that doesn’t have any super powers. He grew up in facility training with Minimum Holders because he was determined to have the potential to have one. However, he graduated the school gaining no such powers. Art’s situation is even more interesting when his best friend is the top student of the academy praised for his super powers. Nice is the bane of Art’s existence, but Art loves Nice. This is why the betray at the end of the first season felt so good. A guy that relies on his abilities and intelligence finally pointed a gun at the person he loved so much and promptly killed him. His frustrations, jealousy and regret are packed in that one scene. It’s a defining moment that hyped the second season. The first season set the bar high for the second season, and Studio NAZ clearly had a plan for the long run. Such plans were not adapted by Studio Lerche though and they wanted Hamatora to be a series of their own. With Nice dead, the rest of the characters will have to step up now, right?
Lol, no. Nice is revealed to be alive on the first episode resetting the status quo as if no such death and betrayal happened. They didn’t even use the “Nice is dead” angle to flesh out the characters and develop those that belonged in the background in the first season. They were doing great when they had Hajime-chan, the obligatory silent character, assume a leadership role in the absence of Nice. It would’ve been a great way to develop the other characters like the bartender of the café and his assistant. Please keep in mind, they didn’t develop these characters. This is important for later on. Anyways, Nice returns and they go back to solving mysteries, right?
Wrong again. You’re bad at this. The first season’s charm is the three pieced mystery. Admittedly, the mystery stories of the first season aren’t that great. If told in a straightforward manner, the mysteries are predictable and boring. Hamatora covered that weak aspect by jumbling the order of the story and focusing on random things. For example, a shoplifter, a crown prince and a bath house are all part of one mystery. As the episode progress, the dots are connected and the story becomes a lot more interesting. It teases the audience’s expectancy with mysteries. I want to solve it too, so I’ll listen intently on everything about the story to solve the mystery before the anime reveals it. It’s a smart trick because the mystery is never really an important thing, but you’ve unwillingly consumed the story with this stupid trick. The three pieced mystery covered a lot of the first season’s flaws. The comparison to mutants from X-men, the clichéd story of persecution from society, the bland and stereotypical characters and the forced attempt by Seiji Kishi to mirror Akiyuki Shinbo’s bright and insane directorial style were all covered up by the three piece mystery. You’re too focused on how a locked safe and an orphanage relate to the story that you barely noticed all the flaws dragging the show down. By the time the anime ends, the flaws have already developed enough to be a strong element of the anime. It is ingenious storytelling that made me love Hamatora. I don’t understand why the second season didn’t continue it.
I think they didn’t continue the three pieced mysteries because they’re moving into something more serious. Art is now a villain, and his relationship with Nice will now be a strong focus. I actually like it. The man with no power will go up against the very best Minimum Holder to ever come out of the Facultas facility. How does the epic rivalry start? They ruined everything by giving Art super powers. That’s right. The guy who climbed his way to the top without relying on powers just now has powers of his own. He actually steals them from others, and this makes no sense at all. If you could steal powers, then a lot of people would’ve done it by now. They never even explained how Art figured this out. He is just able to do it now, and that’s that. To make matters worse, he acted alone as a villain. I can understand having powers, because sure why not, but he is never a convincing threat when he could infiltrate secured buildings by himself. It doesn’t make sense. I imagine Art actually gathering a group of rouge Minimum Holders and he’ll bring the fight to Nice. Instead, Art is apparently trying to eradicate the Minimum Holder powers by stealing them. He somehow shot Nice to prove that he wants super powers gone from this world. It doesn’t make sense. This was a personal rivalry with personal stakes, but the second season is trying to blow it up into something unconvincingly big. They’re making Art into a martyr, and it’s so out of character for him. Sure, he looks cool but that’s not Art. He is a grounded person suppressing his jealousy and anger for so long until he said f*ck it and capped his best friend in the heart. Where is that Art?
I actually remember that Moral, the villain of season one, planted the seeds of villainy into Art. Moral is never mentioned in the second season. His rampage in the first season is never part of the story for the second season. Someone clearly didn’t like Studio NAZ, because nothing they did was carried over in the second season. The three pieced mystery, the character arcs, and the story itself is somehow just not acknowledged in the second season. Maybe Studio Lerche is actually trying to say that they don’t need Studio NAZ’s help to make a good show, but they didn’t have to completely strip Hamatora of its charm. It now lacks the heart and the simplicity that makes the first season great, and it’s really hard to take this all in. Can you imagine excitedly waiting for something only to be sh*t on? Actually, the endless eight comes to mind and yeah, the second season of Hamatora feels like Haruhi Suzumiya’s Endless Eight to me. Poor bastards that loved Haruhi waited for years for another season, and KyoAni decided that they’d have eight episodes be the same exact story for the second season. That’s more than half the series’ length, and people waited years for that. It’s heartbreaking, and that’s how Hamatora feels to me. Endless Eight is actually a lot worse, but I still feel the same betray all over again. The whole thing just sucks for me.
The thing that irritated me about the second season is that it manifested this annoying staple of original anime: the shot sighted storytelling. This is when the anime focuses on the story of an episode instead of developing the overall story. Hamatora has an overall story, and it’s really good. Condensing so much sh*t meant that some episodes would focus on one thing only, and things just build into one giant clusterf*ck. One episode would be about a father and daughter story that shifts into a story about Art becoming a gawd that shifts into stories of people losing their powers that shifts into the story of a dead brother that shifts into the story of a terrorist rouge group fighting the government that shifts into a story of a girl and her powers that shifts into a story of another girl financing the terrorist group and she calls herself the Ultimate, because why the hell not, and this shifts into a story of the world ending. It is a major clusterf*ck, and all these separate stories eventually builds until nothing makes any sense in the show anymore. There’s so much to develop and to process that it just goes out of control. I think there are five or six separate plot points in the second season, and the anime crammed it all in twelve episodes. They’re all actually good, but they weren’t developed properly.
I like the plot point about the Freemums, a group of Minimum Holders not tagged by the government, and I love their rise into power. The members of the group are all interesting, and you can actually fill six episodes just focusing on them revealing their powers one by one as they fight against the Hamatora Detective Agency. There’s potential here, and it’s wasted on this damn season. I also love the plot point about Honey, the big breasted chick, and her father. He was introduced as an absolute assh*le, but he eventually takes on the role of this antagonist that has this insane belief about Minimum Holders. The father also had a past with Moral, and I would’ve loved to see their relationship fleshed out in a more detailed fashion. Moral is an insane villain, but the father is like a racist bastard that outshines him. Seeing the father go up against the Freemum looks cool, and I wanted more of that. The potential is absolutely great, but clearly no one cared about it. The plot point about the characters losing their powers is also interesting, because it could’ve been a great way to insert Art in the story. All their life they relied on it, and they’re suddenly losing it. Give them a scene with Art, and I can guarantee that it’ll be divine. There is a growing frustration among the characters realizing they’re losing their powers, and it’s really a great story if developed further. Gawd damn it, there’s so much great things here but they’re all crammed together that they eventually brought each other down.
The most annoying thing is that Art and Nice barely had any scenes together. They just fought in the last episode, and that’s just a retarded way to go. The first season ended with the rivalry set, and the second season barely focused on it. It had too much story about the other characters and whatever the hell they were doing. Remember when I said the bartender and his assistant didn’t develop as a character in the second season? At some point in the later episodes, their backstories are revealed and it’s convoluted as f*ck. The annoying thing is that the show could’ve dedicated that time to develop the Art and Nice rivalry. The bartender’s backstory never really mattered to the overall story, so you didn’t have to show it. If it serves no purpose in the overall story, then just scrap it. Why have so much excess? Along with the promising plot points, a lot of stories are forced in the second season. The one I find the most stupid is Art having powers in his heart, because normal Minimum Holders have them in their brain. He activates it by stabbing himself, and it’s just ridiculous. So that’s why he never discovered his power, because he never took the time to kill himself. What? That’s just dumb. Oh gawd, it’s just so dumb. The entire season is dumb, and it’s a complete waste of time. I waited a long time to watch this anime, and I f*cking regret it now. Someone stab me in the heart next.
There are a lot of interesting characters in the second season, but they’re all caught up in the clusterf*ck and barely anyone of them came out looking good in the end. I am especially curious about the Freemum group. Look at this guy:
I want to know more about him, but he barely had any moments in the show. He is part of the story, in one plot point, but he isn’t used that properly. A lot of the characters aren’t properly utilized. Honey’s father, that woman that calls herself The Ultimate, the other members of Freemum and the characters from the first season, like the tandem of Birthday and Ratio, were all badly utilized in this show. They’re all great characters that could’ve easily stolen the show, but they just didn’t have a chance. Art is seriously badly developed in this season as well. I think Art is actually a decent character here, but he was already established in the previous season. I already know what to expect from him, and the second season threw it all out the window and started all over. He started out stealing other people’s powers then he actually had his own powers. He actually wants everyone to live without powers, but he relies on them a lot to prove this point. He is driven by revenge, but his actions involve a large population that had no relation to his revenge plan. Art is just a big ball of contradictions, and it’s a big step back from the admirable guy he once was in the first season. There are some good parts to him like his ability to survive and his willingness to become the bad guy, but his motivations cancel out each other. He makes no sense as a character, and it’s really annoying. I wanted the old hardworking Art to fight against Nice. I don’t want this badly conceived character we got in the second season.
Speaking of Nice, his appearance in the show killed the anime instantly. They didn’t even let his absence sit in for two episodes. The anime hurriedly reintroduced him, and it just signaled the anime’s downfall. But Nice is the main character, so he is obviously needed in the second season, right? Wrong! Nice did nothing in this anime. He didn’t solve any mysteries, he didn’t punch any bad guys and he didn’t chase after Art like the concerned friend that he is. He just…did nothing. In the short sighted storytelling format of the show, the focus shifts to a lot of people. Some minor characters had more screen time than our main character, and he clearly didn’t need to be in the second season. It’s as if he was actually dead, and I find that a bit ironic. I could imagine the other characters going through their development while he is gone, and his appearance later in the anime would’ve had some significant impact to the story. I’m really annoyed they brought him back for him to do nothing. That’s just a waste.
I’m really saddened at how Studio NAZ just declined despite their promising start. I’m sure they can bounce back, but it’ll take some time. Hell, they might even be gone before their second chance happens but I’m hopeful. I think their time is near, and they just have to rough it through. With the talented people working there, I’m sure they can climb back up. As for Studio Lerche, they actually have a long working relationship with Seiji Kishi so I think this is the big reason for the studio swap. I’m not really a big fan of this studio. They do decent shows, but I’ll take anything Studio NAZ offer over anything Studio Lerche made. They’re just not exciting, but I have yet to see Monster Musume so we shall see. I guess I’m just really bitter at the whole studio swap thing. Lerche is consistently releasing new shows though, so I think they’re on the rise now. After Assassination Classroom, they’ve just been consistently releasing shows so I think they’re doing well right now. Gawd, this is all just frustrating.
Seiji Kishi directed this anime, and he’s a really talented guy. He does a lot of video game anime, and I think he actually try to make cool video game-like shows. This is like his signature now, because Arpeggio of Blue Steel looks like a bunch of video game cut scenes turned into anime. His attempt at making cool game-like shows actually gives us an idea how passionate this guy is with his work. That’s why I can tell he clearly did not give a damn about Re: Hamatora. It’s like he was just forced to make it with his arm twisted and a knife next to his throat. Eh, I’ll just act excited for his next anime. It’s also interesting to note that the first season of Hamatora has veteran writer Touko Machida at the helm. She has done a lot of script compositions throughout her career, and she did not return for Re: Hamatora. The task of writing the show is left to Jun Kumagai, and he’s a writer with little experience. Compared to the writer of Wake up Girls, Chaika, Nagato-chan and a few Samurai Champloo episodes, the guy that wrote the script of Valverave clearly doesn’t hold up. I want to place the blame of this anime sucking on someone, but I’ll just settle on blaming myself for even expecting anything good. Four years of reviewing anime and I still fall to the same trap most new fans get caught in. I hate myself.
Sight and Sound
This section will be pretty bare. I already talked about Yuuki Kodama’s design in the first season, and I don’t really want to repeat it. Nothing has changed. It’s still the same wacky urban characters with bright colored outfits looking awesome as f*ck. I do love the eccentric design of the Freemum members like this guy:
Seriously, how do you come up with that design? I want a character to have a ball gag on every time. Um…every time? Yes, a ball gag. Every time. It’ll be cool.
Studio Lerche has toned down the bright colors of the first season though. The story for the second season is a lot darker, so it makes sense. It’s a big change though, because the second season still had lighthearted fluff moments and it ruins the tone of the anime. I also hate The Ultimate. As a character she sucks, but I also hate her design. It’s like a redo of Hajime-chan but more mature. It’s funny, because she was in the first season but I barely remember her.
The animation is a bit improved, I guess. The fights are badly paced, but the show makes up for that by having some really disturbing scenes. Art dying in the second episode shocked me. The rail way death in episode eleven is also inspired. People just explode, and it’s pretty. Again, the fights are badly paced and there are barely any meaningful ones. Even the Art and Nice face off is dull, but that’s to be expected after experiencing the clusterf*ck of the anime going to that point. In terms of the absolute worst thing though, the scene transitions would take the cake. Holy flaming Pikachu, this show will seriously be remembered for just that solitary annoying thing and it makes me sad. It’s trying to be artsy, but it just fails. I can’t believe Studio Lerche actually thought it was a good idea to have constant title transition ruin the momentum of the story.
The anime’s OP is “Sen no Tsubasa” by livetune adding Takuro Sugawara. Like any bad show, this anime has a good soundtrack. The OP is a really great song, and it feels like an epic OP to get your motivation pumping. The singer’s voice is also really great as it just consumes you from the very first line he utters. This is accompanied by some awesome animation. The way it introduces the characters and the smooth animation pales in comparison to the actual show, and it really just fits the awesome OP song it has. I like this a lot, and I think this is the only thing I actually enjoyed in this anime.
The anime’s ED is “Brand New World” by ayami. This is another great song, and it’s emphasized by the singer’s amazing voice. It’s a slower song, but it’s also a lot more emotional. It’s about holding onto hope and looking forward to a brighter day, and I just love the relation to one plot point in the show. The ED sequence features Hajime in a swing and it’s absolutely cute. I love the simple drawing of her in a different outfit. Her arms are nicely detailed, and she has a softer face. I personally do not like Hajime as a character though, so having the whole sequence about her just didn’t really resound with me. It’s still a cool ED song and sequence though.
3/10 “A far cry from the unique content of the first season, and an embarrassing end to a promising series.”
The whole thing just sucks. The characters are awful, the story is sh*t and the potential the first season worked hard to establish is just destroyed. There are some good moments, but the bad moments are abundant and it’ll ruin the viewing experience. The clusterf*ck of the story is just overwhelming, and the ending just felt insulting. This is a giant waste of time. If you liked the first season, just watch the first episode of season two. If you can block out the annoying transitions then you’re good to go. If you can’t, just drop it. It’s not worth your time and effort. I do not recommend this.