Yukiya, who is "probably" 14 years old, spends his time DJ-ing alone. Due to his father's influence, he's listened to house music since he was young, and he uploads videos online. He wants to convey something to someone. He wants to be recognized, and become important. But getting hurt is scary. One day, while trying to get more views, he does something that can't be undone. And he sees a live broadcast from "that world." Yukiya believes he can't do anything alone, but that he could accomplish something if he were doing it together with someone else.
“It at once is the antithesis of creativity and a testament to everything that can go wrong with ambition in art; it is the enemy of creativity itself! Let’s give one final farewell to Hand Shakers, the show that broke my spirit 10 times over; see you in hell!” -An idiot who thought this shit would end.
In an ideal world, something as broken Hand Shakers would have never been made. Unfortunately, we live in a society, where something like this can get popular as a punching bag, garner a prequel OVA, a sequel series, and several stage plays despite flopping both critically and commercially. Understandably,
by the time this sequel was announced, almost no one cared anymore. A sequel to Hand Shakers is frankly that unfathomable. It’s like making a sequel to Ride to Hell Retribution or Battlefield Earth. No one asked for this, and yet it’s here. It’s not only here, but it’s rocking enough product placement to impress Michael Bay. Why? Any rational human being would have shitcanned this heap ages ago, or at the very least worked on other projects before even considering attempting this again. However, director Shingo Suzuki is not a rational human being, and neither am I as I watch Studio GoHands drag its name through the mud a second time.
Wasting time by dissecting the nightmarishly awful and consistently contradictory world-building is fruitless. Tackling all the fresh new ways W’z adds nonsensical terminology, conjures up nonsensical contrivances, contradicts its own predecessor, and breaks its own franchise’s established rules even before it re-establishes them itself, is pointless. It’s also a good 5K words no one wants to type or read about when I can just say “the first condition Hand Shakers introduces for losing is for your team to stop holding hands, and they broke it immediately”. W’z’s grotesque predecessor made all this into a fucking hobby, so of course this show follows suit. How else can we have a team consisting of a melee and a ranged fighter without breaking the one rule of this franchise for the umpteenth time? How else can they allow literally every character to not hold hands and suffer no repercussions, even when it makes no difference to their fighting style? Needless to say, they shouldn’t have even bothered telling us what the rules are when not only does the show constantly break them, but the characters themselves don’t even know them.
The dialogue’s as heinous as ever, with “mesh” being spammed to hell and back, and characters actively describing both their own and each other’s personalities to each other. The monologuing is exactly as insufferable as it is rampant as well. The mere concept of this show, this entire franchise, even if it didn’t get contradicted constantly by these sorry excuses for screenplays, is inherently broken. This is all shit we’ve heard before. It’s literally just Hand Shakers, but with a music video theme and vibe, and a cast of over-the-top gimmick caricatures meandering for minutes on end while hanging out with our bland returning cast. The only things new are the new pieces of convoluted, nonsensical lore, terminology, and gaudy religious references about God and language and the Tower of Babel and whatever. They do try to bring in some personal drama for the old cast, but that’s as far as anything goes in terms of actually trying, and the characters are so badly written that I couldn’t begin to care. No amount of poorly and predictably placed backstories will ever change that, especially when said backstories dismantle the already mind-numbing pacing and episode structure. The characters’ motivations and arcs are beyond nonsensical as well. It’s pointless to even discuss the writing any further since even the original Hand Shakers wasn’t burned in effigy over that shit, and that’s despite this anime’s narrative somehow being even worse.
Two years ago, I claimed that if it wasn't for the obnoxiously bad visuals that were supposed to be seen as "visionary" or "innovative", almost nobody would be talking about this franchise. To think W’z would prove me right. Hand Shakers was the apex of a saga of GoHands pushing the envelope in how much garish, blinding, inconceivable shit it can add to its signature style before the audience throws up and retaliates. Now that they’ve jumped back, there’s nothing really to discuss, nothing new to get angry about or sell this series as a disasterpiece with. Sure, we can bitch about the abysmal vehicle, weapon, and pedestrian CGI, which is as prevalent as it is disgusting. We can complain about the awful camera and background movements, the frame rate dips, and terrible choreography all we want. Same goes for all of the unfinished choreography and nonexistent animation, terrible color and character designs, blinding filters, needless and ill-conceived camera tricks. None of it is new. Not even the blatant stock assets and reused footage are worth noting beyond the fact that a sequel should fix all of this kind of shit, and that none of this should have made it past the initial pitch back in the franchise’s inception. Even going into detail with how the show actually looks good during the few times the show lets go of most of this tacked-on glitter and make-up in episode 1 is old news at this point. The best I can do is praise some of the nifty shots and editing tricks the first episode pulls early on, which are reminiscent of cheesy music videos which this show attempts to emulate. Other than that, it’s all dead air and retreaded ground. Even the needlessly abysmal and frequent attempts and 2D and 3D CGI compositing isn’t a startling talking point anymore.
You wanna know the real kicker here? The first 30 seconds of this show took my breath away. We hear someone whistling as he walks before an impressive fish-eyed lens shot of skyscrapers, before switching to Doctor Strange style kaleidoscopic imagery of the city. Barring the shitty CGI and garish lighting filter sandwiched between these impressive sequences, it actually painted the picture of a promising anime with a music video aesthetic. Imagine my disappointment when it went back to doing the same shit that made Hand Shakers so reviled. It’s as if Shingo and his team at GoHands knew what they were doing and chose to trick people expecting something new. If that doesn’t sound wack to you, then you might actually enjoy this dumpster fire.
The OST is almost as uninspired and badly implemented as it was before, except now they added FUNKY FRESH BEATS AND SHIT! It’s also as badly edited as the music in a bad student film. But hey, at least they came up with a track or two that works in a vacuum, and they even worked up the courage to put an orchestral battle theme in the midst of all the elevator jingles. Again, barely even half of these tracks are good and some don’t even fit, but when I have to stretch this thin for compliments, anything goes. The only thing of note left is how surprisingly reserved this show is with its OST, which is for the better. Then again, there’s no use even trying to compliment that cuz even when this show corrects a mistake, it’s a mistake that should have never been thought of in the first place. It’s not a competent sequel just cuz they added some beats to a dry OST to make up for their shitty fucking OP, or because they dialed back on the eye-searing AIDStacular visuals they had no business going this overboard with for like 5 minutes before hopping right back into doing everything as wrong as possible again. It’s just backpedaling, lazy, lifeless, stupid backpedaling that means nothing to no one. In some ways, it’s even worse than Hand Shakers because as repugnant as that piece of shit is, it’s so avant-garde in its awfulness that even when separating it from how it’s the culmination of a studio taking its style too far, it would at least make for a piñata worth bashing, even if that one’s still the more insufferable of the two.
There’s honestly no point in going any further. It’s been two years, and nothing’s been learned or gained. Not even I’ve learned to stay away, and I didn’t even plan to watch this until a friend I moderate for put this on his stream. The worst part is: I won’t even really be able to get closure on a franchise that’s haunted me for years anymore, as just when we think it’s dead, it comes back. This isn’t even funny anymore. It’s honestly depressing. This is the kind of thing that would make even the most rose-tinted anime fan jaded towards this industry. It’s a cruel joke, with schmucks like me serving as the punchline. W’z is the purest example of a director and studio taking the piss. At what point do we draw the line? When do we decide to stop watching, and begin avoiding and boycotting this thing? When will they decide to move onto a brand-new IP and let the dead horse lie? When is enough going to be enough? When will shows like this truly be a rare occurrence to be forgotten instead of a common underside that reincarnates four times a year in an ever-growing incestuous ouroboros of pain and suffering for everyone involved?
Not now, not with a lazy, worthless waste of time so up its own ass it pronounces its name as “Wise”.
Written and Edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine
Don’t you just hate when you read the synopsis for an anime and you think to yourself “wow this actually sounds interesting and unique”. You’re kind of excited to watch it because it presents a concept you feel has not been done before, and then it turns out you have seen it before and you realize you’ve been catfished. That’s how I felt 2 minutes into the first episode of W’z when I found out I was watching a Handshakers sequel.
So the story for Handshakers season 2, I mean W’z (pronounced Wise not Wiz, yeah I know it’s weird) starts off with our main character
entering into an alternate reality to shoot some music video even though it didn’t enhance his music in any way. This alternate reality is called the ziggurat with the goal to reach god or something. Along the way we are introduced to more Handshakers each with their own purpose for why they are there or maybe they are just there to bs around. Probably going to go with the latter because for a majority of the time there was no story. You can’t throw a bunch of cryptic religious stuff at us and expect that we’ll be all fine and dandy with it. When you have a 13 episode anime with no direction suddenly start to develop some semblance of a story by episode 9 you know there is a problem and that is honestly the biggest problem with this show.
The characters can only be described as a polished turd which happens to perfectly describe the art and animation as well. Shiny on the outside but hollow on the inside. All character motivations are either lost after the first episode or never take shape to begin with.
On the positive side of things I will say that they did actually improve in some areas. A big problem with the first season of Handshakers was the direction when it came to fights. Anytime there was a fight they would resort to some shaky cam either to hide the poor cgi animation or because they genuinely thought it looked cool. For W’z it would appear that they learned from this mistake. The fights are now shot much better to the point where you can actually tell what is happening which in turn makes the animation look halfway decent. They may have learned from some of their mistakes but not all seeing as how this exists.
To sum this show up would be one big disappointment. They had me going early on thinking this would be something original. Instead I was betrayed. Shame they didn’t air this on April Fools Day or at the very least I could have gotten a laugh out of it.
On one hand, I'm annoyed that GoHands decided that a 'Hand Shakers' sequel was the natural progression of things their company should go for despite just how poor that show was. But on the other hand, their OST is still fire, so I somehow still can't be mad.
When two people have a fervent wish, they become 'Hand Shakers', battlers who wield weapons call Nimrods (god I wish i was kidding) and fight other Hand Shakers in the world known as the 'Ziggurat' in an attempt to get their wish granted by God. Set roughly 14 or so years after the original Hand Shakers, our story
now features Yukiya, a boy born in the Ziggurat with the irregular ability to bring anyone into the other world if he so much as touches another person on accident.
I just want to ask, "WHY IS THERE A SEQUEL?" Having watched the original, I can safely say that that Hand Shakers was such a narrative mess that I'm genuinely surprised that W'z even exists to try and save the series instead of just leaving the whole thing forgotten like a bad dream. Weirdly enough, at least in the narrative sense, this show does redeem the entire story of this series to a somewhat respectable degree.
Instead of slice of life filler clogging up a majority of the plot with a protagonist that didn't know what to do with his life aside from dragging around his voiceless, living doll of a girlfriend because letting go of her hand would mean the end of her existence, W'z follows Yukiya's plight to try and find meaning and worth in the power he sees as a curse while still following a rough (nearly identical) outline similar to its predecessor where Yukiya comes into contact with other Hand Shakers with unique quirks and fighting them to ensure that he doesn't lose his powers. Because of this, it actually feels like there're some personal stakes for Yukiya, and that the guy actually has a bit of a personality to him since aside from DJ'ing, he seems to have inner turmoil regarding these powers that early on, he regards as something unsightly rather than useful. Good, but faulty when compared to the rest of the story.
While Yukiya's story is most definitely the forefront of the series this time around, for the most part, W'z feels like it's meant to be a 'throwback' to the original Hand Shakers, as if to constantly remind the viewer of its predecessor, the quirks of its 'deep' cast since Tazuna and literally everyone he beat the crap out of are now all buddy buddy, and just how great of a sequel this is supposed to be because it ties that with this. This is made more obvious by the fact that all of the new characters introduced this time have the exact same kind of 'quirky gimmick' that made up the original cast, making everyone new feel like just more added tropes instead of legitimately interesting characters that I want to give a shit about, as well as giving us a final arc that in the long run, doesn't really make all that much sense due to the fact that the motivations for the antagonist is muddy, contrived, and don't really make all that much sense. Seriously, why is this dude mad at our MC? I've watched the entire show and I still don't know.
Because of all of these factors W'z, while somewhat narratively superior to its predecessor because it actually seems like it has and sticks to a story for once, still falls flat on many of the same reasons that made Hand Shakers a terrible show in the first place. It tries a few new things, but not enough to make it feel all that different from Hand Shakers, all the while constantly reminding us that Hand Shakers was a show they made and that they're (apparently) proud of.
Yukiya, being the nephew of the series's previous heroine (believe me, it's better hearing his origin now rather than watching the show 11 episodes in), is known as an 'irregular' Hand Shaker being able to enter the Ziggurat with anyone at any time so long as he touches them with his special hands, as well as bring in and take out whatever he wants at will. Due to the irregularity of his existence, his personal conflict with coming to terms with this strange powers of his is the crux of his personality and what makes W'z at least minutely superior to its predecessor. The show takes time to make Yukiya feel like his character at least somewhat matters, and that in and of itself is already a huge step for the series considering what was going on last time with two characters that existed together for reasons.
The rest of the new cast unfortunately isn't blessed with the same treatment. His female counterpart Haruka spends the majority of the series talking about her 'positive' mentality as she's always looking at things with a positive outlook before getting upset over some stupid reason midway through the series. (I don't get it either.) Similarly, the series's four new pairs of Hand Shakers feature all some kind of gimmick, two of which are somewhat plot relevant due to having been in a similar situation to Yukiya in the past, while the other two basically have their gimmick be boiled down to "We're gay" and or something about mountains. Come on, you can do better than that, and that isn't even a fucking gimmick. The whole cards schtick in the original was a gimmick. Their sexuality? Not a gimmick.
And because neither this show nor I can stop bludgeoning the audience with the fact that this show's a Hand Shakers sequel, here's pretty much every fucking character that appeared in the original series. Admittedly there is some good to this, as both Break and Bind, two characters who had significance for a grand total of 1 episode in the original have their roles significantly fleshed out as Yukiya's foster parents even if the quality of their role is dubious at best. But beyond that though, there's not really much reason to these old characters showing up besides obvious plot devices, attempted 'nostalgia' since everyone gets a chance to use their old shit again, and afterstories to tell the anticipating audience who's banging who, which given some of the pairings, is extremely, extremely awkward, and borderline creepy depending on who you're referring to. (Believe me, learning about the ramifications of Yukiya's birth was NOT fun.)
Despite Hand Shakers having nauseating visuals due to the fact that the flat characters were moving around in a 3-D space, the vibrancy of the color palette in addition to the animation's fluidity during the show's fight scenes were definitely THE defining moments even if it was most times difficult to watch without straining the eyes. It gave Hand Shakers at least something worth talking about and at least made the series aesthetically interesting with some great choice scenes for computer backgrounds if you were so inclined.
W'z however is a major, major downgrade. Comparatively, the show just doesn't feel AS vibrant as its predecessor, having a slightly muted color scheme that isn't as bright. While that's actually a more welcome change, it feels like the quality of the art overall just isn't on-par with what Hand Shakers had. More than that, the fight scenes in W'z are drastically less exciting, dynamic, and fluid, with only one fight near the end being the standout moment in the show, which strangely enough, doesn't come nearly as close to being as visually interesting as what Tazuna was able to pull off during his time in the spotlight since Yukiya for the most part just stands around and swings his sword without doing any gliding, fancy moves, what have you. It helps that the show no longer is murder on the eyes because of how fast and how much everything is moving, but the drawback of that has the blocking of the characters basically just standing there with weapon in hand instead of constantly surfing down buildings, gliding along grass, or standing on buildings commanding chains, cards, giant shurikens, etc.
Likewise to the art, the OP and ED for W'z just...isn't all that interesting. Both Ryouhei Takenaka's "Reason" and Fuki's "Kamisama wa Kitto" are more instrumental pieces that don't have any of the flair that I expected from a series that prides itself on the DJ thematic because Yukiya not only has a mix table, but spends the entire series wearing headphones around his neck. All the time.
Luckily because GoHands loves putting its priorities in the wrong place, the OST for W'z is almost on par with the OST from its predecessor. Sporting more dulcet tones with a DJ thematic because Yukiya, many of its songs like "Espalemit" and "Deep Inside" stand out and really make the overall sound of the show a lot better than it really ought to be. It's the one aspect of this entire series I give its due credit because this fucking OST is so much better than it has any right to be and is the one thing that I think is worth talking about in this series.
Honestly, I'm still hung up over the fact that GoHands decided that a Hand Shakers sequel was the right course of action for the company, and not to just make a different show in the same style featuring DJ boy that isn't connected to some god-like world hopping power. Like, Hand Shakers is so negatively rated and so generally panned that I highly doubt the series made any kind of return on the ludicrous amount of CG and action fluidity that they put into the show in order to make it at least stylistically interesting despite how garbage the story was. It's probably the reason why the overall aesthetic of W'z just seems like a less pretty looking downgrade to how Hand Shakers is and why the characters also just don't move around a lot or have the busty girls feature a little jiggle any time they heave their body around. (Because yes, that was a thing that happened.)
Narratively, W'z is vaguely superior to its predecessor for having a better protagonist and story that seems to have SOME merit up until the end where they reveal that he's the nephew of the previous heroine (because that was a loose end that needed to be tied up) and begin the whole ending arc against an antagonist that doesn't make any sense both in motive and just in general concept.
But because the show consistently tries to shove Hand Shakers down your throat with constant, constant reminders on telling you that "This is a sequel" and "Hand Shakers was a good idea, we promise, just look at how happy everyone is", I find W'z to overall be on par if not slightly inferior to its predecessor because at least in Hand Shakers, you can see some interesting animation and vibrant colors. Here, the fights suck to watch, and if you want the half decent character moments, you're going to have to sits through so much horribly spoken Engrish and 'quirky' dialogue that it's just not worth it in the end because so many of the show's characters are just not that interesting and are typically swept to the side because they're not important to the story anymore.
My recommendation for W'z is pretty much the same as Hand Shakers: Just listen to the OST. The OST is without a doubt the only objectively good aspect of this series with my only regret about it being that it doesn't belong to a show that's equally good. While the story is undoubtedly slightly better, I can't in good conscience recommend it as not only does context for Hand Shakers play some part in this story, leading an almost near requirement to watch the original before this one, but because it reminds me so much of it that I got really annoyed just from the fact that this show just had no chance to be anything else. I just hope they don't make a threequel. No one wants that. Please don't do it, GoHands.
"You thought you'd see a new IP from Production GoHands, but no it was me HAND SHAKERS THIS ENTIRE TIME!"
No seriously this is a SEQUEL to Hand Shakers and LA was a baffled and as anxious when LA came to realization about W'z.
Ok but LA will have to get some things out of the way first.
W'z has a new set of characters but the returning cast also gets some limelight as GoHands tries to ACTUALLY develop the anime as it was suppose to in Hand Shakers and to a decent degree in this regard. GoHands seems to try and right their wrongs from Hand Shakers
by developing it's returning cast and giving them something like depth and development to them, the most surprising ones of all being of Reijirou & Yukine Araki...you know "Chain & Bind" duo from the first episode of Hand Shakers.
The new cast also learned a bit from Hand Shakers as it isn't the same tournament style format Hand Shakers was. Yukiya Araki voiced by Katsumi Fukuhara is a DJ and an abnormal Hand Shakers able to freely bring other people and things into the Ziggurat and because of a video that circulated, every Hand Shaker goes after him. He does have a childhood friend by the name of Haruka Tosabori voiced by Akane Fujita who has an obvious crush on him and has a running gag personality of trying to be positive about everything. The newer Hand Shakers that becomes adversaries towards Yukiya have some development to their friendship and why they want to win and grant a wish and we see a great deal of screentime from both sets of Hand Shakers that is a marked improvement from Hand Shaker's one episode then toss the characters away mentality it had before (not to mention reducing the amount of rivals Yukiya compared to Tazuna had to go through is a factor as well).
W'z does have a proper villain in W'z and it's......disappointing to say the least, LA won't name names but the point of this villain is trying to utilize Yukiya's ability and able to infinitely produce resources for the real world using the Ziggurat and Yukiya for his plans and he'll do ANYTHING for this...so he's something of an environmentalist in a ways and well in perspective, he's a MUCH worse villain outright than the final villain of Hand Shakers all down to his motives being small potatoes, like yes an interesting plan but through the bigger picture..like do we even need this major villain?.
The animation done once again by GoHands, well in some respects they toned down their bizarrely hyperbloomed and rapidfire special effect show every second aka. the background is chewing itself and actually gave some or the majority of the anime some time to breathe but the markings of GoHands is still there and they still tried to add in some of their "flair" into the mix, especially when they go into the Ziggurat and the fight scenes. W'z's animation is nowhere close to Hand Shaker's level of vomit inducing rollercoaster ride but it seemed that GoHands both learned but couldn't help themselves with the animation at times.
Voice cast was "ok", LA did have a few annoyances here and there, from Inori Minase as Senri Toyoshima and at times Akane Fujita did annoy LA with her hyper genki "positive attitude" (Hey at least Akane Fujita had more range than Inori Minase did in W'z), but still the voice cast if anything did try with the material they had especially Katsumi Fukuhara, the aforementioned Akane Fujita, the returning Sumire Morohoshi as Koyori, Yoko Hikasa as Yukine and even Sumire Uesaka as Chizuru was toned down considerably well. If anything the returning voice cast was a welcomed improvement if only because of the material not being sooo stereotypical and bareboned this time round.
W'z still had some gripes LA had to contend with, mainly because of the more developed characters and the build up and non-pay off W'z delivered, there is for one, ALOT more talking and less action(though that's for the better) to it's main cast, returning and new, ALOT of lull episodes almost making it filler and the anti-climaxes it gave out near the ending of the anime...well it's Hand Shakers...what did you expect?
So we essentially have a sequel to Hand Shakers trying to both learn from it's mistakes yet trying desperately to cling to it's failures. On one hand, LA applauds Hiromitsu Kanazawa and Shingo Suzuki that they can do proper character development and them trying to expand their Hand Shaker universe to make this a thing, while on the other hand, the animation is only marginally better but became a much slower slog to get through with it's much more relaxed tone and it's "major" villain being even worse than before AND to top it off having such a typical anti-climax towards the end.
LA thinks the only statement LA really needs to say about W'z overall and perfectly sums up LA's thoughts on it is: "three steps forward, two steps back"