Ten years after the Bubble War, the dichotomy between the rich and the poor in the world becomes more prominent and Japan is no exception. The rich seek to satisfy their desires and derive pleasure for themselves, and Tokyo has materialized into such a city as a result. Saiga, once a war photographer, works for Hibara Ginza in the capitalist state of Tokyo. He infiltrates the Roppongi Club, a secretive base located in the red light district of the city, to collect information about them. However, he was caught in the process and brought forward to a girl called Kagura who was in the midst of a ritual. His contact with Kagura awakens his special ability: the power to make things explode when photographed. In order to unravel the mystery behind the Roppongi Club and Kagura, Saiga begins his solitary battle.
No matter which site or forum I go to I see very mixed reviews for this show, Speed Grapher. And it's usually because the show looks good and dark and gritty but then it's disliked because it's not as action packed as___ “insert your favorite anime here.” So based on that I think a good review should point this out. It should also state that if you want an anime that's good and dark and gritty but is also character driven and therefore will dedicate a few episodes to building and defining the characters' personalities, then you will like this show....if you
want a show that's gritty and dark but has low character development and more shootings and bigger explosions then watch, Black Lagoon.
The animation is very good....it's by Gonzo [I'm actually starting to remember these company names]. Gonzo is the company that did "Last Exile", which had very awesome art and animation, so Gonzo is a good company to base your art/anime standards by. Speed Grapher is very dark and gritty. Even grittier than Black Lagoon because there was really nothing that seedy about Black Lagoon. Black Lagoon tried to make their town [what was it....Roanapour?] seem so bad ass and dirty, but the art style contradicted that image they were trying to portray, it was too clean, too slick and polished. With Speed Grapher, you got the true sense of being in those respective environments; in the fancy mansions you felt it was fancy and high-class, in the seedy parts of town you got that feeling, seeing the trash and hookers and stuff. Also as I said earlier the animation was excellent, good fight scenes, no corners were cut and no looping.
The OP, well I never really liked Duran Duran, hmmmm OK well maybe except for the song they did for the James Bond movie also I liked “The Reflex” but I didn't go wild for this song “Girls on Film” it's just not my thing. But you gotta respect any anime that's willing to make that their OP. The ED songs were forgettable even if the art was nice. The Japanese voice cast did a good job [I don't think the Japanese have ever really done a bad job....except for Inuyasha's voice, where the US voice was waaay better!]
OK so this is where it's crucial in the review, and this is where I diverge from the reviewers that didn't like the show or at least the story part. Because I really was impressed by this story. Like I had said in the animation part, this story is gritty! It gives you are real no-holds-barred account of how truly seedy and disgusting is the underbelly of the world's richest top 2%! Well at least within the fictionalized world of Speed Grapher. And you see the sleaze up close and personal, right down to the funky drool and the raunchy sex-orgies. This story depicts just how the real world works, that those in power feel then can do just about anything....that since they MAKE the laws, they are ABOVE the law. Sure a lot of things in the story are make-believe fantasy and science fiction but make no mistake that the very core of this story carries a kernel of truth! Political rants aside, will also be entertained [again as I said in the first part, you have to love character-based anime] by the various inter-relationships and dynamics between the characters as well as character development episodes, that lets you know some of the good guys aren't so good and some of the bad guys aren't so bad.
I have to say the bad guy, Chouji, stole the show for me! He was tall with long hair, sleek and impeccably dressed....oh and he has a kick-ass power! No doubt in my mind he's merciless, just for the simple fact that he allowed or even orchestrated Kagura to be subjected to all of that sick shit so I can't say I condone his behavior or even understand him on a moral level. He's simply on my radar because he scored high points when it came to the coolness factor. The main guy, Saiga, is an alright guy. I mean he has no 'razzle dazzle' qualities or anything, but he's cool. I guess you would have to look at it from the story point of view, he's supposed to be a normal citizen, he's not rich or anything....even though he's considered high-profile. Also he's supposed to be a bit on the older side and has been though a couple of wars and has seen and experienced a lot of hardcore shit so it wouldn't seem right for him to be this young fetchingly hot bishounen—right? Kagura, is the princess—or in this case goddess—so there really is no need to talk about her, she's cute she skinny and beautiful with long locks. OK, the last person worth mentioning is the blond chic with the gun. I think she's cool, she became a little bit scary and obsessive for a while......and I wasn't feeling that whole 'let's rape an unconscious dude thing' I don't care if he's your man—it's creepy! OK there are some gay dudes in this show that were not only there to be funny but were actually kind of vital to the plot.
Worth it or NOT?
This is a keeper. I would recommend this to people because it is more on the 'hardcore' side of anime, lots of sex and blood. I wouldn't consider this one of the anime greats but it is cool, intelligent and picks up the pace when it needs to. I can see my self re-watching this.
This Series has a lot of Adult Subjects such as: Corruption, Greed, Power, Action, Sexploitation, Blood and Gore. So before u even give this series a try u should be careful as to what u are in for.
General Thoughts: This is a relatively old Series exactly a decade old by the time of this review. However it does necessarily mean u should not give this show a try. As it has a lot to offer if u stick around to watching it till the end.
Story: 7.5 ,The Story is about this Former War photographer who is now making a living as a freelance
photographer journalist named Tatsumi Saiga who has found himself investigating a secret fetish club for the Ultra wealthy called Roppongi Club. He tries to photograph the club's "goddess," a 15-year-old, exploited girl named Kagura, but is discovered. As he is about to be killed, Kagura kisses him, granting him the ability to destroy anything he photographs. Saiga soon discovers that Kagura's body fluids, like her saliva, in combination with a certain "virus", can give people bizarre abilities relating to their secret desires, fetishes, and obsessions. Club members strive for the honor of becoming "gifted" via Kagura's power.
Saiga soon becomes entangled in this secret underground society and the powerful and corrupt Tennōzu Group mega-corporation that operates it. He attempts to free Kagura, a move that puts the two of them on the run from the Tennōzu Group and blood-thirsty members of the club with bizarre and often horrifying special power.
The plot itself I found to be entertaining and it really engages how those with power and control can really become corrupted by that authority and wealth they outline and how they use it to their advantage. It is also set as a cat and mouse game where the main 2 protagonists are constantly on the run as they try to escape the Clutches of the club members and the corporation.
There is also a revenge story that builds as the story goes which would finally reach it’s climax at the end. The story itself is not exactly the greatest as there are time where it would seem a bit silly and the scenarios a bit repetitive but that it actually improved over time especially towards the second half.
Characters: 9 What really drives the series is not as much as the story but the characters that are within it. All of who have such complexities in their personalities and histories that all in one way or in another intertwine with each other that makes the story progression even more worthwhile.
Even the one off villains are given some form of development and background that would give the audience time to see as to what drove them to these actions and the reasons behind them. If not u can even sympathize with them to some extent no matter what the justification was.
The 2 main protangsts are also great because there chemistry works so well. There interactions and behaviour towards another is built up slow and progressively that in the end nothing would seem so forced or overdone.
However the real character that has been built up so well and done so right would be the main villain, In order not to give away spoilers all I can say is this, What he started out as one way would find himself different in another.
Art and Animation: 7 This is probably the series main real weakness, Even for a series that is over a decade old, the art and animation is not exactly the greatest as with other series that have also come out during that time.
At times it might seem a little foggy or a bit hiccuped and the frames might a little to stiff at certain scenes. However it is not exactly the worst either.
Despite the outdated animation and art it is still good, particularly the animation sequences that reflect the dark and twisted atmosphere that the story focuses on as well as those special moments where the focus on the characters feelings or to reflect their emotions with the animation background in which in those cases they work wonderful.
Soundtrack: 9 The series features a wide variety of music types which range from classical music such as moonlight sonata, to quire music such as Amazing Graze to a jazzy, action oriented sound track that makes it so compelling. Most of it actually is a combination of Jazz mixed in with piano and acoustic music.
The classical music is mostly used in scenes to reflect situations that would fit with the appropriate tone that the music is known to accessories with. It defiantly keeps up with the overall scenes and situations that makes watching the series even more worthwhile.
Bottom line: 8 If u are a looking for a good show that focuses on corruption and greed as well as fun action and good character build up and a good old revenge story than I would defiantly recommend you Speed Grapher.
It is not a series that would win high praise or a lot of attention but it is a good show to watch if u like the sort of genres that I have mentioned as well as to give something a try when u have some free time .
In all my years of watching anime I’ve encountered some really strange shows that left me scratching my head. But in all this time, despite the Boku no Pico‘s and the Kodomo no Jikan‘s, and even the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures, I’ve never encountered anything quite as strange as Speed Grapher, a Gonzo anime from 2005. And this isn’t a strange anime in that it’s inherently difficult to understand or presents itself as wacky comedy, it’s strange because it’s just really fucking weird.
Our hero is named Saiga, a famed war photographer. Working for a newspaper in Tokyo, he gets caught up in a club where
Japan’s richest and most powerful go to have sex, eat, drink; indulging in depravity. Saiga winds up being captured by these people and is going to be executed when a young girl falls from the sky named The Goddess. She kisses him and gives him apparent superpowers. He can use his camera to make things blow up by snapping a picture of whatever it is. Anyway, he saves the girl, gets caught up in a plot to destroy Japan, and spends the whole series battling a bevy of strange enemies with superpowers like his, while also protecting the girl. There’s biological weapons, gray area bad guys, and lots and lots of really creepy sexual tension.
And this is where I find that the series really excelled: the bad guys. Each bad guy had a superpower related to his or her fetish or addiction. There was a dentist who got off to kissing a tooth he pulled. He turns into a spider person with dental equipment at the ends of his legs. There was a guy in a gimp suit who had elastic abilities. There’s a guy who’s made out of speakers who tweaks his nipples to turn up the volume. It’s really freaking funny and I don’t particularly know if it was supposed to be. I spent more time laughing at this series than I have at any anime I’ve ever watched. So if you’re looking for a comedy, you have one here.
The entirety of the bad guys is supposed to apparently represent the greed and corruption of the Japanese government, a notion that will be jammed down your throat more often than you’ll like. Especially toward the end, the message is so loud and spelled out in such simple terms that you’ll want to bang your head against a wall. “GOVERNMENT IS CORRUPT! OKAY! GOT IT!”
Another bang your head theme is how often the Goddess, whose real name is Kagura and has the ability to give people the superpowers, is kidnapped. If you’re looking for a strong female lead, this series is not for you. Kagura is weak, whiny, and entirely depends too much on someone to save her. A portion of the series is dedicated to her and Saiga escaping from the bad guys, but a majority is spent with Saiga saving her ass.
The interaction between these two is interesting though and the few reviews I’ve seen for this show either call the character development between these two one of pedophilia or one of brother and sister. I didn’t feel romance in any way brewing between the two characters, but it’s easily misconstrued as Saiga’s girlfriend gets completely jealous of the two anytime she sees them together. This makes the relationship out to be something creepy between a thirty-some year old and a fifteen year old. But nowhere in there is there sexual tension. He loves her, she loves him. If any romance was to be had it’s one-sided from Kagura’s end considering she spent all of her life bottled up in her house with very little outside interaction. So it’s pretty easy to understand if she loves the guy who saved her.
That said, I should bring up Ginza, the cop whose in love with Saiga and the character who gets my Seal of Best Character award. She’s a sort of yandere, threatening to kill Saiga if he doesn’t fuck her and such. But she’s got a more compassionate side that the series gives a little time to shine. She’s also hilarious, calling out any act of violence as “self defense”. The biggest problem with her is her outfit. Do Tokyo police not have regulation outfits? She’s basically showing off her thong. That is not regulation anywhere lady.
And finally we have the bad guy, Suitengu. At first he’s a bad guy, later he’s in the gray area. He has a terrible past and back story and he has white hair, glasses, and a coat, so you know he’s a conniving, evil person. In the grand scheme of things he’s not a memorable bad guy, especially compared to the weirdos Saiga battles to get to him. But he served his purpose and became a little more three-dimensional toward the end.
Issues with the series are plentiful, the main one with the story, for me, being the pacing. It starts off pretty fast-paced but the middle slumps a little and the end is protracted and drawn out to get to a slightly satisfactory conclusion. The formula also gets dull. A bad guy is played up then goes to face off against Saiga. Then when that bad guy’s dead, the next one shows up. So it can get a little stale which might be why I felt the middle wasn’t as exciting as the beginning.
Another problem is the music. And it’s not the actual music because the OST is fantastic, blending haunting piano with the jazzy action-movie music of the eighties. It’s the overuse of the same five or six songs. It’s obvious this show wasn’t made with a huge budget and the music really tells you that. The same songs over and over and over to a point of total annoyance. Plus, that damn piano gets stuck in your head.
The dub is…edgy? There’s a lot of curse words thrown in pointlessly and lots of yelling. It’s a pretty good dub that could do with just a few less “fucks” thrown in to make it “mature”.
The animation is dated and doesn’t hold up in any way. It’s low-budget and can look like total crap at points. It’s not God-awful, but it does make some still-shots laughable as hell.
So where do I stand on Speed Grapher? When it started, I loved it. It was wacky, it was weird, it was original. But as it kept going it got mired in politics and giving off a message. It grew stale because of the formula but stayed fresh by introducing ridiculous bad guys. The characters were, for the most part, decent, but could use more fleshing out. And the ending wasn’t as spectacular as I was hoping it to be.
Say one thing about Speed Grapher though: it’s entertaining as hell for all the wrong reasons. The inclusion of all these sexual deviants getting off to some of the weirdest stuff makes the show hilarious, despite the fact it’s trying to give us a message of greed and corruption. It’s an extended metaphor that is given in such a way as to make whatever message it’s sending a joke. Yes, political greed is bad. Yes the country is fucked up. But when you play up the Prime Minister to be absolutely evil then fight him as his head expands into a giant balloon and his tongue becomes spider legs, your whole message is destroyed.
Metal Gear Solid could throw us messages because, despite the bevy of insane, weird, and otherwise unrealistic characters, there were still human characters and situations we could relate to. And I see a lot of Metal Gear Solid trying to come through here. It just doesn’t work.
This is an entertaining, dark, and edgy anime. But it’s also not at all as smart as it tries to be, nor as serious. It’s hilarious, it’s weird, and it, ultimately, is one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.
Especially Saiga baring his chest to show the ten cameras he has strapped to himself. If ever there were a laughable way to defeat a bad guy, it’s goddam chest cameras.
Story (7.7) - It starts when Saiga, who was a war photogapher, started investigating an special underground group controlled by Suitengu, a survivor from an attack to an island in an attempt to erase some kind of weird experience. Only 2 people survived that day, suitengu and saiga. Thats where they got some kind of virus that allows them to have "superpowers".
After finding out what the group was all about, Saiga decided to fight against them using his special ability, killing everyhing he photographs.
Its a fine story, it started very well indeed, then by episode 12 it gets a bit worse, but still very
Art (7.2) - Art...Although not bad, i think it lacks in some characters design, also is not an aspect that got my attention. But its not that terrible,so 7.
Sound (7.3) - Sometimes fits well, sometimes it doesnt fit so well. Besides that, the voices are ok, opening and ending are also ok, the big problem is just the other sound, from the ost some are good, other are not good, and as i said it in some moments the action doesnt fit perfectly with the music. But still ok.
Character - (9.0) There it is.. i liked the characthers in speed grapher. After i finihsed i can say some things about all the most important characters in the anime, and thats positive. Another point is that the characters have nice abilities, and that turns it more interesting. Not perfect, but for sure one of the best aspects in my opinion.
Enjoyment (8.0) - I liked! I seriously dont think i wasted my time..an anime with lots of action, with fine story and characthers..so i recommend..
Overall (8.0) - Not much left to say, basically its an average of all the aspects.
Anime aimed at teens is a lot of fun. But anime aimed at an older crowd is on a whole other level! You get more violence, gore, nudity and sex than you bargained for...which isn't entirely a bad thing.
There's nothing wrong with frequenting a slightly predictable, stable anime that has some form of boundaries or limitations that you can count on. But we also need something completely unpredictable, something that doesn't make a lick of sense, because we must feed our desires for the strange.