Those who receive the Revelation of Babel must overcome many battles and trials. By grasping the hand of their special partner, these "Hand Shakers" transport themselves to the realm of Ziggurat, an alternate dimension where time no longer exists. Each pair of Hand Shakers must battle it out for the right to meet with God, who will reward them by granting them a single wish.
Tazuna Takatsuki, a high school student with a penchant for fixing things, is one of these Hand Shakers. After receiving a request for repairs from Professor Makihara of a nearby university, Tazuna stumbles upon Koyori Akutagawa, a bedridden girl that reminds him of his deceased sister Musubu. Remembering her dying wish to never let go of her hand, Tazuna grasps Koyori's hand and awakens his power as a Hand Shaker. However, Koyori's life is directly tied to her status as a Hand Shaker, meaning if Tazuna was to ever let go of her hand she would die. With meeting God being their only hope for saving her, the duo must find a way to make their unique powers mesh together, overcome the opposing Hand Shakers, and make their wish come true.
Let us shake hands… with the future. The future of anime, and the future of society.
Friends, welcome. On the third season, The Order has risen once again to free us from our eternal struggle. In an industry that rarely takes risks, Hand Shakers stands above all others to become the most daring, most challenging, and most breathtaking anime ever created.
When Gen Urobuchi broke out in the 90’s with the release of Neon Genesis Evangeliation, the anime community was both equally fascinated and outraged at its unique story and characters. Hand Shakers pushes the envelope much further, challenging the community, the industry, and the entire world.
mere concept of Hand Shakers is the most gruesome, most outrageous, most difficult scenario of all time: A young boy must constantly hold hands with a girl who looks to be half his age. SCANDALOUS!
Sex is often a highly taboo and controversial subject. Today, society holds intense debates over the censorship of breasts and buttocks and shoulder blades day in and day out. Hand Shakers puts the most graphic and intimate of sexual actions, hand holding, on full display for the world to gaze their nervous eyes upon. And with a minor, no less! Indeed, the young Inori Yuzuriha, despite her young appearance, is at the forefront of this gratifying imagery. I’m actually amazed she wasn’t impregnated at any point, given that she and Tarzan held hands for almost every minute of the series.
Oh, but don’t think that’s all. Hand Shakers brings about many more dazzling images of sexuality. In fact, the entire anime is a commentary about different sexual tendencies that are widely controversial, but it irrefutably proves how they are beneficial to our society and should be more widely accepted. Let’s look in detail about each pair of characters.
The first pair of Hand Shakers (the names granted to these brave warriors) are none other than the studio Silver Link, as the acts of bondage portrayed are a callback to the greatest Twilight movie of all time, Fifty Shades of Gray. As silver is a shade of gray and chains are also known as links, it was a cleverly well-placed casting by Mr. GoHands. Furthermore, the actors representing these characters are both high-level veterans respected by many peers and fans alike, showing how serious this anime is on its views. People might look at bondage with fear and disgust, as it does look rather intimidating on the surface. However, as this anime pleasantly shows, pain can also bring about pleasure when delivered properly, and both characters in this couple take great delight in this act. They set a great example for BDSM relationships and should be taken seriously.
The second pair is where Hand Shakers announces its strongest, most passionate stance on the legalization of pedophilia. This couple is nothing more than a grown man with a young girl. Although I disagree with the anime’s opinion, I must respect that it is very brave of them to portray this kind of sexual relationship, especially one as realistic as it is. The young girl often remarks about how mature and grown-up she is because she’s a Hand Shaker; she has a life partner and a good job and even dresses in a professional manner. But this setup often comes off as a joke to people because they don’t take it seriously. It’s unfortunate that the clear message of children being capable of acting as mature and responsible individuals has fallen on deaf ears, but once again I respect Hand Shakers for not only addressing this issue, but tying in the response to its controversial nature into the narrative.
The third pair of Hand Shakers represent another highly controversial and heavily debated topic: incest. This pair is with a brother and a sister, the sister designed with a luscious, curvy body to entice viewers and persuade them to join this movement to decriminalize sex between family members. After all, incest is wincest. This relationship is even sponsored by the popular trading card game, Weiss Schwartz, further proving that even big names are willing to make a much-needed change to our society. It also helps that this is the most realistic, mature, and down-to-earth pair of characters since the brother and sister of the hit 2016 anime, Big Order. But again, the community is too immature to see these characters for who they really are. Instead, they want to complain about completely trivial matters, such as the sister’s breasts moving “unnaturally”, as if they haven’t seem someone’s chest wobble like it’s getting sucked into a fucking tornado whenever they listen to twenty one pilots on their iPhones. You’re all dumbasses.
...whoops, pardon my language. I am only frustrated. I just want to tell the world how incredible this anime is, and all of the themes it represents. Anyway, let’s move on.
The fourth pair of Hand Shakers is actually rather difficult to figure out, as the themes are just too complex for the average person to understand. Fortunately, having seen over 20 animes, I am of superior intelligence, which is why I’m presenting this post to counteract the negativity surrounding this amazing title, and it is my duty to decipher it.
Here we have an older, unattractive man holding hands with a young woman who happens to be an aspiring idol. Instead of focusing on one theme, I believe this pair represents many ideas. First, the appearance of the man contrasting with the beautiful idol girl signify that even the most unassuming of people can find the partner that is right for them, or that appearance has no factor in love. It could merely be a good representation of two people not sexually attracted to one another, but are willing to hold hands because they see something in them that can’t be seen in their physical appearance. Number second, this relationship is particularly business-like, as the older man represents the idol as her manager. It shows how sex can tie into the workplace and be beneficial for at least one of them, and that’s all that matters. Furthermore, the mainstream pop industry has been notorious for displaying many singers and performers in a sexual manner, such as Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Death Grips. However, the idol industry in Japan is much more repressed, which makes this relationship in Hand Shakers a very big deal. We must join hands and break these invisible walls that bound society in its currently soulless state.
Finally, the last pair of Hand Shakers is the most fascinating, but be warned, this is a spoiler.
This final pair is none other than a copy of our main characters, Tarzan and Inori. Granted, the two people are different, and only the girl looks similar to Inori, but the theme of this relationship is the same. It’s also portraying ephebophilia, which is very different from pedophilia, and the confusion of these terms has caused many problems in our society. For further information, please see the thoughtful analytical piece of B Kata H Kei by Mumkey Jones.
I haven’t spoken about the main pair of Hand Shakers, because it all speaks for itself. The two meet each other and start holding hands for fun, but they do it so often that they become inseparable lovers, proving that sex is a truly beautiful thing that brings friends and family together and makes the world a better place. It’s a touching and emotional narrative that squeezed many tears from my eyes.
In Hand Shakers, the intimate act of hand holding grants both partners a great power, with which they use to fight with other Hand Shakers to show whose sexual desire is stronger. While I wish the world to be a calm place where everyone can hold hands in peace, this is a piece of entertainment after all, so I must admit that I love a good fight. And what good fights this series holds! Every power is tremendously creative and unique and allows for the users to activate different techniques as their intelligence may command. While Niconico Araki, known for his work in the classic series Stand Alone Complex, has often been regarded as a genius for his creative shounen battles, Hand Shakers might have outdone him once and for all, for the clashes in this anime are breathtaking, such as the clashes between chains and a big fuck-off sword, card games and a big fuck-off sword, and an idol girl and a big fuck-off sword. The possibilities are endless!
And what meshes all thisl together is the immaculate presentation of the anime. GoHands have truly crafted a masterpiece that will stand the test of time. Last year brought in multiple anime that sought out the promises of CG; anime such as Bubuki Buranki, Ajin, and Berserk 2016. Hand Shakers surpasses these titles--no, it surpasses all anime for its visual prowess. Every surface in the world is a mirror, reflecting the clouds in the sky that move at breakneck speed because this anime takes place in a very windy city, which is precisely why Lily’s large bamboozlers wiggle and shake rapidly, even indoors. Characters have hair made out of stained glass, allowing a unique color pallet with a diverse level of shading, and the designs of each character perfectly match the theme they represent.
The animation is nothing short of stellar; the 2D and 3D animation come together so well that they move at two entirely different framerates, creating two unique and interesting flavors that satisfy fans of both traditional and CG animation. The backgrounds, objects, and effects generated from computer animation are so realistic and lifelike that I have a hard time deciding whether they were actually animated, or if the chains and flames, for example, were literally placed above the recorded frames to give a full sense of realism. It looks so natural! I’ve never seen CG used in more brilliant ways before, although I’m greatly anticipating the upcoming Berserk 2016 2017 to break new ground with a clang. Either way, the ambition displayed in Hand Shakers cannot be ignored nor disrespected, especially when considering the messages of the narrative it represents.
The hand-drawn animation holds its own to that of Bones, Trigger, and Funimation. Even with incredible camera movement that twists and turns smoothly and miraculously, the highly-stylized characters manage to stay on model at every single moment. Every frame of movement is perfect and lifelike, as if you’re watching real people act through the motions. And, fret not, the hand holding itself is drawn perfectly. My heart goes out to all the animators working slave wages and not getting enough sleep for all their hard work.
Finally, we must talk about the intricate soundscapes that bring about the atmosphere of each scene, as they were good enough to distract me from the voices in my head that tell me to do questionable things to people with spoons and strawberry jam. Hand Shakers continues to innovate, as each piece of the soundtrack is a different tune taken from the top elevator music composers around the world. Not only that, but each track loops over and over again, creating a tone found in visual novels, blending Hand Shakers with even more genres. The opening theme is sung by Masayoshi Oishi, and bless his heart for singing as well as he did despite having a cold, which is why you can hear him cough at the beginning of the song. Many singers should aspire to work as hard as him. The ending theme is sung by Akino Arai, and its soothing composition can lull anyone into a sleep, so that they may dream of a better world of hand-holding.
The speakings are consistent with every other part of the anime: absolutely perfect. Inori’s two lines of dialogue and her 815 lines of “hm” are delivered with aplomb. No other actress could possibly have fulfilled the role better than Sumire Morohoshi. Likewise, Bind’s 59 instances of “ahhhh!” are handled excellently by Mio Akiyama. There’s nothing else to say other than that every actor and actress was phenomenal and I would like them to read me a bedtime story, because the voices in my head don’t know how to read, unfortunately.
With this review, I hope you have learned the valuable narrative aspects that are explored within the anime Hand Shakers, as many people have misunderstood the intentions of this amazing series and have given it an unfairly low score. While it may appear to be a simple anime featuring beautiful characters, incredible artwork, and great action pieces, it carries many mature and interesting themes of sexuality that must be heard. Hand Shakers is nothing short of a breakthrough for the anime industry, and therefore the entire world, a breakthrough that will likely bring a great change in how laws affect censorship and restrictions on sexual activities.
And so, my friends, I must go. Do tell your friends and family the good word of Hand Shakers. Spread it across your school, your church, your swamp, your office! Follow the example set by this anime: spread the word loud and clear! It’s beautiful, it’s wonderful, and it must be seen by all! You, too, can make America great again. I cannot write any further, for I must do my part and travel the seven seas and sing to humanity the praises of this glorious anime. If you need me… simply reach out your hand, and I shall come to hold it.
What's the ultimate sign of a "bad anime?" For some, it's a poorly written script, for others, it's a lack of effort on the audiovisual front. It could even be something trivial, like a personal gripe against certain cliches or tropes. Whatever the reasoning may be, we all have ways of coming to our own conclusion.
As for me, the ultimate sign of a lousy anime is not what that particular work does by itself, but how it forces me to retroactively reexamine other terrible works in the process. When the show in question is so bad that I have to commend the efforts of
bottom-tier shows that, at the very least, "tried," to me, that's the ultimate sign of a piss poor project.
Hand Shakers is that kind of anime. A show so baffling in its inception that calamities of years past—such as the infamous Absolute Duo or Terra Formars—manages to appear "decent" by virtue of comparison. The degree to which this show fails is actually pretty impressive. In a way, it's a masterpiece at fucking up. From fundamental production issues that could have easily been fixed to writing butchered beyond the point of repair; what we have here is a perfect swan dive into brain-dead content.
Whatever the lowest score you've ever given a title may be, proceed to raise it a point higher so that you have a level solely dedicated for this gem. It has earned the right to reign unchallenged on its shit-tier podium.
The first thing that would jump out at you is the overall presentation. It's been a while since I saw a show where the issue wasn't it being under-produced but actually the exact opposite. Hand Shakers is overwrought with so many art-style, animation, and filmmaking techniques that it's nauseating trying to process it all. I'm sure you've seen people mockingly say that something is "headache-inducing" before but with Hand Shakers, it isn't just a snide remark to make in passing, it's the actual truth. There are certain parts of the show where you feel like you're on the verge of getting a migraine. And this goes beyond the obvious issues you'd expect from a poorly put-together anime. The issues here have almost taken on a life of its own due to its aggressive application of everything occurring all at once.
Firstly, let's run over the obvious one that immediately sticks out to most people, the presentation:
Everything is constantly bathed in an oily opacity filter. Random 360 camera panning with fisheye lens distortion at a moment's notice. 3D rendered landscapes with 2D constructed characters with no spatial awareness given for any of it to breathe. A complete disregard for blocking, leading to a whirlwind of poorly thought-out motion and distracting object placement. Unmoving plaid animation technique (best featured in cartoons like Chowder and anime like Gankutsuou) that are randomly used with no true purpose. Enough lens flare to make even J.J. Abrams blush. Digitally rendered clothing layered with a feathering sheen effect. Random micro sparkles fluttering around everywhere. Shots riddled with dead space while simultaneously being cluttered throughout other parts of the scene. Jarring post-production CGI blended with cel-shaded animation that moves at a completely different frame rate from everything else. Lighting and shadow casting that doesn't account for its light source. Layered in live-action dust and flame effects placed on top 2D drawn objects. Random Dutch angles, top-down view shots, dollying shots, dolly zooms that transitions into handheld camera point-of-view scenes; all this plus more that could occur back-to-back at a moments notice—none of which used with any purposeful intent. Spliced-in insert shots that highlight pointless information. Multiple occasions where the 180-degree rule is broken. A complete disregard for motion vectors, resulting in discombobulated action scenes. And the list goes on and on.
And this was just a conservative list of what I've spotted. If someone were to actually sit down and dissect it all, I'm sure there are more structural and presentation problems just waiting to be unearthed.
It's a dizzying vaudevillian display of one terrible idea after another, with each aspect desperately vying for your attention.
It's one thing to apply bold presentation choices to make your project stand out, and it's a complete other to compound it to the point where it becomes the equivalency of throwing shit at the wall. Not only does this show run the gamut of every possible shortcoming on a presentation standpoint but it fails at utilizing any of it in an effective manner. And perhaps even worse is the flippant disregard for basic editing and filmmaking techniques, despite the creators' desire to overuse it.
Here are just a few simple examples. Establishing shots are used to give the viewer a sense of location, time, and space as it relates to the destination of the story or the scene being brought to one's attention. In Hand Shakers, establishing shots are reduced to cobbled-together reused scenes or random point of views done merely for a "cool" shot, defeating the purpose of giving the viewer any sense of placement. If you use the same cutscenes or go bat-shit crazy with camera angles to establish a multitude of things, it's no longer serving its purpose. All that does is leave your audience disoriented, giving them no chance to find their footing in your world. On top of that, spatial awareness is lost here as well. Rooms and locations can get bigger or smaller from scene to scene. Characters appear and relocate in their positions within any given shot, something that occurs every time the show attempts to show a relation between the environment and people's positions in them—and no, this wasn't a purposeful artistic choice like it is in the Monogatari franchise. The director and creators of this show are either inexperienced or overcompensating for material that doesn't deserve the excessive theatrics being allotted to it.
There are many movies and TV shows where the intent is to create a feeling of disorientation, as is the case with Satoshi Kon's Paprika, where it created a visually augmented existence between dream and reality or with live-action movies like Natural Born Killers and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where they wanted to simulate a drunken fever-dream-like experience to heighten the adrenaline-fueled intoxication that the characters found themselves reveling in. If done with proper care, this kind of visual inebriation can be a fun experience, but the dizzying effect that Hand Shakers has throughout its run isn't of that pedigree. It's creators seeing "cool" things and then converting it into parlor tricks in a piss poor attempt to emulate it. It's the unholy matrimony between improperly used filmmaking techniques and lousy art-style decisions.
You see, the truly mindblowing thing about this entire production is that it's an ANIME, NOT a live-action film. No really, think about it for a moment. You don't have to puppeteer between makeup artists, lighting crews, prop departments, stunt performers, movie extras, cinematographers, actors, construction crews, auditors, modeling supervisors, food catering services etc. The advantage that anime has over live-action is that the daunting tasks associated with live-action have been diminished to a degree where the creative technicians involved are usually significantly less, making it far more manageable as a result. In layman's terms, there's less joggling required. Just compare the staffing of any live-action blockbuster film against that of any anime project. 2015's One Punch Man vs. Age of Ultron for example. The amount of people involved speaks for itself. Ultron's staffing is practically 50x larger than that of One Punch Man's. So how Hand Shakers manages to have the frantic feel of an overworked production cycle, while not having to worry about most of the issues associated with an overworked production cycle, is beyond hilarious. And honestly, pretty fascinating, if only for how bad the finished product ended up being.
But enough about the production, if I were to discuss all the issues found, we'd be here all day. Instead, let's try to comb over the show's screenplay without dying of embarrassment.
You really can't expect much content-wise from a show whose premise and name sounds like an awful pun gone too far, but let's try to find something worth discussing anyway. Produced by studio GoHands—HAND Shakers, Go HANDS, GET IT!?—the story follows a limp-dick, pussy protagonist named Tazuna Takatsuki, who, through a series of events, find himself coming into contact with Koyori Akutagawa, a fair porcelain-skinned complexioned girl who's been in a coma for a long time. In her dainty state, Koyori reminds Tazuna of the little sister he once had, and through the miracle of "da chosen one," she awakens to his presence, grabbing his hand as they start their journey together as newly formed Hand Shakers.
When he isn't busy being an ideal self-insert beta-male, Tazuna uses his Shirou Emiya ability to fix mechanical devices of any kind, being something that's both a passionate hobby of his and means to test his acquired skills. But after becoming a Hand Shaker, all that changes, as he's pitted against multiple opponents who have accepted the call, each coming with their own unique fetish to meet the expected checklist of your routine fantasy empowerment show. From sadomasochism and pop-idol worship to vanilla incestual love and lolita complex; this anime is your one-stop shop for all your harmless fanservice needs. Using powers they could summon called "nimrods," the duo fights off their attackers one by one, with each conquest becoming friends in the end because "reasons." And really, that's the extent of what you need to know about this show, trying to give you a more detailed description of it would only lead to numerous contradictions later on, as the show doesn't follow any of its pre-established rules whatsoever.
Whether the issues spotted as the story goes along was just a case of excessive retconning mid-production or just a shitty draft treatment that was turned into a screenplay without any sort of revision, honestly, it's hard to tell the difference with this show. Just be prepared for several inconsistencies and accept it for what it is.
Accepting things as is also extended to specific scenarios and plot details as well. This is a show that cannot exist without treating most the characters involved like dimensionless NPC stand-ins, because the moment it does bother to make its inhabitants fully functioning human beings, is the moment that the show's logic begins to collapse in on itself. Take the following scenario, for example:
Because of Koyori's health condition, she cannot let go of Tazuna's hand, in fear of her life being lost in the process "because reasons." But since Tazuna is still a high school student, he needs to find a way to attend classes with this dilemma, as well as a means to go about his daily life. So how does the show accomplish that? By just turning his classmates and parents into unquestioning oafs! Tazuna bringing a Rei Ayanami knock-off into his parents' household is treated with no confrontation at all, in fact, it's greeted with a celebratory welcome home. Even if we ignore the fact that he's not letting go of her hand the entire time he brings this stranger into their household, he then proceeds to take this strange girl into the shower and bedroom with him. All of which happens with his parents' complete acknowledgment of these events. With a flimsy off-screen explanation given to explain this, we're just supposed to accept that these are the world's most accepting parents, in a culture like Japan that's built on strict decorum, where shit like this will never fly. This is the level of nonsense we're dealing with here.
And how do they solve the issue of him attending school with a girl continually holding his hand? Well, same shit. No one bothers to question it. The show quite literally turns an entire population into brain-dead idiots just to sell its cutesy fantasy empowerment concept. You could just feel the power of the scriptwriter's pen dictating every aspect of this show's logic, making the entire thing unbelievably stupid. At no point can you buy into any scenario presented, as it's all incredibly forced. I could only imagine the conversation for this show's plotting going along the lines of:
Studio head: "We need to get to point A to point B, I don't care how you do it, just make it happen."
Scriptwriter: "Don't worry my nigga, I'll just write some bullshit and make everyone accept it."
Studio head: "That works for me."
-throws up gang signs, crip walks out of studio office-
And really, that's all this show is, an excuse to have a self-insert pussy protagonist hold the hand of a cute, dainty girl, from what came into existence from a dumb word pun. At least that's what I'm hoping the joke floating around in the studio office was, because if this was seriously pitched like a legitimate idea, then may God have mercy on us all. Thankfully, the gimmicky scenario was mirrored throughout the conversations had by the characters, leading to my first conclusion being acceptable enough to stomach. The dialogue scenes, for the most part, were composed of 40% information dumps, 50% "OMG, they're such an adorable couple!" and 10% "I like to fix things, hurr durr!"
It's one of the most blatant fantasy empowerment/escapism shows, not only in the 2010s but also in the past decade. Hell, maybe even an all-time contender.
To help sell this experience, we're given what could best be described as cheap elevator music for a soundtrack, xerox copy character designs, and a demo-quality opening theme that's chopped together with scenes of all of the occurring events seen throughout the series. And before we go on any further, can we just quickly acknowledge how funny the naming choice of "nimrod" is in this series?
Given that the other dimension that the Hand Shakers battle against each other was referred to as the Ziggurat, it's safe to say that the show was using the old biblical text definition of nimrod; a person who was known as a skilled hunter in the old testament. Which, by itself, isn't a bad idea to use as the basis for a classification of weaponry... except for one problem. In modern-day semantics, most people define the word "nimrod" as a dumb person. So keeping that in mind, every time the characters' weapons are brought up in the show, what was intended to be a badass moment where two opposing Hand Shakers clashes just ended up becoming a comedic one. If you view it with the understanding of how this word is primarily identified by most people, head-to-head battles can almost be seen as a fight between who the bigger idiot is. The last anime I recall watching with such unfortunate naming choices was Tomino's Brain Powerd. And if you haven't seen Brain Powerd as yet, consider this an endorsement to check it out. It's basically the autistic version of Neon Genesis Evangelion.
But anyway, back to Hand Shakers.
Hand Shakers is a title I found value in, although, that value had nothing to do with any successes it may have had. As for what message this anime may be trying to sell the audience, the only thing I could come up with was some tacky moral statement of "separated we are weak, but together we are strong." Other than that, I'm drawing blanks here.
But despite all my negative comments towards this project, it may surprise you to know that I love this anime, or rather, I love titles that are this bad. Shows that everyone, regardless of viewing habits or taste, can collectively acknowledge how terrible it is. These are the kind of shows that bring people together. Where we can all join hands spewing out diatribes like a kumbayah cleansing ritual, declaring in one voice that this anime "is shit."
If you're aspiring to do anything with editing or the process of filmmaking, Hand Shakers could be seen as the best visual example of what not to do, serving as a sort of warning sign on how doing too much could be just as bad as doing very little. Other than that, if you just wish to have a good ass time laughing or being baffled for a few hours as you watch something fail at everything it attempts, Hand Shakers is a great drinking game entry to view with a few friends.
As for me, this anime is a marvel. A new defining point of a particular kind of pathetic. A spectacular failure that has redefined my idea of what cancerous presentation looks like. Weirdly enough, I'm thankful for Hand Shakers's existence. Through it, I have a newfound appreciation for other shows I once quickly disregarded, softening my stringent criteria of what I consider "acceptable" in the process. There's always something worse out there, and Hand Shakers became a martyr to prove that point.
Two questions first:
Did you think Big Order or Glasslip were the worst series you've ever seen?
Did you think Berserk 2016 and Ajin had the worst animations with CGI you've ever seen?
Negative! Hand Shakers is here to show you the opposite and... believe me, it does it well. Let's look at this together!
- Use of pretentious terms like "Nimrod(o)" or "Ziggurat(o)"?
- Action with lots of explosions and unimaginable powers?
- Main character without goal?
- Main character nice, and weak at first?
- One of the girls is a loli kuudere?
- One of the girls is a loli idol like Nico Yazawa?
- One of the girls
is a loli tsundere?
- Fan service ecchi?
- S & M?
- Brother complex?
Do you see what I mean? This series contains a list of clichés in order to attract the most people, without taking the trouble to think about the pertinence of all these points.
Roughly, the story takes place in Osaka where there is a parallel dimension of the name Ziggurat. The Hand Shakers, people who have received the Revelation of Babel, engage in a tenacious battle between them to challenge God...
So I can understand that it makes you want to watch but believe me, there is a big difference between what I read and what I saw. (Careful, I'm not talking about the novel that I didn't read.)
The series alternates between the annoying slice of life and the action, equally bad. The thing that bothered me most is that the scenes don't follow each other in a logical way. For example, we can easily change from a slice of life scene where two characters quietly chat to another scene where these two characters will face an opponent.
Concerning the explanations of the powers of the characters, don't expect anything clear or precise but nevertheless, even if nobody understands anything (including the characters), everyone uses them as simply. To make it simpler, the Hand Shakers uses the power of friendship, like lots of popular mangas you already know. The Ziggurat is the practical way for the writer to stage explosive fights in a city without trying to explain why this barrier exists. For the last 3 points of the list, I don't prefer to tell you and let you discover it.
They are all uninteresting. How often have I been able to predict their sentences during dialogues so they are clichés? I do not know, but as many times as I can no longer count them.
Most of them are copy and paste from popular characters, without these new characters having a developed or deep personality. There is absolutely no subtlety, no slightly dubious character trait that would make them more complex. No, they are either kind or wicked who have become friendly and allied to the MC after fighting them. Doesn't this aspect remind you of a famous shonen manga?
What can I tell you? Even the most fervent defenders of the CGI won't be able to tolerate a CGI of such bad quality. The movements aren't natural (I think Riri's breasts) and are jerky, although there is slightly improving on some specific action scenes.
The colors are garish and unpleasant. The staging is painful to the eyes.
What else can I tell you? The characters have a bad chara design. I have the impression that Koyori and Tazuna are primary school children while they are supposed to be high school (?) students. Good joke, isn't it?
Probably the best point of the series, and yet don't expect Sawano's OST here. For most of the soundtrack, these are nice piano music to listen to although they become repetitive.
The OP isn't awful and the ED is ... correct after listening to it at least 5 times.
The seiyuus: Makihara has a seiyuu whose voice I don't like here. For the others, it is passable.
Enjoyment: (between 5 and 9/10)
Still, I doubled-up with laughter, watching this series. So the mediocrity of this series beats records, it doesn't become unpleasant or embarrassing to look at. Once you have accepted it, you can fully enjoy and laugh heartily. For example, characters' reactions are often very stereotyped and... stupid that it made me laugh, especially with Tazuna ("I have to protect Koyori at the risk of my life!").
Moreover, Nagaoka Daichi is probably the most entertaining character so he's wide of the mark.
Personally, I think Hand(o) Shakers is an excellent series to understand just how bad a series can be. BUT if you are looking for a good show on Winter 2017, choose what you want except... Hand Shakers.
**DISCLAIMER: This version is outdated, however I will keep it up here as a mark of how I felt a year prior when constructing this review (I spent 50 days). Since then, I have created a superior version of this review that I sadly can't link (it's in my blogs section). Regardless, enjoy!**
“HOLY FUCK; this show has got to be the worst anime I’ve seen in my whole life! I mean, I've seen some dog shit like Big Order, Pupa, Mahouka, Mars of Destruction, and Skelter+Heaven, but this takes the fucking cake, and GoHands will pay with their now abysmal reputation!” -me, now and hopefully
My friends...thank you for waiting for this day; for this review..for sticking with me, and suffering through this abomination like I did; you are all brave souls. Now, for the usual preamble about why this show is absolute garbage and why you shouldn't watch it...EVER!
Thanks to all the time I spent splurging the forums of this crazed and fascinating enigma of a forum site and the equally crazy and passionate community that spawned it, as well as the time I spent rummaging through the narrative and production of studios like Ufotable, Production I.G, Sunrise, and Tatsunoko Production, I've come to the conclusion that every season of anime has to have “that one show”. You know the one; the one show that happens to be so spectacularly bad that 90% of the vocal parts of the Internet slam it as one of the worst anime of the year, even if there are ones with lower scores, since those are just ignored by the masses. Some are lost in the aether once the new season of anime kicks off, but others stay as legends. Last year had some examples of the former, namely “Enride” and “Seisen Cerberus”, but it had even more examples of the latter, namely “Big Order” and “Mayoiga” and while I'm not 100% sure where this show will end up, my money is on the latter. Now, I'm not gonna whore out views by making a sarcastic review that was meant to give fake and ironic praises to this show that will emphasize how lame it is. I'm gonna tell it to you straight: Hand Shakers sucks! It sucks really bad. I mean, you shouldn't be watching this, it sucks that fucking bad, and expect that word a lot because this show is just that goddamn awful; it's abominable; 1 out of 10 bad. That's right, we're going there...
*While there are spoilers for Hand Shakers, don't bother watching this abomination; it's not worth your time. TL;DR at the bottom, and apologies for the length and apologies if I come off as a psychologically broken rambler just hating on a low hanging revolting pile of shit that calls itself a "fruit", but if you hate this show anywhere near as much as I do, or even if you don't hate it that much, please stick around? I'm sure it'll be more worth your time than the actual show could ever be. If you hate my tone here, I promise you it won't get any better since this show is apocalyptically bad! I just...really fucking hate this show...*
Once upon a time, there was a man who watched an anime, and once he finished it, he described it as the anime equivalent to a 5 car pile-up; something so disastrous yet fascinating; you can't look away. It was the beginning of Summer 2016 when this occurred. Half a year later, and this show was allowed to air in Japanese television and on Crunchyroll, with Funimation (for some weird reason) jumping into this shit pile of a show only a few weeks later. In my demented head-cannon, I am willing to believe that the people behind this show saw this and decided to one-up the anime that received the aforementioned statement (though, I must be fair and cast that twisted imagination aside), for Hand Shakers is the anime equivalent of Hiroshima. It is an event so disastrous, that it caused intense pain and suffering to everyone who watched and experienced it. It was something so fucked up and disastrous, that would be forever marked as a tremendous tragedy in the history of mankind. It is sickening to have looked at, and many people talk of it in disdain for all the suffering attached to it,and even joke about it for that same reason. However, in the case of the Hiroshima bombing, at least it ended something much worse. This, on the other hand, didn't serve to impact anything other than our sanities and Studio GoHands’ reputation.
Now, premise aside (since we'll get to it), what exactly...is Hand Shakers? It is something that can only be described in one of two ways, one of which I already mentioned. The other way for it to be described is: a masterpiece of fail that deserves to be talked about in the same vain as Mars of Destruction, Pupa, or Skelter+Heaven. It is something that either causes you to watch in awe or in despair. To some, it is an enigma of bullshit that will make some stare in awe, wondering just how something like this came to be, and how spectacularly this pile of dung was made without resort to alcohol and drugs for its script, while laughing their (possibly drunk) assess off while watching this piece of shit. To others, it is a travesty that forced them to watch in agony, either at how everything about this anime manages to be so bad, or at how the horrendous visuals manage to cause physical pain to their eyes. This anime is not for the visually-challenged, nor is it for the easily nauseous, or the easily angered, such as myself (for the latter adjective exclusively). This kind of shit leaves you bitter, especially if you actually care about storytelling and visual presentation.
When I jumped into this anime, I already expected it to be bad thanks to the reception it has received, but it ended up being so...SO much worse than I anticipated; it was shocking as to how awful it all was, from writing, to direction, to audio, to characterization, to visual presentation. This "anime", if you can even call it that, violates the 8th amendment, and makes no qualms about it, for this was an attempt to make Studio GoHands a household name...and you can all guess how that worked out. To be honest, I'm 100% surprised that THIS was supposed to be their breakout anime. Just… why? Do you people honestly expect me to believe that THIS was supposed to be Studio GoHands' claim to fame; the anime that makes the studio a household name; something that opens our eyes and makes us see that Studio GoHands should be heralded as a legendary studio on par with the likes of Production I.G., Bones, Kyoto Animation, or Ufotable?!
I truly mean it. This is something that warrants explanation. Why was this...FILTH, the studio’s attempt at glory?! After all, it's nothing but a generic, shitty Fate/Stay Night clone with a ridiculous premise attached to give as excuse as to why all of the powers are so lame. 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 it. It would just be a trite cow pie that didn't even try. We would have a little laugh at its expense and move on, putting this as a lazily created and forgettable schlock-fest. Instead, we are left to watch in suspense as the shit-shields (aka, the critics, such as myself; you're welcome) dissect this shimmering ball of fuckshit for creatively (and more often than not, uncreatively) murdering our brains, sanities, and eyesights with this blend of lazy, broken, and generic writing, accompanied by the most baffling of visual diarrhea.
Still, how did it all go so wrong? How and why was this anime such an endless cycle of bullshit that only spiraled more and more into innovatively awful territory with each passing episode? Now that I took my anti-breakdown pills, it's time to press on. As we enter the fray, sacrifice our much-needed brain cells on this abomination from hell, and finally finish this painfully long and meticulously crafted preamble of visceral hate porn, let's sing kumbaya and find out, shall we?
Let’s start with the concept of the show; the premise, if you will. The premise is stupid as hell. If for one second, the MC duo lets go of one another, the girl dies, except apparently not because she can go a few seconds without contact and still survive. In fact, by episode 3, she become capable of surviving this for 15 minutes despite the fact that they give NO reasoning or decent time-lapse to tie into why we should buy this bullshit. Then, she can suddenly go two hours in episode 5 (the events surrounding that throwaway line bring up its own plethora of plot holes), and none of it has any sense of progression since we don't now what influences that progression. Back to the previous point. With the way the antagonists of episode 1 hold hands, you would assume that each group of Hand Shakers must hold hands, but then episode 3 comes around with a duo named Blade and Dagger (Talk about on the nose for their powers. Also, more on them later) and has it so that they never once hold hands. So, what the hell was the point of that stupid ass premise?! If it was advertised as a stupid gimmick for only the main duo, that would be fine; you would just have to explain it. However, when you battle, you're automatically in the Ziggurat (which I'll get back to) where you're not allowed to lose your grip otherwise you get kicked out, until the whole episode 3 example I mentioned above, except now it's when both parties don't wanna fight at all (then what about how the fight in episode 4 ended, when one side clearly wanted to keep at it a little longer and easily could've?) So, what the hell, anime?!
As a matter of fact, not only is that established rule broken in episodes 4 and 6, but by episode 8, we can confirm that this rule is nonexistent bullshit and a lie since NO ONE DOES IT ASIDE FROM THE PROTAGONISTS!!! Wasn't it supposed to be that if you lose your grip, you lose? Apparently not because in episode 8, the more active Hand Shaker (Kodawa) never even holds hand with her partner and is separated from him all the fuckin’ time, and in episode 4, neither do Blade and Dagger, so fuck me for being a logical human being that expects a show to follow its own rules. For fuck’s sake, don't violate your own rules so constantly; it ruins everything.
In fact, no wonder the powers blow! If you were to use exciting or creative powers, you would have to ditch the retarded fucking premise, which the show somewhat does, so what the fuck, you lazy piece of shit of an anime?! If you wanna make a Fate/Stay Night clone, at least have some decent powers. Then again, if the powers are called FUCKING NIMRODES (forgive the spelling, that's how they decided to spell it; I know the original meaning, but that doesn't really help given the modern definition of the term ”nimrod”), then how the flying fuck do you expect them to be good in the first place? Well, here’s how the death game works, random duos are chosen (for seemingly no reason) to participate in a game in which they need to hold hands and “kill” all other Hand Shaker duos, in order to meet God...who here wants to watch Mirai Nikki and Fate/Zero instead right about now?
Jokes about better anime aside, there are fundamental things about these kinds of death games that aren't explained here (unlike the aforementioned better anime). For starters, nobody knows how long this whole game has been going on. Nobody knows if there have been winners before or if this was just an ongoing game (no matter what, either route will bring its own set of issues).
Nobody knows how many pairs there can be at a time. In fact, the game seems to be extremely vague and off about its rules and mechanics. Hell, holding hands in front of a duo of Hand Shakers is a trigger for battle, meaning that there is a very strong possibility that innocent couples have been mistakenly threatened due to them holding hands in front of Hand Shakers by accident, which really sells how stupid these rules are. This is the absolute worst constructed “death game” I've ever seen. In fact, I shouldn't even call it that because no one dies. Even if you have fatal injuries, as soon as you leave the Ziggurat, they're no longer fatal, and you can simply lose from getting beaten and rendered “immobilized” (not really, but the anime doesn't bother with letting that particular duo that lost that way continue for unknown reasons). Aka, this isn't even a death game or proper battle royal. It can't even bother going through with its hook (not including the hand holding but, which it doesn't go through with either). Have I mentioned that you should have been watching the Fate/Stay Night anime titles instead?
The Ziggurat...well, I don't know what it is. Given context, it seems like a space that appears not only when two Hand Shaker pairs meet, but specifically, they meet while no one else is around, which is already convenient in and of itself. The whole Ziggurat thing is so poorly defined, and this is effectively where the “battles” of this “death game” take place. Also, the Hand Shakers’ hands don't even shake, they hold. This title lies. The title is stupid sounding, regardless, but still. Then again, if they wanted to be truthful, it would be “Hand Holders” and that sounds like a cheesy ass shoujo romcom, and I’ve heard that we’ve had enough of those this season already. I guess they had their hands tied (get it?).
Also, this anime constantly pushes the incest angle between our MC duo for some weird reason. I dunno. Maybe for a generic, hollow attempt at grabbing attention? Probably, knowing this show. I mean, they aren't actually blood-related siblings but they not only don't care about that, but the first 4 episodes (when they thought they were siblings) really give the incest vibe (like the shower scene in episode 2). Also, remember the whole “actual sister” plot line that is occasionally addressed, well, prepare to her no closure. I mean, we already know that the randomly slapped in “backstory” scene in episode 1 is a pathetically bad attempt at making us care for Tazuna before he actually gets to do anything, which is emotionally manipulative as hell, but it's not like that plot point went anywhere aside from creating bad plot twists. At least it has the decency not to try to slip in another bullshit plot twist that could've brought her back while proceeding to ramp up the incestuous undertones; that would've been the absolute worst. I mean, even evil has standards.
Let's go back to the battle royal/potential death game for a second; I’m not done ripping that sorry excuse for a battle royal apart. Remember when I said that fatal injuries stop being fatal as soon as you leave the Ziggurat? Well, that wasn't a joke or a misunderstanding. Take this, for instance; when our MCs stab the first villain (Break, who can honestly rot in hell), with their gear sword, not only does it go right through him, but the area he’s in, fuckin’ EXPLODES, and you mean to tell me that he only suffered injuries?! The fucker should be dead, Ziggurat abilities or not! Then again, this same shit would later happen to Kodama in episode 9, so that’s just par for the course, which already consists of 14 full dishes of fresh, heaping bullshit. In episode 8, Tazuna gets his ass kicked and says that he lost a match against a group of Hand Shakers. According to the anime, if you lose, you lose permanently and can't come back. However, he is still in the game, despite losing in similar ways to how Break lost (incapacitated) and how Hayato lost (lost the will to fight while the other group did so as well but he was in the losing position anyway). If you somehow didn't catch that, that's a gigantic contradiction that is not patched up, since this game fucks it's own rules in the ass every episode.
Everything about this battle royal/potential death game and its physics is stupid, and they don't even try to give reasonable explanations for any of it. In fact, it doesn't even feel like a battle royale; it feels more like a linear video game, where each duo is simply a stepping stone boss for the MC to overcome before moving on to the next until they reach the end. Battle royal my ass! I'd talk more about the story of this series, but this is basically all it amounts to: a high school student and his sister being haphazardly thrown into this horribly conceived death game, taking down one enemy group at a time before meeting God, except almost nothing makes any sense as they somehow meet him despite the fact that the only way to meet him is for your Nimrod to infect the Ziggurat and beat another opponent, which Kazuna and Koyori haven't done at all. Well, back to the final two episodes after this next side tangent.
What is it with the first scenes of every episode and being completely disconnected from everything? Episode 1’s first scene is just a shitty and poorly rendered advertisement of what's to come, episode 5’s and 6’s is just some terrible “ad” for the rest of the episode without the scene being brought up again. What is the point of these? Just play the episodes and insert the scenes when necessary. It makes the episodes feel disjointed. That doesn’t even take into account the really bad scene in episode 6 in which a random new duo shoots an impaling projectile at Lily, only for it to be disconnected from everything else and completely retconned entirely, making me ask what the point of it was. All of this truly highlights how horrendous the directing and scene placement of this show is.
I'm not even going to try to go through this pile of schlock scene-by-scene because that's a death sentence for my sanity due to all that’s wrong here (which really sells just how broken the writing is since I've pulled so much wrong out of it already) and the horrible physics, asspulls, and other things I haven't talked about don't help whatsoever. Even if both myself and a friend of mine, who introduced this show to me in a fit of disgust at the product, end up finding brand new faults with it (some of which appear here), at least narrative-wise, I still wouldn't be able to break them all down, and that's only from a narrative standpoint, not even from a character or technical standpoint (though here is a distressing amount of faults in both of those areas as well). Plus, this review is long enough as it is. Expect some of them to pop up in the characters section, though. Maybe someone can make a blog or thread listing everything that's wrong here in the writing department. Tazuna and Koyori kick other Hand Shaker duos’ asses one by one, before each battle, there is a twist regarding said duo (after the first pair), they lose and are spared, and Tazuna and Koyori finally challenge God after facing a bunch of idiots, asspull by asspull. Get fucked by a cactus, Hand Shakers.
However, obviously, we need to talk about the finale, or rather, the lead up to it. Remember this one guy from episode 5 that told Tazuna that Koyori wasn't his real sister and did so in a way that made him so obviously evil, you know, Daichi? You don't? Neither did I until I remembered that this show had a plot and until episode 10 rolled around. Well, he brought Koyori’s sister (so,Tazuna’s is still dead?) and he is her Hand Shaker partner, and they delve into this big dumb backstory about how Makihara and Daichi were Hand Shakers and this backstory about Koyori’s and her sister’s (Mayumi) past. As you’d expect, it was dumb, especially since this was near the end of the show and there was no remote confirmation that there would be a season 2 (and it still doesn't have one, and I hope it dies here and with the prequel ova since that exists now). The plotholes about the hand holding and the fact that Hand Shakers can be born (so how does that explain how Tazuna became one, and does this mean that each Hand Shaker is born? Does this mean that they technically don't have to have motivations to fight in this? Then why do people partake in this to fulfill a wish that could easily be achieved normally?), as well as the one about the two sisters randomly collapsing (due to an unknown organ failing for unknown reasons that also makes us ask how a simple organ failure can destroy your memories and your communication skills) all culminate with the poor presentation and bad writing (even excluding plot holes) to make a lame ass backstory.
Then, we getting the finale: Tazuna & Koyori vs Daichi & Mayumi. It's about as retarded as you'd expect by now, and the Tazuna and Koyori meet God and Koyori is no longer afflicted with the curse because bla bla bla! I'm not even gonna rip this pathetic finale to shreds like I did ever single episode this far, because fuck it! You don't give a shit and neither do I, so let's move on from this flaming plane crash that calls itself a plot; it has killed enough of my brain cells with its sheer idiocy and convolution already and I can feel my sanity dripping by the second. After all, it can't do battle royales, backstories, or frankly anything right and it's appalling that I managed to pull so much bullshit out of a 12 episode series. After this, I'm gonna go apologize to The Asterisk War and Psycho-Pass 2...
As any vigilant viewer who is decently well-versed in anime can tell by watching this series, the characters here are all worthless, comprised of mostly caricatures of actual characters; templates, if you will. That would be bad enough on its own, but each of these individuals is beyond terrible, due to sheer stupidity, asspulls, pretentious quoting, general annoyance, or what have you. As such, we have no reason to care about these idiots. With that said, let’s jump right in.
Shirou-wannabe (or Tazuna, as he shall be referred to since that's his real name) is an annoying and generic “average everyday highschool boy that gets into supernatural business” who looks like he’s in his first year of Middle School instead of high school. I mean, do we really need another generic high school guy who simply whines about his circumstances for reasons that vary from reasonable to ridiculous? Every time he wins, it's due to a Deus ex Machina new power that he pulls out of his ass (like randomly summoning his Nimrod in the first place). Plus, he got aroused to the point of nosebleeding when he rubbed his sister in the shower. Gross...except it's ok because,”plot twist”, she’s not really his sister, except no it fucking doesn't! Also, his shtick about things “meshing” got really irritating after episode 1, especially since it sounds lame as it is. Plus, in episode 9, he even has the audacity to do the whole edgy “fuck you, I'm fighting for someone who is obviously not happy about how much I'm hurting myself for her” bullshit to her parents, which really ruined any chance of him not being a pathetic MC template. For a main character, he’s a pretty bad and annoying one, but he is TAME compared to some of these other individuals, believe me! He may be poorly written and not have any real motivations but at least he isn't as asinine as some of the other asshats you'll be seeing later down the line.
Koyori, particularly at the start of the series, is the human equivalent to a pet, except with less personality. She’s a human vegetable that can understand communication and human needs. Hell, the ED gives her more personality than the first 4 episodes of the anime do! What the hell?! What is it with these MCs and having little to no personality?! I mean, as I said, she gets personality traits EVENTUALLY, but she is the second half of the main character duo, and it should not take 4 episodes just to give one of the two most important characters in the series a single personality trait! It's not like she’s a remotely good character anyway. Hell, she doesn't actually do anything (like fighting or trying to help in non-combative ways) in any fights except for the fight in episode 6, where she leads Tazuna to figure out what she figured out in order to win (and even then, he only won by new power ex machina). At least show shows some semblance of a personality by the end of episode 4, and is marginally more realized as a character than the rest of the twats in this show. Still, that's not saying much, as her personality is still vaguely defined and uninteresting. Also, her escalations are horse shit. She can gain more time away from holding hands...for some reason. Her subplot about trying to talk is only referenced for plot convenience and is never developed properly (not that I would expect such talent from anyone involved with this show), and she randomly gets a mahou shoujo costume and nimrod in episode 9 for asspull plot convenience as well, right after finally talking. Just...she either has no personality, a bland personality, or grows via plot convenience, depending on the episode. That's just sad. Sure, she gets a “sad” backstory about how she and Mayumi had a right childhood as Hand Shakers, but again, still doesn't help her much as the backstory is terribly executed. She had the most potential to be a good deuteragonist (secondary protagonist) but, as per usual with this atrocity, they squandered it.
Luckily, their parents are more tolerable, simply being lovey-dovey parents who tease and stuff like that. Harmless, but harmless doesn't help much given the cast. They only appear for like...two episodes anyway, so I guess that's to be expected. Whatever, I’m stalling; back to the shit show that is this show’s important “characters”.
Let’s talk about the scientist guy (Makihara), shall we? He’s basically what's used to justify all of the nonsense present here with “not enough data” or just by explaining some of the broken basics of the “death game” and is incredibly annoying, not to mention forgetful of critical information they somehow adds more problems to the show’s narrative. Sure, his past comes in handy in terms of providing a little bit of info to Tazuna, but that’s about it. His voice in the sub is really irritating when you combine that with his mannerisms. The dub doesn’t win him any points either.
Let’s talk about these other Hand Shaker duos, shall we? Break is a generic mofo antagonist thrust within the first episode just for the sake of a stepping stone into the protagonists’ journey through this battle royale. Bind is his masochistic weapons bitch who gets off on him stomping her goddamn VAGINA and wrapping chains around her that move fast enough that she might get rope burn. Could our premiere antagonists be any more one note and boring than these two? Plus, their power is summoning chains to hit people with (hence the names that are really on the nose). The powers are as bland and boring as the wielders themselves. It's somewhat cute seeing them get a school festival cameo in episode 7 (as convenient as that is for the anime), but that doesn't help them at all. Besides, unlike the other roadblocks/Hand Shaker duos, these two don't even have motivations! I mean, the motivations of the character that have one are rather lame and disproportionate to what they're doing to achieve them, but these guys are or introduction to this whole deal, so...what the fuck?!
Blade (actual name, Hayate) is a bumbling dork who apologizes more than any character I've seen to date, and is relatively ok. He just wants to prove himself to his boss(which doesn't work when you apply that as a motivation to why you participate in a battle royale in which you can potentially kill people).His partner/boss, Dagger (adult who looks like she’s 6, actual name, Chizuru), is more annoying, particularly around him. She’s also a bit contradictory in fact in terms of her instructions about him correcting people. Even with a more social and playful attitude towards the main duo, she isn't a good character. Her backstory is that she was bullied for her height by her cohorts and wants to prove herself to them and make everyone equal by winning and becoming powerful (as her wish, which, again, doesn't work when you apply that as a motivation to why you participate in a battle royale in which you can potentially kill people), and that could've been an interesting thing to touch upon to really make her more complex, but, of course this show wouldn't bother. It isn't capable of pulling it off, nor does it try in any other narrative regard. Still, this duo is better than the first one, especially since they actually have backstory and motivations, as poorly placed and poorly presented as they were.
Lily is aggravating, juggles two annoying personality gags that are all that define her, she's incestuous with her (not really her brother, but that doesn't make it ok) little brother, Masaru (who is also a twerp who instigated the fight in episode 6 due to his own arrogant stupidity, piling it onto Lily, and is also a pathetic excuse for an already generic male-tsundere), and she has nothing going for her, not even the F-cups they are way too big for her body in terms of proportions. Besides, the backstory for her and Masaru is half-hearted and dull, not even making any sense as a backstory for why they are fighting in this game, with their reasoning being their love for each other, which shouldn't factor into this game at all, even less so than the previous duo’s reasoning. Every scene with her after episode 4 is aggravation incarnate, and she is quite possible the most irritating character in this show, which is saying a lot.
Kodama, while beautiful, is also pretty annoying. She constantly quotes famous figures in pretentious manner for even the most simplest of shit that can count as a belief, as if she was some terrible fortune cookie, and it quickly gets on my nerves. Sad thing is, she isn't ever trying to be pretentious but she does this enough to make Shougo Makishima proud. Her only other gimmick in terms of personality is being all about her performances and “fans” and nothing else. What a waste. She has the more upbeat, thoughtful, and dedicated personality to make me really wanna like her, but her stupid gimmicks ruin it all. Her manager, Hibiki, is even more annoying, being this unbearably hyperactive and stereotypical brown-nose manager, and that's his only personality trait. Needless to say, I wanted him gone by the halfway mark of the episode that introduces him. Though, the two do have a semi-interesting backstory. They were friends since they were a bit younger, and Hibiki sacrificed his job to let Kodama succeed, even if they were still underground people. Even still, this isn't even used as a motivation for why they bothered acting as Hand Shakers, they had no motivation whatsoever. Even still, out of all the duos, they're the least bad.
Then, we have this guy, Daichi, who came in at episode 5 to be all like “she’s not the real sister; stop being Makihara’s slave” in the most obviously evil way possible, and lo and behold, he’s a stone cold prick who actually is a Hand Shaker partner with the real sister, whose backstories raise even more problems that I actually went over in the story segment. He’s as dull as the rest of the characters, and his backstory makes him much more emotional and moral in the past than now (so, why has he changed so drastically?). As for the sister, Mayumi, her backstory gave us nothing to go off of aside from her having a rough childhood, fighting in something de doesn't understand, but she doesn't even have a personality. She is what Koyori was at the start of the series, and she's part of the final boss. Shame, really. Then, she speaks and becomes another Koyori because...fuck it; I quit!
This is the only work in which I can, with 100% certainty say: “I don't care what happens to these people.” Even in works like Gundam 00 Season 2, Mahouka, Gundam SEED Destiny, and Fate/Grand Order: First Order, there was at least one character that I can like and remotely root for, even if, at least with the 2nd and 4th examples, almost everyone is horribly generic and unlikeable. Here, there is not a single person that I care about or can get invested in, even if it's just to see their asses get kicked. Worse yet, there are characters that I still WANT to get invested in, but can't due to their bullshit ruining everything. Every single character in this show can fuck off and die for all I care, and I would actually be happy, because almost every character is an idiotic asshole who only makes things worse, with the few exceptions still being pathetically flat and with almost no personality whatsoever. Their personalities are flatter than the show’s resident loli, and that's sad for an original show that was supposed to put this studio on the map. Seriously, fuck these characters. I desperately wanna know how ANYONE can root for these people and get invested in their stories. Even in the few cases where they try to give us a reason to care, the presentation is so bad that we give no shits about those characters, partially due to the fact that they are completely one-dimensional. When a decision made by the show or the characters wasn't offensively or annoyingly bad, I was beyond bored, and it's thanks to these assholes. Congrats, assholes (the characters, not you guys; you guys are cool for making it this far), I hate all of you (minus a few, still one-dimensional exceptions) and you can all go to hell. Moving on.
Woooooooo boy! Now onto the section we really wanna talk about; the elephant in this room so big that the room had to be the size of a skyscraper for it to fit: the visuals! Lemme put it like this. You know the phrase “Work smarter, not harder”? Well, the people behind this show, aka Studio GoHands, really need to learn that after what they did here. There’s a lot to talk about in terms of what went wrong here, possibly more so than the writing, which is an achievement given how I contorted the abysmal writing in so many ways that no chiropractor on the planet can fix it. Oh boy, here we go...
The CGI in this anime is some of the most poorly integrated and some of the worst CGI that I've ever seen, and no amount of decent CG backgrounds can remedy that notion. I mean, there are moments where it can look good, only to be followed up by a moment where it looks hideous, excluding the ok CGI background buildings. Plus, it's not above using fugly ass CGI pedestrians for no good reason, as if this show wasn't enough of a nightmare to look at already. There's one moment in which this flame emperor hand is summoned, and it is revolting to look at, like it was a 1996 CGI effect for a Direct to Video DVD. Don't even get me started on the nimrodes and how hideous they look or how had the frame rate is for them. In fact, let's delve into that right now!
The frame rate in this series is all over the place! Within the first two scenes, THE FIRST TWO FUCKING SCENES, the frame rate crashes and it is a sight to behold. Get used to that. Whenever the camera moves in a long shot of a scene filled with people walking in an attempt at world building (which it sucks at), expect that to happen. In fact, the 2D characters have vastly lower frame rates than the CGI Nimrods. Notably, the chains in episode 1 all look like they have different frame rates, and if you see them moving while the characters are moving while the camera is moving, all at the same time, it becomes a nightmare to look at, even more so than before. Why does this show have to tread the frame rate like the Germans treated the Jews? Just...why?
Sometimes, when the characters’ clothes are flapping in the wind or when the camera is slowly showing off it's CGI landscape, the frame rate shits the bed so hard, for seconds on end, and it's the absolute worst. I've never seen a show have so much or blend with frame rate before, and I've seen Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation! Also, there are 2D first clouds drawn when a character is rolling back after an attack, and it doesn't fit well with ANYTHING in this series, whether it's the CGI backgrounds or the GoHands style character models. Now that I'm done sidetracking, let's get back to the other major gripes I have with these visuals.
The camera, notably in episode 1 and the fight scenes, is the worst thing ever. It is highly capable of inducing vertigo, and I'm willing to bet you that it has. It moves around at the most unnecessary of times, especially in static moments, and when it does that in some of the aforementioned scenes or any scene like that, your eyes try their damndest to curl up and die just so they won't have to process all of this crap at once. Even in scenes that would otherwise look potentially good (like the opening scene in episode 8) are, at best, hindered by the obnoxious camera, and I dare not say what happens to them at worst, but episode 1 is the ultimate indicator of that. The “ambition” behold all of these aforementioned visuals really came at a detriment to this already pointless disasterpiece. Let's not even touch on the revoltingly bad choreography, otherwise I'd be relying myself in terms of the effects, especially since the camera plays a large role in the action scenes and the way they are shot. There’s also the fact that it often feels like the battles skip a gigantic chunk of frames while the frame rate dips, like in episode 4 and 8, making the action scenes unbearable to look at, and everything I mentioned previously (aside from repeated animation) are on full display in each and every one. Let’s just move on to the character designs.
The character designs range from mediocre to horrible (due to the body types and their proportions to their characters’ ages), even with the decent hair detail (especially since Koyori’s hair is awful to look at at times and changes colorway too much with no reason aside from “light filter change”, more so than Donald Trump’s hair). I mean, all of the high school students look like they're almost half their age, especially due to the small heads and bodies. Adults look like older teenagers (except for Chizuru/Dagger, who looks like she’s 6) for somewhat similar reasons. It simply doesn't work well. It's like making a semi-chibi version of K’s visuals, and mixing it in with horrendous hair designs (particularly for Koyori, as I already mentioned), and everything else mentioned above, makes every second painful to look at. Nothing feels or looks right. Nothing blends well with each other, and that's a crying shame because if it did, and if they removed all the camera, CGI, and frame rate bullshit, this show would've actually looked good, really freakin’ good. Yet, they went with this anyway, and they clearly weren't skilled enough for it, because they somehow got every conceivable thing about this process wrong.
All of this is not even mentioning the terrible lighting filters that make everything look off-kilter, the fugly ass fire and explosion effects that look more like an amateur freshman college student’s attempt at pasta sauce (not to mention the times where it's just stock fire footage in a TV ANIME FOR FUCK’S SAKE) that somehow manages to fuck the living shit out of episode 6’s frame rate for about ⅓ of the episode (aka, the entire time fire appeared), the horrible school clothing designs, the occasionally awful walk animations (especially the one with Daichi’s “ominous” CGI walk in episode 10), or the fact that scenes are often reused. I'm not kidding. By the time you reach episode 3, it becomes disgustingly common for them to reuse actual, few-second clips, for no particular reason, and with no regard as to whether or not it fits. It's as if they had some trippy and “ambitious” angle for how they wanted everything to be done, but they still decided to be lazy with it in occasion. I mean, it would've been a visual nightmare regardless, but they still cut corners, like having a menu that wasn't even drawn but was instead photoshopped from real life, or, as increasingly common it becomes as you move along, a variety of objects being stock; ripped from real life. Again, FUCK YOU, HAND SHAKERS!!
I swear. This anime deserves to be in college courses on how NOT to integrate CGI and 2D animation together, as well as how not to use a camera or use a filter. The visuals do virtually nothing right, and that's astounding. It's like if a girl out every single lipstick and piece of makeup in existence and then adding all colors of glitter; it's a visual mess that's really hard to look at. As if the story and characters weren't abysmal enough, the visuals make this show actively unwatchable! It's a shame that people actually have to work overtime in order to make this, partially die to how awful the product looks but also due to how none of that effort paid off in the slightest. Before I lose my sanity in this void of hell known as Hand Shakers’ visuals (or anywhere else in the review for this nauseating travesty), let's move on.
The OP, “One Hand Message” by OxT, is a very generic OP with obnoxious vocals that sound somewhat like auto tune, and give off a grand feeling of obnoxious genericness; a perfect fit for this show. The ED, “Yume Miru Ame” by Akino Arai, is a melody that unfortunately fails to elicit its emotion of calming and heartwarming. Sure, it gives Koyori some actual personality, but the singer sounds like she’s out of breath, and not in a good way that it makes the song more emotion-filled and somehow just as great. Then again, that's partially a product of the awfulness of the show because if it was involving well-written characters that we have been made to care about, it might've been more effective. At least it has better visuals than the show does, showing the potential the visuals had, but it doesn't matter at this point.
The actual OST is lame and not memorable (within its own strengths, not in terms of how much it was drilled into my head by the show). There are ok pieces there, but they're as bland and forgettable as everything else that doesn't even sound remotely interesting. There's also the fact that the OST doesn't ever fit well with the anime, whether it be due to the backgrounds or situations, it always sounds out of place since it all sounds like scenes that fit better in a generic slice of life series than in a show full of combat and destruction, especially when they pop in during the action scenes. The piece in episode 6 when Lily is hugging Masaru, happens to be especially generic, making that scene even more hamfidted than it already was. If the OST felt memorable and really good to me, I might be able to excuse that (somewhat), but it isn't so no curving the score for this section either. Not to mention that some songs that start off promising turn out really bad (like the one at the end of episode 7). I know, some people actually like this OST, but it just doesn't work for me, nor does it work for the anime. Plus, the repetitive usage of the same few mediocre and ill-fitting tracks over and over was not good. At least when Aldnoah.Zero did it, it was at least replaying GOOD music. Also, the idol songs are merely ok. They don't really help much of this poor OST. Even the idol songs are both brief and mediocre, not to mention completely out of sync to the point where it's either hilarious or maddening, depending on who you talk to. In episode 9, it's constantly interrupted by what sounds like Hibiki, and it even gets cut off for the OP, and all of that is maddening. They didn't even bother treating the idol songs from Kodama with any respect, and they're better than the rest of the OST (not by much, but still). Just...wow.
As for the dub, let me be fair: no one could've made this work, thanks to the character designs, or rather, the proportions of their bodies. Even still, some of these performances feel distressingly flat or over-acted, with miscasts all over the place, but, again, it's not like the best casting choices would've been able to work well with any of this. It doesn't “mesh”, as Tazuna would say. Even Monica Rial can't give her character anything good. Some of the other voices are annoying as well. Then again, the sub was pretty awful too, possibly more so than the dub. Still, this proves that Hand Shakers really is unlistenable as well as unwatchable. I mean, even as a cheesecake dub (by that I mean, a corny and unintentionally or even intentional hilarious dub full of camp), this is rather boring, as I and many there can point to you at least a few that do a much better job at being a cheesecake dub, like Garzey's Wing. Just skip the dub, as well as the show itself. Also, I know that the sound effects can be pretty bad in this anime sometimes, but there’s this one moment in episode 10 in which Makihara moves back, but ever sound effect in that moment begins literally an entire second before he actually moves, you know, because this show can't do sound effects right either.
Well, if you somehow couldn't already tell, I hate this show. I really fucking hate it. The visuals are infuriatingly bad in almost every conceivable way, the battle royale “death game” is so poorly constructed and explained that it alone killed the script for this show beyond redemption (only for everything else to add a million gallons of fuel to the fire), the dialogue is Mahouka levels of robotic, the action is revoltingly bad and incoherent, the characters are flatter than a loli, the comedy is awkward and terrible (often reusing the same gag over and over), the voices are awful, and everything about this show just pisses me off! In fact, it finds new ways to make me suffer with every passing episode, which is crazy considering that episode 1 broke my spirit and made me hate it more than any anime within the span of 22 minutes. Ah, Hand Shakers: the gift that just keeps on FUCKING giving!
The worst part is that when it's not doing that, it flat out bores me to death, and that happens surprisingly often. Then again, this show never tried to be remotely interesting, anyway. If anything, episode 1 alone made me grow an obsessive hatred with this show, and it only got worse the more the show progressed, culminating in this bleak review devoid of any positivity. I know that some people look at all of that and laugh, for it does nothing right and would make a great template on how not to write these kinds of shows, but I just couldn't stand it for the life of me, not even for an instant. Hell, as I was taking notes on this series, that task ended up being much more entertaining and fulfilling than ANYTHING this show had to offer, which really speaks volumes of how much I hate this series, especially since each of the notes I wrote down made it to this review.
I understand that someone can enjoy this schlock ironically. I understand that there are people out there who unironically LIKE the show and have probably given up on this review for being nothing but unbridled hate on a show that they somehow managed to enjoy, but I almost never had a moment that made me smile (aside from one moment where I laughed and got incompetently done Masaru's rolling was), and that's not even an exaggeration. The only episode I DIDN’T hate with a passion is episode 7, but despite having some semblance of charm at points, it's still as dull as the rest of the dull moments of this series, albeit it's not offensively bad, unlike the rest of the series. All in all, my hatred of this show became obsessive, and now I can lay it to rest.
OVERALL: 1/10 RAW SCORE: 0/100
All in all, this show was a disaster from the word “go”. The moment it aired, it received a humongous backlash, and for damn good reason. This show had around 10 producers, so the results probably shouldn't has been so surprising, since that just practically screams “lack of communication” and “clusterfuck” right there. Either way, this abomination a masterpiece of failure, with all sorts of mistakes around every corner, and it never once gets better; it's a canvas of vomit that someone decided to call art, as if we are supposed to accept something that is this apocalyptically bad! Worse yet, it was pathetically generic and without an attempt to be interesting, aside from its visuals, and even then, only somewhat. In every sense of the word, this show is BROKEN; nay, FUBAR! This shit went Fucked Up Beyond All Repair from the moment it fucking started! THAT'S PERFECT WAY TO SURMISE THIS PIECE OF FUCKING HORSE SHIT!!!!
Then again, you're probably thinking “We already knew all that; it's obvious. Why’d you waste your time with this 9,400+ word novel of a review on a low hanging fruit like this show?” Well, aside from sharing what this anime did to me, I wanted to solve this anime’s hatedom forever, making sure that there is no way to reasonably defend this show and that any non believers can be sent this review to read in order to accept that this show is an abomination. Interestingly enough, there has been quite a number of people trying to pass this off as simply middling and not awful, which this review and the writer in question disagree with wholeheartedly. With that, we come to the final nail in the coffin I prepared.
If you've played it or heard of it, think back to Sonic ‘06. It was a broken mess, with glitches up the ass, horrible gameplay elements, poor worlds and visual aesthetics (aside from some of the cutscenes), and a bizarre mess of a story to boot. Even still, it had ambition. It has great music, and an attempt at a complex and interesting story. It over-reached in all the necessary places, and rushed itself in others, leading to its downfall, but at least it tried something interesting and potentially unique. Hand Shakers didn't do any of that. It played around with camera and CGI, but was so damn lazy in every other regard, that it's insulting to call this show ambitious. It didn't even try, and it suffered horribly for it. WE, or at least I suffered horribly for it, and, if the Internet is how we think it is, Studio GoHands is suffering for this as well. After all, even if this was how they intended it to be, in the end, this was an abomination from hell that will damn their reputation; that's what they get for making the Ride to Hell Retribution of anime. All we need now are some awful motorcycles and those fucking cowbells…
Anime is an interesting category for certain animated series, and is a sink of ideas, plenty of which are ingenious and creative, and are capable of captivating us, invigorating us, and making us think, while also being capable of teaching us something new and interesting, warning us of what we don't want to become, and even reminding us about amazing things we desperately needed to remember. It allows for kinds of shows you will never see in any other outlet of television. However, shit like this is filled with a dearth of creative and interesting ideas, and is simply a product meant to suck our money and give the studio (not the workers) some profits, like with plenty of Light Novel adaptations (whether the LNs were good or not) like Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei and The Asterisk War. The sooner we realize how these cheap products dupe us, the more we can demand shows that more people in the production will take seriously in terms of actually entertaining us and making us want to watch more of their stuff. Plenty of us in the west have been doing that for the past decade, and more people in the east need to start adopting this mindset. Stuff like this is unacceptable, especially when the generic and poorly written product anime are also poorly produced, like this show. I hope to never come across something like this again, and I hope Studio GoHands learns from this and tries to recover with an interesting anime that many will want to see and will actually get invested in, for this anime has done a lot of harm to their reputation.
Plus, Hand Shakers is such a cheesy name. Couldn't have been something cool like “Hands of Fate”? I mean, give me a cool name to hate a show, something to make it feel like it is “the dreaded”. Then again, that title I proposed would make the fact that this is a shoddy Fate/ ripoff even more apparent. It's the modern day equivalent to what De:Vadasy was to Evangelion. For those not in the know, De:Va was considered by oldtaku (old anime fans) to be the worst Eva ripoff of all time, with awful directing, awful scene structure and composition, poor production values, retarded concept, and so much more, hence the comparison. Whatever, fuck it. This shit gets my “Go to hell; You Didn't Even Try” award (aka the 1/10 award). With all that said, FUCK HAND SHAKERS!! Can't wait for the god-awful prequel OVA coming out this summer with the purposes of turning shis fuckfest into a franchise, that way I can rip on that, too! Well, assuming that my next target doesn't ruin me, see you next time, everybody! I'm the meantime, I’m getting chemo for this bullshit!
“For you, January 11, 2017 was the day that your worst nightmare arrived and began ravaging everything you and your tastes stood for, but for me, IT WAS TUESDAY!!!” -Me, Tuesday, when this travesty of an anime came on every week.