In the wake of a third world war which left Japan in ruins, an organization known as Vischio seized control of Tokyo and renamed it Toshima. Taking place in its back alleys are battle games known as Igura, overseen by the Vischio, in which contestants battle and bathe in each other's blood to earn the chance to go up against its tournament's king, Il-re.
Igura is not the only fighting tournament around; Bl@ster is a similar yet vastly different game since it prohibits murder and the use of weapons. The only way to win is by knocking out the opponent. Akira, a young man isolated from his family, is known to be undefeatable at Bl@ster. However, his life on the top is shattered when he is accused of murder. Unable to prove his own innocence, all hope is seemingly lost... that is until a mysterious woman named Emma appears and offers him a chance. Now, to regain his freedom, Akira must participate in Igura and ultimately defeat Il-re.
#01: "No Moral" by Itou Kanako (ep 1) #02: "bright lights" by Kimura Seiji (ep 2) #03: "Don't Stare Me" by VERTUEUX (ep 3) #04: "-toge-" by Sadie (ep 4) #05: "once more again" by Misato Aki (ep 5) #06: "Requiem Blue" by Watanabe Kazuhiro (ep 6) #07: "crossing fate" by OLDCODEX (ep 7) #08: "Yasashisa ni Mamorarete (優しさに守られて)" by Kita Shuhei (ep 8) #09: "Honed Moon -Togareta Tsuki (Honed Moon -咎レタ月)" by Itou Kanako (ep 9) #10: "Don't look away" by CurriculuMachine (ep 10)
#11: "STILL anime Ver." by Itou Kanako (ep 11) #12: " GRIND "style GR" " by GRANRODEO (ep 12)
It is an embarrassment to Nitro+, the producers of the source material. It is an embarrassment to A-1 Pictures, who have proven with titles like Birdy the Mighty DECODE and Ookiku Furikabutte that they can do better. But the most tragic part is how horrifyingly embarrassing it is to the BL genre and its fans. The genre, despite its booming popularity and flourishing diversity in manga and doujinshi, suffers greatly somewhere in the transition to animation—for some reason, the anime industry doesn’t like the genre very much, and even hugely popular titles are treated to adaptations with cut corners and
tight budgets. This does nothing to improve the reputation of BL, whose detractors dismiss it all as shallow, pandering garbage, insulting and even offensive to actual homosexuals; and its fans and followers as noisy, awkward high-school girls of unrefined taste with no appreciation for the finer points of artistic pornography.
Togainu may be the greatest slight to the reputation of the genre yet.
The story is simple (but don’t let the story know that—it carries itself as though it is the most sobering parade of man’s inhumanity to man since the last time someone made a holocaust film): in the not-so-distant future, a third world war has split Japan into two fractions: one which has been civilised and rebuilt (of which we see very little), and another which is a lawless wasteland. The main character, Akira, is some kind of professional street fighter in the more civilised region before he is falsely accused of murder. While awaiting trial, a strange woman offers him freedom on the condition that he move to Toshima, the lawless region, and participate in some kind of battle royale. The prize is, from what I can gather, leadership of some kind of illicit drug company, which the strange woman wants to take down from the inside.
You may have noted that my plot description is rather vague. That’s because, even after completing the show, I’ve barely been able to string together a series of events. The show is a clusterfuck. Firstly, the backstory—the splitting of Japan—is never mentioned in the series itself. I learned that from the plot summary on MAL. In retrospect, the opening narration of the first episode—delivered by an utterly bored, slow, monotonous and uninvolved Takumi Yamazaki—was probably describing the war and the proceeding division, but if it is, it’s through a metaphor so thick and incomprehensible that it’s completely nonsensical if the viewer is not already familiar with the plot (a point which I’ll return to later). Every episode opens with a similar narration, each slathered liberally with “metaphors” and “analogies” and other such things that the scriptwriter smugly pats himself on the back for remembering from secondary school, and none of them are any more meaningful than the others—and once the character n (pronounced ‘Nano’), who has been providing these narrations, enters the story, the viewer is treated to the same half-assed pseudo-depth in his dialogue.
Speaking of n, let’s take a little break to talk about the characters. Though the show boasts a fairly broad cast, the scriptwriter (or, possibly, the author of the original game) actually only knows how to write three kinds of characters. Akira, n, and Shiki all share a personality (or lack thereof): they are dead-eyed, silent, constantly bored, and rude and dismissive to even their comrades (but it’s okay, you guys, because they all have dark and tragic pasts that are never explained). Keisuke, Rin, and Motomi also share a personality: the ‘team cheerleader’, a ray of sunshine in dark and gloomy Toshima (maybe it wouldn’t be so dark if the animators didn’t airbrush solid black onto every frame). And every other cast member shares the third personality: annoying. Oh, sure, they have little traits and quirks slipped in to make them seem different—Shiki kills people, Rin acts like a twelve-year-old-girl, Arbitro partakes in gay orgies (I’ll also return to that later)—but they have such a lack of real personality, motivation and relationships that they are impossible to sympathise with or really feel anything for.
Shiki is supposed to be an ominous antagonist, but all he really does is wield a sword as opposed to a knife (like most of the cast) and wear black leather. Kiriwar and Gunji are supposed to be fearsome opponents whose quarrels provide spots of comic relief, but they’re so unfunny and so unintimidating that they feel more like a waste of time. And so on and so forth for every other cast member. I’m willing to forgive Akira’s lack of personality, to an extent—though I haven’t personally experienced the visual novel, the role of the protagonist in a BL game is usually little more than a cock magnet. That said, the scriptwriter could have at least tried to be flexible.
The series, with its convoluted writing that seems almost as if it’s trying to be harsh and unwelcoming to newcomers to the franchise, appears at first glance to be pandering to the game’s diehard fanbase. Yet, simultaneously, it drives off the diehard fans by stripping the story of all the naked, sweaty man-humping for which it is so beloved. In the anime, explicit homosexuality and eroticism becomes the exclusive property of the antagonists—Arbitro wouldn’t be such a wildly offensive depiction of the ‘depraved homosexual’ if he wasn’t the only character having actual gay sex. In this regard, Togainu fails for the same reason most eroge adaptations fail—when stripped of its sex appeal, the story is left to fend for itself, and it often does not fare well. But the difference between Togainu and a series like, say, Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka is that at least AkaSaka still makes time to denude its ladies and reward the viewer’s patience with gratuitous underthings and bare flesh. The cast of Togainu rarely, if ever, removes so much as a glove.
Which is probably for the better, considering to my next point: the animation. The horrible, awful animation. Togainu is hugely popular within the BL fandom and one would expect it to receive a lavish treatment—which it seemed to, when the PVs and opening animation were released. The opening, set to a Hot Topic-core J-rock number by GRANRODEO, boasts smooth, dynamic animation with thick, bold lines; the promotional videos were montages of exciting, intense, fast-paced fight scenes. At a passing glance, the animation seems, if not cutting-edge, at least impressive and visually stimulating.
Then, the series itself begins: Togainu seems to be funded on the contents of A-1 Pictures’ swear jar. The low frame count and complete absence of attention to detail could pass in a slice-of-life series, but in an action-heavy show where hand-to-hand combat occurs at least once per episode, it’s inexcusable. Backgrounds are plain and lifeless; every scene is deeply saturated in grays and greens and, for indoor scenes, browns. It’s one thing for a series or a scene to stick to a limited palette—it can draw the viewer’s attention to certain details or emphasise a mood—but it’s another thing completely to make every frame so dark that the show itself becomes a chore to watch. Oftentimes a black shadow will be cast across half the screen: sometimes it’s used as censorship, but more often it covers parts of characters’ faces or even (on multiple occasions) the entire screen, leaving only one corner visible. This, combined with the three-month delay in DVD releases, leads me to believe A-1 may be pulling a SHAFT here: Togainu is simply unfinished, and the DVDs will contain retouched and even re-animated scenes.
Character models may as well not even exist for as much as the animators pay attention to them—characters often look unrecognisably different between scenes and even frames. Togainu has one of those particular anime art styles where small facial details such as eyelids and Cupid’s bows are outlined. This style is popular in manga, and it doesn’t feature in anime so much because faces must be very carefully proportioned—when they are not, they look freakishly distorted, as they often do here. When characters experience emotion, they talk or narrate about them rather than acting them out (this is because action costs money). This show is just as fond of Dutch angles as Battlefield Earth and misuses them almost as much. Action scenes are handled clumsily, to say the least: when stabbed or even lightly grazed, characters explosively spurt gallons of luminescent red Kool-Aid. In the show’s grand finale, the animation somehow finds a way to get worse, and awkward angles and slow pans over clouds and cityscapes are set to the soothing sounds of metal scraping against metal and characters grunting in pain. Then, the camera remembers where it’s supposed to be, and cuts back to characters grievously injured or bleeding copiously. “There’s a really kickass fight going on,” the animators reassure us, “but we just can’t show it to you.”
The show’s soundtrack is, surprisingly, one of its strong suits. The show swaps ending themes every episode, and the always reliable Kanako Itou provides no less than three of them. Itou’s numbers are upbeat without losing a dark, mournful atmosphere; the other ending themes are mostly forgettable (but not bad) J-rock numbers. The background music, on the other hand, runs the gamut from listenable, even pleasant, to absolutely grating. One of my favourites is a slow, mournful guitar piece with a soft electronic beat, and I’m also fond of the crunching hard rock that plays during the first fistfight of the show. A good number of the tracks sound like the show is tuned to an early 90’s grunge radio station—whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you.
Togainu sports a cast of big-names, but seems not to really know how to use any of them, haphazardly assigning them parts they’re not suited for. Jun Fukuyama as Rin is one of the more upsetting choices, as high pitch is not Fukuyama’s fote. Kishou Taniyama sounds strained and forced as Gunji, and (as I’ve mentioned before) Takumi Yamazaki as n could not possibly sound more bored and slow if he tried. Most of the rest of the cast—Tomokazu Sugita and Hikaru Midorikawa especially—have much greater ranges than the show gives them credit for, and, though they perform competently, it’s a shame they weren’t really utilised.
Most hentai is better animated and better scripted than Togainu no Chi. In fact, Togainu should have been released as a direct-to-DVD hardcore title. It still would have been terrible, but at least there would be cocks involved, and the show wouldn’t get lost in its own pretentiousness so easily. It doesn’t matter what you’re watching the show for—everything’s been done, and better, somewhere else. Looking for a plot-heavy BL series? Watch Loveless. Edgy, bloody, post-apocalyptic action? Highschool of the Dead’s a recent title. Grimdark drama with touches of sci-fi and supernatural? Any (good) Nitro+ adaptation. Togainu no Chi is a slight to its genre and, hell, the anime industry itself.
To those who read and enjoyed the manga (which is a thousand times better than the anime), then you might want to think about avoiding this. I loved the manga, so I was really excited about watching the anime. As I finished the anime, I was annoyed at how awful it was.
What they did wrong:
They basically made everyone a pretty boy, even the guy that was supposed to be an old hairy man (though technically the BL game has all the characters very feminine). While the manga had a plot, in the anime they just like threw it all around. I was able to
understand what was going on since I had read the manga, but I feel for those who didn't they were probably very confused. They basically butchered the plot, and didn't even really develop the characters all too well. I was just very disappointed at how the entire anime was either slight fan service or just flashy bits with loud obnoxious background music. At times I felt like I was watching a soap opera at how much stupid drama was going on.
Okay. So at first I didn't think the animation was too horrible. But when the last episode came around, my mouth was just sort of hanging open. For some fighting scenes, they'd just basically focus up on the sky for a good chunk of time, while you could hear the sound effects of battle. Seriously? Cheap as heck. I also personally REALLY hate closings that are basically just a replay of parts of the episode. The opening wasn't too horrible, but I think it could have been better organized. As I mentioned before they made everyone basically look like a girl. I think I would have at least enjoyed it a bit more if everyone wasn't all sparkly with woman lips.
The only good thing:
I know Togainu No Chi is based on a BL game. In the manga there is basically barely any BL hints in it, so it was nice to see some action in the anime. Other than that, I can honestly say that I found nothing really super about this series.
If you read manga, and are thinking of watching this anime. READ THE MANGA FIRST. Please. Or else you will basically think Togainu No Chi is the biggest pile of garbage ever. I am probably going to re-read the manga right now to clear my mind of how horrible the ending of the series was.
I like Togainu no Chi. I've played the game. I've read the different iterations of the manga. And now, I've watched the anime.
I really wish I hadn't.
The story was, well, a joke. A twisted, convoluted fusion of each different path from the game, yet at the same time not following any actual path at all!
My other gripe was the lack of BL. The game was BL. Aka, Boys Love. Yaoi. Etc. To remove it is like having Final Fantasy 7 without Cloud or Sephiroth. Like 'Tales of' games without Apple Gels. It just isn't right!
And to add insult to injury, they left Arbitro
and his creepy shota perverseness in. Why? To make gay people look like creepy paedophiles?
I've seen many comments on the art style. It's a bit of a 'love it' or 'hate it' thing.
Personally, the art style didn't bother me.
However, the static scenes with only moving faces, odd camera angles and panning shots, and the lack of any sort of dynamics or anything interesting in the fight scenes turned me right off. There were also scenes were they seemed to have gotten very lazy.
Nothing too offensive, thankfully. A different song each ED. I particularly liked 'Still' (which was from the original game) and 'Honed Moon', which was by the same artist.
The BGM was alright, but mostly forgettable.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love each and every one of the characters. But this rendition of them made them flat. Like cardboard cutouts. No development, barely any background at all. No depth whatsoever. Which is a real shame.
As someone who has played the game, read the manga, etc, I was able to somewhat enjoy this. However, those new to the series most likely will turn up their noses and walk away, and if I was a newcomer to Togainu no Chi, I would probably do that myself. (Go off and play the game more likely).
Overall, I'd say this is an anime 'For Fans'. Not that good for people who are looking for anything worthwhile to watch.
When Togainu no Chi was announced, I was put before a tricky choice either to watch it or not. On the one hand, this anime is based on a visual novel created by Nitroplus, the company I mostly like. But on the other hand, it is BL. Well, I considered this issue carefully and finally thought: “Bah, I bore with relationship between von Lohengramm and Kircheis from Legend of the Galactic Heroes, so I have some ‘just do not give a thing’ skill. Let’s roll this party!” Yep, I decided to cross the border and take a light step to the dangerous territory of fujoshi.
I’m telling you all this just because I want you to understand, that I don’t belong to the target audience of this anime, so my review can be a bit out of place. It’s probably more like a random passer-by telling other random passers-by what to expect here.
And with that matter cleared up, let me start with technical aspect. The soundtrack is done splendidly, with rocky and upbeat background music during action scenes becomes atmospheric and heartfelt when the pace slows down. Each episode has its own ending song, which is great, because this way sorrowful episode cannot be ended with some out-of-place jolly music.
On the other hand, visual part is dreadful. This is not how you do things in 2010, A-1. Distorted faces and bodies, cheapo choppy animation… Togainu no Chi has a lot of this stuff. The show is only 12-episode long, so such amount of *quality* is not excusable.
The plot leaves much to be desired too. It just goes in circles, with their radii changed by dei ex machina: random events happen, characters suddenly go nuts and all other things, which make you wonder, what the hell the script writer was doing instead of his job. (Light spoiler follows here; proceed to next paragraph, if you don’t want to hear it.) For example, one character barely avoids death in one episode only to turn into the furniture, to have no plot significance and screen time and then to be killed in one of the dumbest and meaningless scenes ever. That’s just fascinating.
Another thing I want to say is that Togainu no Chi has a nice cast of seiyū, but still utterly fails in voice acting. Firstly, Shiki voiced by Midorikawa Hikaru-shi. His typical role of bad-ass anti-hero at the first glance, but then it turns out that Shiki has no personality. He just wants power. Why? Because power is cool, dammit, are you dumb or what? And thus Midorikawa-shi had nothing to use his skill for, so it was disappointing. Secondly, Rin voiced by Fukuyama Jun-shi, who has an awesome voice range, which is completely not utilized here. I don’t get what was the point of hiring Fukuyama-shi to speak with high pitch — that could be done and probably done better by a lot of other seiyū. And lastly, Keisuke voiced by Sugita Tomokazu-shi. Well, at least he has his good moments, but his character still prevents him from using his talent to utmost. Concerning other characters, I especially want to mention Nano, the mysterious person who speaks in cryptic lines, which quite possibly are not intended to contain any sense at all. Plus his seiyū uses really weird intonations, so Nano was driving me mad every time he showed on screen. I just hate him.
And two words about BL part. No, really, is Togainu no Chi really based on a BL game? I think it has as many BL scenes as, for example, Code Geass. I mean, there is some tension sometimes, but nothing more. So the whole point of my hesitation about watching it or not was meaningless. Togainu no Chi is definitely safe for work for male audience, and I feel sorry for all fujoshi who were looking forward to this anime. Really, girls, I heard that the original novel is highly regarded in your circles, and I know what the mental anguish dealt by a poor adaptation is, so hold on there, okay?
Sigh. Putting aside the music, the best part of Togainu no Chi were Mahō Shōjo Madoka★Magica advertisements aired within it. And when actual show is outrun by commercials, you know immediately: this is a bad show. It is terrible, disgusting, detestable, repulsive and every other synonym one can come up with. And that is what Togainu no Chi is. The worst thing I’ve seen for a long time, and even 4 points I gave it were probably too much.