Monday, 04 December 2017 23:01

Re:Creators (TV, 2017)

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Overview

"I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something."


"What are we holding on to, Sam?"


"That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for."

Review

Re:Creators is an anime series that ran from April 8, 2017 to September 16, 2017 for 22 episodes. Written by Rei Hiroe (of Black Lagoon fame) and Ei Aoki (who also directed), it told the story of Sōta Mizushino, a generic high school student and anime fan who winds up in the middle of a fight between several characters from fantasy worlds entering a world identical to our own. Or at least...that's what appears to be happening at first.


It's been awhile since I've done a review. There are many reasons for this. My concerns have been hit by real life events and planning for events which may or may not come to pass. That's about all I'm going to say about such things, except that it is unlikely that I'll be stopping any time soon. However, the bigger hurtles have been passed, so I think I'll be able to do more of these. All that being said, this particular review is going to be very different in construction than the others as this story is very different than has been seen in anime before. If you want a primer, check out Robert Heinlein's "The Number of the Beast" for it is very relevant to the events of this anime. Or if you want the Cliff's Notes version, just watch "The Last Action Hero", for that was one of the biggest influences on this story.


The story of Re:Creators is superficially about what would happen if characters from several different kinds of anime somehow wound up in what equates to a world exactly like ours with all their powers and abilities intact. There's the initial confusion, the fear, and the typical reactions from those who are usually portrayed as involved in world changing conflicts with super powers...you can imagine how that would translate into our world. It should be noted that Sōta Mizushino is not the main character, but he is the pivotal one. It should be noted this is not a harem or a romantic love story by any stretch, despite some of the starting tropes that typically go along with boy-meets-girl happening here. One should also be warned that there is never an explanation given for how this situation came about, though it is strongly hinted that it was a story that was not only believed and loved by so many, but also that those very believers helped craft its mythos with their own inputs in a confusing and often contradictory manner that somehow allowed Altair (also called the Military Uniform Princess when they didn't know who she was) to begin breaking down the barriers of our world and the worlds we created.


It is found as the story progresses that the only ones who can come through to our world, at least at first, are the ones that are believed in and accepted by their fans the most. There is also a reason it was only certain stories that found their way here, which is why we don't see certain others walking into 'our' world through the dimensional disturbances that are occurring all over Japan, and has everything to do with who Altair really is and why she came about, though not how.


As the characters come through, they find out this is the 'world of the gods'; the very ones who created them and their stories. In them we see a mirror of how we would act if we met our creator. Some of us would be grateful for the life we were given the purpose for which we are born. The character of Meteora Österreich was one who thought such. More than her gratitude was her grief when she found her creator, as mortal as she, had died, and what she did to remember him. How would we react, I wonder, if we found our own Creator long dead? Her words were some of the most hopeful I'd ever heard; I don't know how her voice actor managed to deliver those lines without breaking down into tears. It is fortunate that multiple takes are something that can be done, heh. Others would rage against their creators, even try to kill them, for what they would see as tyrannical, cruel, sadistic, and evil behavior towards them and their world; very much like what many of us would, given the chance. Always with that question of 'Why?' A few were satisfied. A few could never be satisfied. Still others did not really care; they were who they were and there'd be no change even if they did meet their God. And in at least one instance, one creator probably regretted creating such a monster. One should be careful about the demons one raises, you may not be able to put them down again.


Concerning the veneer of the story itself, it's very much that of an Avengers, Defenders, or Justice League type of story, where individuals of differing powers, differing backgrounds, and differing problems come together to take on a threat that none together could; though in about half the cases, it's they become the threat in and of itself. It's even more pronounced here though as these people don't even come from the same paradigms. Power balancing becomes something that gets quite interesting in how it's addressed. It's found the stories and the characters are not only shaped by their creators, but also by their fans (in a couple of cases, this relationship itself is actually weaponized, and becomes a leading plot point later in the story), which leads into the main theme of the series, but more on that later. One other thing that comes up is how the creations interact not only with us, but with each other, and this new world they happen to be in. Perhaps the biggest, and most poignant example(s), is the character Mamika Kirameki, who is the protagonist of a show called Magical Slayer Mamika. She finds that her rather simplistic writing and world is not really compatible in a world like ours where actions have consequences and people's motivations and characters are far stronger and more complex. It's interesting to see her 'grow up', and one realizes she's not stupid...she's just never been forced to actually see anything outside of her bubble. She retains her basic character, but she's eaten of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and can never be the same again. This is especially apparent with her friendship with Alicetaria February, a character from the story "Alicetaria of the Scarlet", a powerful magical knight from a world like Berserk; one filled with blood, death, rape, and every atrocity known to man and a few that were invented and perfected. I call her a magical knight, but honestly, in so many ways, Alicetaria is a magical girl, no less so than Mamika herself, just hurt and hardened by what is going on in her home. They see in each other what the other could have been had things been a little bit different, and through that, so too does the audience. Though brief, their friendship is perhaps one of the most touching and poignant parts of this story; so very well done it hits one like a physical blow when, after all is said and done, you see just a brief shot of an advertisement billboard showcasing a crossover movie between Mamika and Alicetaria.


No, fuck you all! I'm not crying, you are!


To further expound on a previous point, one should note that it is never really explored how all this started. It's, again, heavily implied that it was because of how many believers and creators that contributed to the evolving and often contradictory stories of the main antagonist, Altair, that this somehow managed to both bring her to life and to bring her to that world which so resembles ours. Though that begs the question: why that story in particular? It's not the only story that's ever had millions of believers, after all. Not counting all the organized religions that have existed with us through our time on this world, we're talking other commercial properties like Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time that have more than Altair ever could. This is perhaps deliberately left vague by the creators of Re:Creators so that the audience can speculate and make their own stories based upon it, continuing with one of the themes of the story itself. As an aside, it is perhaps fortunate that the source of Altair was not a fan of stories like Dragon Ball Z or Marvel Comics. Having a fully powered Perfect Cell or Thanos of Titan with the Infinity Gauntlet walking into that world would have made this a very short story, heh.


I didn't really want to talk about the characters in and of themselves, but one in particular sticks out, which is Magane Chikujoin from the series "Record of the Night Window Demon", which is a horror mystery the likes of which you'd find in "Umineko no Naku Koro ni". This character is both psychopathic and psychotic, and has the ability of "Infinite Deception of Words" which allows her to bend reality through lies. If she lies, and another rejects her lie, she can make her lie the truth. In her original story she's responsible for the deaths of her entire high school class. One of her first acts in the 'real' world is to facilitate the summoning of a Hound of Tindalos to kill a local shop keeper. Anyone who knows what one of those...things...are, knows that this is the very definition of 'Really Fucking Bad'. After which she finds her creator and proceeds to demonstrate why there are some demons you shouldn't raise. Not to mention answering very vital questions about her own existence. I found her rather extraordinary, for she acts more as an agent of chaos through the series. The more fucked up shit gets, the more she giggles about it; however, her time in that real world changes her too. She does all the stuff that a monster is expected to do, and quickly gets bored with it, which probably wouldn't or couldn't happen in the story she came from. Her very presence could have, and in the end did, fuck up everything Altair was doing; though I also note that neither went directly against the other. That may have gone very bad for both given what was expected to happen if the irritant to the real laws of physics was too great. She's very much the predator, symbolized very unsubtlety by her shark teeth filled mouth, which understandably freaks everyone in that real world the fuck out, and is a master of neurolinguistic speech. I found this possibly the most fascinating part of her character. Most of what she says is total nonsense, but she smatters in there bits and pieces of truth and a smidge of lies while letting whoever she's fucking with at the time try to follow her nonsense and make connections in the mess. At best you wind up confused and disoriented, and at worst you wind up rejecting something she said...which is a bad idea, given her power, and it is unknown if there's a limit to it. Truly the only way to deal with her is to simply not listen (or have the Reality Infinity Gem), which only one character got...everyone else was bound and determined to talk back. Especially in the shounen genre, but no one ever accused those guys of very many brains, though one in particular was smarter than most, I'll grant. Magane was just scratching the surface of how bad it could have gotten. A taste of what could have happened if something without limits and no moral restraint managed to get through. Like an all-powerful Ripper from The Last Action Hero, the story which is, again, the main inspiration of Re:Creators as stated, by its writers. It's very interesting to see her grow to care about Sōta Mizushino (remember he's the pivotal, but not the main, character) and how it manifests in something like her. That's probably why she left, in the end, to satisfy her hunger elsewhere. Had she stayed, it's likely she would have one day eaten Sōta as her nature would have demanded.


In terms of animation and sound quality, the production team want above and beyond on this one. Not quite to the level that was done on the Unlimited Blade Works anime, but easily up there in terms of some of the best looking and best sounding anime of all time. Somehow they manage to make the individual creations look like distinct creations with different art styles while at the same time making everyone similar enough so that the art shift is not jarring. If you want an idea of what I mean by jarring, watch a few of the later Precure movies; they draw them all in their original styles which gets very weird when you put them together.

Overall

Re:Creators is a story about stories, but more, how the stories affect us and how we affect them. They reflect all the good and bad in us. They show us what we are, but more, what we could be both good and bad. The creations in these stories reacted in different ways to the knowledge of their place in our world, but also learned how we had a place in their world...for if we were reflected in them, they too were reflections of us. Our stories, our lives, could shape them, and did shape them, as much as their lives shaped us. How a story, once released, is no longer just shaped and written by its creator, but also given meaning by its readers, watchers, and all its other fans. And thus, it was a story about...us, and how we live as we attempt, each and every one of us, to define ourselves as we choose, and how those choices affect not just us, but all around us to greater and lesser degrees. That Re:Creators does this so well, I think perhaps, that is the highest praise that can be given to this story.

Additional Info

  • Title: Re:Creators
  • Genre: Action/Seinen/Meta
  • Director: Ei Aoki
  • Studio: Troyca
  • Licensed: Amazon.com
  • Network: Tokyo MX, BS11, GYT, GTV, ABC, TVA, AT-X
  • Format: Television
  • Episodes: 22
  • Animation: Groovy (+5)
  • Writing: Groovy (+5)
  • Pacing: Groovy (+5)
  • Voice Acting: Groovy (+5)
  • Soundtrack: Groovy (+5)
Last modified on Monday, 04 December 2017 23:50

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