What’s it about ?
Our protagonist’s mother’s just been killed, but not before stabbing him herself. He’s barely been rescued from the grave by his sister (or is she ?) that she’s kidnapped. He goes to the rescue, but another faction’s interference allows the kidnappers to escape.
Kyosuke, our protagonist, seems to be an unkillable mutant capable of transforming into a giant monster. He has no clue why all this bizarre stuff is happening to him or who all these weirdoes are, but he’d really like to find out.
Maya claims to be his little sister (that he’s never heard of), although she looks older than him. She’s identified as a Flicker, whatever that means (from what I understand, she got transplanted memories). There’s a possibility she’s got multiple personalities, although she gets too little screentime to judge (she becomes a macguffin everyone fights over barely six minutes in).
Shiro is an enigmatic world-weary badass who helps Kyosuke for unexplained reasons (he seems to be allied with Maya). He delivers most of the exposition, although he’s no slouch in the action sequences either.
Maya was kidnapped by the Kirihara corporation, who are apparently a big deal in this world. They’ve got a huge military-scientific facility nearby, patrolled by tons of heavily-armed faceless goons. A no-nonsense, level-headed scientist seems to be in charge, and she certainly knows to shoot before monologuing (not that it’s any use against Kyosuke) and to bolt with the booty when the odds are against her.
The Hospital, represented by a raving mad doctor (also a powerful mutant) and his nurse (who wields giant syringes as a weapon) are wild cards also looking for Maya. They seem to belong to a completely different show (the art style in their scenes reminds me of Soul Eater).
Constant chiaroscuro ? Frequent close-ups to feet and eyes ? Odd camera angles ? The frame sometimes gets reduced to a small portion of the screen ? Frantic quick shots that look like the editor is overdosing ? A superb use of color to keep the action clear despite the overall chaos ?
“Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo.” Well, that explains it. This is a feast for the eyes indeed, with every single shot having something interesting happen.
The only false note is the score, which doesn’t always feel up to snuff. I must question the sentai-like theme tune when Kyosuke powers up, as until then this series felt deadly serious despite the insanity, and it kinda ruins the mood.
Okay, now we’re talking. This is very impressive indeed, with awesome visuals and a very tight script that packs a convoluted plot and three different fight scenes under 23 minutes. And this highly artificial style isn’t gratuitous : it helps merge together the somewhat grounded conspiracy plot and the weirdness of the Hospital characters, and the frantic editing keeps the pace going (the sequences between the action set pieces often feel like montages, but it works).
Now, there are lots of way this could go bad. It goes so fast that it could become repetitive. There’s a risk of losing the precarious balancing of the tone. The actual plot could go either way. The style could get so overpowering that the emotional resonance gets lost. But this is a really promising first episode, and I’m very curious how it goes from there.