Oh god, my eyes.
I’ll be honest, when I first watched the pilot episode of GoHands’ 2012 anime K back in the day, I wasn’t impressed. I felt it was an overproduced mess of visuals that put more effort into looking cool and different than actually delivering on something interesting. However, throughout the series run it grew on me and I ended up really enjoying it at the end. Because of this, I don’t want to dismiss another series from the same studios based on the same style of pilot episode… But there’s a limit to what I can handle.
With Hand Shakers, GoHands definitely try to reignite the flame from five years back by having a pilot episode intended to be drenched in style over substance with any narrative details being tossed aside for later exposition. But where K managed to make scenes look cool or unique, Hand Shakers just end up a headache inducing ugly mess. From hue filters changing entire character palettes seemingly at random to terrible 3DCG enviroment with cardboard cutout 2D characters thar actually pop off-screen too early because of poorly managed 3D camera movement, nothing in Hand Shakers looks either cool or fresh, only wrong.
That’s not even getting into the actual animation, with its’ creepy sentient breasts or awkward 3D chains with metallic shaders to make sure they stand out even more as they wrap around characters in sexual or menacing ways. And I’ve realized we’re at a point where complaining about breast physics in anime seems moot, but I need to reiterate what I said just a few sentences ago, there’s a limit to what I can handle, and Hand Shakers passed it. There’s also a Silent Hill-esque transformation from the normal world to the “otherworld”, for the lack of an official term, that is cool in theory but manages to just look gaudy and irritating.
Shit, I’ve not even gotten around to describing what actually happens in the episode yet. Okay, so there are people called hand shakers who I guess are granted magic powers when they hold hands or something like that. They use what’s called a nimrod (no, really) which is a thematic ability that is different from hand shakers to hand shakers, with the first episode showing the main characters being followed by a BDSM couple using huge chains as their nimrod for combat. They do this to …reach the tower of Babel, I think? Not a lot is clear since the first episode never really stops to explain anything.
The main character, who I’m sure has a name, is a dude who likes to fix things. From electronics to cars, he just does it as a hobby out of habit and as such becomes someone a lot of people at school rely on for help. He’s been asked to go see a professor at the college, who I’m sure has a name as well, but when he gets there the professor is out. He spots a young girl with white hair in a hospital bed, at least I think she have white hair but it kind of depends on the filter GoHands have applied at the time. Seeing the girl in the bed makes him think of when his little sister died in a hospital bed and how he let go of her hand as it happened, this is a key character point.
To nobody’s surprise, since it happens in a flashback after the introduction, the girl, who I’m sure has a name too, wakes up and becomes a hand shaker together with the main character. The professor says that if they stop holding hands the girl will die, meaning that the main character would feel guilt just like when his sister died, or something, and so they fight the other hand shakers with the chains to follow the call of Babel or something I don’t know. Look, this episode took me an hour to watch despite being 26 minutes long because I had to pause to even make sense of the visuals at times. A girl has an orgasm at one point, I guess that’s relevant, maybe.
Nothing in Hand Shakers works. It’s an ugly mess with uninteresting character designs that spends more time playing with camera swirling than it does thinking about reasonable presentation. It’s like a tech demo showing off all the effects of a video editing software at once, with the lens-flare effects being added a few extra times because why not? The series can’t even do line art without making it “different”, opting for a disturbingly light tone of gray that just makes everything look like it doesn’t belong on top of the rather contrast heavy backgrounds. In fact, nothing in the series looks like it belongs together at any given point in time.
And here’s the thing. It’s not even the worst series I’ve watched this season, it really isn’t. It’s bad, it most certainly is bad, but it’s the sheer level of annoyance and ugliness that stands out with Hand Shakers, not the final rating on its quality. Is it the ugliest anime I’ve seen this season? Sure. Is it the most poorly put together anime this season? Absolutely. But even so, it doesn’t manage to have enough notability to even be bad enough to just be the worst.
And I guess that’s the kindest thing I can say about it. Hand Shakers isn’t the worst.
Hand Shakers is licensed by Funimation and is currently being streamed on Crunchyroll.
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