Inuyashiki Review - Robots Have Feelings?

Robots Have Feelings?

  • Episodes : 11
  • Genre : Action, Drama, Psychological, Sci-Fi, Seinen
  • Airing Date : October 2017 - December 2017
  • Studios : MAPPA

Contains Spoilers

Inuyashiki Introduction and Story (Spoilers)

Inuyashiki Ichiro is an unfortunate 58-year-old. Recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, Inuyashiki is greatly saddened to hear that he doesn't have long to live. To make things worse, his unassuming appearance has earned him the first impression of a pathetic old man. No one seems to truly care about him apart from his dog, not even his own family. One night while out on a walk in a park near his home, a blinding light strikes down right where Inuyashiki is standing. He comes out scot-free; however his body begins to exhibit peculiar changes... Changes which could earn him the respect he has always craved, as well as the ability to make a real difference and do good. But, what if someone else went through exactly the same but doesn't quite have the moral compass Inuyashiki possess…? What then?

Inuyashiki is an interesting series with an interesting character dynamic. For starters, having an elderly main character is something that's relatively unprecedented since most anime, particularly Shounen and Shoujo titles, are geared towards a younger demographic and thus, most main characters reflect that. However, Inuyashiki Ichiro has incredible impact because he has the tenacity and overall goodwill of a traditional anime hero. The presentation of Shishigami Hiro as the antagonist of the series makes Inuyashiki interesting because we're presented with characters who were befallen by the same conditions; however, the difference in age and mindset sent the characters on opposing paths.

Hiro is a high schooler whose past is not that well expanded in the series; however, he is shown to have always had sadistic tendencies, as well as an incredible ability to dissociate and remove himself from reality when need be. From the second episode when he is introduced, Hiro is initially shown to have a meek and generally likeable personality, often hanging out with his friend Ando "Chokko" Naoyuki and reading manga. Later on in the second episode, we come face to face with Shishigami Hiro's true colours: having attained the same cybernetic makeover that Inuyashiki Ichiro underwent that night in the park, Hiro was committed to committing random and thorough acts of murder. Somehow, Hiro learned the vast repertoire of abilities and tricks that his new machine body possesses and he uses these to enter random houses every week and execute every living thing inside. For him, he feels alive when he takes away life and it has been so ever since he was a child. The third episode focuses more on Hiro's friendship with Chokko, displaying Hiro's humanity and his desire to protect his friend - Hiro protects Chokko from his bullies, going to the extreme act of murdering them after school.

While Inuyashiki comes to terms with his new powers, he learns how to heal injuries and disease, choosing to go from hospital to hospital to use his powers for the good of humankind, Hiro's heinous crimes catch the attention of the authorities, as well as the mass media. Hiro's dark sense of humour is exhibited when he asks Chokko if he's the serial killer because of the fact that Chokko had remained home for an extended period in order to avoid his bullies.

The remainder of the series consists of Chokko coming to the realization that Hiro is too far gone and needs to be stopped, as well as Chokko's unlikely partnership with Inuyashiki Ichiro in order to achieve this goal. Hiro's crimes grow in severity as time goes on, with him going to the lengths of murdering the entire police force in the area, a few online chatroomers who instigated the media frenzy over his crimes. The media's involvement and badgering eventually led to Hiro's mother committing suicide, an event which deals the fate of Japan and the world at large - at least, in Hiro's eyes.

With so much heat on his tail, Hiro stays on the run, at least until Watanabe Shion—a girl in his class who'd harboured a crush on him since he stood up for Chokko a few episodes earlier—decides to help him, under the pretense that she does not believe that he would be capable of crimes so gruesome and horrifying. Even after the grief resulting from his mother's death hits him, Hiro is easily absorbed into the easy home living that his harbourer provides alongside her grandmother, even deciding that his days of killing are over and will be spent helping people instead. However, it doesn't last long as the Japanese Special Forces zero in on his location and take it upon themselves to execute everybody in the house. Bound by a newfound sense of duty, Hiro escapes the scene with his new family in tow, heals their injuries and flies away from the scene. This proves to be an important development as it is directly after this that Hiro vetoes his earlier decision and wages a full-on war... With everyone in Japan. He demonstrates a willingness to kill that goes beyond the hashish-fuelled executions of soldiers of old, in fact, he kills 100 people in Shibuya one day, before promising to kill at least 1000 people every single day until all of Japan has been exterminated.

Meanwhile, Hiro's childhood friend, Ando "Chokko" Naoyuki, spends most of his time after school with Inuyashiki Ichiro, trying to train him to perform the same incredible acts that have allowed Shishigami Hiro to escape capture and elimination. He reasons that if anyone can stop Hiro is someone who is exactly like him - if one such person exists. With a little bit of wit, Chokko is able to attract Inuyashiki's attention and needed very little to convince him to commit himself to defeating Hiro.

With each passing day, Hiro's onslaught continues and increases in severity; however, he makes sure to send money to Watanabe Shion and her grandmother every so often, a gesture possibly showing his remorse at breaking his promise to be with them forever. His "family" affairs aside, Hiro gets down to business: he decides to kill his prescribed 1000 by causing several planes to crash into the city, causing widespread carnage and destruction, so much so that Inuyashiki has his work cut out for him trying to prevent several disasters at once. After Inuyashiki saves a few planes, Hiro appears and engages him in combat, displaying skills that far surpass those of Inuyashiki; however, Inuyashiki's sense of duty is ignited when he receives a desperate call from his daughter Mari, who'd been caught up in the carnage and trapped at the Shibuya Observation Deck. Hiro makes rushing to the scene very difficult and when Ichiro eventually arrives, it is too late: his daughter is dead.

What We Liked About Inuyashiki

Inuyashiki's appeal is in the freshness of perspective brought on by its protagonist, Inuyashiki Ichiro. Having a frail old man as the main character of an anime of this nature, one with heavy action and sci-fi elements is a concept that isn't thrown around much in an anime. That fact alone makes it an eye-catching title - and it follows through with some really awesome animation at times, a beautiful art style which follows in the footsteps of well-known titles such as Gantz and lesser-known titles such as Amagami SS.

Characters in Inuyashiki are interesting, particularly Shishigami Hiro. His overall impact as a protagonist is interesting as we can clearly see that his newfound power hasn't quite affected his psyche the way it affects that of Inuyashiki Ichiro. His somewhat unpredictable values made him almost scary to watch as his presence around other characters created much tension. His bloodthirst seemed to be dismissable only to those who were closest to him, particularly Shion and Chokko. He, much like those reading this, had an intense love for manga, especially One Piece. It's small details about characters which make them feel more human and relatable. This is a great way to create character development in a small space of time, given the fact that Inuyashiki ran for only eleven episodes.

Discussion Time

There are various things that Inuyashiki does very well as an anime, particularly as a Seinen title - starting off with the philosophical question which plagues both the characters and real life people: what is our purpose? This underpins most of Inuyashiki Ichiro's activities after the incident which gave him his new body.

Inuyashiki also follows noitaminA's eleven-episode trend, joining titles such as Higashi no Eden, Tokyo Magnitude and Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance). One reason we think Inuyashiki is worth the watch lies within its episode-count. We will also be looking into the anime's use of CG and how that affects the overall look and feel of the series, as well as the series' tendency to change narrative perspective from episode to episode, leading up to the series' end, which we will discuss shortly.

Why You Should Watch Inuyashiki

As we mentioned multiple times before, Inuyashiki is a fairly short anime at eleven episodes, following a trend shared by titles originally aired in Fuji's noitaminA slot. This is great because it makes the anime relatively easy to get into and enjoy due to it being so short; however, this can serve to be negative due to the fact that a lot of content has to be packed into eleven episodes and paced fairly decently for a cohesive anime series.

From a content perspective, Inuyashiki tickles the palette of anime fans who enjoy shows that have them pondering their own lives and actions with two pertinent questions: "what is our purpose?", and "what does it mean to be alive?". These questions are presented to both the protagonist Inuyashiki Ichiro and the antagonist Shishigami Hiro. Both characters find their own answers for these questions, which are reflected in their actions and their interactions with the other characters and the world around them. This makes the series fairly memorable to those who watch it, and those who enjoy taking something away from the anime they watch will have some philosophical bones to chew on.

Inuyashiki's animation and art are nothing to scoff at, with the show going for a more realistic feel about its characters and backgrounds. Set in the city of Tokyo, the backgrounds are incredible, with the city skyline being shown off in multiple shots. Characters look realistic, much like characters in Gantz, and if you're a fan of Easter Eggs, you'll be happy to know that Gantz gets many a shoutout during the series. Animation during the action scenes uses what looks like CGI. What's great is the fact that it isn't used excessively throughout the series.

Why You Should Skip Inuyashiki

Remember what we said about Inuyashiki being very easy to digest due to it having a fairly low episode count? That was true; however, it loses a little bit of traction towards the end after Shishigami Hiro's threat is neutralized as the focus is placed on a giant asteroid hurtling towards Earth, but only in the final episodes. The asteroid is only briefly mentioned in an earlier episode and even then, the very introduction of this random object set on a course to wipe out the series' entire universe seems like a badly convoluted use of the Deus Ex Machina device.

Another reason why one should skip this show is due to the fact that the reason behind Inuyashiki and Shishigami's new bodies is never explored, nor is the true extent of their powers exposed until the final episode where, sitting on the asteroid, the two machine men discuss the means to protect the Earth from the giant rock hurtling towards it. This is strange because they're supposedly capable of "destroying the Earth", individually, so it is a fairly large inconsistency when all that power seems to be incapable of moving an asteroid. Granted, we're not too sure about any of the physics behind any of this, but none of that matters anyway.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Inuyashiki is an awesome watch, especially if you enjoy heavy sci-fi elements, robots and widespread carnage, panic and destruction! The characters are multilayered and despite the anime's lack of space to flesh each character out significantly, the main characters are incredibly interesting and bring a fresh dynamic to shows of this nature. Inuyashiki also has an intensity about it which keeps you glued to the series. The juxtaposition of Inuyashiki Ichiro's noble nature and Shishigami's unfiltered sadistic, yet somewhat innocent evil makes the series pack a massive punch and that's why, despite the eleven episode cap, one feels like they've gone through quite a lot by the end of the series.
By Hoshi-kun

Inuyashiki-dvd-354x500 Inuyashiki Review - Robots Have Feelings?


Author: Hoshi-kun

I’m South African, harbouring an obsession for anything remotely related to Japan, mostly anime, of course. I draw sometimes. Some people call me Naledi, it’s my real name, or something like that. People think I’m stoic because I don’t smile often (I do sometimes). I like languages. Hoshi-kun and Naledi are the same side of the same coin.

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