Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Togainu no Chi Incomplete Review (1-6)

Togainu no Chi Incomplete Review (1-6)

Warning: The following review may contain spoilers of the first 6 episodes of the anime Togainu no Chi. If you wish not to know some plot details, or simply don't wish to find out what happens in the series, please exit the tab, and join me once you've watched the show. Or you know, you can continue to read, since you don't care about spoilers.

Also, keep in mind that this is an INCOMPLETE review. This is when I can't finish the series I set out to watch, and instead decide to review it to explain the reasons why I couldn't finish it. Also keep a look out for GIF's, since those could be in high abundance.

Anyways, with that said, thank you, and onto the review:

A year ago, I did an incomplete review for the second season of Highschool DXD. While I did like the first season, the 2nd season didn't work as well for me as it did for other viewers. I thought the story got outshined by who would be the winner in Issei's harem, the more noticeable inclusions of religion into the dub script (though it was still good overall), Kiba not benefiting whatsoever from his character development, and the final battle basically just being full of deus ex machinas.

An online friend told me that I didn't necessarily need to write reviews like that simply because it might be a waste of my time. So when I stopped watching Blue Exorcist, I decided to not write a review for it. I did explain some problems I had with the 8 episodes I watched in my top 5 worst anime of last year post, and I think I made it really clear why I stopped.

So why am I giving this a DNF review? Well, because I feel like I need to discuss this show in some way, shape, or form since it managed to disappoint me. Before I tell you why though, let's get a little bit of background on it.

Togainu no Chi was first released as a computer game back in 2005 from Nitro+CHiRAL, who were also responsible for creating DRAMAtical Murder, which was released in 2012. It would later get an anime adaption, which I followed in the Summer 2014 season. Both are originally BL games which were later adapted into anime. But Togainu no Chi came first, and I actually didn't know this existed until I looked DRAMAtical Murder up one random day.

I rewatched DRAMAtical Murder a few months ago, and it still holds up to what I mentioned in the review a year and a half ago. The story's pretty unique, the characters are pretty interesting, the score is boss, and Satoshi Hino's voice is still the best out of the whole entire thing. There were some slight weaknesses the second time around (mainly with Virus and Trip's plot twist that was REALLY obvious that it became obnoxious), but I think it's still a great show. Just don't watch the OVA at night my friends.

Because of that, I decided to watch Togainu no Chi. And let's just say:

Compared to Dance with Devils, this show makes me more disappointed then enraged when I think back to it. There were many things that I felt could have been so much better than they were, and certain parts that had me either sighing, or going:

You'll find out the reasons why as I go in depth as to why Togainu no Chi and me didn't work out. We're going to go in a similar fashion to my previous incompleted review, starting with the things I liked about the show.

#1: The story concept

After World War 3 (also called the Third Division), Japan was divided into 2 sections. Several years later, Vischio, a crime organization, took control of the capital city Toshima (which apparently was formally Tokyo), and implanted a game where several participants compete known as Igura (Russian for game). 

Igura revolves around the collection of various tags, and has been known for various deaths. In order to participate in Igura, one must meet with the leader of Vischio, Arbitro. They will then receive 5 dog tags, which are styled like a deck of playing cards. A participant must hang one from their neck in order for other players to confirm they are a participant of Igura. The goal of the game is to collect a royal flush (which is an ace, king, queen, jack, and a ten) in order to challenge the strongest in Igra, II Re (Italian for king). 

Of course, contestants must also compete with each other by taking other's tags. These scuffles end when one party dies or their back hits the ground (then again, that rule really isn't followed, so.....). The winner can take the loser's tags and can do whatever they please with them. Sounds kind of sketchy if you ask me, but it often results in the loser's death.

The main protagonist, Akira, is falsely accused of a murder he didn't commit, and if he is sentenced, he will spend life in prison. 2 visitors named Emma and Gwen offer Akira freedom if he agrees to participate in Igura to defeat II Re. Out of options, Akira agrees, and is sent to Toshima.

When this story unraveled in Episode 1, I was like this:

It sounded really cool and promising. Though it didn't deliver in the end, there's still some things I'm curious to see happen.

#2: The OST

For this series, the score was composed by Masaaki Iizuka and Tomohisa Ishikawa. Masaaki Iizuka is a member of the group GRANRODEO (who performs the opening for this series), and has arranged various opening themes in the past. Tomohisa Ishikawa also worked on the music for Kite: Liberator.

The music for this series is very good at establishing atmosphere, kind of how Toshima is good at it too. The tracks tend to be more dramatic and tinged with an edge of darkness that works pretty decent when things get intense, which is often. I wouldn't say it's a good as DRAMAtical Murder, but it does come close at parts.

Much like Riddle Story of Devil, each episode has a different ending. However, they aren't as memorable because A1 used the same background art, with only the major events in the splatter of blood changing. It's pretty boring to look at.

#3: The atmosphere of Toshima

Besides small things in the show's animation (which will be discussed later), I think this was the part that was the best established. Toshima is a very bland city, with its buildings painted in gray and the sun pretty much being an anomaly. However, the mood is nailed really well that at some parts of this show, I was getting slight chills. I think the first episode had a good example of this, because the first time we see Toshima, the sky is tinted purple.

I thought this was a cool way to enter into this very dangerous city, because you know it's different than the who knows how long of a dessert Akira walked through. I saw potential in how it could be used.

And much like the last time, I'll stop there. There were other minor things I liked that will be brought up in the next 2 sections, but let's go onto the things that I wasn't really fond of.

#1: The story's delivery

While the concept of the story pulled me in, it didn't have a lasting impact compared to how the story in DRAMAtical Murder was handled. DRAMAtical Murder was engaging, and managed to keep my interest thanks to the backstories (besides Mink's) and the overall feel of it. Togainu no Chi had the ingredients to make for an interesting story, but didn't use them properly.

For starters, there's this street fighting game named Bl@ster that Akira competed in where he was an undefeated champion. It's pretty much treated like if Apple announced a new product: everyone's going to be super excited to see how this lives up to their expectations, and wish for the very best.

The problem is, Bl@ster doesn't even matter with the plot. Sure, it gives us a reason as to why Akira would be a good participant in Igura (though he doesn't show it. We'll also talk about this later), but is it really that important? The Ribstiezs teams in DRAMAtical Murder were pretty much forgotten when the second half kicked in, and that's fine because I thought it didn't play a big impact.

Here, it seems like every time it was brought up, I'm all:

It needed more oomph, which I felt like was lacking.

Then there's the pacing. Ugh, this show felt like it was snail mail, seeming to crawl from episode to episode at various points.

It isn't Lizzie, especially when I found out that these episodes seemed to take place between 2-3 days. And that's pretty ridiculous. Each event just felt like it dragged in some way, like some of the fights, and even the conversations. Sometimes it can work in an anime, and also for books. But what Togainu no Chi didn't have was, like I said earlier, intrigue that could have pushed the story along faster.

The last story issue that I have was with this drug called Line. It's a drug that has started to go around Igura that various people have begun to use. It's most recognizable in vials, the drug being yellow liquid. There also was vials of red liquid, though I don't care to see what those are.

The drug basically gives people an adrenaline rush, so that they are able to become stronger and more agile during fights. Also, they seem to grow blood fetishes and are horny AF.

The creepiest thing about it is that the veins underneath their face are visible, and it's kind of gross to see. The main issue I have with this is that it doesn't really have the dramatic impact on the story that it could have. We can clearly tell that it's very dangerous (it's explicitly mentioned that if its use is abused, it could become lethal), but it only really makes an impact in Episode 6. Other than that, it's only shown through where it's taken from, and we have other "issues" on our hands.

As a whole, the story doesn't really click with me as much as it could have, and the concept is pretty lackluster once I realized how the story was showing itself.

#2: The characters

There's a few characters here that I have specific issues with, but as a whole, they really lack something that could have been present. It's like how Mink's character was a bit stale at points, like the writers of the DRAMAtical Murder anime wanted him to still have that edge, but it lacked without some parts in his route that I don't know about.

Here, almost every single character feels like a Mink situation. They don't really stick in my head, and that includes Motomi. I'm still confused as to why he has a route in the game when he's basically just a source for some information and moral support in the first half. I think my favorite out of the bunch was Rin, because his energy was pretty refreshing, even though some of it was pretty much an act.

But there's good news. There was one character that I liked.

And that would be Takeru. Here's a picture of him:

Takeru is another participant in Igura who has an extreme desire to win so that he'll be able to live happily with his sister. Out of his interesting outfit, he cares the most about a cross shaped pendant, which is a memento to remind him of his sister. He knows Akira from Bl@ster, which he competed in until he dropped out. He refers to him as Lost, which was Akira's pseudonym while fighting. He is very quick to anger, and can be skilled with knives.

Overall, I liked Takeru for the most part. He was easy to relate to, and I could understand why Igura was so important to him. He was definitely more interesting than the main cast, due to his hair color (which is dyed, and proven by a flashback/dream sequence). and the fact that he seems more edgy. He receives Line from a mysterious ghost like figure, and for really no reason, he decided to take it. This is where my opinions on him kind of start to divide.

Or in Takeru's case, he's on drugs. He tries to fight Akira one more time and almost succeeds in incapacitating him before tasting some of Akira's blood and backing off of him because unexplained reasons are our friend (again, we'll talk about this). He is later killed in an unrealistic way that made me go:

So up until Episode 6, Takeru's fine. But then he took Line, and my opinions on him went a little scattershot. I will say that looking at his info in the game, I do feel more sorry for him, but I'm still left with 2 opposite feelings. One of sadness and one of satisfaction.

*sighs* Tell me Takeru, why did you have to go and be so complicated?

I also found the voice acting to be pretty average, with only some voices managing to stand out from the crowd. DRAMAtical Murder had more memorable voices, and this, again, is quite the opposite.

Just wanted to point that out because now we're going to talk about the things that kind of pissed me off. Not so much as in Highschool DXD New did, but those feelings did slightly pop up. I know exactly what thing bugged me the most.

#1, Akira was the undefeated champion of Bl@ster?

There has never been a case where I've seen a supposedly strong character end up being this useless on his own during a fight. Though Akira seems to have the strength to defeat most of the people, the anime doesn't bother to show any evidence of that. Why? Because every single time he gets into a fight, the same thing happens. Let me elaborate.

When Akira is approached for a fight by random background characters, or ones we've already established, he typically starts out fine. He gets a few good kicks or punches in there, but then it shifts. The rival manages to find a way to distract him, he gets restrained, and then is held by either knife-point or neck-point (I guess the main causes of death in this world are either by getting stabbed or strangulation). It is then by some dumb luck that he even manages to get away from it all.

I'd be fine if this happened once or twice, but this happens every. single. time. Akira, I know you have more strength in you. So, you know, why don't you show it when these various people get ahead of you? It's like the Inner Senshi in Sailor Moon Crystal, where they end up getting immobilized after starting off decently.

I don't know how his fighting skills will improve later on in the anime, because if Akira actually was undefeated in Bl@ster, the writers needed to show that. And they didn't. What a waste.

#2: Akira's "radioactive" blood

Some people have made jokes about this on the internet, and I think there's a reason why. IT'S NEVER EXPLAINED! I even checked an official Togainu no Chi Wiki page to see if they was any explanation. And I was out of luck. This is one plot point that I am interested in, and they don't give any background on it. Lovely.

So basically when Akira gets held by knife-point or by his neck, the 2 times where this happens, the male (because apparently females don't participate in Igura) threatens to sexually assault Akira before they kill him. Isn't that sweet? They basically want to bang a near corpse. That's revolting TBH.

They then lick Akira's blood off of a knife or his face (EWW!), and a few seconds afterwards, they start to convulse, like the blood somehow dehydrates them. It weakens them so much that the individual either is close to death or dies. And then, Akira questions whether it's his fault.

Akira, it isn't your fault. Let's just blame the writers for not bothering to showcase it at all with the chances that came along. It's a pretty interesting tool that could help you advance further if people think it's easier to kill you after you fail to showcase that you're strong. It's not as good as being immortal (like with Ban from Nanatsu no Taizai), but you know, you could use it to your advantage.

The question is, will that happen? And my answer is:

Let's be real here.

#3: The animation

I've heard people say that this animation is s**t several times online. I didn't jump on board as fast as the others because A-1 Pictures has some great projects under their belt. But, last year was a pretty bumpy ride for them, especially since they handled way too many shows at once. But what about from nearly 6 years ago? How did that much up?

Well, it's pretty much like last year all over again. There are parts where the animation is pretty consistent, but that's very slim. Overall, the animation is VERY dull, and often choppy. Characters go off model every 2 minutes, there's nothing really that stands out or made me go "OMGTHISISAWESOME!" like with some parts of the opening (other than Takeru at most parts). It's very stale and limp, often having to use Toshima's landscape to hold itself by. And that often doesn't work.

Then there's the censoring that's in the TV version. Now, don't get me wrong, I've seen anime that's been censored before. But this is the BAD kind. Like Freezing's censored simulcast material, it manages to go overboard on covering some certain things, and is often inconsistent in how much it wants to cover. My prime example would be this:

I'm not really happy with how they handled this. For starters, I can assume that Takeru's dead body is probably the most graphic thing that has happened in this show regarding blood. However, they didn't censor the silhouette when he got killed, even though it was pretty gory. It's like this one scene in Freezing where Marin got sliced in half for half a second. Though there wasn't any blood, it wasn't censored in the TV censored broadcast, which I find super odd.

But regardless, back to this.  The censoring's pretty laughable besides one time, and the animation isn't really special. The only thing you really have to go for here is the distracting crotch shots and focuses put on the form fitting jeans, and how good the males' butts look. Hopefully it improved in the DVD version.

#4: Keisuke

Every single time Keisuke appeared on screen after Episode 1, I wanted to do this:

Keisuke, meet passive doormat. Passive doormat, meet Keisuke. You're going to become the best of friends.

Keisuke is Akira's childhood friend, who grew up with him in an orphanage. Though he isn't very strong, he has admired Akira's strength, and decides to participate in Igura to fight alongside him.

One of the main problems I have with Keisuke is how clingy he is to Akira. Sure, he was REALLY naive to just carry his tags out in the open after specifically being told not too, but this problem is worse. Keisuke will literally do nothing to support himself in Igura unless it has to do with Akira. He is so reliant on him that it becomes very annoying. Let's not forget that he's the perfect example of a broken record character, and manages to say Akira's name over and over again to the point where you think you need earplugs.

After Akira tells him off about how Keisuke isn't even sure himself on what to do (he's still stressed out about blood problems), Keisuke decides to drown his sorrows and takes Line (apparently). He then turns into an emo psycho, seeming to want Akira all for himself, or else..............

Some people have said this adds a bit more depth to his personality, but in my eyes, it really doesn't. The reason; Keisuke is still the same character. He's just now a psychopath who has attachment issues as close to Yuno Gasai (from what I assume).

Keisuke just wants to be with Akira so much that he'll pretty much be really reckless and decide to risk his life because it's all for love! I'd care more if the character was actually likable, thanks. Also, you were responsible for something that I'm not going to forgive you about.

#5: Arbitro


Do you all remember Toue from DRAMAtical Murder? The owner of Platinum Jail who wanted to take over the world who did have at least some depth, but was still an example of the cliche villains that we all hate because they're so unoriginal? Well, let's just say that Cliche City didn't affect Arbitro that much, because even that doesn't do him any favors.

Arbitro is the leader of Vischio. He likes men. He REALLY likes men. He has several men who he refers to as pets, and his own "dog." He always wears a mask over his eyes. He also has weird statues in his mansion. And, he is most likely the main villain of the story. That's it. That's all you need to know about his personality.

Compared to Toue, Arbitro suffers the same problems. However, it's worse in his case, because he has no presence. Quite frankly, he has the complexity of a paper plate. I like villain characters, and the more simplistic ones aren't bad. But Arbitro is SO simplistic, that he only offers something that the viewers can look at, and say, "Eww! He's disgusting!"

He reminds me a lot of what I've seen of Charlotte Scherzen from Valkyrie Drive Mermaid. Both of them seem to have the same personalities, hobbies, and weaknesses. Oh, and they're both REALLY annoying too.

To sum up this half of a series in one GIF, it'd be:

It was very average. Though the story was pretty intriguing, the score was nice, and Toshima's atmosphere pretty palpable, everything else about it was either eh or somewhat unbearable. I don't really ship any one with Akira simply because all of the potential love interests are very flat characters, and no "I can repay you with my body." or "Let me show you a good time before you die." is going to change that.

This show has been pretty much panned nearly everywhere I look besides a few exceptions, so that explains why this show didn't get as popular compared to DRAMAtical Murder. I'd easily recommend DRAMAtical Murder over this though, if it was up to a Nitro+CHiRAL anime adaption off.

I can only recommend this series to someone who likes their action violent, because I can see that being appealing to several people. But other than that, you can skip this one. You're not missing much either way.

Incomplete reviews aren't my norm, so the next time one of them pops up, you now it's time for another talk with Dazz.

Score: 6/10


Story concept is pretty cool.

Nice OST.

Atmosphere of Toshima is portrayed well.


Story's potential isn't fully used.

Characters are overall uninteresting.

Akira sucks at fighting since he's always immobilized.

Mysterious blood issue not explained.

Animation is either bland or choppy.

Show isn't really engaging.

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