Hand Shakers – Preview
Original Air Dates: January 10th, 2017 – ???
Synopsis: Tazuna is a high school student who loves to fiddle around with machines. However, after receiving a request from a university laboratory, he ends up meeting a girl named Koyori, who’s been bedridden for a very long time. Before he knows what’s happening Tazuna and Koyori are pulled into a whole different world known as “Ziggurat.” In this world there are Hand Shakers, two people who touch hands and create the Nimrod. Their goal? To defeat other Hand Shakers in effort to gain an audience with “God” who is said to grant them wishes.
1st Episode Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Hand Shakers is perhaps the most visually ‘out there’ series this season, attempting to reinvent the wheel by blending what appears to be not just 2D and 3D art but filtered real world backgrounds into the mix as well. What seems like a worthy experiment quickly becomes a cacophony like assault on the senses. The biggest issue is that none of three different art-styles blends together well. The 2D models rarely look natural against the 3D backgrounds, although they fair a tad bit better against the filtered real life shots. The CGI itself often looks very early 2000s, too glossy and CGI in appearance to feel like it naturally belongs alongside the 2D art. The biggest boon amongst all this chaos is the series ability to give the 2D art even more attention, and there are indeed a few very impressive shots, with a plethora of animation in the foreground and background as every character on screen is moving, a high feet for any anime. But that success doesn’t make up for how poor everything looks in motion together and unless you’ve a high tolerance for its more experimental aspects, Hand Shakers is likely to be an uncomfortable watch, hardly pleasing to the eyes.
Linny: Seriously, we cannot stress how important it is to go into this show with some sort of protection for your eyes. The extremely experimental approach to animation could probably find an admirer here and there, and while the animation is impressive from a technical stand point, for most, it’s going to look like nothing more than an assault on your eyes with its jarring movements and lack of blending between the different animation styles.
Tom: Moving past the visuals, which is quite hard to do, we come to the characters. Our lead, Tazuna, seems like a fairly okay guy, although his persona is so subdued that he doesn’t really seem to step past the generic trappings of most anime heroes. That might be okay if the story offered its own unique flare in other, appealing ways. Trouble is Hand Shaker’s first episode villain isn’t all that much better. He’s a shouting, sadistic, sexually violent guy with a girl he’s chained up screaming in an overtly sexually, uncomfortable manner that the show harps on well past getting its initial point across. But I’ll let Linny rant about this bit.
Linny: The story feels so hammy right now. First off, there’s Tazuna who mistakes this girl for his sister even though the only resemblance between them is that they are both female and lying in a hospital bed. And then, of course, he’s immediately attached to her after he’s told not to let go of her hand and it reminds him how his sister asked him not to let go of her hand when she was in the hospital. Also I cannot stress how much I dislike the villain in this episode and his female companion. He is so abusive to the girl physically and verbally and they make the girl moan like she’s getting off to all the abuse. She moans constantly in a very clearly sexual manner and it makes the scene feel very offensive. At best, one might defend the show claiming that it is aiming to make you uncomfortable and depict how evil and twisted the villain is. But I would argue it is merely exploitative and not at all acceptable to have a male character stomping a helpless female character right on the crotch area with his foot while hurling abusive terms at her. And the sexual screams and moans make it all the more offensive especially when you consider that the scene has our young, almost child like protagonists right there witnessing all this ‘sexual’ play.
Tom: The story itself feels an absolute mess too. We delve into sexual territory far too often, and the whole concept of Hand Shakers and Tazuna needing to hold a girl’s hand to keep her alive feels extremely convoluted and forced. It makes it difficult to take Hand Shakers’ seriously and if you’re already struggling your way through the visuals this is likely to be the breaking point.
Linny: If you’re open to checking out a show just for the sake of seeing something novel, you might want to give the first episode a try. However since this new approach to animation has clearly not been fully polished, it might end up a lost cause. The story is generic, convoluted and offensive so I wouldn’t recommend it. Overall, I personally cannot wait to get as far away from this show as possible but I will acknowledge that it does manage to do some impressive things with its unique animation style…just not well enough to save my eyes.
Tom: Surprisingly Hand Shakers is by the same studio behind the K Project Anime that was generally beloved for its visuals and style. It’s clear to me that Hand Shakers is perhaps too experimental for its own good. It’s going to take a certain kind of viewer to look past the rough visuals, the poor blending, the cheap characters and the convoluted story. If you’re more like us though, then Hand Shakers is best avoided like the plague, as it’s likely to end up on your list as one of the worst offerings of this Winter 2017 season.