KADO: The Right Answer – Mid Season Anime Review
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Synopsis: The fate of the world lies in the hands of one negotiator when a commercial jet is abducted into a massive, unknown structure. Inside, a strange being appears claiming he will intervene in Japan’s internal affairs. That’s when Shindou Kojirou, a Japanese official onboard the plane, steps forth to greet him, spearheading the communications that will dictate the future of mankind. (Official Funimation Synopsis.)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: KADO continues to blend traditional 2D artwork with heavy 3D animation. Generally this works, producing a style that should satisfy even those who find 3D anime animation unappealing. That said, what’s here still isn’t good enough to turn ardent haters around, especially when certain scenes don’t quite work as 3D characters don’t move or look appropriate next to 2D counterparts.
Linny: Thematically, the story focuses on first contact between the Japanese and a being from another dimension. KADO explores the political drama that arises from such an encounter, but isn’t too interested in doing big dramatic developments or letting conflicts that arise from the situation get really violent as most are resolved quickly. Any tension is usually restricted to verbal interactions and threats. In fact, the latest mid season episode forgoes all political drama, choosing instead to highlight the issues that might arise from having to relocate the huge entity that is Kado.
Tom: KADO’s methodical nature is where the series shines thanks to its adherence to a methodology seeking to depict a ‘realistic’ and ‘grounded’ take on our first contact with a being outside of our reality/realm of physics. A lot of thought has gone into building the scenario and it shows as the series develops in ways that feel honest and likely. But at the same time, as Linny detailed, this means there’s little interest in building towards escalation. Most entertainment finds ways to build the stakes, to force our characters into increasingly dangerous confrontations that often thrust the story towards violence or drama. But KADO isn’t interested in that, and this is where the series will disappoint many. When things seem like they’re building to a confrontation, KADO finds a way to undo that, far more interested in exploring its general concepts than offering up increasing levels of drama.
Linny: There’s also a chance that the science demonstrated in this show might feel a bit too fantastical to those who pick KADO up expecting an extremely well researched/realistic scientific series. At the end of the day, it seem to be turning into a mystery about the intentions of this new being for manifesting into our world, a topic that’s popular among first contact narratives. We get a subtle but interesting reveal in the mid series episode that alludes to a bigger plan than what Zashunina the alien claimed to have at the beginning. This reveal is a rather perplexing reveal, one that makes for good suspense as it isn’t outright evil but is unsettling all the same.
Tom: Besides focusing on exploring Japan’s first contact with the anisotropic, we get plenty of time with a few lead characters, although we never really explore any of them. Shindo, our expert negotiator who works alongside Zashunina, the alien we’ve come to encounter, are the two who receive the greatest screen time with Tsukai, Japan’s Negotiator, and Shinawa, the eccentric scientist girl, trailing behind. Outside of KADO’s episode 0, which took a great deal of time to explore Shindo’s character, the rest of the series has been far more interested in exploring its premise and plot. This means most characters exist to expose ideas, or progress the narrative in some fashion. While each character does of course possess a discernible persona, the series isn’t interested in exploring any of them, not to the same degree it is with its overall concepts anyway.
Linny: The way the show keeps praising and focusing on Shindo makes me worry he might turn into an all powerful protagonist to an annoying degree, like Itami Youji in the anime, GATE. If you had issues with how Itami became ridiculously good at handling anything and everything to the point of making you roll your eyes, there’s a chance Shindo will share the same fate as he seems to be coming up with solutions to almost everything. Everyone else feels like supporting characters so far, like Tom already mentioned which is a shame since Shinawa, our crazy scientist is such a nice oddball break from the seriousness of everyone else. She also is the only other person in the story so far who seems to have found the solution to a significant development, yet keeps getting relegated to the sidelines. It’s also frustrating that Tsukai, who was heralded as someone who could give Shindo a run for his money is quickly shown to not be as stoic/level headed as him and also pushed to the sidelines as well.
Tom: KADO is a national level, if not global story, focused on the workings of the government, and the population’s response to such a scenario. With that in mind however, international and foreign characters don’t often feature and the few times they do are portrayed as little more than stock power hungry individuals. For example the Russian and American UN council members. It’s a tad disappointing, but speaks to the series’ exclusive interest in focusing on the Japanese perspective of these events.
Linny: KADO could be described as a laid back political drama/sci-fi mystery. While there are of course high stakes introduced ever so often based upon the drama of first contact, they’re quickly resolved or dismissed. If you like such tales to be action packed, constantly tense and fast paced, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you’d like a sci-fi series that lets you put your feet up and mull over a slow and realism based political drama, KADO will keep you engaged.
Tom: KADO isn’t a series you should go into expecting tense drama or dramatic set pieces. The series does have drama, and some tension, but is far more interested in exploring its concept in a methodical and realistic fashion. If you’re on board for a harder sci-fi anime than usual, KADO is a superb watch. But if you wanted something that more closely follows the usual flow of entertainment, with rising tension and confrontations? KADO is best left alone.