Revisions – Anime Review
Synopsis: When Shibuya time-warps to 2388, high schooler Daisuke and his friends are conscripted by AHRV agent Milo to fight the hostile cyborg race, revisions. (Official Netflix Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Revisions attempts to deconstruct the self-assured/arrogant/destined with a hero complex protagonist that can be found all across anime. Daisuke is the kind of high school boy who believes he’s destined for greatness, in part because a strange woman named Milo saved him and his group of friends from a horrible child kidnapper who nearly snuffed Daisuke out. Milo told Daisuke afterwards that he was destined to protect everyone, sending the boy down a path that made him craft his entire life and persona around that very idea. Years later Shibuya is transported to an apocalyptic future and Daisuke’s destiny begins to unfold. It’s up to him and his group of friends to pilot the String Puppets and protect the residents of Shibuya.
Revisions is at its best when its setting up Daisuke for a fall, challenging the very idea that he’s some ‘chosen one’ destined to save humanity in its most dire hour. When exploring the other characters that make up Daisuke’s friend squad, showcasing the way they’re struggling with the situation, and Daisuke’s self-obsessed attitude, Revisions shines. Exploring the turmoil of having Shibuya transported into a horrific future where abominations, known as the Revisions, seek to consume the citizens as fuel, keeps you coming back. When the series teases loftier ideas, twists and mysteries you’re sucked in, eager to know what happens next. But the unfortunate truth between all the incredible things Revisions gets right, there’s so many places where it drops the ball.
Daisuke himself is great when he’s being confronted, but boy does his character take some getting used to. Daisuke spews familiar lines of “I’ll protect everyone!” or “It’s my destiny to protect everyone!” So often you’ll wonder if you accidentally rewound the episodes without realizing. In a way this can be charming, turning Daisuke into a walking gag whenever we’re not directly challenging his character. But whenever Daisuke isn’t being confronted concerning his hero complex it’s up to you decide whether his familiar dialogue is annoying or comical and that can be a real deal breaker early on, especially as Daisuke isn’t truly challenged as the hero he sees himself as until really six episodes in.
Revisions offers a cast considerably larger than Daisuke himself. Characters like Marimari, Lu, Gai, and Keisoku are all important to the story, acting as the rest of Daisuke’s squad, all children of destiny too, the only ones capable of piloting the Mecha known as String Puppets, the single weapon that has any effect against the Revisions armada of monsters. They face their own demons, and each one of them feels varied enough that no one feels useless. But as interesting as each of these characters are, the show isn’t able to balance their stories alongside Daisuke’s journey and the series’ more general developments. Revisions is bloated with interesting ideas, characters and the like, but 12 episodes is hardly enough to do them all justice. This story, told over 12 Episodes, really needed at least a handful more, if not an entire second season to flesh all of the various strands and characters out.
Revisions keeps the plot moving. Near every episode ends with a surprise development, or little niggle to send the story in a new direction. In this way the show really keeps the entertainment flowing. There isn’t an episode that feels useless or unneeded. There’s little filler that doesn’t at least try to serve the themes of the series and what fan service we get is so short that it can’t be listed as either a bonus or a negative, depending on the viewer. But in this way the series struggles to make its grander ideas pan out. Mysteries and surprise developments feel unearned at times, a handful of lines of dialogue meant to justify a sudden, near end turn of events that feels borderline out of the blue. It’s in places like this where Revisions feels crunched for time. This damages the conclusion significantly too, sending Revisions out on a lukewarm note, rather than a high.
There’s elements that are dropped entirely in favor of rushing to completion. For example, when Shibuya is first transported to the future Daisuke and his classmates are shocked by the ruin they now see outside the city limits. Rushing to the school roof they’re soon attacked by one of the Revisions behemoth monsters. In this moment their teacher/counselor succumbs to her fear, and in escaping from the roof locks the remaining students outside, leaving them at the mercy of the monster. This teacher survives the encounter, and in seeing Daisuke become a hero she becomes attracted to him. This leads to a uncomfortable, but interesting twist where she tries to seduce Daisuke, coming in at the most opportune time as Daisuke has found his hero complex now challenged several times. Her coming onto him seems to boost his own delusions, but outside of this brief interaction nothing again comes of their relationship. This makes these interesting, if uncomfortable elements feel like they’re there entirely for shock or sex appeal, rather than building into the challenging of Daisuke’s character.
In fact, this is where I begin to wonder if Revisions wasn’t revised itself. At episode 11 the series takes a sharp turn and in some ways the writing feels much less tight and well-thought out. The time travel shenanigans become contradictory, and characters who seemed beyond willing to forgive Daisuke turn around on a dime. It almost feels like the series course corrected away from a much darker ending. By forcing a happy ending, the subversion of Daisuke’s character doesn’t quite go far enough, and if you’re someone diving into the series despite finding Daisuke’s repetitive dialogue annoying, the ending doesn’t really justify your efforts.
Still, as hard as I’ve been on the series there’s a lot to love. Outside of a lukewarm ending the series still boasts a solid pace, frequent twists and turns, interesting and likable supporting characters, and more. The series excels at action, offering plenty of monster vs. Mecha content. So as not to keep things too dark, perhaps setting the show at least sort of in line with the ending, there’s lots of little comedic bits to lighten the mood and take away from the dire atmosphere of this horrific future. The comedy isn’t awkward either, fitting snuggly in between the series’ darker elements, always acting as a way to relieve the pressure rather than break the tension.
Ultimately Revisions is a worthwhile watch, especially for Mecha and Sci-fi fans. I wish I could sing the series far more praise, but its forced happy ending conclusion dampers my love for it and leaves me feeling unsure of the Second season tease offered at the end of the final episode. The journey was fun, but its ending made me wary of following Revisions along for a second time.
Revisions is available for streaming via Netflix.