I understand that there may be some who have not seen this anime to completion yet, but I have waited over a week to write up this entry. Spoilers will be here, as is usually the case when reviews are written.
Holy shit. Going into the Spring season of 2014, I was almost certain that Captain Earth would be the best thing ever, given that it was BONES doing a spiritual successor to Star Driver, but I was wrong. I never knew about the Kagerou project before Mekakucity Actors (henceforth MCA), but now I’m so invested in the universe that I don’t know which version of the story I like best.
The Kagerou Project was, at first, a bunch of animated videos set to songs performed by Vocaloids, and told a very good story – so good that a series of Light Novels and a manga series followed. People in Japan ATE IT UP, and due to the Vocaloid lovers around the world, the series quickly picked up steam. SHAFT very well could have destroyed the series by making a bad adaptation, but they didn’t do it. This post contains my uncensored feelings about the character Shintarou. I was originally going to do an over-arching review of the series, but I don’t think I can look at it fairly at the moment – I’m too in love with it.
The Show’s Synopsis
MCA is the story of a bunch of teens that have special powers that emanate from their eyes that get together during the summer, with no real purpose (at first). Eventually, the “main character,” (if you can call him that, given the importance of everyone to the story) Shintarou, beings to remember things that nobody else seems to, becoming aware of a time loop. Together these teens work to stop the time loop and save the world from the “Snake” that is granting them wishes.
Shintarou: Great Character, or BEST Character?
Shintarou is, quite possibly, the best character that I have seen in anime for the past few seasons, and is on track to being the character that feels the most “real” as far as emotions and actions go since Kuroki Tomoko from Watamote. Why?
– He doesn’t “Shinji”
The act of “Shinji”-ing in anime is attributed to main characters that have the power to change something, yet refuse to do it due to their own selfishness or lack of self-esteem – first done by Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Shintarou had every right to be scared and upset in the first episode, but instead of simply giving up and potentially dying, he attempts to save everyone and take out the gang that had Shintarou and others (later to be revealed as the Mekakushii Dan) held hostage for something as petty as money – but I digress. Shintarou’s selflessness and want to survive gave him the ability to do what was necessary for everyone’s safety, and he didn’t give any excuses as to why he couldn’t do it. Bravery is not something that is attributed to NEETs, but that heroic factor gave him a ton of points in my book.
– He is not looking for TnA
Too many times in anime, a series with a serious first episode will deviate into a harem or bring in unnecessary, smothering romance into the plot, taking away from the show. Sure, there is some angst with Shintarou losing the girl he loved (more on that later), but that is not his only character trait.
– His pain is your pain
While watching, it is hard not to feel extremely bad for Shintarou, especially because he is deciding to move on despite feeling that he is responsible for the girl he loved dying. Yes, that’s right – Shintarou believes that he caused Ayano to commit suicide, and that is why he became a hikikomori / NEET, and also why he seems so cold and calloused sometimes. He takes the weight of the events on his shoulders, and it isn’t really until the end of the story that he understands what happened, and sort of forgives himself for it. The reason this ISN’T something that I dislike his character for is due to the writers making his feelings FEEL genuine; when the story introduces the elements that explain his story, the reasons are plausible. Also, he carries on in spite of his feelings, and helps the Blindfold Gang stop the time loop and save everyone.
– He has faults
He is not perfect, he is not a male “Mary Sue,” and he makes stupid decisions. However, HE TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS DECISIONS (zomg!). This, along with the other reasons, causes him to feel like a normal person, and not just an anime character.
I would not change a single thing about Shintarou after seeing MCA to its completion, because I believe he is the oil that greases the wheels of the series, and is a great commentary about how everyone should persevere and move on with life, because life is what you make of it, and the future is not ever set in stone.