A fantastic series, though not for everyone
Dorothea | 06/23/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen this entire show in Japanese, therefore I can't comment on the DVD extras or dubbing.
Saiga, the main character, is a famous photographer who has spent most of his professional life taking pictures on the war front. It's made clear from the beginning that taking pictures of death and destruction turns him on. However, after getting injured, he is forced back to Japan by his boss. He gets bored in Japan, taking pictures of politicians, etc., until he discovers a secret club and becomes involved with the club's "goddess."
The following may be considered spoilers, although I'll refrain from giving away any of the serious surprises. The club's goddess is a beautiful and abused high school girl named Kagura.
Her genetic uniqueness is only explained towards the end of the series, but she has the ability of granting certain individuals their deepest "desires". These people are referred to as Euphorias. For example, a professional dancer gains the ability to bend and stretch his body however he wants. Saiga, who is passionate about taking photographs, gains the ability of making anything he photographs explode (wouldn't that suck though? he can't take pictures anymore...well he doesn't seem to mind). He rescues her from the club and the two of them end up on the run while Suitenguu, the club's leader, sends Euphorias after them to bring her back.
Some people criticize the art, but it's not that bad either, and the characters are great. They're well developed, well-drawn and at least in Japanese, the voice-acting is terrific. Suitenguu is by far the best villain I've encountered. In my opinion, toward the end of the show he completely upstages Saiga.
The show has some flaws. I almost stopped watching during the first episodes. The scenes of what goes on in the club aren't exactly graphic, but they're still sexual and a little discomfiting. NOT something to watch or recommend to people who aren't already into this kind of anime. There's also some very bad Engrish spoken in some of the early episodes. The engrish gets a little better though, as the show progresses. Even if you don't like it right away, you should watch at least through the first three or four episodes before making a decision.
Fans of shows like Berserk, Gungrave, Basilisk, Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist, Gantz or Bleach should definitely check this show out. Despite its flaws, it's one of my favorites. It takes a little while to get into, but it's well worth the effort. Did I mention that Suitenguu is the best villain EVER?"
Good Mature Story, Shotty Animation
Antonio D. Paolucci | Beaver Falls, PA | 07/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Speedgrapher had my attention since the moment it was announced to have been acquired by FUNimation. I knew it would have the type of story that would appeal to me, that being dark and mature, and it was made by the company that has become my all-time favorite anime studio, GONZO. Now, after seeing this volume, I will say I'm a bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong; Speedgrapher wasn't bad. It had everything I expected of it, minus one thing, that being the animation. Unfortunately, that could be an important factor for a lot of people.
The art (the cover of the DVD) for this anime is misleading, like those cheeseburgers in fast-food restaurant commercials. It makes the animation in Speedgrapher look about five times better than it really is. To be completely honest, the animation itself wasn't even that bad: it was like a mix of Burst Angel and Gankutsuou. It was only bad when the characters were moving. They lacked fluidity and every action seemed a bit choppy. It looks like something made in the early nineties with a mediocre budget.
The story, though, is really what carries the anime, so I was able to put the bad animation behind me. Speedgrapher is about a photographer named Saiga who is aroused by death and destruction when seen through his camera lens. As a war photographer he got all of this he wanted, but when the war stopped and he was sent back to city life, he lost his interest and became embittered with the dark dealings of the city of Tokyo. However, during a paparazzi job, Saiga discovers a beautiful young girl named Kagera who inadvertently grants Saiga a wish he never knew he wanted, and that is the power to destroy with the flash of his camera. Yet he also gains something else from this girl: a muse. Unfortunately, Kagera is the idol of an underground club that caters to all of the rich folks' ugliest desires. In order for Saiga to save this girl he must become a target of some of the most powerful men and women of Tokyo. But for his muse, Saiga is willing to do anything.
The story mixes a bit of the carnal with a lot of bloody violence and comes together okay despite the bad animation. Saiga and Kagura, the two main characters, have just enough flaws, idiosyncrasies, or whatever to be likable, and the bad guy, though ridiculously dressed, presents enough threat to the characters that the conflict seems genuine. Not a perfect plot yet, but it's still early in the series and things begin to head in a good direction by the last moments of this volume.
As for the box set, I would have to say that it's only worth it if you're a perfectionist. At forty dollars you're not getting too much. The three art cards are only a littler bigger than playing cards, and the contained art book is thinner than what I'm used to getting from FUNimation's other releases. In fact, besides the collector's box, the one thing I actually enjoyed the most was the box that kept the DVD in place. It's surprisingly artistic and I now use it to hold other swag I got from other anime in the past.
Now, for the DVD. FUNimation is well-known for putting everything possible into a DVD of release of their anime. Speedgrapher 1 is no exception. While it contains a lot of the anime norm (previews, text-less credits, art gallery), it has an interesting cast audition feature that lets normal folk get a glimpse into the world of voice acting. This DVD also contains a preview of GONZO and FUNimation's next release, Basilisk.
I'm going to say this:if you like the flashy animation that has become common in most modern anime, you're won't like Speedgrapher. The animation is dull and the character models are generic. But if you like classic anime as well as new stuff, the animation in this won't bother you at all. Also, if you enjoyed GANTZ or Elfen Lied, consider this the next best thing to those dark and mature titles."
Twisted and weird
Michael Valdivielso | Alexandria, VA | 12/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Speed Grapher, the first disc, really gives you lots of images, flavors and lots of background story while never slowing down in the story itself. I happen to be a fan of Monica Rial so I really enjoyed hearing her in another different character.
The story is very much for adults, I would say some adults might not even be able to handle it. Lots of sexual suggested scenes (hints of bondage, S&M, extra) and some very interesting bad guys. To say the least.
Twisted and evil, most of this world is a darker copy of ours. Take all the greed, hate, passions, trash, mix it into Hell on earth and you have Tokyo in this setting. The rich get richer and the poor get to serve the rich. If they are lucky.
Action, romance, camera gun makes for an awesome story!
Beth | Arkansas | 11/24/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you enjoy twisted stories than this is for you. Add a little (kinda) loli-girl romance and a dude that can blow stuff up with his camera b/c of a wicked case of pink eye, makes for an interesting story."