A school tragedy has led Shintaro Kisaragi to drop out of high school and take the life of a Hikikomori, or a shut in. He was content to live this way for the rest of his life, until one day he opened a strange email and downloaded an artificial girl by the name of Ene into his computer. Much to his chagrin, she finds pleasure in annoying him an making his life miserable. But on one hot summer day, he is forced to leave the sanctuary of his home in order to buy a new keyboard. It is on this day that he meets a group of kids, who call themselves the Blindfold Gang, who all posses strange eye-related super powers. What is the story behind these powers and how does this power connect to Shintaro's past?
Mekaku City Actors is a 12 episode anime directed by Akiyuiki Shinbo and produced by Shaft. The series began as a series of Vocoloid music videos created by Jin (also known as Shizen no Teki-P) which initially became popular on the video sharing site, Niconico. After it's third video Kagerou Days, reached over 3 million views and subsequent releases gained enough of a following, Jin began to release a series of light novels. With six volumes currently released, the light novels tell the complete story, elaborating on character interactions and developments that the music videos didn't have time to cover. As an added bonus, the songs themselves were put on several different albums which were released along with the novels to the general public. There was also a manga adaptation which eventually lead to the anime adaptation, Mekaku City Actors. The series was aired from April 12 and June 28 of 2014.
|The title image of the song "Kagerou Days".|
When I was introduced to the series through a close friend, I didn't know what to make of it. “Kagerou Days” was the first of the videos I saw and being the sensitive person I am, the disturbingly dark story the song covered really confounded me.
How and why was this so popular?
Through my friend's constant insistence that the videos would get even better, I begrudgingly watched more. Happy to find there were a few more light-hearted stories in the various albums. But what really started to draw me in wasn't the tone of the song's story, it was that the more songs/videos came out, we would see characters from the other videos were connected to each other and trying to tell a cohesive narrative. Kinda like a rock/pop opera.
|Image from the PV of the Kagerou Project song, "Children's Record"|
That being said, I would still say this is a series that should be seen at least once. The story, while not being adapted in best way it could, is still very compelling and the characters are fun to watch. It is a shame that there couldn't be more time devoted to their development but what the show has is good enough to hold an audience's attention. The music and animation are well done and I admire the artistic direction, even if it isn't 100% successful. It may not be perfect, but Mekaku City Actors is a good excuse to stay inside and escape the summer heat wave.
Mekaku City Actors is available for streaming on Crunchyroll. The Vocaloid videos can be found on Youtube.