Welcome to the first post in a series I’m putting together, where I go back and rewatch anime that I either rated highly or poorly. The idea came about while I was looking through my watched list and wondering about some series that I hardly remembered watching. I also noticed that I either rated them highly or pretty average. The series that really jumped out at me was Mekakucity Actors, I series that I vividly remember being really excited about, but didn’t really remember much about. Funny how I forgot the story of a series that dives deep into lost and suppressed memories. Over the past couple of days, I decided to sit down and rewatch it and see if it still lives up to the rating I gave it way back in 2014.
Story and Origins
I’m going to keep this as spoiler free as possible, as I try to do with most of my reviews. Let’s start with the origins and where this series started. The original story was created by Jin, the story was originally depicted in a series of songs and light novels, which would eventually lay the groundwork for the anime. Each song tells the story of a different character and a hardship they’ve had to deal with. The anime incorporates these stories and the songs into a fairly cohesive story linking everything together. I’ve heard the story depicted in the anime is kind of hard to follow if you haven’t watched the Kagerou Project music videos or read the light novels, I didn’t find this to be true. While the pacing of the story in the anime tends to be a little up and down, it was still pretty easy to follow. Now, this may be because it’s technically my second time watching the series, but it’s been eight years since I originally watched the series, and didn’t remember much of anything.
The storytelling in the series as a whole is concise, and while it can be vague at some points it still takes the time to explain everything it’s trying to convey. I would describe the story as a fairytale mixed with a paranormal mystery. With it having that mystery feel to it, it’s a series that requires you to pay attention while watching it. There are some twists that could catch you off guard, but the series has a habit of telegraphing it a bit beforehand. A feeling I got while watching it was that it reminded me a lot of the first seasons of Durarara. It has a sense of whimsy and mysticism that drew me into the world of Durarara with a similar effect. It compels you to keep watching to learn more about the underlying plot and the history of these characters, and what’s going to happen next for them. It’s a great story and that alone would make this a recommended title for me.
Art and Styling
The anime was done by Studio Shaft, and if you’ve watched pretty much any of their other popular anime, you know what this series is going to look like. It has everything from their iconic head tilt, the mandatory zoom-in on a character’s face or eyes, and even the minimalistic backdrops that are somehow also super detailed. Putting aside the recurring themes that Shaft uses when making an anime, the overall art style is actually quite distinct. Each character has a style all their own, while maybe a bit dated in terms of their designs when it comes to clothing, it fits perfectly in the world. A lot of the outfits feel very inspired by games like The World Ends With You, as well as taking inspiration from different Vocaloid characters. In typical Shaft fashion, the animation is fluid and the action scenes are great, even when compared to series coming out today. Since I’m keeping this spoiler free, I’ll finish out this section by saying that I could tell the studio had fun creating a lot of the scenes for this anime.
Music and Soundtrack
Now on to my favorite part, the soundtrack. This seems to be a running theme with the anime I review. I guess I’m just really drawn to series that have what are in my opinion amazing soundtracks. Since all of the music was produced and lyricized by Jin, it fits perfectly with the series. Jin is a bit of a legend at this point in the world of Vocaloid so this isn’t much of a surprise. What really brings this all together though, is all the collaborations with other popular artists that provided their talents. I had completely forgotten that Lisa had provided vocal work for an Intro and Outro for one of the episodes. There are also others like Luna Haruna, MARia from GARNiDELiA and they even utilized the IA Vocaloid for one of the songs. Every song in this series either had me hopping and dancing in my seat, or left me feeling it in my chest, it all blends so well into the story. As with some of the other series I’ve reviewed, even if you don’t end up watching the series, go listen to the soundtrack. It’s amazing on its own and I’m sure at least a few of the songs would love to find a home on your playlists.
When I decided to rewatch this, I was a bit scared that I wasn’t going to enjoy it as much as I did when I originally watched it. However I am so glad I went through with it, the series still holds up even after nearly a decade. I’ve fallen in love with the style of the characters and the music from this series all over again. I also believe that watching it a second time has helped me understand the story a bit more, even though I didn’t really remember much of it from the first time. It’s definitely a series I would recommend, albeit to a more seasoned anime viewer. It is a series that tends to demand your full attention while watching. It’s definitely not a passive anime to put on in the background while doing other tasks. The story tends to suck you in though so I don’t think anyone should have a problem with keeping their eyes glued to it. So did the series live up to my previous rating? Absolutely, I’d honestly say my rating and overall opinion for the series has probably improved a bit as well.
Thank you for reading through my review of Mekakucity Actors, I hope you all have a wonderful day!