Inuyashiki: Last Hero – Robot Wars the Anime
Finally, I’m back with an anime review. Quick note, my former anime review style has now been changed to better match my typical review format. This review was a long time coming, Inuyashiki has been on my watch list for the longest time, and finally I have completed it. Inuyashiki is a 2017 anime that follows Ichiro Inuyashiki as he tries to become a hero after finding he has new found powers. All the while trying to foil the vile Hiro Shishigami, another robotic individual who uses his powers for horrible deeds. All I can say about this show is that it is beyond amazing, lets get into why. (Read all my other anime reviews by CLICKING HERE)
The show is in many ways a satire of society and the types of evil that exist in it. The show criticizes the youth of Japan, depicting them as self centered, violent and obsessed with vapidity and material gain. This is likely to accentuate how out of his element Inuyashiki is, having to protect a world where the worst blight comes from the youth that will carry it into the future. The show explores so many aspects of the human condition and always ties it back into the theme of cynicism and satire. Crime syndicates, online trolling, the obsessive news press and many other societal aspects that are known to bring misery are all explored in this show and it is beautifully crafted storytelling. In terms of the actual plot the story is primarily split into two separate narratives that only occasionally cross over. One side follows Inuyashiki after he awakens from an accident to find he has a robotic body and unbelievably powers. His story is one that is really sweet and you root for him the whole way. The other side follows Shishigami who uses his newfound powers to commit dreadful acts all to fulfill his own putrid design. His story is one you don’t support, but you are 100% invested in, determined to see what sordid action he’ll commit next. Both plots converge towards the end of the show, and it’s a satisfying meetup because we’ve had time to see both characters and their different views on the world and their powers. I won’t spoil the ending, but believe me when I say it brings everything full circle and while it may not be satisfying to some, it’s most certainly one that I believe is a fitting end.
- Ichiro Inuyashiki: or as I like to call him, The Pensioner Avenger. The protagonist of the story, Inuyashiki is perhaps one of the nicest lead in any anime period. He’s such a well meaning man that you instantly fall in love with him. His predicament and frankly miserable life makes him a character you want to see succeed and make himself better. From the get-go you see how his life is truly underappreciated, his family doesn’t respect him and he has weeks to live with his cancer. When he gets his new abilities he shows all the signs of a typical budding hero. However it isn’t as cut and dry as you’d expect, he initially fears his powers and it’s not until really late in the show that he decides the full capabilities of his new body. The way he uses his powers is also interesting, using them on the different groups of people I mentioned in the story description. His willingness to do whatever it takes to do the right thing is a fabulous quality to have in a protagonist, and it’s made even stronger by the fact that this is coming from an old man and not a fresh faced young person. Inuyashiki is a delight to watch, he’s funny, kind, determined and always willing to do the right thing, even at the cost of his own safety, a stand out protagonist.
- Hiro Shishigami: And now for the exact opposite. The antagonist/deutagonist of the show, Hiro’s arc is one rife with death, destruction and psychopathy. Hiro is a despicable villain, he’s right up there with some of anime’s worst villains in my opinion. But why is this? It’s simply because Hiro doesn’t care. It isn’t until he and Inuyashiki finally meet at the climax of there series he begins to display any sense of regret for his actions. Hiro is a stone cold murderer and you despise him every moment he’s on screen. He murders innocents, tortures victims, and even kills hundreds at once. They could have very easily made him a mad cackling type villain, instead he’s deadpan and calm, which makes his acts of murder seem colder and him seem more detached from reality. Hiro displays the most dreadful powers he and Inuyashiki possess, leading to some creative and dreadfully creepy moments, long story short after episode 6 I now leave my phone with the screen facing down. You constantly scramble to look for any shred of humanity in Hiro, and when you find it, you really want him to hold onto it, the things he goes through really make you want to sympathize with him. However, at seemingly every turn his humanity is shredded and you’re left feeling sorry for him, but not in a sympathetic way, in a hateful way. His story does come to a somewhat redeemed end, but at the end of the day he remains a frightfully good villain, cold, uncaring, yet delusional in how those he protects view him, Hiro was definitely one of the shows many highlights.
- Naoyuki Ando: Hiro’s friend and Inuyashiki’s confidant, Naoyuki is a character you really do feel sorry for. His world is completely turned upside down and he’s left at the end of the series, frankly a broken man. All Naoyuki wants is for normality to resume but he knows deep down it can’t. One thing I like about Naoyuki is that he shows sizeable growth throughout the series. His alignments change from Hiro to Inuyashiki, but only to save Hiro not defeat him. He also helps Inuyashiki come into his own as a hero and helps him with his moral compass from time to time. Naoyuki has it worst in this show in my opinion, his best friend’s a murder and he’s forced to turn on him for his own good, I have a lot of respect for Naoyuki.
- Additional Characters: There are a few more important characters, but not important enough to actually have a full section about them. Mari is an ok character, but she doesn’t really factor that much into the rest of the plot. In fact, many of the additional characters barely contribute to the actual story or events that transpire. The only one that does anything important is Shion Watanabe, a girl who acts as Hiro’s moral compass and instills this sense of false righteousness in him. She’s an ok character but she turns her head to Hiro’s acts of murder and it gets pretty tedious.
So overall, while the side characters don’t factor that much into the plot, the main characters are wonderfully complex, ranging from likable to downright detestable and everything in between.
I cannot get over how gorgeous this show looks. Coming out of the same studio that did Yuri on Ice, Kakegurui and Banana Fish, it looks like it’s animation straight out of Ghost in the Shell. The expressions in this show are beyond spectacular, so much emotion can be felt in these characters. Inuyashiki’s wrinkled face conveys so much thought, care and kindness and adds so much to his character. Close up shots really add to the emotions these characters feel and the show really loves its ugly crying faces too. The animation switched between 2D to 3D renders from time to time, usually when showcasing the robotic parts of the two protagonists, and surprisingly it isn’t too jarring since you’re too busy invested in the movement. Speaking of the robotics, the attention to detail this show has on the robotics is fabulous, so many small parts and components are seen and each one builds on the overall look in an amazing way. The show has a very subdued colour pallet, which lends itself to the somewhat hopeless and pessimistic tone of the show, as well as the faded and dull persona’s of the main characters. The combat, while scarce in this show, is done wonderfully, it’s dynamic, the action is fluid and the abilities showcased work so well in the 3D style. There’s also some level of graphic gore, but it’s never tasteless and only helps to add to the viciousness of these characters and their robotic abilities. The opening animation is also done wonderfully, close up shots of the robotics, surreal imagery and an absolutely kick ass song by Man With a Mission, and we have an opening you’ll find very hard to skip listening to, The image below should sell you on the animation as much as it did me, I mean just look at how amazing this looks!
The Themes Explored and Social Commentary
I already touched on the themes in this show, but I think they need a little bit more elaboration to truly appreciate. I think the ones many viewers will find the most jarring and intense is youths and internet trolls. The satire of Japanese youth (and just youth in general) is only in one episode, but it is a major turning point because it’s what propels Inuyashiki to using his new powers. The youth in this show is violent, selfish and dreadfully mean-spirited, meant to highlight the misguided ways of modern youth and their lack of responsibility and care for those other than themselves. The internet trolls episode is the one I find the most interesting because it goes into vivid detail about the scope and power of internet trolls. It showcases the worst effects of such grievous acts and it helps to add to the humanity of Hiro, whom the trolling is directly influenced by. But you may be wondering, is this social commentary forced? Well yes and no. On one hand it isn’t ham-fisted and forced like some modern media and its social commentary (I’m not naming names but I’m sure some people known what I’m talking about). But on the other hand it is a very common reoccurring part of the show and in many ways it what forces the episode it’s in to get started. I’m one of the people who likes to look at social commentary in media with an open mind, and hope to learn something from it, so long as it isn’t forced and unnecessary I don’t really mind it. Inuyashiki’s social commentary is that of a sordid and twisted view of the world, and it’s really interesting to see such an insight into these groups of people and have it be done in a way that leaves you hooked.
- Story: 4/5 – The story seems to follow two parallel paths that wait just a tad bit too long before they properly converge, but other than that, the satires, structure, terrifying tension and dramatic scenes make up for it in a massive way.
- Characters: 4/5 – In spite of most of the supporting cast serving very little purpose, the two main leads are wonderfully crafted characters. Inuyashiki is wonderfully likeable and Hiro is such a despicable villain you find yourself sucked into both their character arcs.
- Presentation: 5/5 – This show has incredible animation. The expressions are spectacular and covey so much emotion. The combat is fluid and have so much dimension. The show’s a joy to observe.
- (Unique Grade) Theme Exploration: 4/5 – The commentary on society this show presents is quite interesting and a very unique insight into the world around us. In many ways, it can be seen as an elderly person’s view of culture, what with violent youths and streets ridden with crime.
- Final Grade: 5/5 – Inuyashiki is a wonderfully dark show. It has great animation, great characters, great music, interesting themes and ideas and a premise so bizarre it works like a charm. I highly recommend this show if you’re looking for a dark and deep anime to enjoy.
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