I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I hate that Hiro can kill people through technology. It is one thing for him to kill people with his finger guns. Maybe his robotic body is shooting out highly compressed air, invisible beams of energy, or whatever. But the fact that he can snipe people through smartphones and TVs is just a step too far. I’m taken completely out of the story; the immersion is gone. Now I’m just watching an overgrown baby throw a tantrum. That’s arguably what I’ve always been watching, but I had hoped for Inuyashiki to lean a little more on the science fiction side of things and less… y’know, pulpy trash. Of course, who could ignore the whole “oh no, smartphones are killing us, but we can’t live without iiiiiiit” moralizing? God, I rolled my eyes super hard when Ichiro’s son said he might as well be dead without his phone. Haha, I get it. We’re slaves to technology, and it’ll doom us all. I don’t mind the lack of subtlety, but the show isn’t just blunt about it. It’s downright stupid. You can’t warn us against technology, then have the villain kill people through magic. Sorry, that doesn’t work.
Plus, doesn’t this version of Japan feel a little odd? The entire nation feels so goddamn blase about this entire situation. Hiro literally kills 100 people in cold blood. He even murders a popular anchorman on live television, and yet, there isn’t a nationwide panic. Mari goes to Shinjuku and merely remarks that the streets are emptier than usual. Speaking of which, why on earth would Ichiro’s wife even let their kids go to school? I sure as hell wouldn’t! There’s no sense of urgency, and nothing about the atmosphere feels right. The authorities are more than likely looking for Hiro, but we don’t get to see it. We don’t even hear about it. Hiro promises to kill 1000 people next, and what do we see from the good guys? We see Ichiro at his fucking day job. He’s scanning “sound waves,” but what if there’s no warning? The only person we see actively searching for Hiro is Naoyuki, a teenager with no powers whatsoever.
The only scene from this week’s episode that I kinda like is when Hiro somehow appears in front of Shion. Once again, it feels a little too magical, but whatever. It’s not as bad as magical bullets that somehow materialize over smartphones and TVs. The girl begs him to stop his rampage, but he refuses. He won’t stop until he kills all 120-odd-million inhabitants of Japan. Well, he’s going to have to step up his game, because at 1,000 person a day, it’ll take him hundreds of years to get the job done. But I digress. Shion feels that she can’t get through to him, so all she can do is cry. All Hiro sees, however, is his mother, which triggers him. He proceeds to bring down a plane, crashing it into downtown Tokyo. Maybe Shion could’ve saved those people if she had made a deal: they can run off together if he stops killing people. But that’s a big responsibility to put on a young girl. No one can expect her to try and keep a serial killer under control. The only quibble I have with this scene is that, of course, Shion is in her school uniform and on her way to school. No matter what the situation is, we always gotta fulfill our duties!
The way I see it, the show bit off more than it could chew. If Hiro was just a serial killer who went from house to house, killing innocent families left and right, then we could have a taut psychological thriller. Ichiro has to team up with Hiro’s best friend, and the two of them try to do the impossible: get inside the mind of a serial killer. It’d be one long and tense cat-and-mouse game between a young man with no empathy and an old man with too much empathy. Certainly, this is not a fresh and original concept. We’ve seen this sort of thing before in plenty of other mediums and formats. But still, if you execute it well, no one will even care that you’re treading somewhat familiar territory. It’s not every season that we get an anime series about serial killers anyway. But instead, Inuyashiki turns Hiro into a supervillain. He’s not just killing families in order to feel human. He’s now going after the entire country of Japan because they drove his mommy to suicide. The intensely personal, psychological focus has gone out the window. The victims have gone from scared, innocent families to blubbering idiots. Some of them can’t help but find Hiro hot and cool. He’s no longer a monster that we can’t understand. Instead, he’s become this one-dimensional embodiment of teen rage, lashing out against a derisive and scornful interpretation of contemporary Japan.