This is what I’d expect the typical anime about androids to be. Oh, my bad — they’re hIEs. That’s not to say that the first episode of Beatless is bad or poorly-made, but it’s just chockful of “animeisms.” It’s shaping up to be the sort of series that is a hard sell for non-anime fans. You’ll call out to your friend and say, “Hey, check out this cool, futuristic TV show about androids and how they should be treated like people!” But then for the next hour or two, you’re sitting there, trying to explain to them why things are the way that they are, and the only real answer is, “Well, it’s anime.”
First, the hIEs aren’t just attractive. They’re sexy combat units, and they each have their own unique abilities. We’re not just talking super speed or super strength. One of the girls can apparently rain mechanical flower petals from the sky, which will cause electronics to go mad. There are even five of them to choose from. One, two, three, four, five — count them all. The main character gets to own the last one — yes, own — but you can pretend that one of the other four is your waifu if you so desire. Just use your imagination. Basically, it’s very anime. Are there male hIEs? Probably, but we haven’t met one yet. In this opening episode, five sexy female hIEs have escaped from some research facility. Somehow, one of them decides to bind herself to the main character and live in domestic ignorance. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
Second, this will be a quick point, but I’m not a fan of cryptic openings. It just seems like a lazy way to hook viewers in. Oooh, gotta keep watching so I can find out what these early scenes are all about!
Third, the main character is yet another generic, boring high school boy. Arato has to go to class, has to do homework, yadda yadda yadda. Oh yeah, he’s got a cute imouto who he practically has to raise on his own, because as expected, their parents are nowhere to be found. Ho-hum. It’s not that a high school boy’s perspective can’t be interesting. It’s that a high school boy’s perspective is practically all we ever get in anime. Nevertheless, Arato is apparently very special because he is seemingly the only person in this entire world who is compassionate towards the hIEs.
Which gets us to my last point: the show’s message is incredibly heavy-handed. C’mon Arato, these hIEs are just tools! They ain’t got souls! Arato is such a nice boy, however, that he’ll even help an old woman cross the street… but wait, the old woman already has an hIE to assist her. So who exactly is he helping? The hIE? Why would the old lady need two people to guide her across an intersection? As you can see, the show’s message often gets muddled. Yeah, we should treat hIEs better! Even if they’re soulless, we should see them as people! Stop discriminating against them! Buuuuuuuut I’m still going to own one and have her serve me dinner and tea. Like what?
Early in the episode, Arato compliments a hard-working hIE, but one of his friends protests: “Don’t get the wrong idea, Arato. She’s just programmed to work that way.” I can’t help but think the same about Arato. In one of his early memories, he saw people operating on an hIE. He’s obviously grown up with and around them. Can we really commend the main character for being kind towards hIEs when the compassion he exhibits is merely due to having an advantageous upbringing? Wouldn’t he be the same as either of his two friends if he had had a normal childhood? The reason why his friend does not praise diligent hIEs is because he associates work ethic with free will. You can only be commended for your hard work if you chose to do it. If you were merely programmed to be dedicated to your job, then how is exactly are you commendable? So let’s turn that around on Arato. Is he nice to these hIEs out of his free will? Or he is simply predisposed to such behavior due to his past? Maybe I’m being too hard on the kid — and it’s not as though I dislike him already — but this is the sort of question that Beatless should strive to answer if it weren’t so busy serving us up a bevy of color-coded android waifus.
Again, nothing in the first episode suggests that Beatless is bad. But nothing suggests that it’s good either. It’s about as average as they come.