The prolific Gonzo unleashes yet another new anime series on the world. The remit this time is a little different to the typical stylish, flash-bang grenades Gonzo usually delivers. Speedgrapher, with its themes of corruption, innocence and decadence is clearly aiming for something little more adult. Ironically, and is all too frequently the case when writers aim for ‘adult’, they tend hit the slightly lower target of ‘screamingly adolescent’.
Speedgrapher strikes this portion of the target a little too frequently: decadence is a cigarette rolled from a hundred (thousand?) yen note, sex is women in advanced stages of nymphomania and homosexuality involves mincing the like that has not been seen since English sitcoms of the early seventies.
Once you get past these jarring representations, Speedgrapher does deliver some direct emotional hits. Up front the female lead Kagura appears to be an alumni of the anime heroine finishing school of ‘passive’, and ‘innocent’. However, the abuse she receives at the hands of her mother makes her introverted behaviour completely understandable. And when Kagura’s high school teacher attempts to redress the issue, the outcome is so far out of left field that when writing this review, I was left staring at my monitor attempting – and failing – to come up with a location geographically further out.
The other winning feature of Speedgrapher is its villains. Utilising the monster of the week formula, Speedgrapher injects real verve by making its villains absolutely outrageous. An early villain – and I’m struggling to describe this – wears a leather ‘posing pouch’ on his nose to protect his heightened sense of smell. (The fact that it is worn in public and draws no reaction is also persistently amusing). Speedgrapher’s, ‘freak of the week’ is so consistently bizarre and perverse that I kept watching, ‘just one more episode’, to see what bizarre twist they’d come up with. And I was never disappointed.
Speedgrapher is a combination of hits and misses. Its misses are clichés and stereotypes that jar with its bullseyes of way-out enemies and situations. By my scorecard it is Speedgrapher’ successes that make Gonzo’s series a winning package.