It’s time again. Time for some more slow Goro Taniguchi drip onto this blog for the year. This is the second time that I’ve watched this series and I am glad I did. Especially since my first time was not as positive of an experience as this time. That was almost ten years ago at this point and it came about from Discotek licensing it. I think that is because this is a hard one to really nail done the first time perhaps. It really is a series that is hard to really hone in on because there are a lot of things going on in each episode all the time. That does and doesn’t go against it depending on one’s personal tastes.
Speaking of personal tastes, this feels like a very large personal project for Goro Taniguchi himself. Besides perhaps Planetes and Maria the Virgin witch, a lot of how these characters are written to a lot of sort of Otaku references that Goro obviously enjoys and just general writing style and ideas can be found in s-CRY-ed. So this series is a good taste tester for something like Revisions, ID-0, Back Arrow, Gun x Sword, Active Raid, and a little bit of Code Geass. The other series are very different with how they are executed and don’t really line up with Goro Taniguchi real passion work. At least it is like that in my own mind.
The World of s-CRY-ed
So now it is time to say some things about what s-CRY-ed is about. What is it? Well, in a lot of ways it feels like the anime version of the first three X-Men movies perhaps. Ever since an event in this show’s timeline a few years back, people with special abilities called Alters started appearing. Also, the Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo broke away from the mainland which created a lawless zone of citizens away from the rest of Japan. It is called the lost ground This is the true area of land that these people call alters come from. An organization called Hold with its alter unit Holy seeks to re-civilize the population of the Lost Ground once again.
That is the main lore behind s-CRY-ed and the main conflict. The native Alters and Holy are at odds with each other in this very wild west sort of gunslinger environment in Japan. There is a lot of thought into this lore just to get the show to work and I love it honestly. Some interesting contemplation between our main protagonist Kazuma and his right fist based Alter power coming from this lawless zone of the Lost Ground vs the much more lawful Ryuho who comes from a rich family and his very stand like Alter Zetzusei. Each one the supposed leaders or representatives of both sides who also carry their values on their sleeves.
Kazuma and Ryuho
The dichotomy of this series between the two is very good. Kazuma who is barely surviving every day, yet happens to be one of the most powerful people on the lost grounds is an anime classic sort of thing, but really shows the nature of how the strongest person can come from anywhere. Mixing that with Ryuho who is a rich boy shows how that perspective can make it so someone can be so detached from something they have always had. Yet, the two are similar to each other which is why their battles are so relatable. The closer to how you are to another person, the more likely you are going to fight. Their relationship really is the best part of this show for me. You know, even if other side characters add some intriguing things.
The other characters, side characters, are interesting and flesh out the world more, but they are very much polarized by Kazuma and Ryuho. Kanami Yuta is a cute girl that grounds Kazuma and has alter powers, but she is more like a narrator to the story. Mimori is another female character, with a rich background, that does a lot of the investigative work with Holy/Hold and eventually just plays the narration role too or is there to add some conflicts. Almost all the female characters are like that too. Either playing specific roles waiting for drama or not much else either. A lot of the male cast does that too, but there isn’t a powerful female Alter user that fights alongside them at all, it’s a fighting anime focusing on mainly men.
The one non-alter user that did affect the story in a major way was Kazuma’s pal Kimishima. He is the guy that gave Kazuma jobs to do in either fighting alter users or solving crimes across the Lost Grounds. He drove the jeep to get Kazuma places and even rounded up some alter uses when Holy started their deeper push into the Lost Grounds. Or saved Kazuma from Hold when he was captured so he played heavily into all of it. You can say that the show literally changed with Kimishita, so he had the largest range possible for it too. His appearance is the difference between the first half and the second half. I say that without saying some obvious things.
The First Half vs The Second Half
S-CRY-ED’s first half of the story and the second half are so different and yet similar. The first half is everything that I described already. Kazuma fighting against Holy and Ryuho. All great and episodic things while learning more about Alter powers and the beyond in a very Full Metal Alchemist kind of way. The pacing of this show is fast and yet it never completely feels like that because the exposition is good and simple followed by some really cool and dynamic fighting scenes with cool powers. I do think episode 6 could have been the halfway point because it does end when Holy invades the Lost grounds and changing things and Kazuma and Ryuho in the middle of a cliff hanger, but I am glad that it pushed forward more in some cool ways.
This also feels like a lot more of the fun half. Especially with how the powers work because they are based on the Alter users’ convictions and ideals. The stronger the conviction, the stronger a person’s power will be. Also, each Alter power is attached to their user’s stories too. Some are clear anime references like one user was dressed as Kamen Rider and his Alter is basically Exkaiser from Brave Exkaiser. I mean, they can’t say that, but the way it’s animated shows it. This is the beginning of Goro Taniguchi just putting classic mecha references into some of his shows. A very honest but clearly good first half.
I have to say though, I love the dynamic sort of turn arounds that appear in the second half and it’s believable that it could happen like that. A new person from the mainline shows up and messes up the Hold vs Lost Grounds dynamic which leads to Ryuho and Kazuma working together. There is some amnesia that goes around considering how the powers worked, but it makes sense and no character ever feels wrong. If anything, it helps to further emphasize how Ryuho and Kazuma are similar even if Kazuma still has a bit more gar and Ryuho is a bit reserved. They build off of each other’s energy in great ways that feel natural.
More Details of s-CRY-ed
S-CRY-ED carriers all the simple but cool character designs into some really nifty fight scenes. Great displays of powers and there is some stock footage, but they are good and dynamic. Definitely have the right place and right time for them in the most powerful moments of music and story connection. It is camp, but camp that you want to see. Plus, the style and movement of each fight scene is just so kinetic and visceral that you want to have more of that. You know you are going to get hype for those moments. If you didn’t then I don’t know if it would be possible to really enjoy this series as much as one could. Or maybe it’s still possible but that would be some interesting circumstances for one to like this series anyway.
Another thing that I have to mention, even if I don’t do this a lot, is the score of s-CRY-ed. It’s a very dynamic and wonderful score. It starts with the opening, Reckless Fire, that is full of this awesome Latin Jazz and just feels so hot blooded because Latin Jazz is very hot blooded. It also starts with making the show feel so distinct. The show is littered with these awesome Latin Jazz music for Kazuma, more classic score for Holy, and just a mixture for in between. It really is a show that can live and breathe on its awesome score like Infinite Ryvius. I suppose they were created by the same people so that would make sense.
So yeah, I really liked s-CRY-ed a lot more this time around. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen more Goro Taniguchi series by now and I understand his style a bit more and it’s awesome seeing where it all began. Or maybe because it’s a good series and I wasn’t in the right mindset when I first watched it. Either way, I had a lot of fun with it. It is such a fun mixture of so many cool things that even when it’s clunky, it’s enjoyable. It has that wild west sort of thing with super powers that a lot of people can say exist, but this is a unique spin on it. Plus the rivalry between Kazuma and Ryuho just fills the entire show with a good energy. It’s a good show. That’s all I need to say.