Anime Review: Senkou no Night Raid Episode 2

(Originally published on Livejournal on 6/17/10)

Anime Review Second Chance:
Senkou no Night Raid Episode 2

tl;dr review: The Sakurai Kikan suspects a Russian violinist of passing secrets, and must discover his methods and stop him before it’s too late.

About The Series: Shanghai, 1931: As tensions are building up to full-scale war, a group of four secret agents, the Sakurai Kikan, are tasked to gather intelligence and go on special missions in support of Japanese military. However, these are not any ordinary agents; included in the group are a telepath, a clarivoyant, a teleporter, and time-manipulator. It’s high espionage set in one of the most turbulent times in the region’s history.

In This Episode: A second assignment for the four members of the Sakurai Kikan, as they are warned about a Jewish-Russian violinist visiting the city for a special performance. Due to his associations, he is suspected of passing secrets. In order to try and find out how, Yukina goes undercover to receive a special lesson as a ruse to touch the violinist (which is how she can sense others’ thoughts). Ultimately they learn he has hidden the secret message in the notes of his concert performance, and arrive just in time to pull the plug on the live broadcast. The violinist/spy, unburdened with his secret exposed, completes the performance for no other reason than the love of his music, then commits suicide.

My Thoughts: As I had mentioned earlier, out of all of the series that had given the thumbs-down for the Spring season, I decided to give Senkou no Night Raid a second chance. Originally I gave the first episode a marginal thumbs-down, although in retrospect that might have been due to it not meeting up to expectations (it was one of the more anticipated shows of the season). Unfortunately, even with my newly-lowered expectations, this show…it disappoints. Setting aside the story for the moment, it’s quite clear that they have the B-team working on the animation. The quality of the animated movement is clunky and disjointed, and some of the perspective shots are so wonky and poorly drawn that it was actually distracting to watch. I was not expecting the show to be visually sub-par…but there it is.

Now, turning the story itself, that is also nothing special. The actual mission itself was nothing special, and quite pedestrian as far as spy stories go. But the mission was not really the point of the episode; rather, it’s all about providing a vehicle to help introduce the characters a bit more in-depth. Lots of talking and not a whole lot of action, and nearly half the episode was taken up with flashbacks to the various characters’ past. We learn a bit why Kazura is reluctant to use his powers, and Yukina lost her brother to a patrol that went mysteriously missing. To be honest, not much was explained at all, and several more questions were opened up for future episodes.

Well, I had been told this show takes a sudden turn and gets better later on, but I don’t know if I can last that long. I realize this particular episode was setting up for the future, but there’s only so much sub-par boring stuff I can sit through to get to the good stuff. I’ll stick it out a bit longer, yet I’m not hopeful.

The Verdict: – color me unimpressed.

Up Next: Episode 6 of Arakawa Under the Bridge and The Tatami Galaxy.

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