Anime Review: Senkou no Night Raid Special: Demon of the Opium Den

Anime Review:
Senkou no Night Raid Special: Demon of the Opium Den

What this is about: Watching all of the anime shows so you don’t have to! For more information about me and my reviews, click here for details on what I am reviewing.

Series Premise: Senkou no Night Raid, or “Night Raid 1931” was an original anime television series that aired in 2010 as part of the Anime no Chikara programming block. Set in the volatile city of Shanghai in 1931, a paramilitary group called the “Sakurai Kikan” with special powers carries out their espionage that could change the course of Japanese history. In addition to the 13 regular episodes, there were four specials, including this one, “The Demon of the Opium Den”, released on DVD in September, 2010.

Click on the thumbnails below to view the picture in full size in a new window:

Really Quick Episode Summary: The team investigates an opium den, and Yukina enters one of the patron’s minds to find out more. However, she soon discovers she has become lost in the memories of the opium user, and the boundary between what is reality and what is memory becomes blurred.

My Impressions: Some more house-keeping where I am going back and cleaning out some of the older anime episodes I’ve have sitting around in my “to watch” queue forever, including extra episodes/specials for series that I have already completed.

One of the more intriguing bright spots of 2010 was a special team-up between Aniplex and TV Tokyo called “Anime no Chikara”, intended to help bring about fresh, new, original anime programs to television. But it appeared to be very short-lived; after three seasons of lukewarm reception (with Sora no Woto, Senkou no Night Raid and Occult Academy), it was put on indefinite hiatus, and more than a year later nothing has changed.

One of those shows, Senkou no Night Raid, was initially quite controversial because it tip-toed around one of the touchier subjects in Japanese history, with the country’s “relationship” with China before World War II. I watched the first episode, was unimpressed, gave it a thumbs-down. Then some months later, decided to give it a second chance and watched it all the way through. Sure, there was some pretty heavy stuff in there about Japanese imperialism and nuclear development, but it was muddled up in a complicated plot and a deus ex machina ending, often sacrificing small-time stories which developed the main characters (where the show excelled) for grand sweeping world-changing plot devices. Ultimately, I ended up giving Senkou no Night Raid a tepid C grade, not worth recommending.

Returning back many months after the fact is this one-off episode that falls somewhere in the middle of the story, and is totally unrelated to the larger plot of the series. “Demon of the Opium Den” focuses almost entirely on Yukina as she falls into the hazy world between what is real and dreams, finding herself playing the roles of other peoples’ memories, until finally reaching a point where she’s unsure of what is her own memories and what is not. Frankly, I found it all somewhat confusing (like a dream itself), but mostly inconsequential — I was left wondering “what is the point of all of this”? I don’t mind DVD extras like this, but at least there should be some point for the episode even existing. But perhaps the worst sin of all was it was really boring — it is never a good sign when you are repeatedly checking to see how much time is left until the end to come.

Even if you’re a fan of the series, there’s really no reason to watch this, unless you’re a hardcore completist and have to watch everything related to a series. Much like Senkou no Night Raid itself, this special is just not worth the effort to track down and watch.

The verdict:


    Sampling of Online Reviews:

    • “No conclusion is reached and what passes for a plot made so brief an appearance as to be effectively non-existant. Despite that, I have to rate this episode an 8 also for not candy-coating history. Worth the time to watch, in a Grave of the Fireflies sort of sense” – My Anime List
    • …That’s pretty much the only review I could find.
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