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Smile for the camera...

  • Dec 23, 2009
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Pros: Catchy soundtrack, well-rounded character development, character designs, satisfying conclusion, imaginative fight scenes and "Euphoric" powers, fitting English dub, mature themes.

Cons: Animation is sub-par in some areas, the "final battles" near the end are too short.

Plot Summary: Please see the Wiki article to the right for a summary of the plot.

Review Body:

I'm usually not one for gratuitious sex, violence, and nudity; in fact, I really hate it. More often than not, these things add nothing to the story, but in Speed Grapher's case, they are the story. Speed Grapher explores the concepts of decadence, gluttony, and greed and the effects that they can have on an entire city (in this case, Tokyo). What's more is that the series explores these concepts without ever becoming preachy. Instead of having the main character, Tatsumi Saiga, attempt to go against the disgusting ways of the upper-class for his own vindictive and self-righteous reasons, Saiga instead struggles to rescue a young girl from the pleasure-seeking clutches of said upper-classmen. The ideas of these "seven deadly sins" then serve as obstacles to Saiga's quest, rather than as the entire story. At first, the idea of people acquiring special powers after receiving a kiss from a girl deemed "The Goddess" sounds silly, but the series provides scientific explanations futher on in the series, and this unique premise makes the series all the more interesting.

Speed Grapher's character development is, in my opinion, the series' strongest attribute. The two main characters Saiga and Kagura are, naturally, explored in the most depth, but the supporting characters and even the antagonists are explored as well. The main antagonist, a wealthy man by the name of Suitengu, is a fascinating one, and it becomes difficult at certain times to hate him, and at others, difficult to like him. On the one hand, it is understandable as to why he performs the malevolent acts that he does, while on the other hand, his actions are condemnable because he is also hurting the lives of innocent people in the process. He is given realistic motives for his actions, as are his "henchman". Overall, every character in the series is motivated by something, and all of these motives are revealed throughout the series. In the end, I even came to like characters that I had not originally cared for (such as Hibari Ginza, the police captain), because they either changed throughout the course of the series, or were given a backstory that helped me to see them in a different light.

I will admit that the animation in Speed Grapher is sub-par when compared to other Gonzo releases such as Last Exile, but it didn't detract terribly from my enjoyment of the series. The character designs are unique, but there are times when the characters' faces look a bit awkward. Despite its serious themes and dark undertones, Speed Grapher is a surprisingly colorful series. There are times when the background animation is rather lackluster, and characters often stand in one place, not blinking or reacting, when another character is speaking. The fight scenes are imaginative and do not rely on recycled footage, but there are several times when, during a fight, the series jumps to another scene, probably to avoid having to animate a fight scene, which would undoutedly require more time and energy.

The series' soundtrack is one of the best I've heard in quite some time. While the soundtrack consists of only a few pieces that are repeated throughout the series, that was something that did not bother me, because I found these songs to be rather good. This is one of the few series where the background songs are just as memorable and catchy as the opening and ending themes. The songs are also played only when appropriate, which is effective in setting the many moods of Speed Grapher. The series has one opening theme and two ending themes.

There are times when the awful situations that Kagura is subjected to made me both angry and sickened, but that is, of course, the point of the series. The series' conclusion was satisfying in the sense that all loose ends were tied, and the outcome of each character was revealed. My only complaint is that, for a twenty-six episode series, the build-up to the climax (the "final battles", if you will) was rather strong, yet these battles were a bit disappointing in that they were over very quickly.

All in all, Speed Grapher is a mature series that uses the "seven deadly sins" as a means of enhancing and telling its story, rather than to simply preach to its viewers. The series is a character-driven one, and instead of having the characters act as tools that simply drive the story along, the story is instead comprised of all of the events that happen to the characters. I would recommend it to anyone in search of a mature anime series with incredible character development and a sometimes fun, sometimes beautiful soundtrack.

Smile for the camera... Smile for the camera...

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January 24, 2011
Excellent, excellent review! You really captured the feel of this series which I have recently become interested in seeing it looks fascinating.
December 26, 2009
I need to re-visit this, because I don't believe I've seen the entire thing because I stopped in the middle. I really enjoyed your review, you captured a tone to it that is just attention-getting! Nicely done.
December 26, 2009
Thank you. This was a pretty good series. Wrestleanimaniac wrote a review on it once that was part of the reason why I became interested.
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My user-name was derived from the title of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. I came to Lunch with the hopes of publishing reviews that would be appreciated by others and reading the reviews of others that hope … more
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About this tv show


Speed Grapher follows the exploits of former war photographer Tatsumi Saiga, who investigates a secret fetish club for the ultra-wealthy called the Roppongi Club. He tries to photograph the club's "goddess," a 15-year-old, exploited girl named Kagura, but is discovered. As he is about to be killed, Kagura kisses him, granting him the ability to destroy anything he photographs. Saiga soon discovers that Kagura's body fluids, like her saliva, can give people bizarre abilities relating to their secret desires, fetishes, and obsessions. Club members strive for the honor of becoming "gifted" via Kagura's power. Saiga soon becomes entangled in this secret underground society and the powerful and corrupt Tennōzu Group mega-corporation that operates it. He attempts to free Kagura, a move that puts the two of them on the run from the Tennōzu Group and blood-thirsty members of the club with bizarre and often horrifying special powers.
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Genre: Action, Supernatural, Crime Fiction
Studio: Gonzo
Original Air Date: 4/7/05 - 9/29/05

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