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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Random Month: Skullman the Animation Review

I will take another look into an anime series, but this has a much closer connection to Toku. This is Skullman and if you know your Kamen Rider well you will know who started the character. Skullman was a one shot manga that soon was continued by a new author Kazuhiko Shimamoto. The next step for this series was an anime adaptation in 2007. Now I have seen both mangas of Skullman and I completely love it. If you love tokuatsu you will easily like the one shot and the seven volume series. So what does the anime series do, well we will find out.
The series begins an actress who is running for her life. Soon the man with a skull mask appears before her. Hayato Mikogami a journalist hears about the actress and she is dead. Strange thing is that they are reporting it as an accident, but he knows that it was murder. This soon leads him to go back to his hometown and look for the urban legend of the man with a skull mask. He is soon tailed by Kiriko Mamiya a female girl who inspires to be a photographer. The two explore around the city as Hayato visits his father's grave and meets a friend of his father's. He has heard about the Skullman, but he only believes it to be a myth since there are way too many variations of the rumor. Still Hayato decides to continue his search. At night the two rest at Hayato's old house as the police are escorting a woman somewhere. After a hijinks moment Hayato gets kicked out of his own house. He walks around again and when it hits midnight things get weird. Hayato finds a man panicking and when he tries to calm him down he gets hit. The man is much stronger than the usual person as he sends Hayato flying straight into a vending machine. The man continues to run as he is being chased by dog like creature. Hayato sees this and goes to see what is happening. Soon the man is attacked by two of these dog like creatures and soon the Skullman appears. When Hayato gets to the scene the man has been already killed and there he sees the Skullman. There are thirteen episodes as the series continues with the mystery of who the Skullman is and why he is committing murders. The series is pretty gory, but the first episode doesn't have that much. If you want a suspenseful mystery then this could be for you. Now there is a prologue episode that is in live action format. Sadly I couldn't find it, but I do know of a certain actor played the main role of Skullman.
Pros- As I said the series is has mystery and suspense and it works well with those elements. The big mystery with who the Skullman is pretty good with a good amount of possibilities. This actually ties with the original story as the police suspect it is the past Skullman who has come back from his grave for revenge. The animation is pretty good as it goes with a basic format, but there are some very nice touches of nice details here and there. The animation also mixes in the artwork of the one shot manga at times. The series even has nice references to the author's other works in some good ways. The Skullman himself looks very impressive and his fighting style is great with him giving a finishing blow by the knife he hides. The action is another good thing, but I think the action got a whole lot better closer to the end. Going to that, when the series hits it's climax point it gets very good. Things get really serious and it leads to a great ending. Overall the mystery works well and with nice action there is a high amount of suspense.
 The series does make a connection to Cyborg 009 and I liked it even though it doesn't count.
Cons- The main characters are average at best. Hayato is good, but in the beginning not a lot of things jump out about him and the same for Kiriko. Both do get better as the story continues, but their scenes can get boring to watch at times. The other characters who appear in the series really are just in to die and with some it works, but most of them its just you feel no good connection to them. Even though I do like the ending parts of the series it is a complete turn around. The series begins with suspenseful elements with action at the end and then that completely changes with much bigger fights. I do like it, but I would rather see more parts that were more relaxed. With some good references the series can get pretty obvious if you know the material, but then it wouldn't work for people who don't know what is being referenced. Another thing that bugs me is how cliche it can get at points. It's mostly big anime cliches and for something like the Skullman it didn't feel right. So the characters are kinda bland with some just around to die, but at least they get better as the series continues. The series does have a slow start, but give it time and it will get you at times with some really well placed scenes.
 Oh yea there is one obvious one too (Forced Love Interest!)
Overall- If you know Skullman this could work for you or not all. For me I rather not have some of these cliches, but at least the pay off is good. You can find episode of the Skullman on Youtube thanks to the Anime Network as they subtitled it and they're good. I do think there are little goofs here and there, but the subtitles won't miss anything big. So I give this series a C+ it has really good parts, but other elements really bring it down a lot. I would lightly recommend the series, but for a better experience go with the one shot or seven volume manga series. Now question time I have put good hints and this should be easy if you do some searches. Still what connects the Skullman to Toku? Also for the final week I will take a look at the one shot manga series.

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