If you haven’t already been converted to one of the most underrated anime this season, and yes, I’ve actually picked up a couple of them now after Attack On Titan, KADO: The Right Answer is definitely worth your time, and I suggest you go watch it before reading the rest of this post. I’ve been able to look past the RWBY-esque CGI animation (not necessarily a bad thing) to find a really great story hidden here.
Well, it might not be for everyone, I mean, there’s only a few people in the world, me probably included, who would follow with gleeful interest the inner workings of a public service office and the professional relationships between teammates and their clients that this show proudly shows off in its rather wonderful first episode, but if you’re like that, then you’re right at home here. The skill with which our dashing main character negotiates a better future for a number of factory workers to create an even better metal, the heartwarming story of an old government minister trying to make sure his friend has a good retirement, how could that not be the most enthralling thing you’ve laid your eyes upon?
I’m not sure if I’ve gone into self-parody there to protect the opening paragraphs from spoilers there, because I had mixed feelings about that first episode. Sure, it is genuinely the sort of stuff I find unusually interesting, the workings of government and people coming together to find good solutions for everyone, that’s why I believe in politics and democracy, but I don’t think I’d have fully continued with the show were it not for the abrupt change in genre (nearly almost always a good thing) that came with the last minute of episode 0. A cube appearing out of the sky and absorbing the aircraft with our main characters on it, as they head off on vacation, that is the cherry that convinced me to carry on watching it.
What happens beyond that is the world first reacting with bemusement and then action. It’s not quite the political maneuvering you see in shows like House Of Cards, mostly as any political animals are too stunned to play the game. But the government is pretty uncharacteristically willing to give Shindo a blank cheque on becoming the negotiator for Yaha-kui zaShanina and the negotiating and science team for examining what it is, but the consequences for how each new development affects the world is very well thought out, the difficulty of eventually moving KADO, the real reaction of the rest of the world to Japan coming into the possession of unlimited energy, the ramifications of that and later, Sansa, on society, it’s all been explored rather well so far.
More than most anime do, it puts me in mind of Star Trek. It starts with the soundtrack, while most anime have J-pop, the whole of KADO’s soundtrack, even the opening and endings are these grandiose soundscapes that you get so familiar with that they come to represent the show for you more than anything else, a technique that Trek used in the 90s to perhaps controversial overuse, when the same tunes would accompany everything from a holodeck recreation of a Shakespeare play to a scene in Ten Forward to entering an alien city hall. But that technique is effective for establishing yourself as a serious show, which KADO does and the themes are very prominent throughout.
The other reason it reminds me of Trek is that it puts characters that are competent in their jobs up against a ‘new frontier’ kind of sci-fi, and more specifically, puts the questions of utopia to the test, which are present in Trek as humans there already have the infinite energy that was the first thing offered by zaShenina . Up to where I have watched, including the latest episode, key among the themes of the show is ‘how will humanity react to these developments’ and while we haven’t gotten many concrete answers, just natural filling in the blanks on discussions, energy for all means less jobs required and eventually lack of starvation and all humanity able to live comfortably, once terrorists and dissenters are dealt with (which does open up another question, will these developments just make it easier for those at the top to control our population, I may follow that up), it has a lot of care done for how the word and technologies are first disseminated, through our main cast, the release of information is very consistent with how this situation would occur in the real world and the wider implications are mostly beyond our character’s needs. In any case, each step on the part of the humans feels very realistic. Mostly, the genki scientist girl is a little overbearing but one unrealistic element makes the anime more realistic, it can’t all be men in suits.
For zaShonina, he’s an enjoyable alien presence. A true alien, who has to learn everything about human society and rules from scratch, and effectively a blank slate given our incomprehension to what he truly is, not God, but one of the many all-powerful beings many dimensions above our own. zaShininia is could be a completely classic alien were he in a well-regarded Hollywood film, his motivations are unclear from thinking completely differently to us, he’s exceedingly hard to read and that makes him so watchable. Particularly as he’s gotten more sinister in the last few episodes yet you don’t know whether he is meaning to or has a completely different morality or is just testing new possibilities out. He (zaShunina, to get his name correct, finally) the star of this show, with a high quality straight man in Shindo to play off of.
The most recent development in the anime is another twist that’s changed the direction I thought this was heading, which I am always on board with and gives a new role to a character I was warming to as last episode she gave an impassioned argument that almost convinced me to Ludditism. And it’s an anime subverting my expectations and I am really looking forward to the final episodes.