A confession – I really shouldn’t have watched this week’s Hunter X Hunter before watching M3 (or any other show). But the fact is I didn’t want to wait any longer than I had to to watch that, and as a result I had to psych myself up for quite a while before finally queueing this one up. It’s not really fair and I’ll be the first to admit that, but that’s not to say a premiere can’t still make an impression – if it’s good enough. But I’m not sure this one was.
I wasn’t really sure what to make of M3 going in, and with names as big and styles as distinctive as Satou and Okada, it’s not easy to go in without preconceptions. Neither one of them are exactly what you’d call specialists in this genre, and to be honest I think that shows through in the premiere. It’s not bad or anything, but it plays as if it was put together from a kit rather than built from scratch. There’s a very prefab sense to the way the plot and characters are introduced, the characters themselves, and the way they interact.
In truth, no one really made an impression on me in the premiere except Hazaki Emiru (Hikasa Yoko) and that’s because she was so annoying. All of the other students turned test pilots else are pretty featureless. The most interesting part of the episode for me, in fact, was the pre-open featuring what I assume are those boring teenagers as scared children with darkness closing in around them – but it was mostly downhill after that. There are nice stylish touches by Satou-sensei and the music is quite good, but not much else that’s really distinctive. There might be some possibility in the notion of the monsters being the souls of dead people who retain their human emotions, but I don’t see a lot of reason to think M3 can tease it out. There are still a couple more cast members to be introduced, so perhaps they’ll inject a little life into things.
It should also be pointed out that this is strictly from the bargain-basement side of the Satelight production spectrum – lots of really bad CGI and animation and art that’s old-fashioned but not in the charming way. It’s the same basic look that helped torpedo Arata Kangatari (a very good manga which surely deserved better). This is a weird studio – everything they do either seems to look really great or incredibly cheap, with nothing falling in-between. Any time a show is announced as late as this one was (and it was the final premiere of the season by a wide margin) you always need to worry about the production schedule and budget, and whether the project was really thought-out as it should have been. The early returns aren’t promising, but there were a few glimmers of something interesting hidden amongst the blandness – I’ll give M3 another week to see if it can do something to catch my interest.