First/Second Impressions Digest – Re:CREATORS, Atom: The Beginning

Re:CREATORS – 02

Pitch meeting for Re:CREATORS:

“Here’s the idea: all of the worlds from light novels are actually real, and the characters come to life.”

“So it’s a horror story?”

Re:CREATORS is a modestly interesting series so far, and competently produced with mostly 2-D animation.  Those are definitely points in its favor.  But more than with almost any show of recent vintage, how far it can do depends on the perspective of its creators.

My problem: but I don’t see evidence there’s any actual critical observation going on when it comes to the subject of the light novel industry.  My suspicion is this is going to be to LNs what Shirobako was to anime production – a well-made, loving whitewash of what’s wrong with the industry. If I’m proved wrong, it has a chance to be quite an intriguing show. Maybe a bigger fan of Black Lagoon than I could tell me how likely that is, since Hiroe Rei is presumably the creator who’s going to set the direction for this particular fictional world.

If you’re of a mind to be interested in the minutiae of Isekai LNs and the myriad yet oddly monotonous character tropes that inhabit them, Re:CREATORS should have plenty to scratch your itch – it definitely takes the trouble to get the details right.  But if Hiroe and Aoki Ei actually want to dig beneath the surface and really exposes the raw nerve endings underneath. Re:CREATORS could actually be something significant.  Light novels weren’t always the creative wasteland they are now – there was once much more to them than virgins going to alternate worlds inhabited by busty female warriors and mages.  The democritization of creation is a good thing, in theory, and LNs have certainly done more to promote it than any other medium.  But the system is broken now, and badly, and it’s dragging anime down to the bottom in its undertow.  Whether or not Re:CREATORS want to acknowledge that – and explore what to do about it – will determine whether it’s a series worth following or not.

Atom: The Beginning – 01

I confess to being neither an expert on Tezuka Osamu’s “Astro Boy” franchise, or an especially rabid fan (historically it’s of huge importance and it’s very worthwhile, but IMHO not the master’s greatest work).  But I know enough to recognize the names and faces here – Ochanomizu, Tenma, et al.  And I know that the prequel manga Atom: The Beginning – co-written by Tezuka-sensei’s son – is not generally considered to be on a par with the original material.  Apart from that, I come into this series pretty much unspoiled and unbiased.

My take on the premiere – co-produced by Production I.G. with Oriental Light and Magic and Signal.MD – was that it exceeded my expectations.  I found it to be thoroughly entertaining and well-produced to boot.  There are some strong people involved here, like co-directors Sato Tatsuo (Mouretsu Pirates, Nadesico, Ninja Scroll) and Motohiro Katsuyuki (Psycho-Pass and – interestingly – the Ajin live-action movie).  Animation Director Ito Hideki and Character Designer Yoshimatsu Takahiro and big-time industry heavyweights, too.  Any time something this close to Tezuka canon is adapted, there’s a sense of dealing with anime holy scripture – and Atom: The Beginning seems to have been handled with a good deal of respect (and a decent budget).

Did the world need an origin story for Astro Boy, Dr. Tenma and Ochanomizu-sensei?   Well, I don’t know – the temptation is to say that if Tezuka didn’t think so then the answer is no.  But I’m not sure I see any harm in it, especially if the rest of “Beginning” is as good as the first episode.  I thought the way we were introduced to Atomu’s hero “genetics” – through his preventing a terrorist attack at Mecha World – was rather elegantly portrayed.  I thought the character designs really popped, too – faithful to the mythology without seeming intentionally “retro”.

It’s easy to see why this mythos is the primordial soup of modern anime – one can perceive the origins of so much that would come later in this archetype.  And it’s rather exciting to watch that play out in more or less new material, as long as that material is good – which it seems to be, at least so far.  I’m not going to write Atom: The Beginning‘s name in the stars based on one good episode or anything, but it did do more than enough to instil a good deal of optimism for what it might be capable of.

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6 comments

  1. A

    Well, just a reminder that the 4 known fictional characters in Re:CREATORS so far are from LN(with anime)x1, games x2, and anime x1. And the narrative so far isn’t anything about industry. So it’s not just about LN, and is not what you expect it to be or what you wish to see.

  2. s

    That wasnt really his point; it was more towards the fact that while the focus of the show is to indulge in the fantastical idea of having characters from nerd culture enter the real world and the ramifications of it, the show also seems to be making a bit of meta-commentary on certain aspects of the genres and mediums in which these characters come from. It seems more like enzo’s desire is for the series to not just point at these tropes and then just repeat them, but rather highlight them and turn them on their head

  3. To some extent, yes. But really, I just think it would be nice if there was a critical look at the way these choices in fiction reflect on those who create and consume them. But it seems like Hiroe has basically said he wants to do an anime “Last Action Hero”, so it sounds like a given that’s not really going to happen.

  4. s

    yeeeaaaa dont hold your breath; although i will be the first to eat my own words if the series does decide to explore any sort of critical outlook on the people who create fiction

  5. K

    Is Re CREATORS based on actual light novels?

  6. No.

    But the “main girl” comes from an in-universe light novel which was adapted to an anime, and it also happens to be the most popular show of the season.

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