When I originally thought of summing up my feelings with both of these series, I decided to do individual looks into why both of them are some of the worst television series I have seen in years. What perplexed me though was after putting myself through 12 episodes of the best both shows had to offer I still didn’t know which one was worse than the other. So instead of dedicating my time to two posts where I will just state that the respective show is not worth the watch as a general recommendation, I thought it might be more fun to compare and contrast what each show did right and wrong. Finding out which show can hold the coveted mantle of my least favourite show of Winter 2017 and a great contender for my worst show of 2017. This will be a biased take on both shows, I will try my best to highlight anything potentially positive but remember that I will be discussing my two least favourite shows of the season. Which one is arguably worse than the other? Which one can I find more positive elements in than the other or will it boil down to, which one can we stomach more?
One Room is a weird show, one that brings about conflicting emotions. The idea of having yourself as the protagonist of an anime is quite the intriguing notion. We all talk about the characters who are so bland they are designed to be characters who are fantasy empowerment/wish fulfillment or practically blank slates for the viewer to imagine themselves as. One Room’s idea of a scripted roleplaying first person direction removing that pesky middle person is fascinating on paper. One Room attempts to take the viewer on a ride through their own personal love adventures in the world they create. Essentially giving the viewer a scripted dating sim with three girls who you watch interact with you. In a way this sounds like the building blocks to even greater ideas, yet this starting step is not at all promising as its idea sounds. One Room forces you into the role of a perverted male adult, one who enjoys looking at the skirts, breasts and ogling just about anything on the female counterparts. Yes, you are the protagonist this show decides you are inserting you with a persona many will not find comfortable with. Particularly when the younger sister is involved…those moments can get weird. There isn’t much of a story to be seen in this show, just a lot of navel-gazing literally and figuratively. An idea that was interesting, but fell flat due to the content it was attached to.
Hand Shakers is a less unique approach to a battle shounen, one that focuses on the holding of hands, commitment and a wish fulfilling ziggurat that every team is struggling to reach. There is no intriguing idea behind Hand Shakers, it is a straightforward narrative with no tricks up its sleeve with its delivery. What drives Hand Shakers forward? A by the numbers take on a genre that needs reinvention or complex elements added to it. This isn’t a nostalgic ride through classic conventions like My Hero Academia or creating complex characters that evolve through unique arcs covering an array of genres like Hunter x Hunter (2011). Hand Shakers does nothing to truly divert your attention from the faults in its basic story structure that creates a pattern noticeable since the second encounter.
To me the superior one is clear, Hand Shakers wins in this category by a landslide. Hand Shakers at the very least attempts to create a cohesive story no matter how blasé it truly is. It manages to create distinct character identities throughout its story and actually progress to a point, even if the point isn’t as effective as it would want it to be. One Room on the other hand lacks competency even in its core concept of “first person”. First person perspectives in film or television or in video games do not have the shot composition that feels carefully planned with weird angles that would be awkward for a human to look from without seeming awkward. If it truly wanted to create a first person perspective, it has too much flash in how it considers angles. There is a sweeping angle from the little sister’s eyes out into the fireworks and that wouldn’t necessarily fly in something trying to garner a first person perspective experience. You are still experiencing things from the third person point of view for many scenes. Many slice of life shows have a point they are trying to make or even progression among its characters by the end of the day, yet One Room doesn’t seem to have any semblance of that. The only aspect that made One Room’s “story” somewhat interesting was its first person perspective and that wasn’t even executed fully. Clear as day, all it wants is to have the viewer self-insert into this world to look at some girls.
Winner: Hand Shakers
I have a problem with this section based on my personal takes of both series. One Room due to its core concept lacks development in its lead, never hearing a word he says but seeing the girls react as though the protagonist said something. The odd feeling of having merely a semblance of what you are saying limits the role you should be engaged as throughout the story. We still know roughly about the protagonist through the shot composition of the show, all the breast, skirt and butt shots. There is an inkling to who this character of the protagonist is. The girls on the other hand showcase small semblances of change in personality or relationship with the protagonist. There is a sense of growing closer to the characters that One Room tries to promote due to it feeling like a dating sim. A dating sim as a concept is supposed to bring together you and another partner into a more romantic setting or just progress one’s relationship with the character.
Hand Shakers is a clearer cut story with defined characters. We know arguably most of the basic motivations, creating identities and goals that each character trudges along in hopes of reaching the ziggurat to make their wish come true. They lay out the direction of the character prior to the fights after the first episode and manage to at the very least delve into why the character desires to have their wish come true. Some are more personal goals, others are more prominent to the story at hand, yet all can to some degree be understandable even if you yourself would never want that wish.
Though after all is said and done, Hand Shakers loses the character section on multiple issues. One Room had simplistic characters that drove their individual plots forward, yet Hand Shakers desired to make itself complex and then strayed into the convoluted area. Where some character motivations are established, many never seem to make much flight or development and some just are more forced or random. The parents accepting Koyori into their home was handled as a passing glance without so much as a discussion. Tazuna only is with Koyori because he has to keep her alive and feels regret yet they lack chemistry beside that one point, particularly because Koyori doesn’t speak and her interactions don’t feel too personal or delve into their relationship enough to make you care. Koyori, a main character of the story, is wrapped up in a convoluted and over the top without much build up of her character prior to that. Making a character have no speaking parts for the brunt of the story is not bad, heck look at the silent film era. Yet what happens to Koyori is that very lack of speech is a deficit to how we as the audience can understand her character. There is not enough emotion seen from Koyori’s facial features or even actions making her character more there as a gimmick than fleshing out to be relatable. One can go into the cast more, but essentially what this comes down to is what is worse. One Room’s simplistic dating sim character cast or the failed complexity that Hand Shakers tried to give its characters. Characters that don’t make sense will never trump characters that in some semblance make sense in the concept they were designed for.
Winner: One Room
The final category is obviously the most difficult one as animation is a strange category to look at for both shows as the pros and cons are nearly too close to call. Both understand the importance of backgrounds with some of their respective shots ending up as a beautiful single image. Yet the very shot composition for both shows makes these shows very hard to look at for starters. One Room has a very hard time not making the protagonist, the viewer themselves, a pervert. The odd angles that defy its own core concept also makes this a far more niche viewing. In a sense it feels like a weird voyeuristic look at three girls of varying ages and varying relationships with the protagonist. Objectifying them constantly as it does so, it isn’t a show that demands popularity nor is it one that is recommendable for the pure essence that its shot composition will at times make people feel uncomfortable.
On the other hand, Hand Shakers has shot composition that will induce nausea. The weird take on angles in combat sequences can at times be too much for the stomach. The angles alone induce a strain on the eyes with elongated passages of mixing in 2D and 3D animation techniques. 3D hallway angles with 2D characters moving through them at breakneck speeds can be hard to look at for a long time. The unfortunate thing is consistently this is a problem no matter the area they fight in, this type of shot is interesting on paper but is consistently put into practice time and again throughout the show. Let’s not forget a lot of random fisheye lens shots in random places while people just wander in front of the shot aimlessly. Why do we need something like that? Hand Shakers uses the worst type of excess, attempting to overuse visual trickery in order to seem “cool” or “unique” and came off as more nauseating and garish.
The nail in the coffin for this match up would be the character designs. Hand Shakers has vibrant and colourful designs for its characters and their respective weaponry. The eyes, the way the shot circles around the hair, even the nauseating angles manage to create unique character movement even if it’s hard to look at. It’s style, hate it or not, is absolutely distinct to itself. It doesn’t hold up on its attempt at flair even if people don’t enjoy said flair. It’s unapologetically distinct, and by some weird understanding in my mind that means something. When I look at One Room and its designs, I think it becomes one of the most forgettable things I have ever watched. The background work is good, but the character designs are bland and uninspired. If you see a picture of one of the girls in One Room and show another bland boring character design for a girl (like from Seiren) to someone who has seen neither, I think they would have a hard time discerning which is One Room without guessing. Once the character leaves the show and another character roles right on it, they immediately fall into a stereotype with not only their mannerisms but their designs. Immediately you can tell who each character will be and that’s not a good thing.
For all the misgivings I have with Hand Shakers’ garish visual aesthetic, there is something commendable about going against the grain even to less than stellar results. One Room comes off as run of the mill and forgettable which will make you forget about its design scheme in an instant.
Overall Winner: Hand Shakers
Even after announcing the winner…it is still surprising to me that Hand Shakers one as I’m still conflicted if there should even be a winner. Yes One Room looks nicer, but it also ruins its one gimmick through that nice shot composition actively working against the show as a whole. I wouldn’t sit down and watch either of these shows again if its any consolation. I just thought that it might be nice to give them their fair shake in a comparison of some of their aspects than to dedicate an entire post to each just tearing into them. I thought I might as well get back into blogging (now that university has calmed down a bit) with something new and refreshing. Of course this is merely the prototype and will be refined down the line with most likely an audio section, but for now its easier to crown a winner this way.
Well this will mark my return to making regular content hopefully…exams are not over but I do want to dedicate time to kicking some life back into my schedule for the blog. I’m hoping to stay on track and actively keeping to a schedule (something I have said multiple times). After reading Seasonal Prattle’s posts about blogging prior to my busy period, it kind of set a fire in me. How strong the flame is remains to be seen. Please go and give Prattle’s content a read, it is quite insightful. Which show do you think is better? Do you think I was wrong with comparing the two? Did I overlook or misjudge something? Feel free to leave a comment down below and don’t forget to have yourselves a great day!