A girl whose sister was murdered. Killer rampaging robots. The occasional dystopian horizon. Gynoid prostitutes. Rocket boots and Suzi Wongs. And a quick lesson on how to make spaghetti.
If you have no idea what any of this means, welcome to the world of Karen Senki, a new anime by Next Media, a Hong Kong firm better known in the West for making weird animated news stories than for making anime. Nevertheless, they’ve decided to branch out into animated entertainment outright based on fiction.
Too bad it doesn’t work.
I’d tell you what Karen Senki‘s about, but quite honestly…I’ve no clue, after watching the first episode. Closest I can figure out, Karen had a sister who died in a robot apolcalypse, she lost an eye, and now she’s busy playing Magnus, Robot Fighter. Somewhere in it is her contact, a guy named Jack who runs a “recycling company” and his as-yet unnamed “girlfriend”, who is actually a gynoid prostitute. in between that, there’s a lot of explosions and “Rule of Cool” action.
The animation is done in “CGme” style, which relies on pre-existing rendering programs to create the animation (another example of this is the anime-style series RWBY.) So far, it’s been my experience that most shows that rely on the CGme style are heavy on the awesome and light on the storyline, so they’re much like Michael Bay with a copy of Poser. Karen Senki is no different. It also doesn’t help that many CGme shows rely on pre-existing movement macros and pre-programmed paths, making the characters look odd and slapping everything straight into the Uncanney Valley. And, sadly, no character is immune from this, not even Karen herself.
Other than while not trying to be mistaken for a game trailer, Karen Senki has great production values (for a CGme show, the art’s much cleaner than the first season of RWBY, which debuted at the same time), and the action is paced very well - the show knows how to use its Rule of Cool allotment. Unfortunately, however, even in a visual medium, you still need a story - and this series so far doesn't seem to feel the need to display one. Again, comparing RWBY, the story started to develop and the story well carries the low production values. It's sad it cannot be said the same here.
PRO: Action's great, nice design
CONS: Story is optional; CGme-style is definitely jarring (especially if you're a user of Poser or DAZ Studio)
INITIAL VERDICT: This is definilely no RWBY