At first glance I thought I would have loved Shigurui. Reading a few synopses told me it had all the stuff I love: hardcore violence, nudity, rape, hardcore violence, misogyny, and hardcore violence. Even the title Shigurui – Death Frenzy, made me super pumped to watch it. Unfortunately, what I actually found myself watching was anything but awesome. Oh sure, it did have hardcore violence, nudity, rape, and misogyny but the execution was piss-poor. If a series like Shigurui was able to sap all the fun out of great stuff like sex and violence, then what hope is there for it to be good?
The story takes place in feudal Japan, and is told almost entirely in an extended flashback. It features two promising young samurai who struggle to become the next heir of an elite Japanese clan of sword fighters. There is deceit and betrayal, and someone emerges victorious while the other sulks away with hurt feelings. The guy who got butthurt ultimately decides to return for revenge. Telling the story in four sentences makes it sound totally awesome. However, the plodding pace and lethargic narrative absolutely kill any chance the series had of being interesting.
Spreading the tale over 12 episodes allowed the animators to tell the story with plenty of breathing room. Too much breathing room. The story could have been told in half that amount, or even as a single film. There was no need to get the thing all fat and bloated and drag it out so much. It took forever for anything to happen. For example, the entire first episode was two opponents staring each other down while they take up comically stupid fighting stances. I don’t know anything about sword fighting, but I do know that whoever picked the “cool” stance would likely end up dead, while the person who picked the practical one would win. Unfortunately, both assholes pick “cool” stances, and end up looking like retards. A modern day equivalent would be a frat-boy with a popped coller. How are we supposed to take the show seriously when the two main characters act like idiots?
And yes, we are meant to take the show seriously. No one dares crack a smile, not even once; everyone is deadly serious. There is no humor whatsoever. Apparently, humor had not yet arrived in Japan by this time in history. This attitude really works against the series. I frequently found myself laughing out loud at the inanity of this series when it would take itself so goddamn seriously and then do stupid shit.
For example, there is a scene where some dude cut off a lady’s nipple, chopped it in four pieces with his ZOMG SO AWESOME ELITE NINJA SKILLZ, and then played around with it on his tongue for like 20 minutes, slobbering everywhere with rivers of drool. How can you do anything but laugh when you are presented with a 13 year old boy’s idea of “cool shit” in an otherwise ANIME IS SERIOUS BUSINESS series?
Anyway, getting back to what I was talking about earlier, the major problem with the series is the pacing. Most of the time, nothing is happening. It’s like punishment for me saying that Moribito was boring. Shigurui is 500 times more boring than that other piece of shit. Here’s a breakdown of every episode:
- Opening scene shows someone singing a children’s song.
- Fade to next scene of samurai plotting something evil for about 10 minutes.
- Cut to next scene of someone lusting over a girl and wanting to rape her (hold camera on rapist’s juicy, flailing tongue for way too long).
- Cut to next scene of adversaries staring each other down for about 10 minutes.
- Suggest that something interesting is about to happen…
- …quickly cut to a “To Be Continued” screen, roll credits.
That’s it. You’ve just experienced every episode of Shigurui. And it only took a minute to read through all those sentences instead of wasting 6 hours suffering through that boring shit like I did.
Two other serious problems with this series are the music and the brightness levels. The music is hardly there, and many scenes drag on and on without music. Other times the background is filled only with ambient noise, while people blather on about nonsense, or just stare each other down. A more rousing score would have gone a long way in keeping the audience awake. On the other hand, there are very few exciting things happening, so a rousing score would seem out of place. I guess it does fit the series, after all if you are going to have a boring show you might as well accompany it with boring music.
brightness darkness level is totally on a WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY THINKING level. Shigurui is so fucking dark, half the time you have no goddamn idea what is going on. Apparently, sunlight had not yet arrived in Japan by this time in history. It’s dark. Really, really fucking dark. And I don’t mean dark as in menacing. I mean dark as in, there is so little light I can’t see anything. I may as well have been watching this series blind. You can’t see shit. If you’re going to do a TV series, which is a visual medium last time I checked, you should at least let us SEE IT.
Now I’m sure some of you will argue, “LOL BUT BRIK TIHS ANIME IS SUPPOSE TO BE SLOW AND ARTISTIC AND BUILD UP TO SUM AWESOM ACTION AT TEH END LOL!” I’m sorry, but no. Just because something is slow does not make it artistic. It just means it’s slow. Having a bunch of juicy-tongued old men raping their daughters doesn’t make it artistic, it just means it came from Japan. By the end there is really very little “build up.” The butthurt samurai comes back and kills everyone except his nemesis (oops, spoilers!). He kills his enemies with single sword-strokes; there is no action. I realize this is not an “action series,” it’s not Rurouni Kenshin. But they could have at least rewarded us with something after slogging through 11 episodes of nothing happening.
Perhaps most annoying of all is that there is no ending. Shigurui ends where it began: with two douchebag samurai staring each other down. We never see the resolution of their fight. After all that, after suffering through so much boring shit, after receiving such a grueling lesson in patience, there is no conclusion. Things remain unresolved. A little reading led me to discover that this series was based on a manga (which was based on a novel) which has yet to be completed. That explained why they didn’t animate an ending, there isn’t one. You know what? They should have just made up an ending. Who gives a shit if the story isn’t completed? If they were going to cop out like this, then they shouldn’t have made the thing at all. They should not subject us to one of the most brutally boring anime series ever created to not even humor us with the promise of an actual fucking ending. Total bullshit. It’s not like people are going to be clamoring for Shigurui 2 – Another Lesson in Patience. Just end the fucker, so we can all move on with our lives. Everything about this series was bullshit. Fuck you, Shigurui.