Time for me to watch my first anime of the year. I wonder what it is, I think to myself. When we decide who reviews what in the season, typically we make it a random lottery thing, although mix and match a few so that no one ends up with too many shows airing on the same day. Anyway, my first anime first impression of 2019! It’s a brand new year, so I wonder what anime I’ll be greeting it with? Haha, remember how in 2017 the first show I saw was Hand Shakers? I’m so glad I never have to think about Hand Shakers again – not since I gave it the award for worst anime in the 2017 Moeronpan Awards and then used it as a yardstick to measure bad anime against. Yes, it sure is a good thing that there is absolutely no way I’ll ever have to watch anything Hand Shakers related ever again. I mean, first of all, there’s no way it was remotely popular enough to even get another season, and even if it did, we don’t do First Impressions of sequels and prequels on Moeronpan usually.
The only way I’d ever end up having anything to do with Hand Shakers again was if they made a second season of it, gave it a different name and then didn’t actually indicate it was a second season of Hand Shakers anywhere, so the only way to find this out was watching the show! Can you imagine a studio actually doing that, though? Man, wouldn’t that be utterly bonkers. Anyway, so what was my first anime of the year again?
it’s fuckin Hand Shakers 2. I cannot believe this. It’s called W’z (???) but I got tricked into watching what is actually Handshakers 2. I was so utterly amazed that I was tricked into watching Hand Shakers 2 that I didn’t even scream and close the browser, I just kind of sighed and grimly accepted it, figuring that maybe if I saw it through and reviewed it, this foul ghost will stop haunting me. Anyway.
The protagonist this time is also a Hand Shaker, and his hand-holdy power is that if he holds somebody’s hand – or apparently even brushes hands – both he and the other person enter a strange dimension. Once they come back, the other person doesn’t remember it at all. He’s also a DJ, who is apparently so cool that everyone who watches his DJ videos uploaded to the internet starts dancing in a bizarrely unsettling manner. Despite this, he laments that he isn’t popular enough to his childhood friend, and she has the idea of making a proper PV to boost the popularity of his videos. Somehow, they are able to do this immediately on the bridge in Dotonbori in Osaka. He decides that filming the PV from inside the mystery dimension will make it a lot more unique, so he takes his friend in – along with all the DJ equipment, and starts streaming. But apparently, this is a really big deal and starts to get the attention of the other Hand Shakers – ‘normal’ Hand Shakers shouldn’t be able to take DJ gear into alternate dimensions! Holy shit! He’s an Irregular Hand Shaker!
They start to show up, interrupting his performance, with the intention of defeating him and stealing that power from him.
Even though this is literally Hand Shakers 2, it doesn’t seem to matter if you haven’t watched all of – or any of – Hand Shakers. It was actually easier to follow than the god-awful first episode of Hand Shakers itself was.
So…anyway. Hand Shakers was a massive pile of crap for a multitude of reasons already discussed back when I reviewed it, but the main thing that stood out was the frantic effects, hideous over-animation and vile characters. So it’s actually kind of…surprising? Relieving? that W’z actually dials back a whole lot on that. Yes, the animation style is still much the same, it’s still ridiculously over-animated and the character art itself is still dreadfully unattractive to me. But…the designs are a little more distinctive and have, however slightly, a smidge more personality to them. Yes, the over-energetic effects and ‘trippy’ moments are still here but…they seem to have put a reign on it – I still think it’s all Too Much, but it doesn’t actively give me motion sickness this time. And yes, the characters are all still about as interesting as my fingernails, but none of them are completely detestable and/or uncomfortable (not yet, anyway). They’re still pretty annoying, though. Why does the MC lament about not being popular when we literally got a montage of a bunch of different people grooving to his music? (Also, why is everyone so into his music when it is so boring?) When he uploads the stream, which was apparently meant to be the key to getting more popular, we get a montage of… the same people, only now they’re marveling at the video as well. Is he just an idiot? Back on the plus side, I think I only counted one superfluous boob bounce. Just one! Considering Hand Shakers had everyone’s body parts flailing around at all times, that’s actually impressive.
So then, if W’z is doing a lot of the things Hand Shakers tried and completely failed at, and doing a better job at it, is it any good? ….well, that’s the thing. To be honest, it turns out that when you remove or dial down everything that made Hand Shakers so phenomenally, almost magically awful, you kinda just get…a whole lot of average. There was nothing that stood out as good in W’z but it also wasn’t even a show I’d call ‘bad’, and for that I’m actually almost disappointed in it. It seems odd to complain about a show not being awful, but it’s seriously hard to muster up any energy about this one whatsoever. There was the initial burst of adrenaline and pure hatred as I had to prepare myself for Hand Shakers 2 once I realized that’s what it was, and instead I got something that was honestly just… kinda boring. Say what you will about Hand Shakers, but… at least it was memorable?