Anime Taste Testing: Akudama Drive

I don’t know what I just watched, but I know I want more of it.

Akudama Drive sure won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m not sure it would normally be mine for that matter. However, it certainly came at an excellent time, as I was beginning to despair of finding anything this season with any real energy or character. Akudama Drive doesn’t so much cut through many of the other offerings this fall like a breath of fresh air as it does smash them over the head like a heavy-duty wrecking ball – indeed, it’s so dynamic and so fast-paced in terms of visual delivery that I actually had to pause the video a couple of times just to give my eyes enough time to process everything.

I usually tend to leave talking about the visuals for last, but these play such a huge presence in the show that I feel like I need to lead with them. They are, to put it mildly, vibrant, or perhaps vivacious would be a better word – leaving aside the issue of censorship if you’re watching the televised version (if gore isn’t for you, consider that fair warning), Akudama Drive is all about presenting a spectacle, with its bedazzling backgrounds, flamboyant character designs, and overall theatrical vibe. Whether you consider all this to be gratuitous or tacky probably comes down to personal taste, but either way, you can’t deny it makes a statement. (See, IWGP? This is how you introduce an edgy city.) Color me surprised, but Studio Pierrot, together with art director Tanioka Yoshio (who I might even have to forgive for his work on Listeners at this point) has done a top-notch job, at least for the premiere – here’s hoping the quality remains consistent throughout.

I honestly don’t want to say too much else about Akudama Drive at this point, in large part because it’s the kind of show that really needs to be watched first and read about later. I’m also hesitant to give it my full endorsement before seeing whether it can keep up this kind of vigor long-term. Needless to say, if you’re in the mood for soothingly slow and quiet fare or are on the lookout for something with depth and subtlety, this ain’t it. However, if you’re after something fresh, energetic, and action-packed that’s also incredibly ridiculous and doesn’t take itself too seriously, you should absolutely think about giving this one a try. Worst-case scenario, it’ll be a fun popcorn title, but I think it has more potential than that and will definitely be keeping an eye on it.

Rating: 7/10


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