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Grade: B+

Genre: Horror, Drama

Reviewed: sub

Episodes: 13

Notes: By creator of Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress

Introduction:

Sagi, a young designer, is under pressure to come up with a new cartoon character. One day while on her way home, she is attacked by a boy on rollerblades with a crooked bat. As two detectives investigate her case, more attacks on others follow. How are the victims related? Is there really a "Shounen Bat" ? What's with the cute but creepy looking puppy plushie?

Animation/Music/Voices:

Character designs are clean and simple, ranging from fairly realistic to caricatures. The opening and ending themes are good but take on a different effect when seen with the rather creepy animation. It's not creepy-weird-ugly-horrific animation like "A Hundred Stories" but rather disturbing and odd where the characters are laughing sort of emotionlessly in the opening theme, and are sleeping/possibly dead in the ending theme; fits the overall tone of the series well. Generally the score and voices are fine.

Review:

This series is basically an anthology of stories tied together by the recurrence of the cartoon designer and the two detectives assigned to her case. The stories are generally episodic but should be seen in order for the full effect - it gets odder and odder (not exactly weird, just sort of odd). Once you think you know where the series is headed in terms of style or tempo, it changes, from Twilight Zone episodes to fantasy role-playing to dark comedy/parody to a psychological study. That's why this series is hard to classify. It's sort of a drama, dark comedy, horror, etc. It's just very interesting and odd.

A quick look of some of the stories:  Central story - cartoon designer Sagi Tsukiko claims she was attacked by a boy on roller skates with a crooked baseball bat. After being super successful with her design of Maromi, a pink dog, she has been recently under pressure to design a new character. Two detectives with disparate personalities and approaches investigate her case. The next victim is an in-debt tabloid reporter, Kawazu, who has been stalking her. Then a young boy "Icchi" (means "first" as in always comes in first in academics, sports, popularity, etc.) is rumored to be the Shounen Bat (bat boy) and loses his standing among his peers. The victims appear to be plagued by personal demons. When the perpetrator is finally caught, fantasy and reality is blurred. The young detective gets drawn into the madness. The older detective tries his best to keep his feet grounded in reality. But events just get stranger.

Rated PG-13 for suicide references, prostitution references, some blood/gore. If you like "A Hundred Stories" or "Lain" or even if you didn't, but just found them interesting you'll probably like this series. The animation is less weird than "A Hundred Stories" and the story is more understandable, more accessible than "Lain." Fans of the old or new "Twilight Zone" series will definitely find this worth watching.