Beatless – Episode 4 & 5 Review (Flash Anime-tion)
Okay, that escalated quickly… and de-escalated just as quickly.
In retrospect, I’m almost glad this one got backed up, seeing as it was basically a two-parter. Though I do have to wonder exactly how long this series plans on being. But I digress. The geekier of Arato’s friends, Kengo, winds up with Kouka, aka “The Hot One.” She more or less blackmails him… on top of threatening actual physical harm to himself and his family, forcing him to cooperate with her plan to execute an hIE diplomat. Meanwhile, Kengo’s sister is worried about him and asks for Arato’s help in figuring out what’s wrong.
This pair of episodes is one complete story, which is why I’m glad this got held up. It lets me review both as the complete work they are. And with that being said… they’re pretty solid. Though not without their noteworthy faults. Oddly enough, the bulk of them revolve around Kengo, himself. See, Kengo is dominantly used as the engine of the questions being asked in the episode. Well, him and the aforementioned hIE diplomat. But he’s the one with an “arc.” The reason he’s billed as disliking the androids is that he feels they’re trying to take the very essence of humanity. And he already feels as if people are relying so heavily on technology that they’re losing the ability to think for themselves. A fact that’s reinforced in his mind by the terrorist group he’s forced to work with, basically taking orders from Kouka, an AI. Though that’s where my first question comes in.
These terrorists hate hIEs. The entire modus operandi of their group is trashing hIE units that are alone and avoiding the authorities. They’re radicals. Yet here they are. Taking orders. From a machine. I can’t even go with the possibility that they just don’t know what she is. Even if we didn’t see from the first episode that people can just somehow tell, Kouka is, by far, the least subtle android in the entire show. For crying out loud, her body is even covered in inlays. And if they somehow thought those were tattoos, then whatever lie she’d told them would have to become fully apparent when they all see her pulling some admittedly cool-to-look-at but inarguably superhuman feats in some late action sequences.
The next issue I have, though, just stems from Kengo as a character. Frankly… I just can’t sympathize with the dude. His situation isn’t the problem. I can totally understand his only being here to protect his family from a monster that can absolutely kill them all with little effort. But when Arato shows up to save him, he just decides to be difficult for no conceivable reason. There is the possibility that he’s acting this way since Kouka is within earshot. But really his actions are just confounding. I just can’t find any reason in the slightest why I should care about him aside from the basic empathy I have for almost any character, just for existing. And that only goes so far as not wanting to see them die. Which he thankfully doesn’t.
Those minor gripes aside, this is obviously a more human story, as when the action does start to go down between the androids, it’s mostly kept in the background. We focus a lot more on Arato and on Kengo. And I certainly do like the questions posed about a world where everything is automated. The thought of humans becoming overly reliant on these things and such. I also like the parallels they draw to humans creating tools to grasp things, referring to hIE units as tools. In fact, they even refer to themselves in this way. And there is a beautiful irony (that Kengo even brings up, himself) in Kouka essentially using humans as tools to fulfill her bidding. Despite the fact that she definitely didn’t need to. Speaking of the androids, this episode features the formal introduction to Snowdrop, aka “The Cute One.”
And if I wasn’t clear about it before, let me reiterate. Snowdrop… scares me. There’s something notably “off” about her being so adorable and yet so flippantly murderous at the same time. She doesn’t even treat it with a malicious attitude. She’s cute about everything. It’s scary. Scarier than a character who drops the cute act when they have those psycho moments. It’s something about the disconnect between the actions and the attitude. Looking cute is one thing, but you certainly don’t expect a monster to sound cute as well.
When she gets involved, though, things sort of just derail into madness. What does she want? Just to play with her “sisters?” Well, that’s fine, I suppose. Though it does bring up another question. What kind of relationship do these androids actually have with one another? All three of them just abandon fighting one another by the end and just go on to do whatever it is they were there to do. Kouka gets what she wants and assassinates that hIE diplomat (though I can’t imagine they have the inability to just… make another one. So it’s probably more about the statement it makes). Lacia returns to Arato’s side. Snowdrop… just gets bored and leaves. Seriously. Why was she even there? Did she just want to play?
So, in the end, these two episodes featured some nice action and some very thought-provoking questions. However, it certainly didn’t do anything to make Kengo any more likable. He still rubs me the wrong way. Snowdrop’s inclusion in the episode also seemed a bit… odd. For as much as she scares me, I like her. But I can’t figure out exactly why she was there. Nor why the androids feel compelled to try to kill one another. If they are, in fact, taking these fights seriously. After all, Kouka did just up and leave the last fight, too.
Overall, this episode hit the mark on being towards the lower end of Super Effective. I appreciate what the series is doing so far, and barring a few sort of annoying characters, I’m digging it. But if you want something perhaps a bit lighter, check out my review of the latest episode of Toji no Miko.
Or, if you’re still interested in Beatless, check it out on Amazon Prime. That’s all for me, here, folks. As always, thanks for reading. Keep up the awesome.