Daydream Sanctuary Features

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Anime Review: Himitsu - The Revelation -


Top Secret - The Revelation -
Animation Production: Madhouse Studios | Director: Hiroshi Aoyama | Series Composition: Satoshi Suzuki | Original Creator: Reiko Shimizu
The story takes place five decades from now, when brain scanners have been perfected to the point that the government can retrieve up to five years' worth of memories from people's minds — even if they are dead. The investigators of the National Research Institute of Police Science's 9th Forensics Laboratory must weigh the ethical choices in the ultimate invasion of privacy as they delve into people's minds to solve crimes.

[ OVERALL IMPRESSIONS ]

(It should be a 4.75; but no icon for that =()

A lot of crimes occur every single day in many parts of the world; some are solved, however many of them aren't. Lack of evidences and witnesses make it very difficult for investigators to capture the criminal. Sadly, there are also times wherein the real criminal is never caught, because of wrong suspects or wrong conclusions in cases (e.g. judged as suicide but actually a homicide). The one who would naturally know the truth would be the victims themselves, but can one interview the dead? Well, this series makes us think that it can be possible.... in a way.

Behold the MRI system: a technology developed in the future that can see the memories and thoughts of the human brain under observation. In the series it's being used by the Japanese police, particularly Section 9, to solve crimes by studying the scene of the crime from the victim's memory of the incident. Thanks to this technology, identifying the murderers have become more convenient.



Sounds simple, right? But it's actually more complicated than it seems.

This process actually raises ethical issues because of invasion of privacy. Confidentiality is also highly considered because there are secrets that when leaked can be used for bad intentions. And though identifying killers is supposed to be made more convenient with this process, there can still be difficulties encountered. For example, there are cases wherein the victim hadn't managed to see the killer's face (because the killer was wearing a mask, etc.) or not at all (because the victim was killed from behind, etc.). There are instances wherein MRI won't exactly be useful because the victim is blind anyway. Moreover, things aren't always as one sees them. There's a saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", right? In relation to that, people at times see things differently compare to how other people do (like their loved one looking more beautiful than what she/he really looks like, etc.). Or if we go to the extremes, a person could also see hallucinations, and these are caused by various things. There are also cases where the brain is forgetful, or had some parts of his/her memory damaged.

With these hindrances, we get to realize that Section 9's cases are actually pretty tough and complicated. The members of the division need to be more observant and have keen attention to detail. They should also be able to think beyond of what they're seeing, like questioning why the victim/killer has seen such things, or done such things, and so on. And the the toughest part of all: because they also get to see how the horrifying murders occured, they had to endure watching such frightening images. Watching bizarre murders can cause one to have nightmares, delusions, and even to go insane! It's not just a horror movie after all; for what they see are real!

I love how this series considered and dealt with all of those. It's really fantastic!

It has a nice set of characters as well. It's not just some bunch of teen geniuses out to save the world; it's a group of matured adults with experience to this line of work and with sufficient knowledge in criminology and areas like psychology and programming. Each has his or her own expertise and limitations; even supporting characters get a chance to handle crucial roles and even the main characters fail big time. Not only the main duo gets the spotlight, for the others get a chance to shine as well. There is no protagonist immunity (in other words, it's not one of those series wherein allies of the main character don't die thanks to miracles) and no gender inequality either. For a cast that mainly consists of males, the series actually discourages discrimination on women, and that's greatly demonstrated by one of the show's female characters: Amachi.


(image from womentalksports.com)

I highly admire her. She may appear to be just some clumsy girl at first impression, but she actually has very good persuasion skills for she knows how to talk into people (and she researches about them... really quick and thorough). Interestingly, aside from a woman's hunch, she has this sixth sense. I guess you can say that ability of hers makes things a little too easy and convenient, but it's interesting for there are really stories (even in real life, I believe) where psychic abilities are used in police investigations. What I liked about her the most was that she was able to see through the lies in the compliments of some religious leader. That person was an obvious sexual harasser, and she was disgusted with his sweet talk... and she has figured out what he really is and brought his organization down. That was so awesome.

My top favorite character is Maki though. He's so beautiful that I sometimes see him as a girl, haha! He amuses me for odd reasons and I love his relationship with Suzuki and Aoki~ Fans see his relatioship with those two men as... something else though, especially with Aoki. Reiko Shimizu, however, writes series with homosexual relationships... so I guess that wouldn't be a surprise. Especially with the recent chapters in the manga... ehehe ^^;

Speaking of Reiko Shimizu, I greatly admire many of her works for their stories are wonderfully told and are rich in creativity. I also adore her art for such beauty and detail (my complain though is that some characters look alike so much that it's quite... a challenge to differentiate them. Fortunately the personalities are so different). The anime art style isn't as gorgeous as the manga's however, but it's good enough.

Though the anime is an adaptation of an ongoing manga series, it did some changes on the order of the cases and removed/added some events as well. I think there are even cases that are anime original, and they're as good so I have no complains. I have no complains on the story order either... because the arrangement seemed good, considering the limit of the anime's number of episodes. And since the anime studio doesn't seem to have plans of making more seasons of this series, the staff has to resolve everything on its last few episodes, or the main final arc to be particular. I like the final's attempt to make many of the past events connected, and the final case being as big as the future of Section 9 itself. It was a good attempt but... there had been inconsitencies... creating flaws on this almost-brilliant series. For example, the method on how two of the main characters became insane had been the same, but the effect had been different for Character A seemed to be still himself while Character B had been like hypnotized as a puppet. (Not mentioning names to avoid further spoilers)

But ah well, no series is perfect, and those flaws weren't that horrible anyway.... and the brilliant parts of this series are just so awesome that the bad parts have become ignorable. Haha!

This is one of the series that made me think and reflect a lot. It has a creative idea of seeing the possibility of seeing people's memories through one's brain, right? Do you think it's actually possible in real life?

I don't think so.... even if we get super advanced technology in the future.


(image from doubleexposure.com)

I'm not claiming to be absolutely correct since I'm no psychology major, but I don't think you need to be one to realize that even though the human brain is gazillion times better than a computer, it doesn't record events like a video camera. The MRI watches people's memories as if the person's eyes is like a camera and the memory is a film. Try to study yourself; do you actually remember how exactly you went down the stairs or the scenes that came to your view while looking outside the car window? You may remember what you were doing or what you saw, but the particular things you've seen on each second while doing it... I doubt that. Besides, not everyone has an excellent photographic memory. For that I even doubt that victims or witnesses could 100% identify who the violators are unless it's someone they know. It's because of these and many other factors (those I've realized after browsing the pages regarding memory in my psychology book) why I think this kind of future is impossible, unless people will do some manipulations or enhancements on the human brain, I guess.

Nevertheless, this series is not to be judged for its plausibility (it's science fiction, duh), but for its creativity~ It's actually something very simple that even a child could think of, but how the series handled that idea in a mature was really terrific~

There are already so many things to mention on why this series is cool from the story and characters alone, but the series had also been excellent in other areas. Like for instance, the music! Not only the OP and ED themes, but even the background tracks! They fit the mood of the series, especially the intense and chilling scenes. The voice actors have been doing a good job on their characters as well (great acting when they go insane~ Haha!) though I admit at times some of their reactions seem off or delayed... or maybe the delay thing was done on purpose (at times delayed reactions are more hilarious).



Himitsu has been a very interesting and thought-provoking show; overall an incredible mystery psychological thriller! I don't recommend it to those who are easily disturbed however, since it contains mature stuff and very disturbingly horrifying images (manga's more frightening though) but if you're fond of detective and psychology stuff, this series is definitely worth a try!
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