Scryed Anime Review

Scryed Anime Summary Reviews

Synopsis - Scryed

There's an easily-discernible trend in most works of fiction that are repeatedly remade. As you take more and more steps away from an original work, the quality of the project grows worse and worse. For example, take a really good book. Now make a movie out of that book. It may be an excellent movie or a completely horrible movie, but its quality never matches that of the original book. Now give that movie a straight-to-video sequel and things get a little gross. This trend usually only exists for official, company-sanctioned works, and there are some notable exceptions (particularly for series that have branched out in a billion directions) ... but for the most part, if you want the most complete, detailed, and entertaining version of a work, go to the original.

Somewhere in the creative process that spawned Scryed (or s.CRY.ed for those of you who like unnecessary mid-word punctuation), something got a little confused. The Scryed anime is filled with interesting and complicated characters and several clever plot twists. It is funny. It is good. How the animation studio managed to get this thoughtful yet entertaining story out of one of the most blatant pieces of manga garbage I've ever read is hard to understand.

The Scryed anime is 26 episodes long, and is another of Studio Sunrise's successes. It's been licensed for release in America by Bandai with the first volume already on our shores--along with an elaborate box set deal for those of you who like shiny things.

To understand the story of Scryed, you need to know a bit about the world in which it takes place. Sometime in the fairly near future, a bizarre natural disaster separates a big chunk of land from Japan; this land is henceforth cleverly referred to as "Lost Ground." After the disaster, a small percentage of the population is born with the special ability to create an Alter, AKA a piece of machinery that can take the form of anything from a hair barrette to a giant mech and gives the user special powers. Alter users are stronger, faster, and much more destructive than ordinary people, so the Lost Ground soon becomes a disaster area. The residents of the city decide to cut their losses by building a wall to contain any remaining lawfulness and leaving the outside to its own devices. Generally, the only person who can beat an Alter user in a fight is another Alter user, so the government starts an organization called "HOLY"--a hired group of Alter users who want out of the Lost Ground wasteland or who need to escape prejudice--and uses them to police any Alter users who won't join up. In other words, work for the Man or your ass goes to jail.

22 years after the disaster, a reckless and rather stupid young man named Kazuma is living outside the wall, making a living as hired Alter muscle. Inside the wall, an angsty bishounen named Ryuho is working as a member of HOLY in-between bouts of being really sad and staring into space. They meet, and it's hate at first sight. Throughout a plot that sprouts in too many directions to really explain here, our two heroes use every possible excuse to beat on each other regardless of whether or not they're working toward the same goals. And our series is born.

The creators of Scryed could have easily made this your average "villain of the day" fighting series. All the stereotypical elements are here: a large cast of weirdoes are sent out one by one (kung-fu ninja villain style) to fight the main character, who, through being brave and believing in himself, manages to kick all of their asses and gain some power-ups in the process. The Scryed writers deserve a lot of credit for going against what would have been easy and instead spending all their effort on the interesting parts of the series. The plot isn't particularly focused--it's divided into one-shots and short arcs--but each story arc builds off the ones before it, twisting plot points in unexpected directions. There are very rarely any simple defeats, and the effects of Kazuma's fights are felt by more than just himself and his opponent: nearby people and animals get involved, the cops show up, civilians get hurt, and on one notable occasion the landscape caves in, turning a one-shot fight into several episodes of "I hope this cave doesn't collapse on our heads. By the way, I still hate you." The last set of episodes tries to tie everything up in one final decisive set of story and fights, but the culmination of events ends up a lot less interesting than the meandering stuff that got us there. All in all, the continuous plot of Scryed is the main reason to watch this series.

Scryed's main characters are the least interesting of the bunch. Kazuma is a moron-with-a-heart-of-gold in that likable yet mildly annoying shounen hero way, and Ryuho doesn't have enough personality for me to care about how sad he is. It's the side characters that really make Scryed fun to watch--like Straight Cougar, the guy with the ability to make everything really fast and who uses his ability to scare the crap out of anyone driving with him; Kimishima, Kazuma's friend who has urban connections instead of superpowers and who arrives at big alter fights in a jeep and crash helmet; Mimori, the idealistic doctor who has a thing for Ryuho and makes his scenes more bearable; even less developed characters like that guy whose powers revolve around watermelons add personality to the series. The Scryed character designs are all appropriate to their characters and are generally tweaked (for the better) versions of the original manga designs. The alters of the main characters are appropriately cool, seeing as they're in action pretty much every episode, and the alters of some of the wacky side characters are where the mechanical designers went crazy: like a UFO, some big doofy robotic things, and anything that melon guy does. Studio Sunrise clearly had a lot of fun with Scryed but still made sure to take the project seriously, and as a result we have an exceptionally entertaining and engaging piece of anime.

As for Scryed's ... music, it was written by Kotaro Nakagawa and was weird enough to win the "Best Worst Soundtrack" award on our 2002 awards page. The opening theme is what can only be described as "Japanese Ricky Martin," and the background music is a perplexing mix of genres and styles ranging from weird big band to horrible J-pop. I honestly don't know what to say about the music. It adds personality to the series, I just can't decide if it adds good personality.

The Scryed manga was created by Yosuke Kuroda and Yasunari Toda. The 5 tankoubon volumes were published by Shounen Champion Comics in 2001, and is currently being translated by Tokyopop.

After watching the Scryed anime all the way through, I really wanted to read the manga as the excellent anime still suffered from some plot holes and open-endedness. Usually, manga fixes those little problems as the comic medium is better than anime for coherent, detail-intensive stories. When I found out the manga had been bought for an American release, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy. This was before I learned one important piece of information:

It's bad. Really bad. Don't buy it, it's a waste of the paper it was printed on.

See, what makes the anime so good is subtlety. Sure there are flashy superpowers and big fights, but the story and characters are more important than finding out the abilities of the villain of the day. Scryed is further proof that Sunrise employs amazing writers as many of the fascinating, layered, morally-ambiguous characters of the anime were derived from cliché one-dimensional manga parodies of good and evil. In fact, the Scryed manga characters fall without fail into three categories:

1. Good. Everything they do is right, good, and perfect, except for occasional misguidedness which is immediately corrected.
2. Evil. Generic bad-for-the-sake-of-badness types. These guys don't usually survive their introduction chapter.
3. Good, but working for evil. Their lives are cesspools of angst and despair, and the reason why is explained in full before their intro chapter is over.

Most of the characters only last one chapter. In an amazing display of bad writing, as each character is introduced he announces to the world his name, two sentences that sum up his beliefs about life and morality, and usually the full extent of his alter ability. Then he fights, and dies, and Kazuma gets a burger. The plot is a thin, neglected thing strung out between long fights and ridiculous fanservice. The plot was the main reason to watch the anime, but here its only purpose is to show how Kazuma gets from one fight to the next.

The art of the Scryed manga, however, isn't half bad. It's very complicated, sometimes to the point of being difficult to follow, but mostly the complexity just makes it interesting to look at. There are some great facial expressions and pretty cool action shots, although I don't understand the artist's decision to give both Kazuma and Ryuho really feminine lower eyelashes in close-ups; is this supposed to mean they're bishounen? The main aspect that detracts from the art is the ridiculous amount of blatant fanservice. I understand that fanservice is a part of most anime, and particularly in a seinen (older-boy shounen) series there are going to be short skirts and bikinis. But there comes a point after the 15th unnecessary panty shot, when Kazuma's fighting yet another female villain whose clothing involves as much material as a single tissue and the artist probably spent 5 times as much effort on her breasts than her face, that Scryed crosses the line from fanservice into bad soft-core porn territory.


The Scryed anime is worth a watch for anyone who likes action series that aren't just about action or superhero shows that aren't just about superpowers. The Scryed manga is worth a read for desperate teenage boys who don't have access to real porn and those who really, really like fight scenes. For being subtle and plot-heavy in a short shounen action series, the Scryed anime gets 3.8 stars out of 5. For being a horribly disappointing piece of absolute trash, the manga gets 0.7 stars and a toss in the incinerator.

Mr Roshi

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