The Fall 2020 Preview Guide
Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle- Rhyme Anima
How would you rate episode 1 of
Hypnosis Mic -Division Rap Battle- Rhyme Anima ?
What is this?
After a third World War that killed a third of the human population, history as we know it came to an end at the hands of women. In this new age, rather than fighting using traditional weapons, people use a special microphone that attacks the human spirit called a "Hypnosis Mic." Lyrics uttered on this microphone act on the human nervous system and can produce altered states. Rap battles are now the main way to establish dominance as gangs of men fight in the districts of Tokyo to defend their territory.
How was the first episode?
Are you craving some ridiculous anime entertainment?
Cuz HypMic is a full platter of that good, Galaxy Brain shit:
Deep-fried, slathered in hot sauce,
Clogging our veins like cartoon junk food;
Quick! Someone call Rick Ross!
Cold? Sure (but apropos:
Is this show's biggest “Uh-oh”).
Here's the score: There's no more war!
Ever since the big tiddy ladies arrived,
Using hypnosis mics
To pull a coup and control the masses' minds
Forcing men's violence into a different medium
So now, instead of shootin' fools…
You simply gotta Slim-Shady 'em.
So it's kind of like Keijo!!!!!!!!
But(t) instead of WAPs,
These gangs of two-toned bishie rebels
Fight with RAPs!
Lyrical battles that wreak real-world havoc;
We're talking literal mind-melting psychedelic hypno-magic.
Or…something like that?
this story? It doesn't really matter much.
And I couldn't pull a single one of these boys
out from a line-up.
Their personalities? One-note.
The designs? A little rote.
Still, I'd be lying if I said
it didn't all work, well enough.
You see, HypMic knows
Exactly what it wants to be:
An entertaining ad for a game
(Screaming: “PLAYYY MEEEEE”).
It looks great, it sounds great, and its hella fun.
(Plus, if we're lucky, the only hetero here will be the “chromia”).
I can imagine the planning for this franchise going something like this:
“Hey, let's make a new franchise all about dueling boy bands!”
“Another idol show? That's all been done before.”
“No, no, this time they will be rapping. And it will be like turf wars, but with the music as weapons.”
“Interesting twist, but not good enough. What else can we jam in there?”
“Well, there will be these special magical-like microphones which become the new weapons, and women will theoretically control things even though the boys get nearly all of the attention, and there will be ridiculously lavish video displays. . .”
“Wait, can we actually pull all of that off in one series?”
And so we get what may be the most bizarre spin on male idols shows ever. Its first episode is a stunning production in many ways: stunningly gorgeous visuals paired with a stunningly idiotic concept. I think I can honestly say that I stared aghast at the screen for the entire 24-minute run.
Let's start with the bad side. Some secret organization suddenly pops up one day, declares all normal weapons outlawed but instead introduces these quasi-magical microphones for settling conflicts. How is anyone going to believe or accept that? Yes, I know this is one of these cases where you're supposed to just turn your brain off and enjoy the concept, but even those have to make at least a small amount of sense. This couldn't be a more gimmicky set-up if it tried. Then it tosses in just about every common personality archetype from otome games and makes almost no effort to do anything different there (the military guys is a twist, I suppose?). I'll withhold judgment on the motive behind this until more is revealed.
On the good side, the “rap battles” (you can't really call them battles when the bad guys are not shown doing anything themselves) are eye-popping visual displays of the most garish magnitude possible. They are explosions of colors and elaborate design elements like nothing I've seen before in anime; my favorite was probably the skeletal-themed speaker bank. These scenes carry such amazing visual impact that they almost overwhelm all other considerations. As for the actual rapping? Well. . . they tried. Some of it was passable, but some of it was truly awful.
Basically, I want to give the first episode a 5 for visuals and a 1 for everything else, but I think the rating I gave it sums up my reaction most succinctly.
That was just about the stupidest, most nonsensical thing I've ever seen.
I love it and I hope it runs for 500 episodes.
So here's the deal: one day, a political group called the Party of Words overtook the Japanese government and set up a gynocracy where all weapons are outlawed. Now, all violence takes place through freestyle rap battles performed with Hypnosis Mics, which can cause harm to people they're directed at and also cause really cool effects to appear and typography to fly around. Why these mics don't qualify as weapons since they are designed to do material harm to people, I don't know. Sometimes they transform, like the doctor's mic turning into the Rod of Asclepius. Also, the gynocracy seems to be specifically setting things up to exacerbate turf wars for… reasons, I guess?
It's also a wildly sexist premise, where women are evil and pulling the strings behind the scenes while men just really need an outlet to fight, which is funny because the franchise is absolutely, unapologetically aimed at a female audience. I think I can look past the inherent sexism here because it has no pretense of an internally consistent, logical world. They took an idea – kinetic rap battles that do actual damage – and set up the thinnest facade of a universe where that would be possible around it. This works fine for most games – and, of course, this is based on a card-collecting mobile rhythm game created by a record company to capitalize on several popular voice actors – but usually leaves anime creators scrambling to build a stronger narrative. I applaud the team behind this adaptation for realizing that any attempt at narrative sense would only distract from the pure spectacle that makes HypMic work.
The boys almost have that otome game adaptation look, except they're saved from the genre's persistent blandness with their neon hair, multicolored irises, and hourglass-shaped pupils. There is not an ounce of restraint in the design here. Not one bit. I wouldn't have it any other way.
When watching Hypnosis Mic, do not think. Do not question its world or its logic. Just let the colors and lyrics and rhythm wash over you as you accept everything at face value. Do so, and I guarantee you'll have a good time
I love everything about this patently ridiculous show. Its internal politics are complete nonsense. Its structural conceit may as well be made of cotton candy. I suppose I could work up a froth about the idea that Japan is ruled by an emotionless political party run by booby women that takes away everyone's guns and maintains power by redirecting men's illogical need for conflict at one another via rap battles, but the more times I reread the premise the more I can't help but guffaw at its absurdity. Once you get over that narrative bump, it's all smooth rhyming from there.
This is thanks in no small part to the episode's English translation team at Kotonoha Consulting and Sarah Alys Lindholm who absolutely knock the adaptation out of the park. Imagine there are four different lyric slinging gangs, each with at least three members and each member a distinctive voice or influence. The translation team had to consider that while also adhering to the original lyrics' rhythm and make it rhyme in English. I'm incredibly impressed with the localization job on this title which could have easily crashed under the weight of all the characters and individual eccentricities. One member of the Sling Posse crew speaks solely in classical Japanese (translated into Shakespearean English), for instance.
Hypnosis Mic's penchant for over-the-top visuals and performance is best represented in the rap battles themselves, which include things like transforming mics and literal explosions. In one instance (pictured) the yakuza rapper summons a giant skeleton with bass speakers behind him before telling everyone within a 5-mile radius how much they suck. 10/10, where do I sign up for the mobile game pre-release?
That is going to be the rub for some viewers because Hypnosis Mic absolutely reeks of "multimedia franchise, please pick your best boy and buy his merch", it just so happens that if something is the right kind of, dare I say, stupid, I will cling to it like a buoy in the sea that is Our Troubled Times. If the production quality doesn't absolutely collapse, I'll continue to tune in to Hypnosis Mic with bated breath.
However, if the thought of a ton of sparkly bishounen, voiced by an all-star cast of popular voice actors, having Epic Rap Battles of History-level street fights sounds just ridiculous enough to work for you, then this premiere absolutely delivers. The entire episode is just introducing our four main rap battle teams, equaling out to a dozen pretty men who rap like 7th graders and a distinct sound and aesthetic within their posse. My personal favorite right now is Matenro, a motley crew of a doctor crossed with Sephiroth, a Host who's afraid of girls, and a bedraggled office worker who's just itching for the day he can rhyme his awful boss through a wall. What little worldbuilding we get is more of an excuse than actual storytelling, as we learn The Party of Words has taken over Japan and now plans to pit the various gangs of street rappers against each other to diffuse any anti-government set up. Again, that might be a pointed storyline if this weren't about male models having elaborate, ridiculously garish rap battles, so it's probably not worth reading too far into.
That said, the charm does start to wear off a little. Without the constant escalation of the problems being solved by wack ass rap, things threaten to get rote quickly. The trio whose goal is to just make money performing are easily the least entertaining, so I'm hoping the series doesn't get bogged down in more typical comedy rather than sticking to its strengths. It may also be worth waiting for the dub on this one, since even if none of the cast are choppers, the lyrics move pretty quickly and the visuals are so busy during songs that it can be really easy to lose track of the subtitles. Then again a large part of the appeal here is hearing your favorite seiyu try to rap, so maybe the actual lyrics aren't that important. Also even as somebody who's far from a hip-hop aficionado, I can tell these bars are pretty garbage, and most closely remind me of the teacher from Glee trying to spit “Gold Digger” which will almost certainly wear thin sooner or later. For now though, I'm willing to see where HypMic goes on sheer spectacle alone.
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