by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Hand Shakers ?
Let's start off by breaking down what this final episode of Hand Shakers actually gives its audience. The first half, predictably enough, consists of the big fight between our heroes and Nagaoka & Mayumi. It's just as sloppily animated and haphazardly edited as any other fight of the series, though I will admit that the camera work has remained less viscerally upsetting than it used to be. After what feels like hours, the fight resolves in the same way every other fight in this show has. It turns out that Nagaoka and Mayumi aren't really all bad, so they depart more or less as allies, leaving Tazuna and Koyori to fight another day. Then we get a brief montage of what our other Hand Shakers are up to now (even though we just did that two weeks ago), and Tazuna and Koyori hold hands and walk off into the sunset.
That's basically all there is to this finale. We get no real character development and absolutely no information on what the heck is actually happening in this insane super-powered battle royale. There's some half-hearted pap about Nagaoka actually being a loving caretaker for Mayumi, but does anyone actually care? Tazuna doesn't seem to, nor does Koyori, which is especially odd since this is her long-lost sister that everyone assumed had been brainwashed into joining the dark side. Instead of mining this underdeveloped plot tangent for all of its worth, as many other bad anime would at least have the sense to do, it's just tossed aside in the last couple minutes of the episode.
We even get a brief tag that teases a mysterious, handsome figure who may or may not be God, but the series treats this development just like any of the other wasted opportunities that have cropped up over the past twelve weeks by sweeping it under the rug. It's possible that the series' myriad of underdeveloped characters and plot points were intended to be addressed in a second season, but based on this anime's abysmal reception, that's an unlikely prospect. I can only thank the Gods of Anime for their mercy and benevolence in this matter.
So here's Hand Shakers legacy at the end: a show that started off as a trainwreck of landmark proportions, only to devolve into something much worse – an interminable slog. Truthfully, I think the biggest shame is that I can see the kernel of a watchable series buried somewhere in Hand Shakers, way deep down. The concept of a supernaturally fueled death battle is absolutely played out, but it's a cliché because it strikes some kind of chord with an audience. With a little more self-control, the show's art style could have been unique and interesting, instead of off-putting and garish. With a little more technical skill at the helm, the camera work and direction might have been compelling and entertaining, but what we got was just nauseating and incomprehensible. Koyori's development from being a mute amnesiac to a capable warrior had some faint shades of potential charm, but it only alternated between being creepy and irritating.
That's Hand Shakers in a nutshell, a series that is somehow less than the sum of its parts, where all of its potentially decent ingredients came together to create something truly bad. At its best, Hand Shakers is a boring and nonsensical mess. At its worst, it's borderline unwatchable. That was the case from the very first minute of the very first episode, and while this particular episode lands somewhere closer to the positive end of that limited spectrum, a polished turd is still a turd.
A friend of mine asked me a couple of weeks ago whether or not, if absolutely pressed, I'd recommend Big Order or Hand Shakers to hate-watch, since I had the opportunity to review both. At the time, I wasn't sure what my answer would be, but now I know. Big Order might be one of the lamest anime I've ever had to watch, but it least it kept the terrible insanity up for almost all of its run. If you are looking for an awful good time, seek out a show like Big Order, which can at least offer some kind of ironically worthwhile experience in exchange for its crappiness. Hand Shakers is just an awful time, with nothing good about it. Some of its directorial blunders are definitely ones for the history books, but they're not worth sitting through the entire show to experience. Do yourself a favor and avoid Hand Shakers at all costs. Let the industry learn from its mistakes by letting this show fade into the anonymous oblivion of obscurity.
Goodbye, Hand Shakers, and good riddance.
Hand Shakers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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