by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 4 of
Hand Shakers ?
“If the show doesn't get any better in the coming weeks, I'm at least hoping it can get more ridiculous.” – James Beckett, Review of Hand Shakers Episode 3
Damn it, Past James. Every time you say something like this, Fate intervenes to mete out ironic justice upon us. It's like Hand Shakers is a two-dozen-fingered monkey's paw, with every episode curling another cruelly knotted finger of terrible wish fulfillment. If I am the prideful Icarus, then Hand Shakers is the flaming ball of unfettered retribution that melts my waxen wings.
This was a bad episode, is what I'm getting at. A very bad episode.
I'll start with the few positive observations I made this week. The last twelve minutes of this twenty-three minute episode are actually not all that terrible. They aren't very good, consisting primarily of long-overdue exposition and unfunny shtick between Chizuru and Hayate, but it isn't an active train wreck. Getting to know a little more about how the Hand Shakers work is fine, I guess, though in the absence of any character development or worldbuilding, it all still feels like vague gobbledygook. Then again, many anime have been filled with vague gobbledygook, and some of them have even been pretty good, so I can't hate on Hand Shakers too much for that. Chizuru and Hayate surviving the battle does at least provide time to spend with characters who aren't Tazuna and Koyori though, which is good. Even though these new Hand Shakers are steeped firmly in the realm of tired jokes and clichés, they at least have some semblance of chemistry. If it sounds like I'm grasping at straws, it's because I absolutely am; if I'm going to criticize something, I must at least try to be fair.
So please, keep all of that in mind when I say that, without exaggeration, the first half of this episode contains one of the single worst sequences of animation I've ever seen.
What's strange is that this is a direct continuation of the fight that ended last week's episode, and while it certainly wasn't good, it at least reined in the worst of those qualities Hand Shakers displayed in its first couple weeks. The same cannot be said of this week, because absolutely nothing about this opening ten minutes worked. The inconsistent animation, the woefully dated CG, the janky camera work, and the incomprehensible fight choreography all came together to form a failure of production that I can't easily compare to anything I've seen in recent memory. The battle was a chore just to try and follow on a basic shot-to-shot level, and when I could understand what was happening, the glaring incongruity between the two-dimensional characters and their awful CG backgrounds was just an ugly sight to behold. Even Big Order, for all of its many failures, never managed to so thoroughly botch a single sequence the way Hand Shakers did this week.
At one point, I actually yelled “Stop!” at my TV loudly enough to startle my cats, because the camera was thrashing about so badly. The first episode of Hand Shakers gave a number of viewers motion sickness, and while this episode didn't make me dizzy or queasy, its opening sequence did manage to give a noticeable headache, forcing me to pause the episode for a good while before I could finish it. I have never had such a dreadful physical reaction to watching something like I did watching this.
So congratulations, Hand Shakers. You managed not only to give me a literal headache, but my cats also ended up frightened because of it. Whatever the second half of this episode does right, it's entirely undermined by a preceding ten minutes that I hope to never sit through again. I wouldn't even recommend this as a hate-watch, because nothing about it is funny-bad. It's just painful. If that isn't worth an F, I don't know what is.
Hand Shakers is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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