by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 1 of
How would you rate episode 2 of
How would you rate episode 3 of
Once upon a time in the distant year of 2017, some idiot got to review a little anime disaster called Hand Shakers. I ended my coverage of Studio GoHands' doomed magnum opus by giving thanks to the Gods of Anime, because I truly believed that a continuation of Hand Shakers was impossible. Even when GoHands announced their latest project, the inexplicably titled W'z, I never gave a passing thought to the notion that it might actually be a sequel to one of the worst anime I've ever had the displeasure of watching.
Well, here's a plot-twist for you! Either the Gods of Anime are dead or they have truly forsaken us all. I've already chronicled the existential crisis I experienced when I discovered the shocking truth behind W'z's existence, but even after three episodes, it still feels totally unreal to return to the world of Hand Shakers, their Nimrods, and the battles they fight in the alternate dimension of the Ziggurat. So is W'z an improvement on Hand Shakers? Or is it somehow worse?
The answer is complicated, because I would be lying if I said that this series didn't improve on some its predecessor's mistakes. Rather infamously, the hyperactive overuse of digital camera pans made the action scenes in Hand Shakers so badly shot that they induced actual nausea in some viewers. W'z seems to have toned down its use of such irritating tricks significantly – there are only a couple of action scenes across W'z's first three episodes, and while the camera work certainly isn't great, it's leagues more tolerable than it was before.
Plus, while our hero Yukiya is a bit of a pill, he has more personality than Tazuna ever did (though that isn't saying much). Haruka, Yukiya's best friend and ostensible love interest, is also nowhere near as irritating and infantilized as Koyori was in the original series. Yukiya even has a relationship with his parents that's borderline endearing, which is another improvement over the first season. If you were to dig way down deep into the core of W'z, you'd find the potential for a Hand Shakers sequel that could at least bearable to watch.
But despite these small improvements, at the end of the day W'z is just as bad as Hand Shakers was, and in some respects it might actually be worse. In order to capture what makes W'z able to live down to the subterranean standards set by its predecessor, I'm going to recap all the meaningful plot developments that we get over the course of these three episodes:
- It's been ten years since Hand Shakers ended. We meet Yukiya, who can Hand Shake with literally anyone. He's an aspiring DJ, and he brings Haruki into Ziggurat to help him film a performance he wants to upload online. Masaru from the first season is also there, who tells him to go find Koyori at his new school.
- Two pairs of Handshakers catch wind of this and show up for a brief fight. One of the teams consists of two girls, Senri and Hana. The others are two boys, Gai and Masataka. The girls seem to be fighting so they can wish for a world where they can “be together”, while the boys are fighting to obtain Yukiya's ability to live in the Ziggurat. They pop up a couple more times afterward, though we learn little else about them.
- After the fight, Yukiya heads to his new school, meets Koyori, and learns that she needs his help to search Ziggurat for Koyomi and Nagaoka (her sister and her sister's partner). Yukiya agrees to help.
- Yukiya and Haruka get ice cream. Elsewhere, a grown-up Tazuna fixes a motorcycle.
- Koyori meets up with all the old characters from Hand Shakers. It turns out that Yukiya's parents are the BDSM-themed Handshakers we met back in season one's first episode, Reijiro and Yukine. Lily and Masaru seem to be an item now, and the fact that they're siblings still doesn't faze anyone for some reason. Chizuru and Hayate are happy just running their bar.
- It's revealed that Yukiya was actually born in Ziggurat and adopted by Reijiro and Yukine, which explains his exceptional powers.
If this doesn't seem like enough plot to fill over an hour of screentime, that's because it isn't. W'z has to go to absurd lengths to pad out its awful dialogue and exposition. I'm not exaggerating when I say the show spends nearly all of episode 3 just having old characters from Hand Shakers stand in a circle and blather about nothing. At this point, W'z isn't just boring; it's excruciatingly tedious. At least when Hand Shakers failed, it failed so catastrophically that it was worth discussing. So far, W'z plot is just a big shapeless pile of nothing.
The one bad habit from Hand Shakers that W'z is more than happy to replicate entirely is going out of ts way to look as hideous as possible at all times. The backgrounds are still awkwardly mismatched, the terrible CG is integrated poorly alongside the 2D art, and the omnipresent color filters smear every frame of animation in the same noxious fog of green and purple that has haunted me for the last two years. I also hope you enjoy W'z's background music, because you'll be hearing the same three loud repetitive tracks over and over and over again.
I have no clue what W'z will be delivering to us over the next nine weeks, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it wasn't voted for because anyone thought it was going to get better. Nevertheless, we're going to go down with this trash barge together, so I hope that you enjoy my weekly efforts to make sense of a world where a sequel to Hand Shakers is allowed to exist. It isn't the anime that we wanted or needed, but maybe it's the anime we deserve.
W'z is currently streaming on HIDIVE.
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