s-CRY-ed Vol. 1 and 2

What is s-CRY-ed? Simply, s-CRY-ed is a fighting show for pre-teen boys. This was, for me, somewhat unexpected. Having been shown on Adult Swim a while back, I expected this series to have a reasonable amount of intelligence and maturity based on their other anime programming like Ghost in the Shell, Paranoia Agent, and Witch Hunter Robin. While s-CRY-ed is a bit more plot-heavy and violent than what's shown during kiddie hours on American TV, this deeply unnecessary show has little that holds appeal to serious anime fans out of puberty, and it thus proves that marketing to the wrong target audience can be disasterous.

22 years ago, Japan was struck by a massive earthquake that left a chunk of the island nation relocated by itself. This region, known as the Lost Ground, is governed by the group HOLD, which created a small city on the premises. Oh, and did I mention that 1% of the children born on the Lost Ground develop special powers?  It's like the Island of Lost X-Men, and HOLY (the police wing of HOLD) enforces a strict no tolerance policy on those "Alter users" who would use their powers outsides of their auspices. The story follows the exploits of Kazuma, a "native" Alter user who uses his powers for generally good purposes on the outskirts of society while trying to avoid the notice of the authorities. However, his ability to turn his arm into something the likes of which haven't been seen since The Terminator makes him a very visible target. When he attracts the attention of Ryuho, HOLY's top Alter user, he and his friends fight for their right to party...uh, erm, that, and the right to use their Alter powers as they see fit. Violence ensues.

Now there is nothing terribly wrong about the first several episodes of this series. The animation is serviceable, as is the soundtrack. The plot gives us a few tantalizing character interactions, especially with Mimori, a young lady who knew Ryuho before he turned into the hardened creep he appears to be. For those expecting a solid fighting show, the action sequences will be appreciated. There is nothing here that screams out "disaster," and when I look at the reviews around the web, I appear to be in a small minority in disliking it.

And yet I found s-CRY-ed to be among the most boring and predictable anime I've seen. I admit that I was expecting something different, something more mature, and without those lenses, maybe I would see it differently. But s-CRY-ed revels in every major stereotype. From the immature and overly cocky protagonist to the brooding and distant villain, I've seen it all. And if they weren't bad enough, the cronies that Kazuma winds up fighting are ridiculously over-the-top. Every time I thought that s-CRY-ed was making a move to become more serious, something else popped out of the woodwork. Maybe it was the named combo moves in combat. Maybe it was one episode ending with the potential deaths of Kazuma's friends, only to find out in the next episode that they were merely "captured" by HOLY. Perhaps it was the storyline, which was quite promising initially, getting lost in the shuffle. But I finally got tired of seeing every problem solved with a "last punch" that miraculously saved the day. It should say something that I took the time to Tivo all twenty-six episodes of the series but deleted it after finishing only eight. (That's the reason I've called it a review of just the first two volumes, since I didn't watch the rest, though I can easily say that I don't plan to see any more, either.)

I'm not giving s-CRY-ed the thrashing that it might deserve -- and having fast forwarded through the last two episodes and finding the same patterns there, I think it would be warranted. But what purpose would that serve?  This show really isn't for me. It's about a kid with adolescent hormones raging through his system who wants to smash stuff up good. Those on the cusp of adolescence who feel the same way might find more in this show to like than I did. But even as a 32-year-old, I've seen tons of movies and shows that feature young punks who I can still relate to, and s-CRY-ed could have done that too. Unfortunately, s-CRY-ed is a half-baked pop tart of a show that I can only see appealing to those who are too young and too anime illiterate to appreciate its faults.

s-CRY-ed Vol. 1 and 2 -- violence, mild language -- C