I’m shelving my eye rolling anger at Shingeki no Bahamut Virgin Soul for now and reviewing a show that completely shocked me, re:CREATORS. Warning: light spoilers. I tried really hard not to throw many in here.
The first episode of this show was a total WHUT? Mostly due to this:
That is a long-haired loli-looking girl in a military outfit using a sword to play a machine gun like a violin, which in turn creates a massive destructive force for defeating her enemies. I’ll just let that statement sink in for a minute…. Yeah. One wonders if there was a hat with crazy ideas written in it and the producers said, “Well… this is what we have to work with, so…” However, for as utterly ridiculous as all that sounds and looks – this show is one of the most well-constructed and thought provoking shows of the spring/summer seasons. Many people dismissed the show after seeing the above scene play out because it was so lol-worthy and asinine that it couldn’t be taken seriously. Once you got past the silliness exhibited in the first episode, which is completely deliberate btw, the show slowly reveals why she is this way.
Summary: In modern day Tokyo, very popular characters from anime, manga, light novels, and games of all sorts are popping into existence. These characters still retain their make-believe world powers while in the real world and are confused and confuse others because no one expects anyone to be as clueless about real life as these characters are. In fact, many bystanders just see these loonies as hardcore cosplayers until magical sword fights, flying horses, and WMDs start shooting off everywhere causing real destruction. Enter Sota, the main protag, who comes into contact with these Creations (as they end up being called) first. He’s tasked with having to explain that the Creations aren’t in their world anymore, but in his world – the real world – and that his world is the one that created theirs. The Creators of the Creations live in this real world and are thereby seen as gods by the Creations. And guess what? Most of the Creations are a little less than awed by their gods. In fact, most of them admit that their gods suck and the land of the gods is rather pathetic. As more Creations pop into existence due to electro-magnetic anomalies the Japanese military picks up on, the more Creations want to find their Creators and brow beat them for putting them into horrible worlds. Not all of them are so bad off, but many come from gritty, crime-ridden places or horrific war zones where death is everywhere. To see the world of the gods is rather…. boring by comparison makes the Creations rather bitter. While Sota is not a Creator per se, he’s familiar with enough of the Creations so he helps guide them to their Creators and helps the government figure out how to get these looney toons back to their own worlds. Not all of the Creations are so peaceful though and some deliberately kill their Creators and side up with Uniformed Military Girl (Altair) in the above photo. She’s recruiting the Creations that pop up in order to cause the created worlds to collide with the reality of the real world in order to destroy it.
So the basic plot involves the Creations fighting each other in order to save/destroy the world of the Creators, depending on what side they are on. It’s basic enough, but the real meat of this whole show is how self-aware it becomes with the roles of all the characters.
This show blends together almost every major type of genre and medium: magical girl icons, shonen heroes, anti-heroes, anime mecha warriors, fantasy heroines, magicians, gun-slingers and even a school girl from a dating sims game who is known for more hentai (soft porn) proclivities. All of these totally random but highly popular characters are thrown together or against each other in ways that don’t belittle or demean their genres in their own worlds. This is where the writing really shines in the show. It brings its own contradictions and then does what every human does with those contradictions- accept them or ignore them by choice. Some of the Creators state point-blank how utterly annoying their Creations are to deal with now they are flesh and blood. As Creations fight each other, they call each other out on their core values when some fight to kill, knowing it goes against their pre-ordained ideals. While some Creations come to terms with their Creators and accept that this is simply how they were written, others end up in denial or challenge their Creators. The show embraces each and every one of these Creations as being important parts of society because of the general populace need for personal relevance through them. It’s saying: there’s always going to be someone to identify/want/need this type so here it is.
The Creations then have to deal with people actually knowing more about them than they know about themselves. Their deepest, darkest secrets aren’t secret at all. This causes the Creations to question their motives, question their Creators for making them that way, and question their own existence. As a result, the Creations change mentally and emotionally when they reach the real world, which is also directly addressed in the show. The psychological trauma is real for some Creations when faced with the fact they are merely play things and entertainment most of the time in the world of the gods. All characters are highly self-aware. The Creators suddenly have to take responsibility for their Creations and learn more about themselves through watching their “children”. Watching how Creations deal with the real world and their Creators – or refuse to – is what makes this show so fascinating and fun to watch.
Aside from the Creations having tremendous hurdles to deal with in the land of the gods, the gods themselves are given respectful treatment by the show. As Creators, the gods are just as varied as the creations. Most of the time, men created strong female Creations and women created strong male Creations, which I found highly fascinating. Also, the Creations are typically good looking, well-balanced and athletic people whereas the Creators range from middle-aged balding men, to overweight dad-bod types, to androgynous tomboy women, to the typical glasses-wearing geek girls. This brings home the idea that here is the reality. The Creators are just as broken, weird, and different as their stories.
There is a strong parental sense of duty with the Creators accepting their unruly Creations come to life, but they themselves also deal with personal demons. Many feel jealousy or competition with each other and they even call each other out on who has “made it” and gets properly paid as a “professional” versus those who struggle to keep their hobby going. Not all of the Creators are popular nor are treated as truly professional people for their crafts. This also shows in the style of characters they create, so when their Creations come face to face with them, it’s more showing than telling about the types of people the Creators truly are. Their inner selves are in some cases, literally personified in front of them.
In the end, everything boils down to one thing: acceptance. If the masses accept the Creations then those creations win out in the end and save the world from Altair’s destructive goals. How the show does this is highly creative: it creates a show where ALL of the Creations in their varied genres battle together to save the world. There is proper government organization set up of the production agencies for the Creations to be pulled from their respective story lines via spin-off stories into a real-life battle royale arena and and the finale is a true “live-action” show of the battle the audience rates. The ending is a truly heart-felt confrontation of what happens when people self-destruct. Altair, a Creation born of that self-destruction, gets a chance to confront her Creator in an amazingly clever manner. The show doesn’t pull any cheap tricks or cop-outs, but rather uses it’s own devices to flip an outcome all the while saying: Well, this happens in the stories we write all the time, so here it is – and we’re showing it to you.
It’s extremely hard for me to write more about this without giving away heavy spoilers. Sorry if it’s been a bit too vague, but all I can say is despite the crazy machine-gun violins, this show is totally worth watching.