Japanese Title: s.CRY.ed
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 26 episodes
- The definition of hot-blooded anime.
- Straight Cougar character.
- Creative powers.
- Younger sister isn’t of much use.
- The Japanese acting.
Writing up my ‘Watched but Not Reviewed’ list – which I have since realised is missing many titles – gave me the urge to revisit s-CRY-ed, or Scryed for simplicity’s sake. I had watched Scryed several times within a year – I had access to less than ten titles at the time, so pickins were slim. As I mentioned in the list, I remembered this series as wall-to-wall action and similar to Marvel’s Civil War. Is it as I remember? Let’s find out.
A geological phenomenon splintered a part of Japan, creating an isolated area called ‘The Lost Ground’ where people known as Alters have started to develop the ability to summon weapons. Kazuma is one such Alter working as a mercenary to care for himself and his sister in this lawless land. The mainland government to bring the law, however, and have recruited Alters looking for a better life in exchange for their services in capturing ‘Native Alters’. Kazuma soon meets Ryuho, elite member of the mainland order HOLY, igniting a rivalry for the history books.
The rivalry is the heart of Scryed. You’re probably thinking this is a rivalry like Naruto versus Sasuke, Ash versus Gary, or Yugi versus Seto ‘I have Money’ Kaiba. No, no, no, you don’t understand. Kazuma versus Ryuho is on another level. Nothing takes precedence. These guys hate each other by mere mention of the other’s name. It’s never quite clear why. When one tries to help the other, that help is refused with prejudice because you never, ever accept anything from your rival. A starving Kazuma would tell Ryuho to kill himself if he offered food. When these two are on screen, each line of dialogue from one is met by derision or anger from the other like a bitter couple that has been married for too long, yet have to see each other every day. Ryuho would rather murder a puppy than accept help from Kazuma. This rivalry sounds absurd, but it is so absurd that it loops back around to greatness and it gives us the most ridiculous final episode of any show I have ever seen. Only this rivalry could give us such insanity.
You need to be into the rivalry to enjoy Scryed fully. However, beyond that, the action is good, thanks in most part to creative powers. I like that the author didn’t simply give them pliable powers and call them mutants. Each power is a physical construct. Instead of super strength, for example, Kazuma materialises a power gauntlet with thrusters around his right arm. Ryuho’s Alter is a humanoid in a strait jacket that kills with the straps. The most creative power has to be from the guy who can manipulate people by writing a script in his book, which is a different take on classic mind control. These differentiating factors make Scryed feel fresh, even today. Wait until you meet the guy with the gun.
The characters are a mixed bag. Kazuma is a hooligan while Ryuho is a snooty highborn – fitting for the rivalry. My favourite character is Straight Cougar, who can transform any vehicle into a super car out of Wacky Racers or Redline in addition to operating at a faster level than everyone else. His philosophy is speed, because the faster you do things, the more time you save and thus the more you can accomplish in life. That’s my kind of philosophy. He has this running gag of mispronouncing people’s names by one letter. Even after hearing this joke several times an episode, every episode, it still makes me laugh because it’s sharp and timed perfectly amidst regular dialogue. I love this character. His interactions with Minori Mimori, a researcher of Alters in love with Ryuho, are a delight.
Mimori is a serviceable character. The fact that her purpose isn’t just to be a love interest makes her more interesting. Where the cast falters is in some of the lesser Alters, who are merely filling bodies, and in Kazuma’s younger sister, Kanami. She is the narrator, of sorts, with her power to read the thoughts and emotions of others while dreaming. All she does is tell us Kazuma’s emotions that we can already see on screen… Pointless. Her inclusion is to give Kazuma something to protect, which is fine, but she has too much screen time for a clichéd younger-but-is-the-adult-in-the-house girl.
The story is where my memory went most wrong. I thought it was akin to Civil War, when its arc is the opposite, really. The Alters start divided between the lawless and HOLY. HOLD (owners of HOLY) treats the Lost Ground citizens like trash, arrested and tortured with no hesitation, eventually leading some to question if they are on the correct side. Real estate moguls want to develop the area, but the natives are a problem. I recalled Scryed as consisting of 90% action as well. In truth, though there is plenty of action, the story has much more to it than I remembered with character development, changing motives, and conflict to keep thing interesting.
A revisit of Scryed was a pleasant surprise. I expected nothing but nostalgia to keep me going. Instead, I finished the series and enjoyed every episode. That ending…
Art – Medium
The style is the same as the later released Gundam SEED though lacks visual depth and the animation is wonky at times. Interesting designs for the powers.
Sound – Medium
Clumsy exposition. The first line to the research scientist is someone telling her that she graduated seven years early. The acting is serviceable for the content, with a few great performances, but the Japanese acting for Kazuma and Ryuho is terrible. I like the ED – brings back memories.
Story – Medium
A mysterious phenomenon gifted select people with Alter powers, which has ignited a conflict for control over this ‘Lost Ground’ with free mercenaries on one side and organised Alters on the other. Scryed’s embodiment of testosterone in an eternal rivalry is entertaining and varied enough to warrant interest.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: For action fans. If you want hyper-action, yelling out names, bitter rivalry, and cool powers, look no further than Scryed.
Awards: (hover over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)