I rather like the manga Moyashimon, but I’ve only been able to get hold of the first two volumes in English. I looked on Hulu for the anime, and ended up with a live action TV show based off the manga. So.
Moyashimon: the live action TV series, a review.
For those who don’t know, Moyashimon is about a guy called Sawaki who can see anthropomorphically personified microbes. The story starts when he goes to an agricultural university and finally meets people who believe him when he says he can see bacteria and viruses.
Weird superpowers are fun!
I had a number of problems with the TV series:
1. The guy who plays Sawaki makes the character seem more spastic than he is in the manga. When the brewing vats tipped and spilled hiochi into the air, live-action-Sawaki stood there screaming and windmilling his arms like a maniac. He also tended to make weird faces. And whisper at the bacteria hovering around him to shut up. In short, when Hasegawa thought Sawaki was lying about seeing microbes, I was on her side. There’s a club on campus composed of people who chant “bentora, bentora, space people!” with little to no provocation. Sawaki seemed like he belonged there more than in a biology lab.
2. The chick who plays Hasegawa wasn’t convincing when she was at her most testy. This is a character who, by default, is annoyed by the idiots she is surrounded with. The live action Hasegawa felt like she was just going through the motions.
3. It’s always a big deal when an American live-action movie take some cues from comic books (Sin City, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Kill Bill), but I’m coming to realize that it’s not an unusual choice for Japanese TV shows. With that said, I found it disconcerting in the TV show when the characters suddenly started walking faster because it had been sped up, or Hasegawa’s face started glowing red because she was angry.
There are some other problems, though, and I don’t know where to place the blame for these. As the TV series covers more ground than the first two volumes of the manga, these problems might be due to the manga. I can’t tell.
4. The love potion. What the hell? That entire episode was just wrong. Why did the professor give them the aphrodisiac (aka “love potion”)? Why did they think it was ok to use it on other human beings? Why were the bacteria cheering them on?
5. Hasegawa under the influence of the love potion. She scratched Misato up so badly that he was a quivering mass of PTSD by the time morning rolled around. That’s horrible, not funny. Here’s a bit of wisdom from the inimitable Mr. Rothfuss, released into the world via a column he used to write for his college newspaper. A girl wrote in, saying that when she found out a guy who’d been flirting with her was already in a relationship ,she hit him with a one pound block of cheese. She wanted to know whether she should feel bad. Here’s part of Rothfuss’ response:
There’s a guy and a girl. They hang out, flirt, “and beyond” doing the relationship dance. Later, the guy finds out that the girl already has a boyfriend. She’s been lying to him and leading him on, and generally taking advantage of his trusting nature.
So the next time they’re together, the guy is seething mad. He keeps it under control for a while, but eventually a comment makes him lose his cool. So he takes whatever is in his hand: a coffee mug, a wrench… whatever. Then he hits her with it. Hits her so hard that she falls down and can’t get up for several minutes.
Now the question: should the guy feel bad? Seems pretty straightforward to me.”
6. Misato and Kawahama are budding criminals. They rope Sawaki into stealing food from the agricultural fields all the time, and they always get caught. What the hell, Sawaki! Just say “no”. Also, they rip people off every chance they get. And then they get caught. Really, the biggest evidence the show gives for aphrodisiac being the real thing is that Misato and Kawahama weren’t crucified by an angry mob after selling some of it to the student population. If it was a dud, they would have been found out.
7. Is the Kei thing canon? I can’t…I dunno…why? “I wanted to try being another part of myself.” I’m not convinced. And, um…what did happen that night at Sawaki’s apartment?
It got better about halfway through, though the season/series finale was the sort of thing I’ve come to expect from anime and manga. It sacrificed logic and pushed all its budget into “heartwarming”. For me, though, logic makes my heart warm enough. I couldn’t help but ask things like, if Hasegawa’s father’s goons prevented her from leaving the room while the house was being invaded, how was she able to get past them and down to the pool after Sawaki fell off the roof? And, after having his house invaded by Agri-U students, Hasegawa’s father let her go back to the university? That’s, like, the opposite of what I’d expect from such a misogynistic and hidebound man.
If you don’t have the sort of moral qualms that I do, then you might actually like the series.