This week we are finishing a lot of the winter 2014 anime series, one of which I’ve been following but not reviewing episode per episode is Hamatora. I got into Hamatora through a follower’s suggestion and the poll results and I really wish that I had enough time to review the series weekly but because I was so swamped with other shows and all the while juggling schoolwork, I couldn’t. Still, it’s become of my favourite shows this season which is why I decided to do a full series review.
Hamatora takes place in present day Japan that seems pretty regular on first glance. However, some humans have supernatural abilities termed Minimums and these people are called Minimum-holders. Gifted children screened to have potential Minimum powers are sent to an academy called Facultas that hones their powers to the fullest. Those who endure the difficulties and pass the test rise to the top of society in career or class prestige while others who are kicked out are left to live their lives like ordinary humans.
Our main character is Nice, who is revealed, throughout the series, to be the highest scoring candidate to every graduate from Facultas. Nice possesses a Sonic Minimum where he can literally SEE sound in waves, lines and colours allowing him to instantaneously move and manipulate his surroundings to more or less kickass in battles. His partner is Murasaki who has a super strength Minimum. Nice and Murasaki are an independent private investigating duo called Hamatora who get by taking on independent cases from clients that happen to hear about them. All the Minimum-holders we see in the series operate in duos. One pair consists of Birthday, literally able to utilize and magnify electricity, and Ratio, a Minimum-holder who has the ability to instantly see a person’s physical make-up and death. Another pair later introduced include Honey, a girl with an analytical Minimum and Three, a Minimum-Holder with beast-like capabilities. Our villain is Moral, an ex-professor/associate of Facultas who has been attempting to give Minimums to non-Minimum holders to “save” the week. Inspector Art is also a recurring character and he’s a subject of interest because he is the only student of Facultas to ever graduate without manifesting his Minimum. He’s the head of the police, law and order facilities around the city.
The series starts off pretty normal and fairly light as Nice and Murasaki are mainly helping different clientele with their problems. As we near the mid-point of the show, the plot twists the story into a much darker context. Moral has been murdering Minimum-holders and biologically transplanting their brains into regular humans who want a minimum. Figuring out that Moral is the culprit isn’t the main focus of the show at all. Rather, the theme we see generally consistent in the progression of the story is the contrast between the strong and weak. This is a general theme we see in all series where humans are divided due to their supernatural abilities. Moral’s scheming exposes the Minimum-holders to the regular folk who are outraged and fearful of these Minimum monsters. Chaos ensues. However, Moral’s true goal is not only to destroy the weak who he believes are bitter of their nature and seek to bring down the strong, Moral’s true goal is to become an equal to Nice and to surpass Nice’s extent so that Nice will understand the frustration and weakness of others.
As the main plot point, the conflict between Nice and Moral is really the most interesting part of the series. Nice’s perspective of everyone seems unpredictable because we never really understand anything about his motivations. Because he’s pretty much the strongest and smartest of the evolved Minimum-holders, he’s painted more as a genius who’s incomprehensible by the other characters (as well as the audience). We do see that his motivations are good and that he’s not mentally twisted like Moral. However, he doesn’t seem that emotionally attached to his friends, as seen in episode 12 when he chucks his cellphone into the sea because of his annoyance with the buzzing, even though his friends are all texting his words of encouragement. As well, Nice doesn’t seem bothered by much in life, even though he’s living coin to coin and Hajime seems to leave him broke with every extra order of milk or meat. Nice doesn’t claim to be a hero, but I think the different between him and Moral is that Nice measures an individual’s strength based on their character, decisions and sense of responsibility. This is best seen when Nice calls Takahiro cool even though Takahiro’s just rampaged through the city. I think Nice believes that everyone has a right to seek strength, whatever that may be which is why Takahiro is admirable in Nice’s eyes. Moral, on the other hand, views the measure of strength according to the abilities of their Minimum which is why he is so fanatically obsessed with Nice.
In the end, Nice is able to overcome the “ultimate” teleportation Minimum that Moral injected into his body and despite the mid-point twist where Art is seen to be shot dead by Moral, Art arrives at the scene to finish off Moral with a gun. The ending leaves us with a lot of questions because after Nice checks Moral’s body to make sure he’s dead, Art points a gun to Nice’s head and the episode blacks out. After a roll of credits, we get a TO BE CONTINUED end card that leaves us hanging.
Overall Rating: 4/5 happy clouds
It’s hard to believe that Nice is dead. If anything, Nice snapped his finger and moved before the bullet could hit his head. However, there is much speculation about how Art survived the murder as well as why Art would suddenly point his gun at Nice. After all, Art doesn’t seem like the person to randomly shoot and kill someone despite Moral’s twisted crimes. My theory of Art’s hostility towards Nice at the end of the episode goes back to what Moral claimed as the “ultimate” Minimum. If Moral really possessed the strongest Minimum, one that even surpasses Nice, it would almost be unthinkable that Nice could possibly defeat Moral since Moral’s second minimum allowed him to be “everywhere in existence” within a ten meter radius. The fact that Nice defeated Moral means that Nice’s ability could make him akin to God. With the ability to move, appear and disappear instantaneously, Nice could become a threat to the government. After all, Nice never signed up with the government upon graduating nor does he utilize any of the Minimum-holder perks he’s entitled to. He does everything at his own pace and this is what makes him such an unsteady wild card to the authorities.
I’m looking forward to see the rest of the plot mysteries addressed in a season two of Hamatora or a movie or OVA. What did you guys think of the series overall? I thought it was pretty strong for the winter season and the pacing was fair. I’m glad they didn’t try to cram everything into the end but leave it more open-ended for discussion or another season. If the “To Be Continued” will give us more, then this first season achieved its purpose of setting the atmosphere, introducing the world and demonstrating the societal discourse with Minimum-holders. Hamatora was produced by Studio Naz which gave us some pretty great animation. I love how the Minimum concepts were portrayed as well as the overall cinematography. I thoroughly enjoyed Hamatora overall so I highly recommend this to any supernatural or mystery fans out there.
I hope you guys liked Hamatora and if there’s more to come, there will be more from me on the series as well. Thank you guys so much for reading! These are just my thoughts so let me know what you guys think in the comments and I will talk to you all soon!
What are you pondering today?
– What was with that Hajime rage?
– Is Art evil now?
– Murasaki is still smexy despite getting beat up by Moral
– Those character kiddy shots in the credits were adorable