Inuyashiki Review: What Differentiates a Hero from a Villain?

This review contains mild spoilers! Inuyashiki is an adaptation of a manga by Hiroya Oku, author of the classic Gantz. It tells the story of Inuyashiki, an old, unlucky man with a heart of gold. One day, he receives something that makes him find a new purpose and see life differently.

Inuyashiki: What Is It About?

The concept behind Inuyashiki is powerful enough to make a series worth watching, especially when it’s short and therefore not at risk of getting repetitive. However, its episodes one and two that made the anime community want to give it the AOTS title right from the start. That is because those two episodes happen to be the introduction of Inuyashiki and Hiro respectively. The two main characters and focal point of the series.

Inuyashiki is 58, but his body is that of an 80-year-old man. His family doesn’t take him seriously; he feels lonely, and, on top of that, he gets diagnosed with terminal cancer. Despite being a kind-hearted, loving man, he feels that life has abandoned him. On the other hand, Hiro is a cold and ruthless high school boy. He cares for his family and friends, but he couldn’t care less about anyone else. When both Inuyashiki and Hiro get the power to become cyborgs from an unknown entity, both of their natures come out and clash at full force.

The Story of Inuyashiki

It’s the story of two characters getting the same power, but choosing to apply it to different goals. Inuyashiki rediscovers his humanity and will to live through saving other people.

Meanwhile, Hiro feels alive when hurting others. This setup is enough to guarantee an interesting exploration of what it means to be human, and what makes someone become a hero or a villain. Ironically, this duality is emphasized by Hiro’s love of shonen manga. As a fan of One Piece (and, of course, Gantz), Hiro admires the heroes in those stories but fails to see that he’s nothing like Monkey D. Luffy.

If there is one thing that made this conflict a bit less interesting that it could have been is that Hiro was already a textbook psychopath before gaining his power. It would have been a lot more interesting to see a more nuanced take on Hiro’s damaged mind pre-gaining powers.

Making him an angsty, cold, problematic kid that ends up choosing the dark side would have allowed for a much more complex study on human morality and how there is good and evil in all of us. However, given that this is Oku we are talking about, it’s easy to see why making Hiro psychotic would be a way for the author to add a lot more edgy scenes (some of the most shocking scenes come from Hiro’s killings).

Inuyashiki: A Review

Speaking now of studio MAPPA‘s work, the art style is loyal to Hiroya Oku’s manga art, but it’s the animation where the series falls flat. The constant mix of 2D and 3D CGI (which worked pretty well in other series like Kado: The Right Answer) is so jarring in this case that it ultimately takes you off of the immersion in many scenes. The soundtrack is average, but at least the show has what’s probably the catchiest Opening of the season.

All in all, Inuyashiki is a quick and fun watch for those interested in a mature study of the dichotomy between good and evil in superhero settings, with some edgy moments on the side. Unfortunately, it has such a strong beginning that everything falls a bit flat afterward, and it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed in the second half as it feels like the series could have done a lot more with what it had.

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