[Series Review] Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, Episode 1 [2020]

Within the first twenty-four seconds of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!, I had the same wonderment as the first character of our trio. Midori is “carsick” or maybe apprehensive about her lifestyle change moving into a new city until she sees it. We see it through the same quiet awe over what adventures may unfold as she does through this anime’s weird art aesthetic, frenetic energy, and visceral examination of a grimy yet glittery reality.

She livens up and the music starts when she sees her new city.

She explores as much as she can with almost reckless abandon. If I were in a city like this, I’d do the same. I’d have that same carefree attitude over soaking in as much as I could, exploring, and capturing what was coolest. For her, she is a background artist, so she draws concept art around the weird sights she sees.

We also get caught up in this frenetic energy.

Through all this glitter, however, we see a grimy city and reality.

When Midori’s mom goes to pick up her dad, she closes steel curtains on the outside of their apartment window and closes herself in to watch anime. I choose not to look into the cynicism of what the anime could be saying on the sly. Eizouken was made in an anime industry rife with conflicts external and internal, from the Kyoto Animation fire to controversies with Studio Gainax, but I choose to keep an even keel about the show.

This is a first-episode, first-impression, however.

Midori gets sucked into anime in a sort of realistically psychedelic way.

The night she shuts herself in through metal bars is the night she discovers her passion for animation, through an animated movie in the style of The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun meets Studio Ghibli, with the clever removal of outlines to give it a different impression from the rest of the series.

The anime has this wild and weird art aesthetic.

The art styles don’t clash as creatively as Mob Psycho 100.

However, there are scenes where the more abstracted backgrounds don’t stylistically match with the traditional cel-animated characters in the foreground, and it creates a wonderful artistic dichotomy. This was the secondary reason why this series hooked me within the first twenty-four seconds. Having that cinematic sweep across a new city that replicates seeing any new city from the downward slope from atop a hill was a nice touch of realism, sure, but what sold it for me was how fresh this world looks.

I’m bored of the same old trite anime and this is not trite.

When Midori rants to her friend she invited to an anime screening, Sayaka, it feels real.

Midori has an encyclopedic knowledge of how animation works by this point. This bores the more realistic Sayaka – who herself could be a commentary on how uncreative people can take advantage of creative people, but I choose to give her personality the benefit of the doubt for now. Sayaka was really only there to get some free milk, but at least in terms of casual psychology, she doesn’t seem overly manipulative of Midori.

If she were, her comments would be ruder.

Sure, she gets in some quips.

“Getting more of an explanation than you asked for is excruciating” is quite an examination of the mind, because when Midori continues her rant about animation instead of watching the animation, it’s easy to recall situations where friends might do the same, but there’s a playful sort of freneticism to Midori and Sayaka’s dynamic that makes it feel glittery rather than grimy.

Then Tsubame enters to round out the trio.

Tsubame is a model that wants to be an animator, too.

One of her bodyguards says the sort of fourth-wall-breaking joke, “our orders are to keep you from joining the anime club,” which seems framed and shot for easy replication across the Internet. Just like the aforementioned cynicism, I choose to read into this as subtle marketing, because people will post the screencap, then people will ask about what show it was from, then they’ll watch the first episode or three, and get hooked.

The thing that I like most is the grime versus glitter shots.

The show has a painterly quality with its shots.

When I go exploring reality, I look for the grimy yet glittery elements, like the pool filled with koi that was probably once a water basin or the laundromat with fading wood staining. Within this sort of Brutalist architecture exists the “golden repair” or kintsugi of our reality as well as theirs.

With a plainer art style, this wouldn’t have shown through.

Instead, they and we can explore this fantastic world for ourselves.

When the trio hang out at the laundromat, well, rather than continue to write about the plot as itself, let’s consider some of what we’ve already seen. The city, which doesn’t have a fancy name or much ado about it to introduce itself, is a hodge-podge of various architectural styles, built probably by members of the community based on need, so it becomes this mix of various aesthetics.

There’s an attention to detail everywhere that’s missing in many anime backgrounds.

The art style is multi-faceted, clashes, but blends together.

Just like our trio, Midori is a background artist and her personality is equally distant as she shyly studies people and backgrounds at a glance, while Tsubame as a character artist is around many different types of people. Sayaka, self-admittedly, doesn’t know much about anime, but she figures out ways to contribute in other ways, whether it’s something small like offering Midori’s sketchbook to Sayaka.

Sayaka has the neutral detachment for an audience surrogate character.

She does what needs to be done to progress the plot.

Not merely for plot contrivance’s sake, but because she might see Midori struggling with something, then decide to get the ball rolling. When Midori and Sayaka dodge out of the animated movie to save Tsubame, it’s Sayaka that makes a clever quip about making new friends that brings the trio together as they struggle to overcome a perceived obstacle. Most media will use certain editing techniques of zooming into a conniving face, lingering on some sort of insidiousness, or otherwise implying insincerity through extended focus.

Sayaka seems sincere, but this is the first episode, after all.

So when Sayaka hands over Midori’s sketchbook to Tsubame, it’s respectfully done.

Midori’s shyness prevented her from meeting new collaborators, which stinted her socially and artistically. Having someone like Sayaka to facilitate even small exchanges like that should provide fertile ground for Midori’s character development in future episodes.

Rather than summarize the rest of the episode, here’s a gallery of images:

I’m not sure if I’ll be writing in-depth reviews for the rest of the series.

I will, however, be watching more episodes after they air weekly on Sunday mornings at 10:30am PST and check out the manga as well. As I stated in the introduction, I was impressed from the beginning with this anime’s weird art aesthetic, frenetic energy, and visceral examination of a grimy yet glittery reality. This first episode sets a promising stage for a trio of characters.

Hopefully, the series will continue just as adventurously.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My viewing experiences.
Inspirations: Some of my more popular things on my website were my anime reviews of Golden Kamuy and MEGALOBOX. I’m not a big fan of writing reviews, so if I write future features about Eizouken on Sunday mornings, partially to break up the heaviness of the Sober Living essays, they would be more casual examinations by way of a Media Meandry writing where Eizouken is almost a secondary factor.
Related: Other Series Reviews.
Screenshots: 26 of my favorite screenshots from the first episode. Now, I imagine that there’s a sort of gray area in publishing all these screenshots. If the gallery of images must go, then it must, but until then, it all stays.
Written On: 2020 January 17 [Gdocs Rough Draft.] 2020 January 17 [8:01pm to “When the trio hang out at the laundromat” at 8:36pm.] 2020 January 18 [from 7:51am to 8:21am.] Written mostly while listening to Live in Los Angeles 2019.
Last Edited: 2020 January 18th [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.