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Review of ANONYMOUS;CODE
Vote: 6.8animecac on 2023-09-18
|Review||I'm sorry to say this was quite disappointing. It's not bad, but it's just not up to the standards of previous sci-adv entries. I will keep this spoiler free.|
First, what it does well--the first 3-4 chapters are excellent. Good pacing, worldbuilding; it gets you invested very quickly. The soundtrack is overall quite good, though not as emotive as the earlier entries of the sci-adv series. The CGs, backgrounds and manga-like scenes take the production and immersion to a whole new level. I was not a fan of the sprites however, they were highly animated but as a result could be distracting and lacked artistic detail. I'd prefer static but artistically detailed sprites over what we got here.
Unfortunately, this entry begins to feel very shallow once things get going. It's basically a rushed shonen type story, the MC is essentially a walking cliché as are almost all the other characters. There are far too many characters crammed into a novel of this length, which highlights one of several major problems with this story--everything feels rushed. Everything suffers as a result of this. It would have been better to either expand the story's length to give time to better develop characters and plot points; or to have simplified everything down to fewer characters and more streamlined plot points.
This rushed feeling leads to almost every 'twist' in the story feeling like an ass-pull. Things mostly don't get their proper set up, so it turns into a repetitive game of "We need to do this McGuffin right now-- a conspiracy left behind by this famous historical figure, if we do--it'll solve our problems. Quick, let's go!". Unlike Steins;gate which has long, lengthy build-ups to very satisfying pay-offs (with sound internal logic), this just feels like thrown-together story beats, each more unbelievable than the last. The amount of suspension of disbelief just grows too much, things are rarely foreshadowed in any meaningful way. We are simply told the state of affairs, and we have to hold onto our hats as we accelerate off to another solution quickly earned. Again, more Shonen than sci-adv.
By the end, it felt like a Shonen-ised Steins;gate. Some of the ideas were interesting as was some of the world-building, but from a narrative perspective these were not well integrated into the particulars of the story.
My score represents the very high production value and overall enjoyable experience due to sheer spectacle. However, the story itself (spectacle aside) is perhaps the weakest in the sci-adv series. Go in expecting a fun Shonen story, and don't expect the moody depth of the Chaos / Steins entries. Do that, and there is a good time to be had here.
EDIT: Happy to talk spoilers in the comments (with tags of course). Also, I should mention that even though this release develops some interesting twists for the sci-adv series as a whole, I don't think that makes up for the issues within this story. Even then, I'm still yet to decide if I like the twist or not. I suppose that will depend on what happens next.