Saturday, 22 January 2011

Anime Review - Monochrome Factor (Shounen-ai)

Gotta love the glint in the eyes of the guy at the back...

As a lover of all things perverted, even the seemingly innocuous Monochrome Factor didn’t pass my beady gaze. Initially finding it through a recommendation with Neugami Neuro, I thought it would be a dark humoured amusing romp. However, what it is instead is a weak wristed, shounen-ai flirting that will put off the usual action fans and not contain enough bishies or boy on boy action to placate the fan-girls.

Following the high school delinquent Akira, the story is quick to make our unlikely hero into a good for nothing layabout that leaves his class prefect, Aya, despairing. Throw in goofy best friend/sidekick Kengo, add the flirtatious and mysterious stranger Shirogane and leave the group to fight off the arrival of some red-eyed snakey things and you have yet another generic shounen action flick to add to the list. However, what sets this apart is the use of a doppelganger to disguise Akira’s new job in life. Oh wait, didn’t they do that in Bleach already?

One of the shows "bishies". I shit you not.
Once our hero has been made into an uber demon slaying machine, Kengo and Aya soon find themselves kitted out with magical artefacts (including some gloves that are very similar to those found in Hitman Reborn) and get in on the action. From this point onwards, the story is rinse and repeat dreary filler that drags on episode after episode, with the “loveable gang” meeting someone new and then having to save them from a parasitic demon. The underlying story is drip fed gradually throughout this episodes in a way supposed to be tantalising, but that becomes more frustrating than anything.

Unfortunately, what could have been an earth shattering climax becomes a damp squib of predictable monotony. As the manga is currently unfinished, a messy ending is cobbled together that answers very few questions and will probably leave most viewers scratching their heads. If there was to be a season 2, I would probably watch it (the OCD sadism in me demands it), but only to have a conclusion drawn under the plagiarised boredom. I know of a couple of people who have enjoyed Monochrome Factor, however they watched it early in their anime career when they had no standards to base this by. Maybe a little open-mindedness is needed, but I didn’t have the patience for mindless fluff that gives very little in the way of rewards.

The animation is certainly flaky in places. Like here.
One of the main stumbling blocks for me was the substandard animation. Characters seemed to change subtly frame by frame, and everything feels like it was drawn in a rush. Despite this, the animation becomes marginally better in the second half, but still lacks the va-va-voom that can be found in many shows of the same vintage. Most shounen-ai shows play on their strengths; beautiful bishies flirting with each other is always a pleasure to behold, however the average looking cast of Monochrome Factor caused no stirring of my loins. Shirogane looks creepy with his feminine lips and too pale skin, whilst Akira is only semi-decent when in his shadow form and the potentially delectable Kou is relegated down to a secondary character.

"I... I... never realised they came in XXXL"
Heading up the cast as Shirogane, Junichi Suwabe lends his super sexy vocals initially bestowed on Archer of Fate/Stay fame. Daisuke Ono also makes a star turn as the heroic Akira, standing shoulder to shoulder with a very lusty sounding Ami Koshimizu. Unfortunately this excellent cast is spoilt by the veritable annoyance of Aya as she wails “Akiraaaa” for the hundredth time or grunts through yet another telegraphed sword attack. Musically, I can’t say I was particularly smitten with either the OP or the ED as they both fall into the dull mainstream trap. That said, neither particularly have anything dislikeable about them, they are simply easily skippable.

Flaky, cliché and predictable, the cast of Monochrome Factor feel like better known characters making a cameo in this lesser series. Akira is a typical hot-headed shounen hero that is reminiscent of Bleach’s Ichigo. As a loyal sidekick, Kengo is more than a little similar to Shinji from Get Backers. The list goes on, but I can’t help feel that the characters featured here lack the drive and motivation of the previously mentioned shows.
As close to an up-skirt shot as Monochrome Factor gets.
Although as far from a feminist as you can get (yes, I believe women are generally worse drivers than men), the female faces in the show are either raging nymphomaniacs or overly violent tsunderes. Aya is a disappointing member of the main team and it feels as if she has been looked over when it came to developing her into a more robust figure. Adding youthful innocence to the group, Haruka is a somewhat mysterious and unpredictable character who has some annoying and strange tendencies.

Man it up and make out already!

I honestly thought I might quite enjoy this; instead, I was left feeling disappointed and cheated. To the writers: please either stick to shounen, or go for an all out Junjou Romantica as sitting on the fence between the two isn’t going to win you many fans.


  1. I just finished watching this myself and I agree with most of your points. As a fangirl I was left frustrated with the weak shounen-ai content. And yeah, Shirogane was creepy :/ However, I enjoyed Mayu's drunken man-chasing, Lulu's half-hearted antagonism, and Haruka's quiet cuteness. Everyone else was pretty forgettable. I kept watching it hoping/expecting it to get better, but the same totally unusupenseful battle was played out about 20 times. It wasn't terrible....just a bit boring. In a moment of generosity I rated it 3/5 ~kitty

    A few of my favourite moments:

  2. I honestly don't think that bad of Monochrome factor. While watching it i enjoyed the development of the characters even though I must agree - it would have been a whole lot better if they sticked to shounen(at least)! Not to mention all those moments when you get the impression something will happen and the next minute it's all gone. I have to say that if there is a second season {there were some rumors that it will appear next year?} I will DEFINATELY watch it. I just love that anime :)

  3. I completely agree with this review. The anime was a complete horrid atrocity. But the manga is much better. Not only is the story completely different, but the character designs are slightly altered (and are better in my opinion), and there isn't any shounen-ai (which I love, but was utterly wasted on this anime). The anime left a bad taste in my mouth, but the manga isn't half bad.