After living a fairly nothing life at the beginning of Spiritpact, Keika dies quite unceremoniously when he’s hit by a truck. However that isn’t the end as Tanmoku shows up and asks Keika to become his spirit shadow. After a series of narratively convenient events a contract is made and the two are joined but there’s still a whole lot of mystery going on.
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Let’s get this part of the review out of the way. The first episode of this is a nearly unwatchable mess. It has the hallmarks of an absolute train wreck and the only reason I didn’t chuck this show then and there and actually am now able to review the series is because of my slight intrigue about this whole spirit shadow thing.
In fact, this series along with Hand Shakers is kind of the reason I started wondering just how some anime got made or continued for a whole season when really it seems like it would make more sense just to toss them aside. However, I’m a sucker for ghost stories so despite thinking very little of it I moved on to episode two.
Episode two isn’t much better, but…
You knew there had to be a ‘but’ coming.
…what this show does incredibly well is each episode reveals something. Not much and at first it isn’t overly coherent (or it is just a massive information dump with little context) but it does reveal something. And even though there are points in pretty much every episode where you could pause the screen and just ask ‘Why am I watching this?’ the answer is pretty clear. Despite everything wrong with this show from a production and writing point of view it is telling a really compelling story (it just isn’t doing it well).
And then you get to the second half of the series (this ended up only being 10 episodes so second half isn’t that far in). The biggest problems from early in the show are finally starting to sort themselves and you are getting less of the poor comedy and more of the straight up drama. By episode 9 you don’t know when it happened but you are completely caught up with these characters and the story and episode 10 delivers a satisfying conclusion.
Does any of the emotional investment make this a better show?
Not really. It is a travesty at times. The comedy is truly hideous (and unhelped because it is accompanied by truly hideous visuals). Transitions between scenes are awkward. Characters come and go from the series around our protagonists but sometimes they’ve had so little to do early of consequence later when they return you don’t even know who they are. One character doesn’t appear early on, nor are they mentioned, but they play a fairly critical role in the second half. You spend a lot of the first three episodes asking ‘what?’ and you spend some of the time in the middle of the series wondering if they just forgot what was meant to happen next.
I still had a great deal of fun watching this. Early on it was just to see if this could be my worst of the season. The premise was interesting enough that I’d be entertained and it would give me something to talk about. By the end I was genuinely waiting the week out just to get the next episode to find out what happened to the characters next.
Keika is probably the character success story of the 2017 winter season really. I hated him in episode 1. I genuinely wanted his soul to disappear. By the end I was nearly in tears when his soul was in danger. I do not know why I started liking his character or caring about his fate but I know that somewhere along the line he became someone I genuinely wanted to see survive and find some happiness.
Despite that, I won’t recommend this. If the premise intrigues you, check it out and stick it out (it’s only ten episodes). You’ll probably wind up enjoying it even if you want to howl with frustration early on. If the premise isn’t really your thing and you’ve got a watch list that continues to grow forever, the fact that it ends well probably isn’t enough incentive to sit through this.
That said, season 2 improves in everyway on this story and wow I’m kind of hoping it eventually continues.
Images from: Spiritpact. Dir. Haoling Li. Haoliners Animation League. 2016.
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