Friday’s Feature: Mid-Season Thoughts On ‘KADO: The Right Answer’

At episode 6 I had to admit I had fallen completely in love with this anime. There’s someone in the real world who I think will love this show but they won’t watch it until it finishes airing but at the end of each episode I want to talk to them about it and hear their thoughts. They’ve now banned me from mentioning anything that happens because they want to enjoy it for themselves and that’s fair enough but it means I’m wanting to talk about this show so much and really don’t have an outlet for it. (On that note, spoilers if you haven’t watched up to episode 6 will follow).

That’s part of why I would recommend this anime 100% even though it isn’t finished airing (and I rarely recommend unfinished anime because too many take a nose dive in the second half). But even if KADO follows that trend and does deteriorate into nonsense as the season continues, these first 6 episodes give more than enough reason to watch and discuss this show.

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Certainly there are points to be made about the visuals of the show but I’m not really interested in that aspect at this point and time (although, mostly I think it’s been pretty with the possible exception of a few moments where the characters have gone a bit creepy momentarily). What is really grabbing me about this show is thinking through this scenario if it actually happened.

The list below severely simplifies the plot from the first 5 episodes (in the process leaving out a lot of interesting thoughts and concepts raised by the show but we’ll get back to that later):

01. A cube appears and swallows a plane full of passengers.

02. We learn the passengers are fine and will be released but the being from the cube wants to negotiate.

03. As part of that they want to give all of humanity a source of unlimited energy.

04. The UN attempts to control this new energy source and Japan, the nation that received it complies but only because they’ve got a scientist who has already figured out how to make the energy source anyway.

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Even if that were it for a plot and no further curve balls were thrown, that is more than enough to get my personal curiosity fired up. Of course what most people are wondering is what zaShunina is up to in just handing humanity unlimited energy. A popular theory I’ve seen is that it is the usual alien gives double edge sword and sits back and waits for humanity to destroy itself. Certainly that is a possibility and would fit with what is happening in terms of the UN trying to muscle Japan into compliance, mostly urged by the US and Russian representatives (and did anyone else find it odd that the whole UN Security Council other than Japan actually agreed on something).

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I’d like to believe the anime isn’t going there, though events in episode 6 make me a little suspicious of zaShunina. His ‘next’ step concerns me a great deal both in terms of what it means practically and in terms of what he will need to do to accomplish such a goal. Still, if he isn’t out to destroy humanity (or see us destroy ourselves) I have to wonder what his overall goal is. Is he just benevolent and wanting to improve humanity? That seems unlikely although I’ll admit that is probably my own cynicism coming through more than any evidence from the anime.

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Then again, part of me wonders if zaShunina is actually the one in charge of this at all. I remember when we first met him he kind of was constructed by the cube itself.  As they have very carefully avoided actually asking him anything about himself of note (other than where he comes from) it is quite possible that zaShunina’s intentions are irrelevant as he might just be an agent for an as yet unseen factor in the background. That might be needlessly conspiracy theory-ish but it makes a lot of sense when you consider the nature of zaShunina’s appearance and the fact that he seems to have a check list of objectives but doesn’t explain the reason for them outside of general terms that could be misconstrued.

Moving on from zaShuina himself, the reactions of the people and the world in this anime to the events feel very real. Life in Japan, after the initial surprise of the cube arriving, returns to normal outside of a few interruptions to the airport itself and the episode 6 temporary evacuations of certain districts as a precaution. The media are camped outside the cube and reporting regularly, there are photos and the like being sent around on social media, but for most the cube is a curiosity. While some of the more extreme were protesting the Japanese government’s refusal to comply with the UN, the majority of people kind of went about their daily life.

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For some, this might be a problem because we’re used to seeing Hollywood movies where everyone just kind of stops in their tracks or runs crazy at the mention of the arrival of aliens. Remember early scenes in Independence Day when the President makes a speech about the cities where the space ships were headed and how he asked those who felt compelled to leave the cities do so in an orderly manner and then there was just absolute chaos? We’re preconditioned by movies to think that a world changing event will actually be world changing.

Yet, what we see in reality is quite the opposite. Though there have been mass protests and the like to various election outcomes and situations in various countries, for most people they’ve kept going about their daily life. While most people have a vague awareness of situations occurring, they don’t know the details nor do they really care very much unless it directly impacts upon their daily life. You might disagree with that but when we look at the numbers protesting compared to the numbers just going about their business it is clear that the majority would prefer to maintain a status quo life-style even if they take to social media in the evening to pass on a few memes without really troubling themselves to act.

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KADO latches on to this notion, that people prefer their daily routine and the things they understand, and uses it to its advantage in forging what is becoming a very believable storyline, even with a premise that seems incredibly far-fetched at first glance. Of course there are characters directly effected by the events and they are responding. Of course governments are troubled by the offer of unlimited energy. There’s so many ways that could politically and economically go wrong and yet could have an extreme benefit if used appropriately. Of course scientists are fascinated by the chance to go further and research ideas that they couldn’t have before. But for everyone else, other than a possible flight delay and a traffic jam, life is going on. The more socially or politically aware individuals would be watching the news to keep up with developments, but during the day they go to work and things move on (whether for the better or worse is something the show hasn’t commented on in any way at this point).

KADO has totally won me over at this point. It is science fiction done very well. No sensationalist fight sequences to entertain the masses, but a tight focus on the human condition in the face of one very clear intrusion into the normal world. The reactions and flow on effects to that intrusion have been handled with care and what is being woven is a fairly compelling story that asks us to really consider the idea of humanity and national borders, yet at the same time doesn’t seem to want to preach its own brand of morality (at least not at this stage). And that isn’t to say that sensationalist fight sequences aren’t entertaining or a part of science fiction, but at its core, a good sci-fi really should get us to re-evaluate ourselves and the world at large, and KADO has succeeded admirably at that.

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If you haven’t given KADO: The Right Answer a go yet, this is the one show from this season I think is unmissable. Certainly there are more sensational shows, and shows that look prettier, or move at a faster pace, but none of the shows this season have made me want to think and talk as much as KADO has.

What do you think so far about KADO or what is your theory about zaShunina?


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KADO Episode 6

Review (definitely spoilers if you haven’t watched the episode):

You know, we’ve all been asking what the deal with Shindo is and this episode decides to finally show part of its hand on this issue. Yes, Shindo is definitely no longer normal in the strictest sense of the word, however zaShunina attributes that to the processing for Shindo to leave the cube in the first place (given he was the first human to be processed) rather than the poor attempt at first communication so that was a bit of a surprise.

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The Shindo focus continues this episode as he visits his mother, plans the relocation of the cube, and it is pointed out by the female negotiator that he needs to rest leading to the realisation by Shindo that he hasn’t been. Instead of leaving this plot point dangling the final part of this episode has zaShunina straight out acknowledge what we’ve all been thinking though as a next step I’m really not sure what zaShunina is up to.

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I’m totally hooked on this at this point. The answers come when they are needed, there’s amusement at times in the dialogue which ensures that it doesn’t become a monotonous babble of science and politics, the characters are more and more endearing as the series progresses, and I am just completely curious about what the end game of this series might be.

KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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KADO Episode 3

Review:

They’ve emerged from the cube and finally negotiations are getting underway, but my question is what are they actually negotiating? Given zaShunina has already said the passengers will be released and he seems to be wanting to give information rather than receive it, stating that it is a negotiation seems a bit off. Then again, I’m kind of certain there’s more to it than altruistic higher order being giving humans advanced knowledge so maybe things will become clearer later.

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I’m thinking this show is only going to have a very limited appeal to anime fans in general. It is incredibly dry with most of this episode being focussed on the set-up of negotiations, the press moving into position through security, or the negotiation itself. While the music is amazing and I’m finding the animation really pretty (some people disagree on that one), the slow pace of the dialogue heavy story is probably going to cause some people to walk away despite the fairly interesting nature of the discussion. Okay, the ideas are highly interesting, the delivery might be a little less so depending on your preferences. Despite that, I’m pretty hooked on this show right now.

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KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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KADO Episode 2

Review:

KADO is going to remain hard to really explain (or really easy if you just list what actually happens in the episode). Firstly, with the exception of the way some of the characters move, which is at times creepy, this show is beautiful.

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Throw in some incredibly ambiguous statements that could be interpreted more or less anyway the writers choose later on from zaShunina (who I was going to call an alien but he’s more of a biological interface produced by the cube based on what we saw this episode).

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Add the usual science fiction moral about needing to think:

And what we get is an episode where there is a lot of talking, some really interesting concepts kicked around, a few truly great moments (the time negotiation on top of the cube was fantastically handled, actually most of the interactions between Shindo and zaShunina have so far been well done), but from a plot point of view we haven’t really moved yet. At the start of the episode zaShunina announces he wants to talk with the government, at the end of the episode they re-emerge from the cube to talk with the government. Most of the rest of the episode goes back and explains what was happening in the cube after the plane disappeared.

I’m really enjoying this though I can’t help but wonder if the progress of the story will be as interesting as this initial set-up. Meeting an ‘alien’ and establishing communication is infinitely more interesting than sitting around a table actually negotiating so I’m curious as to where the show intends to go next.

KADO: The Right Answer is available on Crunchyroll.


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Kado: The Right Answer Episodes 0 + 1

Overview:

Shindo is a skilled negotiator who is on a plane that is essentially swallowed by a giant cube. The Crunchyroll synopsis tells me he’s going to end up negotiating between humanity and Yaha-kui zaShunina (the name of the guy in the cube).

Review:

Kado0

I do not get why shows to an episode 0 and in this case it is perfectly skippable except that if you want to know why all these random people seem to care about Shindo when they think the plane is destroyed and then realise it is probably in the cube episode 0 does a nice bit of character building. I actually really enjoyed episode 0 but really, other than the last 5 minutes its really just a day in the life of (month in the life of) a character who is clearly important to the story this anime is going to tell. Also, we learn more about his partner who seems to be overlooked by everyone.

Kado0b

It kind of made episode 1 work better in that I kind of worried about the character too in a way that the few minutes we see of him at the airport in episode 1 wouldn’t really help me to understand anything about him other than his job. However episode 0 ends with what is essentially the beginning of episode 1, minus some introductions but we do get to see the giant cube.

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The majority of episode 1 is then focussed on the Japanese government response and feels quite believable. We see the media scrambling, the departments meeting, the military assembling, and the science guy from episode 0 with the air of his loopy assistant trying to figure out what the cube is.

Kado1b

I’m going to be honest, this was slow story-telling but I’m kind of hooked. I have to know. While some of the animation hasn’t been awesome and there are more characters running around than I have names for at the moment, the set up here promises a lot and the music is probably the most spot on that I’ve seen yet this season. This is the first premiere of Spring that has instantly made me sit up and think that I want more now. I may change my mind in a few episodes but right now I’m putting this as a must watch.

Kado: The Right Answer is available on Crunchyroll.


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