Part of me is a little saddened that Tesla Note is as horrifically animated as it is. There’s a scene here in episode 2 where a boy is running away from our two young spies and there’s no tension in the scene because you are too distracted by the hilarity of the movement to really stay in the moment. There’s also a scene where the camera does a slow pan around our protagonist as she prepares to dive off a hill onto a moving train and if this were a video game sequence from the late 90’s it would be gorgeous but for an anime it is just… well not exactly visually up to standard.
Even for someone like me who usually just ignores poor animation provided the story is good enough, Tesla Note continues to dance on the limits of my tolerance. Honestly, I hate looking at it. And yet, underneath all of that we’re actually building a fun little action/spy story and so far I’m interested enough in the whole Tesla Shard thing that I want to keep watching.
What Tesla Note misses in visuals it makes up for in decent enough plotting.
Episode 1 introduced us to the idea that at least one of the Tesla Shards could move objects through space. We had a train being dropped into a street as well as other vehicles suddenly appearing where they weren’t supposed to. Outside of the carnage caused on landing, those inside the vehicles were killed (somewhat horrifically) so stopping this seemed like a good plan.
We pick up in episode 2 with a mission briefing. Turns out Botan’s grandfather is a big-wig in the spy organisation, which makes sense, and he drops some exposition on us about an experiment with a battleship before they more or less conclude they really have to get this shard.
Fortunately their one clue, a boy spotted in images at all the scenes, turns out to be the lead they need. Happens a lot in these kinds of stories.
They also conclude, seemingly randomly, that the common denominator in the transported vehicles was that they were a certain distance from the shard and were travelling at 160km when they were effected.
We also realise they aren’t the only secret agents keeping an eye on the boy and his father.
You would think retrieving a shard from a boy and his drunken father would be pretty easy, however Botan doesn’t want to steal it. More than that, the family are being threatened by debt collectors, because apparently we needed some family drama in this plot. Botan and Kuruma organise to buy the shard, turn up with the money, only to discover the boy has run off with the shard because he wants to show it to his mother’s grave.
This injects a bit of artificial tension into Tesla Note as the boy is planning on riding an express train which will exceed the 160km speed and that will most definitely lead to the boy’s (and everyone else on board the train’s) death.
To cut it all short we get an action set-piece where Kuruma and the father deal with the debt collectors while Botan deals with the train situation. There’s a bit of character work with Botan as she starts to freeze before her jump but a few words from Kuruma and she’s back to being all business. After the dramatic ‘rescue’ there’s one more reveal before the episode ends.
For a spy story Tesla Note has all the right ingredients and just enough action to keep things interesting. The chemistry between Kuruma and Botan is slowly improving even if I’m not really sold on either one of them individually. I’m still not sure what Kyouhei’s role is and Ryuunosuke continues just to be devoid of personality but provides the information the spies need to do their jobs.
Honestly though, I am enjoying the plot. I just wish it looked better.
Images from: Tesla Note. Dir. M Fukuda. Gambit. 2021
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