Show: Speed Grapher— Genre: Drama, Mystery— Episodes: 24
This week we’re going back in time a bit. This review also comes with a warning, as it is the first series I have reviewed that is not approved for all ages. This show (but not this review) contains some light nudity, and plenty of gratuitous violence. Speed Grapher is a 24 episode series from 2005 that follows Tatsumi Saiga, a former war photographer who now snaps shots of political figures for a newspaper.
In our first few episodes, Saiga learns of and infiltrates a fetish club full of politicians and super wealthy patrons called the Rappongi Club. He is discovered trying to get a photo of the club’s “Goddess”, who bestows her blessing on Saiga by swapping spit with him.
It turns out that the club’s Goddess is none other than Tennozu Kagura, 15 year old girl, and heir to a bajillion dollars.
Her blessing is for real though. She has the power to grant anyone their deepest desires. When Saiga was a wartime photographer, he took lots of pictures of people getting shot and blown up, and he has a bit of a fetish about it. This new power manifests itself as the ability to destroy stuff by taking pictures of it.
Saiga’s innermost desire bears a striking resemblance to pinkeye.
Saiga uses his newfound power to escape the crazy sex dungeon club, and he takes Kaguya with him. The rest of the series unveils others who have been given superhuman powers, and our protagonist duo have to fight for their lives. Thematically, the plot focuses on corruption in politics, organized crime, and the power of manipulation. Kaguya’s mother in particular is a piece of work. The main villain, Choji Suitengu, is one of those I love to hate. He is evil and smart and manipulative of those around him. Delicious.
Saiga uses his, uhm, connections with a local police officer, Hibari Ginza, to help Kaguya and himself along. She’s one of my personal favorite anime characters ever. Ginza doesn’t take crap from anybody about anything, and she gets stuff done.
Speed Grapher has a definitive ending, and it stays good from start to finish. I give this show 9 out of 10 Golden Tanukis. I love this show. It’s full of action and the characters are emotionally damaged in a way that makes them relatable, even though their world is far removed from my own. Morality is a squishy grey area. It’s suspenseful and dirty and bloody and awesome. That being said, it’s not one I would sit down with my folks to watch. The fetishism throughout the show can be intense, and although there aren’t any explicitly pornographic scenes in it, there are a lot of adult situations. It also took me a bit to get over the fact that Saiga is in his 30s and Kaguya is 15. I think it’s important to note that although Kaguya is portrayed as somewhat of a sexual object in the eyes of the Rappongi club and its associates, I didn’t think she was particularly portrayed that way to the audience. Her feelings and experiences are what matter in the context of the plotline, not her body.
The next two weeks will be scary shows in honor of my favorite spooky holiday. Thanks for reading!
Stephanie is a UF alumnus who enjoys baking, reading, cats, and the internet. Also anime. OK mostly anime.