Re:Creators is a 2017 anime from Troyca, a studio I’ve never watched an anime from. Although this and Yagate Kimi ni Naru are going to change that. I don’t know when I’ll actually watch and review that one, but it’s going to happen.
The premise of the series gets us off to a good start. Basically, every time a writer crafts a work of fiction, they create a world. Mine are full of rainbows and women doing the majority of important things, clearly. Things take a twist when certain, popular characters start crossing over into our world. Some of them want to watch the world burn, others want to make their creators suffer for giving them dark worlds full of tragedy. It’s up to our main protagonist, Blandon, a bunch of heroic characters and the creators to save the day.
The biggest problem with the series is that it’s all about the themes of creativity and the process of making art but the characters and worlds we see crossing over are all the most generic representations of their genres imaginable, based on what we see. To compound the problem, the twists are also very obvious. And to top it all off, the ultimate climax involves blatant deus ex machina, the ultimate tool of the trash writer. It also doesn’t help that the big threat is a fanfiction OC. It would be like our world being threatened by Coldsteel the Hedgehog but less hilarious.
And this was a premise that had potential. The idea of creations crossing over into our world and confronting their creators is great and could have been used to great effect. Even the further step of having them fight for the future of our own world could have worked really well. If the execution hadn’t been shoddy at every turn.
Describing the characters in this is basically describing trite stereotypes. The action girl heroine. The guide character you get in some RPGs but without the personality that the good ones would infuse her with. The loving magical girl who just wants to talk things through. The dark fantasy heroine. The street tough dude. The trickster villain. The grizzled old dude. The mecha pilot, young and optimistic variety. So, a big step up from the super angsty version, at least. Nice to see that this story all about creativity couldn’t be bothered when it came to its own character creation.
The creator characters aren’t any better. Their trite lack of real personality just derives from more slice of life tropes instead of the genre specific ones of the creations.
Here’s one area where I can give Troyca credit. The artwork looks pretty damn good. The backgrounds are detailed. The action sequences flow well. Some of the designs are very blatantly based off of other, better characters, (all of them may be and I just don’t recognise some of them) but they don’t do them badly.
This is another element where I can give the series credit. They got good actors. People like Minase Inori, Komatsu Mikako, Toyosaki Aki, Murakawa Rie & Hikasa Yoko. Are these their best performances? No. One of the general problems with very bland character writing that I’ve encountered time after time is that the acting can’t really stand out much if the characters don’t. But the performances are very capably done.
There’s quite a bit between the dark fantasy heroine & the magical girl. Because of course the magical girl gets les-yay.
Areas of Improvement:
- Flesh out the characters. It’s all well and good to use a clichéd version as a base. But what separates a good, great or excellent series from a more middling one is that it builds off of that and turns it into something unique. Which this series couldn’t be bothered with.
- Don’t use a fanfiction villain. Part of the premise is that the characters operate off of acceptance from the audience. Well, when you have your main antagonist as an over-powered Mary Sue, I have trouble believing the audience would accept her. Especially when she’s fighting against all the bland characters that are hugely popular for inexplicable reasons. Yeah, it might be fun to have Coldsteel or other big fanfiction characters as memes but if something official came out where Coldsteel fought Son Goku, no one would accept Coldsteel winning except Internet trolls.
- Give us some compelling conversations between creators and their creations. This idea really gets under-used in this series. We get very brief snippets of creators interacting with their characters but there’s no real depth to those interactions and the various philosophical points that should come up either don’t or are glossed over.
Re:Creators isn’t a bad series. It has strong fundamentals and a promising premise. Unfortunately, its lacklustre execution brings it down significantly. The weakly written characters, poorly fleshed out story, deus ex machina ending and main villain who canonically comes from fanfiction all serve to make a narrative that’s pretty weak. While I’d love to see this premise handled well, I have to give it a 4/10.