Monday, January 6, 2020

Anime Monday - B the Beginning

B the Beginning is a strange series for me. On one hand I liked what it had to offer, but on the other it reminds me a lot of some bad times. It's not the show's fault or anything, it just unfortunately came out at the wrong time for me. Putting that aside though, I was excited to hear about the project when it was first announced. It was going to be an original anime series created by Production IG, and released exclusively for the streaming service Netflix -- serving as a sorta a start for Netflix's new higher focus on anime. Of course this wasn't the first time that Production IG cooperated with a western company to bring us a new original series, as something similar happened back when IGPX came along for Toonami. Considering I liked what they did with that show, and how I liked most of what Production IG has done in the past, I expected B the Beginning to be just as good. Then things happened.

While I originally planned to binge the show (like I had done with most of their series), it wasn't the easiest thing for me to focus on. I had just been let go from my job, and my grandpa was now in the hospital. Watching a show like B and dealing with everything else going on just didn't mix well. I had little to no free time at home, and when I was in the hospital, I really didn't feel like watching some dark crime drama filled with death. So I put the series on hold, and didn't come back to it until roughly a whole year later.

By the time I sat down to actually watch B, I already knew a bit more about the show. I'll admit that ruined some parts of it for me (as I knew some of the plot twists), but overall I did end up enjoying what they had to offer. Maybe it wasn't their best work, but overall I had fun with it. It's just it's not a series for everyone, and there are things I wish were different... Sadly it's the type of show where telling too much ruins it, so let's just leave it at this: the show is not what you will expect it to be. That being said I wish season 2 would come out already.

The Story of B:

The series begins by introducing us to it's setting. It's a fictional futuristic world, where technology has advanced well beyond the real world, and a serial killer named "Killer B" is on the loose. The story focuses on a group called the "Royal Investigation Service," as they investigate these strange murders, but come up empty. In order to catch this criminal they bring in a detective named "Keith Flick," and start diving into what this Killer B might really be. It's a standard setup for a crime drama, but the series quickly takes a strange turn. Keith seemingly has some history with this killer, and knows a lot more than what he's letting on. He keeps to himself while investigating the crimes, and notices things ordinary police officers would overlook. He himself is a little out there, but he's nowhere near as strange as the secondary character

On the opposite side of the story we see a young boy named "Koku," who seems to be none other than Killer B himself. Transforming into some sorta monster, Koku battles it out with other similar beings in your typical crazy over the top anime fashion. The battles are brutal, bloody, conflicts that ultimately result in Koku becoming the victor. He doesn't stop there however, as he rips off his enemy's body parts, and replaces his own with them. This in return grants him their powers, and he then goes back into "hiding" as a normal kid once again. A kid who just happens to know a woman named Lily who will become Keith's partner.

While at first it seems like B the Beginning will be a show focused on solving crimes, it actually evolves into something much more. Keith has a secret past and has a hard time being around Lily for some odd reason. Koku clearly has some connection to Keith, but what is it? Koku and the other so called "humans" he fights are anything but, but where did they come from and why are they killing each other? Then you have the RIS Keith is working for and the suspicious people working along side them. Can they really be trusted? The mystery of the show comes from all of these characters rather than the crimes, and it doesn't take long for Keith to start uncovering the answers he himself was seeking. Of course this is only the beginning of the true story, and what's to come is something no one could've predicted.

The Characters:

One of the main driving forces behind B the Beginning is none other than it's characters -- or more specifically, Keith Flick. He's an interesting man to say the least, who is pretty out there. His mind doesn't work like a normal person's would, and because of this he can see connections and clues others would overlook. During these "thought" sequences we get to see some pretty interesting visual effects, and through those visuals we get to see small glimpses of what makes Keith who he is. This eventually becomes the main reason for even watching B, as Keith has a lot of baggage you'll want to unpack. Who he is and what made him the person you see today is a very interesting story, and throughout the show you get to uncover his tale bit by bit. He is possibly the biggest mystery of the show, but he's also only one half of this overall plot.

The second major character is Koku. Just what is he? He's pretending to be a normal human by day, but what is the monster he transforms into? What is his goal, and who are these strange people he is fighting? While Keith is all about critical thinking, Koku is more focused on brute force. He has a goal, and he'll do whatever it takes to achieve it. Ripping off someone's arm to use it as a tool is just another normal day for him, and he honestly doesn't seem to be worried about being caught. He too is an interesting character, and one you can't judge simply by looking at him.

Lily is another character who plays a major role in the series, but not quite to the same extent as Keith or Koku. She's a normal girl working as an officer, and she serves as a character viewers are more likely to relate to. She doesn't have anything special about her, and all she can do is try her best to do her job. She wants to catch the killer and help Keith, and she also cares about her friend Koku. She doesn't realize the truth about him, nor does she understand what is going through Keith's mind. They are both in different worlds, while she serves as a link between them. Her and the rest of the RIS staff members do what they can to help solve the case, but in reality it might be too much for them to handle.

As for the rest of the characters, they are a pretty mixed bag. The "enemies" Koku goes up against are a twisted group of individuals with powers just like his own. Their character design reflects their twisted personalities, and serve as pretty good antagonists. The other RIS members fill your typical "police roles," but that's not really a bad thing. They do their job and support the main characters, and have enough personality of their own to keep them from being too generic. They aren't a huge focus in the show, but that's perfectly fine. The main focus here is on Keith and Koku, and their story becomes a pretty interesting one.

Should You Watch It:

To put it simply... If any of this sounds interesting to you, then it's at least worth checking out. The thing is much of the story's real plot is something you don't want ruined for yourself, and may or may not be what you signed up for. If you were expecting a crime drama with some supernatural elements, then this won't exactly be that. Rather than trying to solve crimes, the focus is more on the characters and their mysterious backstories, as well as the characters who were involved in the whole thing. The police force and the crimes they are investigating are more of a resource to Keith than they are a job, and Koku is where a lot of your anime styled action comes from. Being a series created for Netflix it really feels like they tried to capture what makes anime "anime" with this one, and by doing so it can feel a little odd at times. Rather than just telling a story, it feels almost as if they wanted to check as many anime trope boxes as possible. That's not to say it's a bad thing, it's just noticeable.

Once you get past that though, the show does become interesting. The "truth" might not be to everyone's liking, but it leads the story down a different direction that most wont see coming. It takes what could be your standard Production IG produced sci-fi crime drama living in the shadows of Ghost in the Shell and Pyscho-Pass, and turns it into something all it's own. That's what makes it stand out, and worth at least giving a try. Sadly at the time of this writing the story isn't finished, but at least season 1 wraps things up nicely -- that is until the teaser for season 2 appears. That being said, the story is sure to go on, it's just a matter of when.

Where to Watch:

As this is a Netflix original series, it can only be watched on Netflix.