Night Head Genesis, An Interesting Concept in Search of a Story
by Bolt Vanderhuge
When a show is either very good or very bad, it will at least inspire strong feelings from a viewer, but then there are shows like Night Head Genesis which inspire very little emotion beyond disappointment. Calling this show boring is actually selling it a little short, but not by much, as it had a somewhat interesting premise and just failed to actually do anything with it.
This series follows two brothers with supernatural abilities – one who can sense the past, present, and future through touching people and certain objects, and one who can give people telekinetic bitch slaps from across the room. The first episode sees them sent as children to some kind of a secret research center in the middle of the woods by their parents, only to then skip ahead 15 years to see them escape, and somehow come across a classic Toyota they use for the rest of the series to get around in. If you’re thinking that the series might revisit their time in the research center, it does, but not very much, beyond explaining that the reason they were trapped there was because of an old man who also had supernatural abilities, and that they were able to escape when he died, they really don’t do much with that chapter of their lives, nor do they explain why the center allows them to just drive around on their own, and even gives them money so they can live in hotels, eat wherever they like, and pay assholes absurd amounts of money to change their tire.
The two characters do run into a lot of assholes, incidentally. I was almost starting to wonder if the show was just some nihilistic soapbox but this was explained as their powers somehow drawing negativity toward them. This ended up seemingly transitioning into the brothers, Naoto and Naoya Kirihara, driving around and investigating various supernatural happenings, at times at the research center’s request, which gave me some small hope that this would turn into Supernatural × X-Men or something like that, even if the show was taking its sweet time to get there. A mysterious schoolgirl was introduced and seemed like it might lead into a more interesting plot, along with hints of some evil secret organization called Ark that apparently was brainwashing people to go out and kill others who had supernatural abilities. It even seemed possible that the evil secret organization had disappeared the schoolgirl. After all, she claimed to be able to travel through time and space, made predictions to her friend that kept her and her family from getting killed, and write stuff down in a journal in a strange script no one else could read. It was this promise of something finally happening for all the long, drawn out plodding that actually managed to keep me watching. I sure was wrong.
As boring as this show could be, my main frustration with it was its complete lack of ability to actually do anything with what it set up. You have this research center that the main characters grew up at that not only let them go, but let them keep a car they stole and even paid them as they wandered around Japan, the mystery of what exactly happened to the main characters’ parents, the mystery of Japanese schoolgirl Nostradamus, the secret evil organization that calls itself Ark going around killing anyone who shows signs of having supernatural abilities, using people who have supernatural abilities, visions of an apocalyptic future, and all of it amounts to nothing in the end. Even on an episode to episode basis, the brothers set out to rescue people only to fail the vast majority of the time.
Outside of the pathetic main characters and the meandering plot that went nowhere, the most disappointing thing about this show was that it had everything it needed to actually maybe be good (or at least more interesting), but couldn’t be bothered to for 24 episodes. There’re shows out there that manage to do more than that in a fraction of that episode count.
It’s difficult to say where exactly this show’s failure came from. It was apparently based on an early ‘90s TV drama that focused on the brothers as they are basically continually on the run, and this was meant as something of a prequel to that show. It would be tempting to blame a low budget, because it was pretty obvious at times that there wasn’t much of one, but I’ve watched plenty of poorly animated, low-budget animes that were a lot more interesting than this one to watch, because that actually had a decent story. This does bring me to the most disappointing thing about this show, though – it has a sequel.
Sufficed to say, I would not recommend that you watch this anime. I can’t really say one way or another with either the original TV drama, Night Head, or its more recent sequel, Night Head 2041, but watching this one does not inspire me to want to watch either of them.
Fuck No, Don’t Check It Out:
Night Head Genesis
Based on Night Head created by George Iida
Written by George Iida, Directed by Yoshio Takeuchi
Music by Shigeru Umebayashi
Produced by Bee Media and Actas, Licenced by Media Blasters
Streaming (press time): Not streaming in the US.
Amazon Prime may have it in some countries
Media Blasters has re-released it on Blu-Ray