Having watched Hero Mask, only to find it wasn’t very impactful, I made a vow to find a good Netflix original anime to watch (it turns out people think there aren’t many) and I came across Last Hope. When I think of this anime, I put my lips together to make the pssh sound because I really don’t know how to describe this one. The anime follows the story of a worldwide crisis where technology and wildlife have fused together and evolved into organisms called Biological Revolutionary of Accelerated Intellect (BRAI) and mankind’s reaction to it. The main character is a man called Leon Lau, who lives as an outcast alongside his sister Chloe after having been blamed for the crisis. He’s called to a city called Neo Xianglong to help find a solution.
I tried, I really did but this series is down there with some of the worst anime I’ve ever watched. It’s not often that I find an anime boring but this one ticked that box quickly, expeditiously. I’ve usually finished shows I’ve started so, I willed myself to watch this show but from the mannerisms I had whilst watching it, I didn’t even need to convince myself that I didn’t enjoy it. The premise of the story is interesting, probably one of the most interesting premises I’ve heard in a while but that can only take you so far. The show doesn’t start off badly, Leon comes back to Neo Xianglong, disgraced from the incident that he caused and he’s now back to redeem his name but that’s about as interesting as Leon and the show gets. The show gives an insight into what caused the current situation and the effects being suffered as a result but it just doesn’t come together well. There are a few things the show did which I expect to see from any show in order to immerse myself, the background of the characters, what they’re fighting for, the moments where the characters bonded. It definitely gave me what it needed to, to get me interested but it still didn’t work.
The thing which stuck out to me most as to why I didn’t like this show is the characters. All of the characters manage to get so much screen time just to display how uninteresting they are. I said the show gave me everything it needed to, to connect with the characters but the truth is these things were so extremely forgettable. I remember the basic gist of the things that made the characters tick but ultimately, it was a group of characters with traits that the story didn’t help to display well. I think the show tried to get Leon to come across as a laid back genius who’s also very aloof but instead, what I got was a guy who’s smart and stupid at the same time and never stops eating Mahua. What I said of Leon could be said of nearly every character with their individual traits. Outside of the story, it feels like the show just tries to fall back on the same jokes with each character, especially when they’ve just finished fighting an enemy and I honestly have no idea how to process that. The biggest sin of a character in the show by far was Cecile Soo, easily the most uninteresting anime character I’ve ever come across. I don’t know what they were trying to achieve with her, for the first season her biggest contribution was being the primary source of fan service and then it looked like the show promoted her to some kind of guardian, which didn’t really do anything for me. It really looked like whoever was in charge realised Cecile’s lack of contribution and had her thrust into a slightly bigger role to justify her screen time. There’s so much to say on the characterisation and I haven’t even touched on the antagonists but what I’ll say is this, the show sets up the characters well enough to have interesting arcs but when it comes to execution, it actively misses the mark.
I honestly gave up with the story by the time I got to season two. It got to a point where I started using my phone or turning my head away from the screen to do something else whilst watching this because it wasn’t gripping. I don’t want to say the show didn’t make sense but it felt like it tried to over-explain everything and there was a need to link it to some kind of science (or pseudo science). When a show takes itself seriously, there’s such a risk because the show has to have a lot of its storytelling elements on point. The characters contrast the supposed serious nature of the show since they’re so hard to take seriously. For a while, it was unclear where the show was going, all I knew was that humanity was under threat so all I could take from it was that humanity was trying to preserve. Season two had the show go in the direction of human evolution and how humans should evolve, everything else around that was a distraction to me but the direction itself was a good idea and that’s what’s so frustrating. Last Hope shouldn’t be amongst the worst anime I’ve ever watched, it should be amongst the best. The ideas that the show played with were good ones but the show could never really demonstrate what it was trying to do, even as I write this, I wonder what would have happened if the show had a better execution of its storyline and dropped certain characters. This show is one of the best examples I could use to say that execution matters, it doesn’t matter how many good concepts you have, if you handle them poorly it will show.
There was one thing in this series which made me cringe without fail. Family contract. There was a running gag which slowly became more important as the story progressed where Leon would do something silly and Chloe would complain at him, reminding him that he has a contract with her he can’t break. It went something like this, Leon leaves the house to go the store but doesn’t tell Chloe, when he gets back Chloe tells him off saying ‘Family contract article 828042. Tell me where you’re going at all times!’ You know, at first it seemed like a less charming version of the wedding crasher rules that Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson had going on in that movie but it slowly began to add to the mix of bad elements that didn’t do this show justice. There was supposed to be a developing story where all of the main characters become closer as a result of the incident at hand, which in turn would make way for them being incorporated into the family rules that Leon and Chloe had going. I can’t say that I didn’t see the characters becoming closer, there were enough scenes showing the main group hanging out with each other however, that didn’t justify the increasing prominence of the family contract. There probably should have been some emotional attachment that I felt to the family contract but getting closer to the end of the series, it felt as if it was being pushed in my face. It didn’t really make Chloe much more likeable when she kept reminding Leon and with the rest of the characters who were already struggling to be interesting, this just gave me another reason to want them off my screen.
Despite the explanation I’ve given (and could give) I haven’t done enough to show what makes this series so bad. I don’t feel this way about many shows (especially anime) but this is one of those shows that you have to watch to see how bad it is, otherwise you’ll never truly have an idea (or an accurate enough idea).
- Chloe spends so many moments complaining and shouting Leon and her hair is also pink. Maybe that’s Sakura…
- The first time I saw fan service of princess in the second episode, I told myself that this was going to be a weak series.
- It took five episodes for the family contract to get annoying. The series is 26 episodes long.
- There’s a character called Cain, he looks like Jet from Cowboy Bebop.
- There’s a character called Doug, he shoots gun. He has a mech and the mech has a rifle. It’s excessive but it’s kind of cool.
- Cecile’s crowning moment in the series was being shot. I’m not joking, that’s when she was at her most interesting.
- I wish the series had gone with the evolution storyline from the beginning rather than doing whatever the first season was.
- There’s a character called Queenie. In episode 23 she has a fight with someone at True Area 53 before teleporting to a dojo and back…