Mr. Robot

Vuc recommended that I give Mr. Robot a watch. He claimed it was the best anime of the decade. He insisted that since he hooked me up I have to evangelize for Mr. Robot now and shill it on my anime blog that no one reads. So here we are.

I’m not sure if I would go as far as to say it is the anime of the decade, but it’s damn good. Note I tagged this post under the “anime” category.

Rage Against the Machine

What initially drew me to the show is that it is so socially relevant. The characters are fucking pissed and they have every right to be. There are some great soliloquies where characters will rage against society. The main characters’ hacking group is named “fuck society”. Not exactly subtle here.

I feel like anime could have a lot more bite if it would tackle more socially relevant topics. Let’s face it, anime is kind of cowardly. Some of the most contentious topics it tackles are things like bullying at school and suicide. It’s mostly personal problems. One of the rare exceptions— which is what made it so notable— was the recent Japan Sinks, which had characters of different races and nationalities and weed and actually criticized Japan as a nation. Of course there are shows that are critical, but most of them are very indirect— like by showing a veiled criticism set in another world. Something like ACCA comes to mind. Or something so fantastical it’s more of a thought experiment, like Death Note. But it’s usually indirect and never particularly contentious.

The point is, you don’t get shows which are quite openly supportive of destroying capitalism like Mr. Robot out of anime. Is it that the culture is less confrontational? That the issues people face are different? Simple profitability?

The show is at its best when the characters are angry and fighting the good fight.

Things I Liked

  • Tyrell. He absolutely stole the show in the first season and pretty much represents everything I liked about the show. His first scene he shows up and tells everyone he likes KDE so I instantly knew he was a psychopath. But then every time he shows up it just gets worse and worse and worse. And then his wife is even worse. And then somehow he actually turns into a pretty sympathetic character by the end. The show didn’t say but I assume he switched to GNOME.
  • Leon. Fuck yeah.
  • The second season prison thing.
  • Darlene and the cop. I was shipping them hard from their first scene together.
  • The suicidal girlfriend. So sad she was only around for a couple episodes.
  • That crazy gangster dude. He was nuts but I loved him.
  • Angela’s dad. Both of them.Especially appreciated the ambiguity and redemption of sorts of the one.
  • What happened to Angela.
  • Most of the hacking stuff, it wasn’t completely ridiculous. I like how they showed actual code and stuff haha. Did have a few dumb things, like pretty sure bank transfers don’t work like that, and why are they copy pasting 100 keys from text messages on their cell phone in a real-time hack. But whatever.
  • Mr. Robot. Everything where you don’t know if he’s telling the truth and especially the moments when they break the fourth wall.

Things I Didn’t Like

My biggest complaint was the transition from fighting the impersonal forces of global capitalism to fighting the Deus group and the richest people who run the world and the Chinese dark army. In the first season they had these great villains with E Corp. And they replaced it with some secret society and the scary Chinese? It felt kind of racist and anti-semitic and was a huge step back from fighting these largely impersonal forces. It was mostly saved from the dark army characters having a lot of personality (white rose was good (the dark army supports trans rights), same with the main handler with the glasses and used cars) but just why did they have to bring the Chinese into it? Seems like an easy boogeyman when the show had done so great at avoiding that for the first season.

Same with the Deus group. Now that they’re gone another will just form. And really, did we need the secret group of rich people ruling the world? I know it was very multi-cultural, but this is a trope with such a history that you generally should never go there. Plus it was unnecessary and undermined some of the earlier themes.

I liked the thing with Elliot’s different personalities and all, but I felt they spent a bit too much time on. It was a good plot device for keeping things from the viewer, for giving the sense of horror that you don’t know if he can trust himself, etc. But the ending for all of this was particularly dumb, where all his personalities come together as one happy family and let his true personality come out. What a load of horseshit.

Watch Mr. Robot

I am required by vuc to tell you to watch Mr. Robot. You should. It’s good.

Shame you have to pay a global conglomerate to do it. I honestly feel a bit like I have betrayed the show’s message for doing so. That’s why I love this show so much.

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