It remains as of this day that The Unlimited is my favorite series to come out of the Winter anime season. It’s mostly for lack of anything else that’s interesting this season and because the other stuff I got hyped about didn’t turn out to be so great. I had middling hopes that this anime season would not bring me any disappointments because all of the first episodes looked so promising, but turns out this isn’t the case. It’s a shame, but it’s also a nice bonus: more time to focus on important things like lolcollege and experimenting with some mochi recipes. The same is to be said for this particular anime, however, that The Unlimited is also not really a good series to be watching. The first infraction is that you need to be reasonably familiar with its parent series, Zettai Karen Children, to understand most of the relationships and interactions that conspire over the course of the anime. Case in point, the recent episode where the gang face off (yet again) with the Japanese government and The Children, one of which the protagonist refers to as the “Queen”. It’s sufficiently explained within the anime as a means to bring uninformed people up to speed, but it’s a gesture that’s ultimately not as appreciated. Another thing is that it seems to fall down the Jormungand route of being crime fiction without much bite or depth. Well, enough complaining about The Unlimited. I’m writing this to tell all you guys why I am one of maybe four or five notable people that ended up watching this anime, and the main reason is the protagonist himself: Hyobu Kyosuke.
Kyosuke is not really a fascinating character at first glance. He can be immediately recognized as some sort of bastard child of Accelerator from To Aru Majutsu no Index and Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass, combining the destructive awesomeness factor of Accelerator’s ESP and the fabulousness of Lelouch’s skinny, noodly, and highly unnecessary poses. He’s too perfect, to put it that way. Kyosuke has no problem in thwarting enemy schemes or overpowering even the most powerful of espers by credit of being a protagonist, but to the extent that he does this in The Unlimited is laughably colossal. He has no weaknesses, no manner in which people can easily take advantage of him. It’s a rather kid-friendly version of those dark and mysterious character types that crop up every now and then. All of these points clearly put it against Kyosuke as being rather unoriginal and contrived to the point of ridiculosity, but maybe that’s the point of how his character was designed. What was it designed for, you ask? To relate to him. To project oneself onto him and briefly wonder what it would be like to have such awesome power at the tips of your own fingers. The manner of how Hyobu Kyousuke was created for this anime makes such projections easy to pull off, thanks to a few things here and there to streamline the process.
To be precise, I’m talking about how Hyobu Kyousuke, if swept into our reality, would look extremely and embarrassingly chuuni as fuck.
It’s not such an alien concept for an audience to try to project themselves on awesome characters; the closer to perfection they are, and the less they change at a visual level, the greater the desire to relate to them. Hyobu Kyousuke looks like an ordinary high school kid with white hair. Yet, his characteristics beyond this is like something out of a notebook belonging to someone with chuunibyou. His is claimed to be a lot older than his youthful appearance implies, so as to connote wisdom. What seems like an ordinary black school uniform is actually mourning clothes to commemorate his comrades from a previous life. He died once, hiding a scar of a visible gunshot wound to the forehead beneath his bangs, which is not unlike how people would fictionally conceal a dark past with some sort of physical evidence. He possesses ESP, a power that allows one to manipulate pretty much anything related to physics, though the most common form of this is telekinesis; something that every kid has ever wanted to do after watching Star Wars.
The most important thing about this, however, is that he keeps his youthful high school kid appearance, down to his ordinary school uniform and disheveled hair. He must be kept visually relatable so that we as the audience can remain interested. All of Hyobu Kyosuke’s traits, while portrayed as awesome or epic, are easy to imitate in real life without having to invest too much into the visual component of Kyosuke’s design. To pretend to be Hyobu Kyousuke is economic because his presence, his aura, is more implied than tangible. It’s easy to imagine someone being a lot older than they look, that they hide wounds or paranormal anomalies somewhere beneath what we determine as ordinary. That there exists something attached to their body that unleashes their full powers. It makes for a rather subpar cosplay idea compared to what you can do with the more visually appealing characters Kyosuke has to compete with in anime, though.
Of course, if the aim is to possess the satisfaction of believing you have superpowers, perhaps one does not even need to dress up for the occasion. Part of this is because of how incredibly easy it is to imitate Kyosuke’s movements. None of his maneuvers or actions require a lot of physical prowess, restricted to flashy arm movements and hearing yourself breath deeply. For Christ’s sake, he powers up by turning a fucking pin upside-down. If one embellishes the action enough with a cheap black aura and multicolored crosses radiating from yourself, there’s very little to argue when it comes to what the animators intended to say. You can’t get much simpler in emulating superpowers than that.
“Carlo… Do you know how I became a major like you? I died once. I died and received a two-rank promotion. Yes… This is mourning garb. I wear it in honor of my comrades who died. And this funeral black is for the me who perished that day. We’re old friends, Carlo. Tonight I shall mourn for you as well.”
It’s not enough to just look cool and do cool things, however. You must also say cool lines. Cool lines are what make or break a character like Hyobu Kyosuke. They can’t be anything mundane or conservative like what society won’t punish you for. They have to be lines that you’ll look back on and subsequently try to kill yourself over, all while wondering what possessed you to say such embarrassing things. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be socially superior, to be witty and on top of a conversation or an opportunity to say something cool? As someone who is slightly terrified of talking to strangers, I’d think that would be super awesome and stuff.
Hyobu Kyousuke is the stuff of childhood fantasies, a physical manifestation of a child’s imagination, one who firmly believes they have psychic powers. One who only need to do a few minor poses and maneuvers to transform into a superpowered badass who mows everyone down by sole means of Rule of Cool. Does that make him an interesting character? Well, to be honest, not really. I just find how his character is handled to be easily relatable and can be imitated without much difficulty. That makes all of the difference to those who aren’t ambitious enough to sink all that money and such into other cosplay options. Or if you just want to fall into the chuunibyou hole and write these sorts of things down in a notebook somewhere so that you can curl up and die about it later.
- The way the OST is cut at the most important parts of the anime is the major reason why I’m still watching this. It’s so needlessly epic, yet has the best sense of timing.
- I’m going to miss not having an Unlimited script to laugh at with each Whine-Subs release. I might drop it from the lineup in anime club from this point onwards.