Geektoberfest Day 14: Can a Mexican/Chinese Anime Mash-up Work?

From very early on, when the Beard and I decided that we were going to set upon creating a genre based website, we made clear to ourselves that we wanted to create content that we are passionate about. We understand that if we are excited about a property, that enthusiasm will translate and shine through, exciting our followers. I am not a BIG fan of anime. However, my youngest son, Jonah, and nephew, Matthew, got me watching Rwby and Fairy Tail, and lots of other stuff that off the top of my head, I can’t recall. So when we stated that we were going to cover anime, I realized that we were going to be coming at these works from an inexperienced eye. However, we hope that as we communicate our thoughts and ideas, that we hold up these properties with the same respect that our audience does. Having said that, I looked on Netflix to see what very recent property had been added to the anime list and found Seis Manos. I was immediately intrigued and here are my thoughts.

Seis Manos is an anime set in Mexico, and if you know anything about anime, they’re not usually set in Mexico. The story is a period piece imbued in the 70s when the drug trade was at its height and the Mexican government was at its dirtiest. Amid this backdrop, 3 Mexican orphans have been training in a walled villa, learning martial arts from their Chinese father/teacher. When he is killed in the first episode, the orphans begin to recognize that they are surrounded by crooked people and along with the town police officer named Garcia and a black DEA agent from the United States, they must seek out justice for not only the death of their father, but the corruption of their town.

Ordinarily, one would think that there are already overwhelming odds against the heroes, but there are more. There is an extremely villainous boss called “El Balde” capably played by Danny Trejo who employs supernatural means to wrest power not just from the feuding cartel bosses, but from government officials as well. There are droves of monsters, zombies, and demonic forces at play in this tiny arena that can not possibly hope to contain the mayhem and destruction initiated. Also, the United States government may be involved in the conspiracy that pits our few underdogs against an immensely evil machine.

The question that must be answered is, “What do you get when you mix a Mexican Narcotics movie with a Chinese Martial Arts movie with a monster-witchcraft-zombie movie? It has over-the-top blood and gore, with extreme violence in some scenes. We follow Isabella, Jesus, and Silencio through the eight part series and empathize with their plight. One would think that their training in martial arts would have engendered in them an ability to cope with such overtly difficult circumstances, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, Silencio has already demonstrated a profound rage that has not been assuaged by his training. If anything his anger has been exacerbated by the death of his teacher, and his sorrow has left an emptiness longed to be filled by belonging to something great enough to get lost in.

One of the strengths of the series is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It plays on your expectations as a watcher of anime and martial arts films and provides you with an entertaining ride. The fight scenes are interrupted often with amusing little nods to other movies and series. The sober parts are not played for laughs, but you are fully invited to participate in the melodrama. The horrific scenes are scary, but won’t cause anyone to faint of fright. The explosions are huge and over-the-top, and although I was entertained, and awed by the mashup of disputing genres, there were times that the story beats were predictable and disappointing.

You might be tempted to believe that all of these elements combined would not be able to coexist in such a thick stew, but there is a unique alchemy here that I found fascinating. I can’t call this a perfect blend but it’s sufficiently intriguing to warrant a second season. The season ends with a cliffhanger leaving one to believe that a second season is in the offing. My rating is:

3 Middle of the Road Grey Geeks

Again, although I was intrigued enough to watch, the common story elements didn’t provide enough of an impetus to call this anything special, yet. I will adopt a sit and wait approach upon further review. There are 8 episodes in season 1, and each episode is only a half an hour which doesn’t require a great deal of time commitment to watch. If this sounds like something special to you, then by all means stream it on Netflix instantly. I’m happy I did and hope that season 2 will make this even better.

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