Once again I enter the contest for Seventh Sanctum [link]
, this time with fake key chains for a fake anime! Yup, those rubber key chains found in con dealer rooms across the country, probably bootleg, I don't know, but sort of cool little chachkas none the less. So. The anime is titled Experiment XI
. Now PREPARE YOURSELF for something ENTIRELY TEAL DEER as I explain what this is all about.
Experiment XI (2007).
Premise: Twelve genetically altered human experiments theoretically capable of parapsychic phenomena, known as the Beringbot 12, sponsored by the Beringbot pharmaceutical company, are developed and eventually become targets marked for destruction. Four scientists ran the program, allegedly an experiment to develop more humanlike lab animals for genetic testing of samples for drug analysis according to company records, and a front for creating tools of corporate espionage. However, the scientists used the project for their own ends, the advancement of human psychic abilities. When their duplicity was discovered by the suits the project was terminated with lethal force. Only one of the four scientists and eight of the viable experiments survived, going to ground and hiding their true natures. The story begins some 20 years after the deadly raid on the labs, where the eight survivors, staying together as a family, have developed their own niche in the underworld, ironically as specialists in corporate espionage with emphasis on hacking and data theft. The titular character, Experiment XI, AKA Elf, is a girl just trying to live a normal life in the seedy world she finds herself in. This normal life includes her introduction to high stakes B&E on some of the most secure compounds of the corporate world, information tracking, wire tapping for fun and profit, and combat training. Through it all she just wants to be a normal teenager though she doesn't even know what that means. But even the dark world she inhabits cannot begin to hint at the dangers that lurk within her own body as unexpected abilities begin to develop and more information of her hidden past is revealed.
The Keychain Characters:
Elf (in the middle)- about 21 years old, she has no immediately obvious skill other than mild telempathy (the ability to sense other people's emotions through psychic means). She wants to live the life she reads about in shojo manga (her secret weakness) and sees depicted on TV. She is in training to become an expert in breaking and entering. She also has training in self defense and hand to hand combat because that stuff comes in handy in her neighborhood.
Vier (right side)- 37 years old, an espionage expert, stealthy, dexterous and great at disguising herself. She also is a telempath, stronger than Elf, able to influence the emotions of the people around her for her own benefit, and has the ability to teleport when in extreme duress. She's not a very good communicator, though, and doesn't talk much. She has a habit of dressing like a hobo whenever she goes out on a job, because it helps her blend into the background and makes people ignore her.
Wolf Mortison (left side)- around 21 years old, an orphan raised by the chief of security for Beringbot, and a corporate enforcer who goes undercover during the second half of the series, a dark, serious type of guy who learns to loosen up and care for others the longer he stays at the diner. Has oddly prophetic insights on occasion, as well as the rather intense sensation occasionally of being able to hear other people thinking.
Drei- 37, a fairly skilled telepath who is able to pick important information out of the minds of those he focuses on. He is the syndicate's contact for the family, but to all outsiders seems completely unconnected to them. Very suave, generally. Picture a darker version of Rude from FFVII
Swei- 42, fairly ugly, very bitter guy with strong telempathy that lets him feel the horror people feel when they see him. Refuses to leave the home, where the family is accepting and nonjudgmental, though their pity gets grating as well. He began developing benign tumors on his head and upper torso starting in his late 20s which have been left untreated because none of the experiments were registered, even under false identities, at the time, and now he refuses treatment. Steve Buschemi crossed with Sloth from the Goonies.
Funf- 33, lives in a capsule because he is so weak, with no immune system and little muscular development. Has a computer link direct wired into the brain, and is the family's number two hacker. Not much character development.
Sieben- 28, very large lady. Like Swei is physically deformed, though she lacks the empathy to sense others' emotions. Is very strong and is primary care taker for Funf and Neun, but has the mental capacity of a five year old. Basically a big bear.
Acht- 28, cute little boy in appearance, mentally the age of 9 forever. Often goes to the diner with Elf or Vier, is known as Elf's little brother there. His complete lack of physical or mental development since the age of 9 is a mystery, but is theorized to be due to a halt in hormone production, unconfirmed, possibly as a result of the assault that destroyed his first home in the lab. Picture the rabbit kid from Fruits Basket
or that annoying blonde kid in Black Blood Brothers.
Neun- 25, also physically weak and illness prone, living in a capsule as well. The family's number one hacker. She projects herself as a genki girl despite her lack of physical presence. Often Funf and Neun work in concert to crack target databases and mine the desired info.
Horace Bega- owner of the diner, which is also named after him: Horace's Bar and Grill. Locals just call it the diner, though. Gruff exterior with a heart of gold, he'll take in anyone who asks if they genuinely seem like they need the help, give them a job and put them up in the apartments above the diner, where most of his staff lives. At the diner, Elf, Vier and Acht are known as Margo, Valerie and Oscar Greenwood. Drei is simply the guy in the nice suit. Stereotypical middle aged dive bar owner.
Chelsey Henderson- the bartender, tattooed, pierced and fierce, she is Horace's oldest employee at 29. She's a big sister to the other kids and is more caring than her own gruff exterior lets on. Pretty punk. Also has a 7 year old son named Henry.
Samantha Dimilo- A friendly waitress and Horace's actual daughter. 17. Unrepentant gossip who reveals a lot of info to Wolf. Has a totally 80s side ponytale for some reason
Alexi Veridis- a waiter at the local diner, about 19 years old. Polite, happy-go-lucky, an unwitting mule for the local syndicate, and Elf's current crush. He has a major crush on Vier, though, and knows Elf as her kid sister. Later develops relationship with Elf. Has that short bowl hair cut I like so much.
Drei's Contact- seems nice enough for a mafia guy. Not seen after the 11th episode.
Charles Beringbot- an autocratic, amoral CEO who has made deadly enemies with the local syndicate, and whose unethical business practices has lead first to the development of the Beringbot 12, and to their destruction, all remorselessly ordered by him. He doesn't trust anyone, with good reason, so he has no one to answer to, not even shareholders as his company seems to pull profit out of thin air at times, though inside sources often claim that he sells illegal genips (genetically manipulated life forms), often human genips, the creation of which is the only corporate crime most governments take seriously anymore. Has a finger in every pie in his company, and as kingpin, if he goes, the whole thing collapses. He is extremely well protected, with possibly several illegal clone double serving as added protection. Repeated assassination attempts by various parties seem to confirm this as he has been filmed being shot in the head at least twice, admitted to the local high security, highly expensive local clinic multiple times for multiple poisoning attempts, including several that listed the contaminant as lethal levels of a variety of neurotoxins. Basically it'll take a giant psychic explosion to kill him off.
Elf serves as the primary viewpoint character, while Vier and Wolf are fairly close seconds during the two distinct story arcs. The setting is a dark and dangerous future where corrupt corporations vie for control of world governments, and underground syndicates fight to control or undermine the corporations, the backdrop for a story mainly about a family in hiding. The family takes commissions from the local syndicate to infiltrate the government and corporate headquarters located in their city. Two of the family are expert hackers, and one is more hands on.
The family lives in an abandoned warehouse, using its large size and numerous tunnel connections to nearby factories to hide their presence. They have a large garden on the roof for the members who have decided never to enter the public.
The experiments were born in six sets of two, male and female, with several years in between each pair to evaluate observable outcomes. Each pair shares certain traits, like Drei and Vier's ability to read other people, Ein and Swei's weak telekinetic ability, and Sieben and Acht's physical deformations, Funf, Sechs, Neun and Zehn's weak constitutions. Elf and Zwolf shared a latent development period in which their powers are very weak until triggered in early adulthood, an attempt to give them a normal childhood as the scientists observe the older pairs, sensitive from birth, are affected in a somewhat negative way by their abilities. Though born at the same time, the pairs are not true siblings as neither shares a mother or a father, nor is their genetic source material identical as the scientists selected for distinct traits. None of the experiments have their own name, but use the German for their numbers as names.
The first 13 episodes cover the secret activities of Vier as she teaches Elf about what happened to them 20 years ago, including flashbacks to the deaths of the three dead scientists, Dr.'s Chambler Sarahdi, dead in the first surprise of the attack, Alicia Cooper (a strong mother figure to all the older experiments), shot in the back as she fled while carrying Zwolf, and Taka Inoue, who due to his wounds, also received in the initial attack, stayed behind with Ein to destroy the lab and delay if not outright kill the attacking force, which Ein does in a massive display of pyrokinetic fury. We learn that Vier blames the attack for Acht's having stopped aging, that Dr. David Greentree, the only surviving scientist and the father figure to the family, was assassinated four years later by the same corporate elimination task force, and that Vier plans on assassinating the head of Beringbot in revenge for the family.
The first few episodes seem relatively light, until the flashbacks start. Once the background is established, there is a brief period of relative calm, and then Drei is assassinated by Beringbot enforcers, which begins the escalation to the first climax as tensions build in the Warren (their name for their home), and Vier becomes dangerously unstable and risk taking at the death of the only other experiment she considered her brother as Elf stays nearby to keep her from unnecessary risks.
This 13 episode arc concludes with Vier discovering that the company was gearing up to attack again, this time to strike the Warren, but being ambushed on her way home, is unable to give warning. She is killed, but Elf, when Vier dies in her arms, discovers her inner rageaholic Telekinetic whirlwind powers, destroys the task force sent after them in a bloody gore fest. And then she returns home, nearly walking into a trap before being stopped by a dirty, crying Acht, the only survivor of the massacre of the remaining experiments, the eternally 9 year old boy. He also reveals that Swei had betrayed the family this time. It closes with them fleeing into the night as more enforcers arrive.
The second 13 episode arc is somewhat choppy, and opens with the introduction of Wolf, whose name is also an unsubtle hint as to his true identity, as he is instructed to investigate the locations of the remaining experiments. He arrives at the warren during the corporate clean up which fails to find Acht. He is lead to believe that the remaining two experiments would likely resemble the ones found in the warren. His occasional unexplained sensitivity to mood leads him to believe that there's something very suspicious about the reasons for this attack, which he has been told only a partial truth: that they were the source of numerous computer attacks and were revealed to be unauthorized human genetic aberrations which necessitated their extermination. He is a surprisingly sympathetic character for the supposed antagonist, and takes Vier's place as a second POV character.
Meanwhile Elf is discovering both the final gift Vier leaves her with and the dangerously uncontrollable nature of her new powers as she tries to keep herself and Acht safe from both the syndicate and Beringbot. She takes shelter with Alexi the waiter and his own family of misfits from the diner. Wolf, in search of the missing experiments, enters the neighborhood and is able to take up a job at the diner as a line cook under somewhat false pretenses: he claims to have family in the neighborhood, and needs a job while he looks for them. He slowly becomes included in the loose family formed at the bar, due in part to his role as information gatherer and in part because he genuinely begins to love the people there, genuine familial bonding being both novel and surprisingly comforting to the in fact orphaned corporate enforcer. Elf intrigues him because of her dangerously unstable nature, and he becomes genuinely fond of Acht, now living as Margo and Oscar, respectively. He also forms a romantic relationship with Chelsey, who is somewhat Tsundere, which further cements him into the family of the diner. All this takes about five episodes to establish.
As the show closes into the final eight episodes, the
danger begins to increase for all parties as Elf ends her recuperation period and Wolf begins to realize that not all is what it seems with two members of his new family. He learns things from the others at the diner that they would not have told him had they known Elf's true situation. Also, as she begins to return to espionage and assassination for revenge, he begins to connect her disappearances to incidents at the HQ. And as a side plot to his investigations into the locations of the final experiments, he also begins to learn more about who they were, how they came to be, and how his own origins may be connected to them, and an explanation begins to form for his own occasional, mysterious flare ups of psychic abilities, untrained though they are.
Finally, as the last couple episodes role around, Elf finally succeeds where Vier failed after many difficulties, including learning that Wolf is her long lost pairing, Experiment XII, or Zwolf. She succeeds in taking down the company with his aid as he switches sides when he learns the truth. Her telekinetic abilities pair fairly well with his precognitive leaps as they enter the final battle in the second to last episode. The battle also includes a serious injury for Wolf and an apparent failure cliff hanger before success in the last episode, where all is concluded in the first half, leaving the denouement to be rushed through in the last half of the last episode. The destruction of the local controlling corporation causes great chaos, though, and the closing episode shows Elf and Acht, with their new adopted family of the folks from the diner, Alexi, Horace, Chelsey, Samantha and Carlos, along with Zwolf, leaving the city to begin a new life elsewhere.
Why German numbers? Because German is cool.
As an action title this did reasonably well in the states, not so well in Japan, however. Not enough moe I guess, what with the two lead females being high on the self reliant ass-kicking end of the spectrum. The dub was pretty good, but like usual they never manage to quite get the sexiness of the original Japanese male seiyuu matched. But, well, you can't use Crispin Freeman and Steven Blume for EVERYTHING, I guess. Even though both their voices are extremely sexy. Mmm. Or Travis Willingham . . . I'd listen to him talk any time, mmhmm. Uh, moving on . . . Somehow the female voice actors managed to not be annoying in the English dub, but that's probably because they were playing action girls, and used lower tones than normal as Vier and Elf are both pretty low key.
Also, the only generater I used in this one was once again the designated one. Babelfish on the title for the katakana, just like last time. It doesn't feel right for me if there's no title logo for some reason.
Well, there you go. Now I have to go feed my cat. Damn he's annoying.