[Review] Hand Shakers – episode 1

Tazuna understands machines and can fix anything from cars to electronics. Visiting a university professor to fix something as a favour, he finds the professor’s room empty with a mysterious hospital room adjoining his office. Drawn to the hospital room, he finds a girl lying in a bed who wakes up and takes his hand. Her name is Koyori, and if he doesn’t keep hold of her hand she will die – easier said than done when they’re being chased by people attacking them with magical, destructive powers.

The Hand Shakers story is all scaffolding to prop up the premise: a teenage boy must keep hold of a pretty young girl’s hand at all times. At all times. The next episode preview hints at the real appeal of the show, which is this teenager holding a little girl’s hand while she changes clothes or showers.

Not put off yet? She reminds him of his younger sister, Musubi, who died some time before. She probably isn’t actually his sister, but this is another valiant anime attempt to have its incest cake and eat it. They’re not really related, they just look and act and view each other like brother and sister! Right.

A girl with earphones in smiles with her eyes shut. Her very large breasts are at the high point of a very large bounce.

There’s a lot about this show that’s ridiculous, but I need to mention the class president’s breasts. These breasts remind me of the moment in The 40-Year-Old Virgin where everyone figures out he’s never been with a naked woman when he describes boobs so badly. These breasts frequently look like water balloons containing eels fighting desperately to escape their airless grave. These breasts move beyond ‘not completely natural’ into ‘completely unnatural’, designed to be appreciated only by those who have never witnessed a breast in action.

The image above shows the class president nodding along to music, apparently with such force that she can distort gravity and will her breasts up to her chin. Did I mention she seems to have a thing for Tazuna? If there is a reveal that her breasts are actually mechanical and malfunctioning and she wants Tazuna to fix them, I swear I will pick this show back up and watch it to the end.

A large-breasted woman in  short skirt, thigh high socks and heels lies on the floor with her back arched, eyes closed and mouth open as she moans. A man's leg is pressed firmly into her crotch. Subtitle: "Come on, what's wrong, Bind?"

Now let’s talk about Break, the guy who drags a woman around on chains that she apparently produces through pain-induced arousal? I wasn’t entirely clear on this bit and it probably doesn’t matter. Anyway, after many more incidents of this man stomping a woman in the crotch than I personally am comfortable with (the optimal number of such incidents being ZERO) he encourages her to let him hear her voice. She has been moaning this entire time, sounds which could be pleasure and/or pain, but on that encouragement arches her back and cries out, “I’m going!”

This is a literal translation. For the unaware, “going” is to orgasm in Japanese as “coming” is in English. This isn’t ambiguous; this moment is deliberately designed to look like pain-induced orgasm. However, I don’t think you get to treat a woman with violence and then throw in an orgasmic response as proof that this show’s sexual violence against women is okay, actually. BDSM relationships are about trust, not violence, and we never see this woman as a person at all, let alone one who trusts her partner to tie her up with chains and stomp her in the crotch.

There is one moment where we see them hold hands, but by this time we’ve been told to reframe hand-holding as an obligation which can bring great power increases, so it’s hard to view that as evidence of affection between them. I’m open to the possibility that people in BDSM communities might view this scene differently to me, but I also can’t imagine there’s anyone particularly pleased to see a much misunderstood kink represented in this way.

We see the backs of Tazuna and Koyori as they hold hands and face a floating wall of independently moving gears.

If we give this show far more benefit of the doubt than it deserves and assume it is frontloading the most sexualised aspects of its premise, this show could go to some interesting places. There is significant overlap with Twin Star Exorcists, which I love, and I could be easily won over by Tazuna and Koyori covering some of the same ground as Rokuro and Benio at their best.

Yes, the hand-holding thing has the potential to be problematic, but Twin Star Exorcists has similar issues and I don’t hate that. Their problematic plot points have yielded some really beautiful moments of grounded, human connection as equals under the weight of mystical obligation, which has (for me) outweighed their worst uses. All I’m saying is that the Hand Shakers premise is not inherently a lost cause, assuming they get the whole “awkward teenagers being awkward and naked together” thing out of their system in the second episode.

However, what Twin Star Exorcists doesn’t have is a female character designed purely to be stomped in the crotch, and that may be my dealbreaker for this one.

Read the ANN Preview Guide review.

 

Let us know what you thought of the show in comments below! Please read our comments policy before joining the conversation and contact us if you have any problems.

Want to see feminist reviews of more anime by more people? Make it possible for us to pay multiple people to review shows by becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month! 

  • Rory More

    “Never seen a breast in action”

    Oh gods that line had me in stitches!

    It’s sad because the premise does actually sound kinda nifty, but maybe my rose tinted glasses from the game “Ico” are twisting my view…

    • Glad you enjoyed it! Exactly, I have nothing against the premise, “people thrown uncomfortably close together through unusual circumstances” is nothing new in Japan or elsewhere, but this was one of the worse ways they could have approached it.

      • Rory More

        Jeez I’m glad I got to skip this one! keep up the good work 🙂

        • Thank you! You missed nothing, good decision to skip it.

  • Ashen

    I was waiting to read what AniFem thought of this premiere! To me it was too chaotic visually and those boob physics were ridiculously distracting. I didn’t get much of anything personality-wise from the MCs and that horrible display of “BDSM” was the final straw.

    I’ve read and researched quite a bit on the latter subject and while I’d hardly consider myself an expert, every healthy BDSM relationship I’ve read about has been been built on a foundation of trust, communication, and respect. The bastardization entertainment seems so fond of is not only aggravating to see but it perpetuates the wrong ideas about the lifestyle (to say NOTHING of how horribly the woman Bind was treated. Really, her entire “character” is a simpering, thimble-deep fetish that enrages me).

    Having enjoyed GoHands’ previous work, K, so much I was hoping for better with this series. If it somehow does a 180 on its character development and tones down its animation to something more focused, less eye-aching, I’d be all for it.

    • This is the thing; had Bind been an actual character, shown to have actual BDSM preferences, that would have been very different. This felt much more like the creators wanting to torture a hot woman and screen and being able to handwave away any criticism by pointing out that she gets off from it. No.

      The visuals were awful, weren’t they? I didn’t mention it because the Preview Guide reviews went into it in detail, but I didn’t enjoy it any more than anyone else. The cog screenshot I put as the featured image was the only usable one.

      I don’t know anything about K, I will look it up!

  • GreyLurker

    I like the concept of the Gears as a weapon power, and that gear sword looked amazing. I can think of a lot of cool things you could do with that…but honestly the rest of the episode left me cold.

    I think the series is CG and that is probably what went wrong with the class president, (as well as some of the other movement) but damn if it is CG they made a really good job making it look like traditional models.

    • I think gears as a weapon could be really interesting too! There’s potential in a fair few aspects of this story (I like the idea of a hero with the ability to fix mechanical things), but the execution is so off-putting.

  • Kacey Levitt

    When you mentioned the class president’s breasts, all I could think of was “There’s Gainaxing, and then there’s High School of the Dead.” You pretty much described that moment as the latter.

  • Ahmad Jundi

    Okay let’s say the truth
    He must shake her hand until death so he can’t be alone
    He can’t………
    He can’t play with …… Which by the way the same previous point but I want to express my feeling here
    What the hell is wrong with this anime ???

    • An excellent question with multiple answers.

  • Frau

    Thanks to this shitty first episode i found this site, at least something good came from it

    • That brings the total of good things to come out of Hand Shakers to one, and I’m very pleased that we were the ones to benefit from that.

  • Lori P

    Hand holding is cute, and they could have taken it in a very platonic direction, and decide NOT to show a little girl getting dressed! Gasp!!

    But judging by this review, it sounds like they use the hand holding thing as an excuse to GET HER NAKED..

    Ummm…did this anime just RUIN HAND HOLDING?!

  • Eduardo De Lima

    im a guy , im not feminist and I particulary dont have anything against sexualism etc. but this show is just horrible, it saddens me… i like to read articles on anifem, but i came here to read this review just to make sure this show didnt make it for any1.