What’s it about? After creating the Hypnosis Mic, the all-women “Party of Words” takes over Japan’s government and creates a new world order: weapons are banned and all battles must be fought with words, ushering in a new era… OF RAP BATTLES. During this “H age,” the Party sets up a Division Battle System to “redirect men’s antipathy” away from the Party and towards each other—and the leader has her eye on four three-man teams as the most promising groups.
If you thought to yourself, “Whoa hang on now, that premise sounds pretty darned sexist,” then give yourself a cookie! HYPNOSISMIC’s premiere exists in a world where women are either fascists, damsels, or fangirls, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
As part of a multimedia franchise (including multiple shounen and josei manga and an otome rhythm game), HypnoMic is pretty clearly a show made for people who enjoy looking at and ‘shipping pretty boys together. (The cop and gangster are deffo having smoldering rap sex, I can tell you that for sure.) While BL and BL-adjacent media has gotten better about how it treats its female characters in recent years, the subgenre has a misogynistic streak going back at least as far as the 1600s, and that’s very much on display in HypnoMic’s premise.
It’s a good thing, then, that this premiere is also absolute nonsense, a sequence of stylish music videos tied together by a spaghetti-thin plot. Between the army of pretty boys, parade of rap battles, and explosion of on-screen lyrics, it’s basically impossible to take any of this seriously, up to and including the built-in sexism.
So, uh… yeah. I kinda had fun with it?
This premiere introduces us to four rapper teams located in different districts of Tokyo, each composed of three tropes—I mean, characters. I made an honest effort to write down names for about 10 minutes and then gave up and started assigning nicknames instead. Say hello to our Division Battle contestants!
The Buster Brothers are Ichiro, Jiro, and Saburo. Jiro and Saburo fight a lot; Ichiro is a Cool Dewd. The Mad Trigger Crew are Cop, Gangster, and Navy. Cop and Gangster light each other’s cigarettes (wink); Navy eats bugs. Fling Posse are Pink, Shakespeare, and Dice. They seem nice! Matenro are Doctor, Host, and Overtime. Host and Doctor really wanna hold hands; Overtime is a Hashtag Relatable overworked salaryman.
Fling Posse are basically buskers, but the other teams fight crime and RAP FOR JUSTICE and sometimes STRANGLE PEOPLE with their SICK RHYMES. (I think, anyway? It’s hard to pay attention to storylines when characters are dancing around, summoning skull stereos, and punching kanji at you.)
The rap battles themselves are absurdly stylish and visually busy (possibly to the point of exhaustion, depending on your enjoyment of kinetic typography), which is the main reason I caught myself enjoying this episode. This show is a giddy barrage of color and image and sound, to the point where I very nearly gave up on reading the lyrics in favor of just letting the visuals bludgeon me into a rainbow-colored coma.
The vocal performances are… mixed, ranging from “hey this guy kicks ass” to “hey I bet the director owed this guy a favor.” The translation, meanwhile, is somewhere near inspired, often making genuine attempts to preserve the original Japanese rhyme schemes while also getting way too excited about dropping F-bombs when the criminals show up. You know someone had themselves a good day at work when Funimation has to begin an episode with an “explicit language warning.”
Anyway, sometimes I like bad things, especially when they’re musicals. I cannot in good conscience recommend this nigh-incomprehensible, sexism-riddled, glorified AMV to any of our readers… but this premiere had my heart from the moment it looked me dead in the eye and rapped “I’m a gangster / While you’re some scrawny hamster.”
Will HypnoMic‘s particular brand of trash hold my attention for a full cour? Unlikely! But this first episode was just ridiculous enough that I can’t help but come back for more.
Editor’s Note: Minor updates after publication to clarify Hypnosis Mic‘s franchise history.