Tesla Note – Episode 1

By: Meru Clewis October 4, 20210 Comments
Botan smiles.

What’s It About? Meet Negoro Botan, a high school girl trained as a ninja since a child, and one of Japan’s most talented spies. Meet Kuruma, a spy who has… a flair for theatrics and a pretty snazzy jacket. Now, mash them together in a new mission that is do or die: a mission to retrieve the “Tesla Crystal,” Nikola Tesla’s legacy and a dangerous item, indeed. But these two aren’t the only ones on the move: other countries are already working to secure the crystal for themselves, leaving dynamic disaster duo Botan and Kuruma in a lurch as they leverage all their wits to outsmart everyone at every single CGI twist and turn.

I… I don’t know where to start with Tesla Note. Some would say at the beginning, some would say by closing the tab, some would say by actually reading the descriptions of anime before I elect to review them. Some would question why I did this to myself again: I’d tell them that I never do because half the fun of a season premiere is getting a grab bag, which includes whatever this premiere is.

Let’s start by saying that EX-ARM has some competition, baby, and that competition is Fall 2021’s Tesla Note, which is a garbage pail of hot, steamy animated trash backed by actually good voice actors and covered in a thin veneer of olive oil. And when it’s not covered in that good, good shiny anime juice, the animation is as dry as a bone. But more on that later. Right now, let’s dive into the premiere.

Boton greets Ryūnosuke Takamatsu before accepting her role in an important mission.

Episode 1, “A Consideration on the ‘New-Fledged Spy’”, begins as thus: with a quote from Thomas A. Edison, hinting that Tesla Note is definitely not 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

…Well, with how glossy everything is occasionally, that might not be true.

Then it slaps you in the face with a mess of CGI pigeons, some royalty free music in the background, and oh shit, a train barrelling towards someone’s unnamed child that transitions into the Gifu region of Japan. It’s here that we meet Negoro Botan, a girl whose glasses never quite sit properly on her face and whose helmet of hair is strong enough to fend off any foes. 

And it’s here that we see that her grandfather is definitely dead because he doesn’t automatically answer her. Scratch that, he’s just a ninja. You know, the two genders: definitely dead, or a ninja. And that’s not her actual grandfather. The man Botan quickly assaults with her ninja-tastic skills has come from the Japan Safety and Promotion Company, Limited, to recruit Botan to be the ultimate secret agent on behalf of the country. The mission? “Mission T”, which Botan is more than ecstatic to take on.

This is the foundation for episode one: a story of intrigue, Tesla Fragments, and… probably something else. I watched this twice and I’m still not entirely sure what Tesla Note is trying to do or get at.

Boton ponders if her grandfather was deluded instead of trying to prepare her to save the world.

Let me be frank: Tesla Note looks like booty. It’s busted from jump, and never gets better. It looks like chewed up gum, if chewed up gum had like… a couple tens of millions of yen behind it. Even the OP looks like chewed up buttcheeks, which like… why am I surprised? Still, there’s like… this jarring thing that someone elected to do (assumably, both Type ZERO and GAMBIT and Studio BOKAN, and maybe even Revival) which is sliding between 2D and 3D animation.

It never looks good, as evidenced by the screenshots provided in this review. It always looks like someone forgot to a style and decided instead to choose both. And while I frequently like to have my cake and eat it too, I also think that somewhere along the line, Tesla Note should have just been full-on 3D animation versus this half-assed slip ‘n slide bullshit that I had to watch. Its sole salvation is that the series is largely devoid of noise, which means I don’t have to talk about this show’s sound design, outside of a strange, hollow lack of sound overall.

But allow me to find a bit of joy: Tesla Note is only twenty-four minutes long versus Remake Our Life’s fifty minute premiere. For that, I am incredibly thankful. In fact, I’d like to leverage the hot take that Tesla Note is better than Remake Our Life in that capacity, because twenty-four minutes is decidedly less than fifty.

That’s all. 

Boton, in a disguse, rescues a victime of a Tesla Fragment.

Wait, no it’s not.

I actually really like Botan, largely because she’s inexplicably good at everything in the same way all of my self-insert characters in my FF.net account fics were. Sis can speak English, Chinese, Korean, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Dutch: wait, I said Dutch twice, but she also might have said Dutch twice. She’s also a secret agent and a ninja. Plus, girl’s got confidence for days.

Get you a protagonist who can do it all, am I right?

And perhaps that’s intentional: at least, that’s what I left the premiere feeling. Perhaps the manga (which is being localized by Kodansha USA) takes things a bit more seriously. I don’t know, and I don’t intentd to mess around and find out. I’ll just let my dreams carry me to the awkwardly animated realm of Tesla Note. At least there, I can find peace in what this show could have been, instead of the badly cellshaded hot mess plopped into my lap.

Boton, in disguise, swings into action to escape after blowing her cover.

I’m not going to tell you to hatewatch this series because… I don’t know, I value your time and I value you, dear reader, and don’t want you to waste your limited minutes on this planet watching Tesla Note, though it does have an absolute banger of an OP & ED, which… like what a waste. What I will say is that if you have ample amounts of freetime, Tesla Note is definitely a thing that could occupy your time. It’s a show that could hypothetically even be good, though as a wise AniFem editor said yesterday, “Tesla Note sounds and looks like something Elon Musk funded for his girlfriend.”

…I see why Grimes left him.

About the Author : Meru Clewis

Meru Clewis is a Queer Blerd JP-EN translator, transcriptionist, and writer. They're also a big fan of the manga Complex Age, the Etrian Odyssey series, the visual novel Raging Loop, and iyashikei/healing anime and manga.

You can follow their work as a professional Blerd at Backlit Pixels, read their thoughts on video games on Medium, support their work via Ko-Fi, get snapshots of their life on Instagram or keep up with them on Twitter.

Read more articles from Meru Clewis

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