Sometimes an illustrious staff does not equal an impressive production. Enter Gibiate, a series with time travel, samurai, mutating monster people, and the silliest twist in years. Join Nicky and Steve as they slide through the earnest yet awful adventure of Gibiate.
This series is streaming on Crunchyroll
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Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Hey Nicky! The spookiest month is finally in full swing, and what better way to celebrate than talking about the scariest thing of all: bad anime.
I wouldn't call this week's entry the horror genre per say, Steve. Try more like Comedy Gold! What happens when you get time travelers from the samurai-era travel to a near-distant future of 2030 where the world is overrun with a deadly virus that turns people into ugly CG monsters? The answer is: hilarious, also known as Gibiate!
Not gonna lie, Gibiate wasn't anywhere close to my radar until the past couple weeks, when the badness dam finally broke and people started being vocally upset with it. As a noted connoisseur of trash anime (you knowww I got that Big Order Blu-ray preorder on lock), I just had to see for myself. And boy, did I ever see.
We have so much to cover! But, before we get to the comedy we must start a tragedy. Gibiate actually started as an ambitious project where writer and executive producer Ryō Aoki enlisted Famous Designer Yoshitaka Amano to do some work with a noted Stardust Crusader's animation director, Masahiko Komino serving as director. The hype for this project was supposed to be big but did it live up to it? Nah, it's all lost in terrible production values and a story that's riddled with exposition dumps.
This show has got some pretty far-out twists, which we will no doubt get to soon, but nothing shocked me as much as looking at the staff after I finished marathoning it. Freaking Yoshitaka Amano. There has to be one hell of a story behind how much of a production disaster this ended up being.
I mean, it's honestly not the first time I've seen people turn Amano's wonderful illustrations and grind them into paste so I'm honestly not that surprised. Especially, after witnesses a similar story last year with Yoshitoshi ABe and RErideD.
Yeah I have to imagine on some level it was a failure of ambition. Adapting Amano's character designs into animation is tough to do even in the best of circumstances. And these times are certainly anything but the best of any conceivable circumstances. Speaking of circumstances, it is definitely some Timing that the show is in part about a global pandemic that wipes out the human population and turns them into monsters. This has been in production since 2019, so obviously that's a coincidence, but it's a "funny" one to be sure.
Rest assured, though, the show doesn't give us much time to dwell on present parallels before introducing Part B of its main schtick: Sengoku-era time travel!
Basically, we put ya samurais into your monster survival horror genre! Though honestly, it doesn't always live up to the wild premise. Let's start with the characters. Kathleen is a regular teen girl who loves the finer things in life like Drinks, BRUGS, and Rock'n Roll.
That is such a good poster and I really wish the rest of the show had that kind of energy.
I'm gonna keep using the term BRUGS, throughout this article because it captures exactly how I feel about most of this.
Trueee that. Kathleen's basically our everyman, one of the handful of surviving humans, who runs into our crusty old time travelers and brings them up to speed. And one thing I do respect about Gibiate is that everyone immediately accepts that time travel is possible and just rolls with it because they're too tired and traumatized to argue. That's a 2020 mood right there.
Love how we basically never learn what the heck is up with Kathleen's mom. It starts like "She's kinda nuts" to "I guess she's okay now." Anyways, her mom is chill, a doctor, and also deffo was a Sengoku Basara fujoshi back in the day.
Our other leads are the time travelers themselves: a samurai, a shinobi, and a monk. The samurai, Sensui, is a samurai. You know samurais? That's his entire character. But Kathleen proves her worth as protagonist by dressing him up like a Fist of the North Star character, and bless her heart for it.
Sensui is the most boring of the three cavemen. He basically only exists as a weapon. I'm actually a bit more fond of the other blue-haired dude, Kenroku. Mostly because he actually has a good sense of humor.
He also totally looks like a Lancer-type, rather than an Assassin-type.
He also totally looks like a Lancer-type, rather than an Assassin-type.
Yeah, Amano can give whatever excuse he wants: they dyed his hair to make him look like Cú Chulainn. That's the only explanation I'll accept, because it's the truth.
The third Edo Bro shows up a bit later: Yukinojyo the monk. He's a large lad, a jolly presence, a strong fighter, and most importantly, he's never gotten laid.
He's kind of like the show's Santa Claus, except he hasn't found a Missus Claus yet. Merry Christmas! Your gift is a club to the face! Also, he's adorable.
Oh he's by far my favorite of the three time lords, so naturally he ends up being the first to die.
Here Lies Yukinojyo: He Never Scored
There's a few other characters too, some interesting and some less-so, one of the more less-interesting dudes at the start is Dr. Yoshinaga who has dedicated himself to finding a Vaccine for the Gibia Virus. After their base camp gets destroyed by the Gibia, the gang heads out down to the countryside for safety and hopes of finding a means to save humanity.
But always, along the way they encounter even more monsters! And then we get interrupted by a Warring States-era history lesson for at least half the episode.
These are the Gibia, or BRUGS, if you will. They're former humans, if they sting someone they will get infected, though they have a limited amount of venom, they don't like any intense light like the sun and they're ugly as sin.
Ohhhh boy, we're about to get into the delight that is the Gibia, but one point before we do: what you just said is exactly as much plot as we ever get out of Gibiate. They're on a trip to some undefined research facility so Dr. Virus Expert can make a vaccine to cure people (NOT how vaccines work by the way!!), and along the way there are flashbacks and way too many fight scenes. That's all the scaffolding we get. But anyway: hope you like CG monstrosities! And I do mean monstrosities.
Everything is just an excuse to get from one disaster area to the next. Everywhere they go is crawling with BRUGS, and nightfall is always a bad time for our crew!! Though, honestly not even the daytime is safe all the time as sometimes they encounter an abnormality.
Bonus: she can turn into a T-Rex.
The monster designs are honestly cool but whatever shader they use on them is extremely bad and this whole thing barely has any animation to keep it together. The episodes feel like I'm watching a powerpoint at times.
Our heroes can run away form the Gibia all they like: the thing that's truly inescapable is how staggeringly awful the 3D models are. I mean, these textures are straight out of a pre-rendered cutscene in a 1997 FMV game released on 6 CD-ROMs for PC.
Also any scene with more than one Gibia ends up looking like someone just used the copy-paste tool in whatever renderer they're using.
It feels like I'm watching a body horror version of Beast Wars. It's not made any better by the fact that they move at like four frames per second. There's lots of times where they really only have two-frames repeated and they're just sliding across the screen.
I'm also consistently blown away by how little they try to conceal the models. Like, usually, when a monster doesn't look good, you use lighting/framing/sound design/editing/literally anything/etc. to compensate for the jank. Gibiate instead puts as many on the screen as possible, as CLOSE as possible, and from as many angles as possible.
It makes Dragon's Dogma look like a friggin Picasso of CG monster animation.
I almost kinda respect the audacity. It's honestly a big reason why my relationship with the show turned from frustration and boredom into awe and pity. It's remarkable, in a way.
Like, the monster doesn't even look like it's the same species across these two sequential images.
Part of that is that the show gets more consistent and MORE RIDICULOUS as it goes on. I think the production actually evens out to a C-grade Jojo's by the end of it. One thing I'll give in Gibiate's favor is that unlike some other bad shows, despite it's apocalyptic setting, lots of character death, and general horror, it's not malicious or cynical at all. It's 100% sincere with all the embarrassing and goofiness that comes with that just like the best B-movie. It's the perfect formula for a guilty-pleasure. Consider: Sincerely, diving a helicopter into a big monster to blow it up.
That's the thing! It's shockingly good-natured. I mean, it plays pretty fast-and-loose with human life, but the characters themselves are largely good people. It has weird running gags about katsu curry. One guys fights with fishing equipment. This kind of stuff stops it from being a complete trainwreck, which honestly might have hurt its "so bad it's good" appeal. But I definitely appreciated that commitment to pure goofiness.
It starts out pretty bland when the only characters you have barely stick around for an episode at a time. It's hard to feel bad for geeky uncle and Sergeant America crying for his mommy when we barely saw them outside of their given role, and leans pretty heavy on exposition to boot. Also, anytime the show had to bring to a pacing to a crawl completely to explain the tactics of the enemy lord from 400 years ago, I outright wanted to take a nap. I'd rather read a textbook.
But I also do think it tries, even if it's ultimately super corny and preachy.
It does indeed try. Succeed? No. But try? Very yes. Also I can't believe I haven't brought up Ayame yet.
Her shotgun and mullet walked straight out of an '80s action film and into my heart.
She's probably one of the actual characters where it gets close enough to succeeding. Mostly because she's totally a Jojo's character in a Resident Evil setting. Also because we've already crossed the "jump the shark" threshold by this point in the show, and by that I mean we rammed the car into a T-Rex.
That's one of the few scenes that got a hearty guffaw out of me. Thanks for being awesome, Ayame! She also gets a little thing called "character development" via mending her relationship with her estranged Yakuza Dad. Ain't much, but it's more than most of these characters get.
I honestly wish we could've spent more time with the ex-cons cuz they're just weird enough to be endearing PLUS the hilarious little western rattle that appears whenever Yakuza Dad is on screen. They're introduced as minor antagonists, but their pluckiness and loyalty is really charming compared to some of the more straight-forward characters.
I think the weirdest thing we ever get about Sensui is that he sometimes plays the shamisen to mirror the rockin' Yoshida Brother's OP (Another good talent wasted on this product)
Yo the OP song is the one legitimately great thing to come out of this show. I didn't know I needed dueling shamisen rock in my life, but it's so much richer for it. If you get nothing else out of this column, check that video out.
And some scenes are carried by the weight of, well,
Sorry, I couldn't go any longer before talking about the aliens.
We went from BRUGS, to ALIUMS.
Is this foreshadowed? Nnnnnope. And it's so much better for it. This is also, I'm assuming, why everyone who somehow kept up with this while it was airing lost their minds a few weeks back. It's terrible and I love it.
My knowledge of this show went from nothing to a couple people on my timeline exploding, and it was well-earned. Basically, Totally-Not-Evil Doctor here came here from space because his gf got sick with god blood. Totally normal! But on his way, he did an Icarus in space, flying too close to the literal sun and crashing down to earth where his gf, the abnormality who has been chasing our group the whole time, and the virus fell to earth. He was just trying to make a vaccine for his GF and then skedaddle but oops, we accidentally killed her.
Literally all he had to do was tell them to try not to kill this one special Gibia. But he doesn't, because he's a moron, so he decides to kill everyone instead, because he's a moron.
BEHOLD, THE ULTIMATE LIFEFORM
THE PRODUCT OF 3 BILLION YEARS OF EVOLUTION
Also, did we mention that this also somehow resulted in a time-paradox because Kathleen decided to make a wish upon three falling stars that were actually parts of a spaceship controlled by BRAINWAVES?
The alien reveal was one thing, but THIS was sublime. Going into the finale, I was actually kinda hoping they wouldn't address the time travel at all. Let it be a total non sequitur, you know? But this was so much funnier and more batshit.
Though, like, why did it have to be samurai? WE DON'T KNOW?! Kathleen, why couldn't you have wished for Godzilla? He could've eaten those BRUGS!!
Considering all of the absolutely wack stuff I've seen this year, I'm gonna side with Gibiate on this one. Why not send a samurai to combat a pandemic? I mean, he can't possibly do any worse than the United States government.
We do learn that it would not have been a better outcome had she wished for a gun.
That's a MoodTM, btw.
Also, can we dwell for a moment on how Fedora Man got a longer and more heartfelt farewell scene from Yakuza Dad than his own freaking daughter?
It's also pretty criminal that we didn't get to see Sensui and Kenroku smooch. Not even ONCE.
Even when the bad guy is done and defeated in an almost decently-animated fare all we ever get is a goodbye. By the end of the show Nothing is solved! Most of the characters are dead, we don't know what will happen to humanity, and Sensui, who had been stung in the heat of battle, can't follow for fear of endangering the others. The show ends on a hopeful note but it doesn't really offer anything in terms of solutions. However, even if it's ultimately shallow, I can't help but respect it for that.
Yeah Gibiate doesn't have anything meaningful to say, besides "don't trust creepy alien scientists." And additionally maybe "wish on comets because who knows you might summon a time traveler." But at least it doesn't browbeat you with cheap cynicism. Can't really ask for much more out of 2020 content than that!
Sometimes having pure, sincere, low-budget schlock is all you really want in life. The world is complicated, but simplicities such as fun utter trash still exist out there. It's such pure garbage that words like "good" and "bad" are basically foreign to Gibiate.
As far as trash goes, I don't think I can recommend Gibiate, but I also don't regret my time with it. It's probably most interesting as an example of how high profile projects can go horrifically awry. I'm gonna hope beyond hope that we get a behind-the-scenes tell-all one of these days. In the meantime, though, I only ask that I never have to look at these mutant Geico mascots ever again.
I'd only accept it if we got more butch pink-haired ladies fighting them. Stone Ocean can't come soon enough!!
Hopefully we're not waiting until 2030 for that one.