Alternative title(s): Japanese title
Anime original by A-1 Pictures
Streaming on Funimation
Big titted dictator mommies have taken over the government and banned war. Now all conflicts are settled through rap battles. We follow the stories of Japan’s four greatest rap crews.
Gee’s verdict: Ready to Die
This is the hardest I’ve laughed at something in a while. Maybe for all the wrong reasons, but if I’m laughing, who’s really counting? And it’s a shame really, based on the premise alone, this is exactly the kind of dumb bullshit I love about anime. If the show remained exactly the same, but the music was genuinely decent, this could easily be this season’s dark horse. Unfortunately, anytime the hip hop facade falls away and the show reveals itself to be exactly the kind of multimedia male idol vehicle it is, it loses so much of its perhaps unintentional charm. Not to go full hip hop snob here, but I could go on for paragraphs about how bad the rapping in this show is. It’s obvious that most of these VAs have never rapped a day in their life. When the spectrum ranges from, “can kinda drop bars okay” to, “Japanese equivalent of white guys sing talking quickly,” you know it’s a bad look.
Still, there’s something to be said for its sense of bombastic spectacle. Watching hot boys drop bars so hot that they can summon skeletal coffin subwoofers or strike down their foes with orbital lasers from the heavens is exactly the kind of anime dumbassery many of us came to this medium for in the first place.
As a longtime hip hop fan, I recognize my priorities are probably in all the wrong places and I was never meant to be the primary audience of this show but still, there’s a lot of legitimate rap talent in Japan. Even in a post-Nujabes world, God rest his soul. You’re really telling me Hypnosis Mic couldn’t tap the talents of Mabanua, Buddha Brand, or Miyachi? Hell, some of those guys have actually contributed to other anime productions before. At this point, my investment in the show is mostly a coin toss on how the rest of this season turns out and if Hypnosis Mic can keep me laughing at it, because it’s certainly not going to make me laugh with it.
Jel’s verdict: Bad Rap
This was fun but could have been amazing if the music was good. The rap was bad but I guess most of the beats were alright. I did like the second one (the one with the… rapping soldier???) which sounded like some kind of bargain bin Dr. Dre thing. Other than that though, the music is pop anime trash. I had enough fun to merit watching another episode, but I think I’m only going to continue to be disappointed.
Iro’s verdict: I Don’t Know Anything About Rap
…but even I could tell the beats weren’t really that good. As for the show, it is completely absurd to a comical degree: in less than five minutes we are told that women have taken over the earth and banned lethal weapons, forcing all martial conflict to be solved with rap battles. Sounds good! The problem is that then it becomes indistinguishable from your other male idol shows, an excuse for a cadre of hot anime boys to transform into CG models so they can dance along with their vaguely rap adjacent image songs. All (intentional) comedy drains out of the show at this point. I can only assume I’m meant to take Fling Posse and Buster Bros!!! seriously as hot anime boys rather than the goofy caricatures they actually are. At most, Hypnosis Mic has earned another one or two episodes, but definitely no more than that.
2 thoughts on “First Look: Hypnosis Mic: Division Rap Battle – Rhyme Anima”
I couldn’t even make it through the whole episode…the production came across to me as an idea that must have sounded brilliantly silly in conception, but which then no one had any idea how to turn into an actual, worthwhile show.
“You’re really telling me Hypnosis Mic couldn’t tap the talents of Mabanua, Buddha Brand, or Miyachi?” – they could have if they had wanted to, but they didn’t. Authentic hip-hop was never the goal of the franchise… *that* would be “fictional male Idol group franchises make a ton of money but there’s so many of them now, and all are so similar, how can we create a new one that stands out from the crowd?” “let’s make them rap!” “…okay, why not. Get me a list of the usual seiyuu.”
So yeah, Hypnosis Mic is just another one of those franchises built on handsome, popular or up-and-coming seiyuu with “ikemen voices” playing attractive characters who also sing (or in this case, rap) in-universe, providing a convenient excuse to sell albums with songs, and extra “drama” parts where the characters can have storylines and develop fandoms. (Also see: Tsukiuta, etc.) It has been ongoing for quite a while now and it’s very very VERY popular. The target audience is not “people who like hip-hop”, it’s “girls into fictional sexy boys who have complicated relationships with each other, voiced by real-life pretty boys who sound hot.”
But yeah, I’m not much of a hip-hop expert, but I enjoy Japanese hip-hop, and while I’m asolutely not above enjoying franchises like this, I could never get into Hypnosis Mic in particular because the seiyuu’s attempts at rapping keep giving me secondhand embarrassment.