First Look: Night Head 2041

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TV drama adaptation by Shirogumi
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

In Japan, 2041, adherence to or even belief in any kind of religion, spiritual movement, or supernatural phenomena has been completely outlawed. As a security force is tasked with tracking down and incarcerating anyone found guilty of committing such a crime, two brothers have seemingly broken free of a research lab and are on the run, and must keep their psychic abilities hidden for fear of alerting the authorities.

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Artemis’ verdict: Good Enough, I’ll Take It

This is an interesting one, and not only because the anime is apparently based not on a manga, game, or light novel, but on a 1992 Japanese TV drama.

Funnily enough, while I only looked up the anime and its origins after I watched this premiere, I did catch myself thinking a couple of times that it might have made a cooler live-action series than an anime. There’s just something about it that makes me feel the pacing would be better-suited to the live-action format – although that could just be because the vaguely dystopian futuristic setting and emphasis on the mystery and sci-fi/supernatural aspects put me in mind of some of the shows I used to watch on TV back in the late 90s and early 2000s such as Dark Angel.

I think my biggest issue with Night Head 2041 is that although there are plenty of ideas here that interest me on an individual level, put together, the premise becomes a bit of a mess. There’s so much going on in terms of base concept that I came out the other side of the episode not knowing where my focus should be, or even whether the premise really worked with that particular combination of ideas. Had the show picked just one of them and ran with it, at least for the opening episode, I think it would have made a much stronger impression. As it was, I found it dynamic but cluttered, especially considering the cast size. This also meant there was more or less zero time given to character development – the episode was way too busy setting up the plot to be able to properly introduce its characters and give me a reason (or not) to like or root for them.

Even so, this could well be something to keep an eye on this season, especially if you’re into your slightly grittier dramas or action-orientated sci-fi. I may have been fairly quick to dismiss Night Head 2041 in a weaker season, but given how many other shows I’ve chosen to keep up with on a weekly basis so far (as of this writing, a grand total of one), this one stands out as being competent enough to warrant a second look.

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Jel’s verdict: Please Watch Akudama Drive

I’m hesitant to call this cyberpunk, but it is a sci-fi story set in a futuristic authoritarian dystopia. You can’t blame my brain for going in that direction. They even put neon colors in the logo and a random near future year in the title, so I say they were asking for it.

If we do invoke that word, I can’t help but draw comparisons to recent cyberpunk anime (and GLORIO’s #1 anime of 2020) Akudama Drive. They even have similar premises with two magic siblings on the run from The Super Cops who will definitely at some point question their role in all this. But while Akudama Drive instantly established it’s own personality and hooks you in, Night Head 2041 does not. There’s nothing that happens in this first episode that distinguishes this story from the competition. We are introduced to characters I neither love nor hate, doing things I would expect them to do. It’s all just… average.

I will say I was pretty impressed with the look of the show, especially since it is primarily CG. There’s a lot of detail and texture that you don’t often see in these kinds of productions. Aside from a few rough moments that mix CG with hand drawn characters, it looks pretty good. So if you want a decent looking, but otherwise very average sci-fi adventure show, it seems like Night Head 2041 will deliver. Yay…

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