Speed Grapher had plenty of potential; an engaging plot line with an interesting character cast. Targeted at an older audience (despite being categorised as shounen, it’s more seinen in its portrayal), the opening episode delivered plenty to look forward to, and I can remember quite clearly anticipating this one the most during its broadcast season back in 2005.
Gonzo, the now dormant/defunct animation studio due to financial reasons, has always been temperamental in their offerings, ranging from the likes of Gankutsuou and Last Exile to the rather dismal Dragonaut and Kiddy Girl-and; Speed Grapher is definitely closer to the former two, but unfortunately falls short of standing alongside.
My main gripe was the animation, which succumbed to budgeting during the midsection with plenty of inconsistencies, particularly in regard to character design, and the ‘monster(s) of the week” formula didn’t help (or was even warranted) and could only be perceived as laziness on the scriptwriter’s part, considering the intriguing premise. Despite this, as an action series, it succeeds on the whole, remaining largely entertaining and enjoyable throughout, with all of the characters having their own background story that’s followed through appropriately and satisfactorily.
While the animation suffered, its overall style was appealing, as was the character design. I liked the fact that Saiga was older than your typical male protagonist and Kagura, while seemingly flat at the beginning, developed believably by the end.
Overall, Speed Grapher is an above average action series that falters in its presentation more than its realisation of its scripting, but the episodic-esque tendencies that surfaced throughout meant that the potential for this series to propel itself to greater heights is thwarted. It’s worth noting that my review has been written quickly and largely based upon my lasting impression of this series, dating back to when it aired, five years ago, so I’m unable to provide something more detailed. Moreover, I’m attempting to reduce how much I write for each review in this thread, but looking up at what I’ve written, I’ve only semi succeeded.
Oh yes, I just remembered, I loved the OP for this series, Duran Duran are ace. The cover art for the DVD releases aren’t bad either.