This is our pilot review. Travel forward in time by reading our full season review.
Triage X follows a time-tested formula for success, combining all the things fourteen year-old boys love: assassins, guns, motorcycles, swords, and boobs that look like they deserve individual silos deep underground at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex lest they accidentally start a thermonuclear war.
Triage X is a strange and unwieldy beast because it fluctuates between so good and so bad with relentless frequency. At times the attention to detail is glorious. If you slow down the footage, you can see individual frames where gun slides are animated and bullets are visible in the cylinders of revolvers. When someone hops on a motorcycle, they lean it upright and it sags under the bodyweight. It really feels like research went into some of these shots. Then, of course, the rest of the animation comes along and it looks like someone threw a bunch of napkin sketches into the final cut by mistake.
For every one thing done well there are a dozen things done beyond poorly. The black shading in particular looks like it was done with a Sharpie at the last second. They’re already doing flashbacks to the first episode in the first episode to reuse frames. One character never even gets a walking animation and just inexplicably Gumby-slides her way around the screen. The end credits are a bunch of 2-5 frame animation loops and the next episode preview is utterly worthless for information.
In its defense, Triage X knows how to do action. Even if it’s ridiculous, it’s fairly nonstop. A huge portion of each episode involves gunfights, chasing down crooks, 18-hit sword combos, exploding helicopters, motorcycles inexplicably making getaways on tight-ropes, you name it. It’s all a bit downplayed by a disproportionately loud and terrible music fanfare that loops ad nauseum, not stopping when the action does. Instead, the intrusive tunes carry on full blast as the main character monologues to his enemies for forever.
The intro song is a duet, which is fairly unique to anime intros, but it’s the warbling vibrato standard of a Japanese musical era long, long past. After this anachronistic introduction we’re treated to a plot more outdated than its own theme. A secret society called Black Label (attrociously having nothing to do with Zakk Wylde) wants to kill high-profile criminals in an attempt to make the world a better place. In essence, it’s a show about a shadow organization that requires an entire team of assassins to do what Green Arrow and countless other comic heroes have been doing alone and with pants on for decades.
But wait, if it’s been a successful plot for decades for other heroes, why not here? Because, as with every anime relying on giant udders to sell copies, the plot isn’t the focus. Triage X could have been good if it had just set out to tell the story of a vigilante group, but it loses so much screen time to slow pans across badly drawn breasts that it can’t actually perpetuate the story it seems desperate to tell. It’s playing with a handicap. It has to waste time ensuring we know that every woman in Arashi’s circle is a bisexual horndog. The consequence of all this poorly-invested time is that we end up with an utterly boring main character, a bunch of biographies we don’t care about, and a premise that’s reduced to its most rudimentary elements for childish reasons.
Black Label is led by an aging doctor and each member has had a near-death experience. Somehow, this translates into the heroes all using horrible medical jargon when they’re dolling out kills. “You are a lesion which must be excised!” It doesn’t completely make sense and it’s not a particularly badass rallying cry. We’re also never entirely clear whether this is a covert eugenics operation worthy of Nazi jealousy or simply a crime-fighting unit.
The characters in Triage X behaving in outlandishly stupid ways doesn’t gain the series any points. A blatant Columbo ripoff of a detective constantly charges into hostile situations alone and outgunned. Everyone has flip phones which they open dramatically to reveal that their kill targets are “triage color black.” Why does a crack team of assassins need to use outdated technology to assign a label color when the label color is always black? The jargon serves zero purpose. Once the target is down, the team blows up the entire building the target was in to cover their tracks. At this point aren’t they just a terrorist organization? Why isn’t the government looking for them?
Triage X just doesn’t know what it wants to do. Arashi is plagued by the visage of a dead childhood friend only to give us backstory that is neither deep nor poignant, but he’s the most developed character in the series. He spends three episodes talking about his psyche and trying to resolve whether his actions are a product of his own will, but his ultimate resolution doesn’t actually affect the story in any way. We don’t know how a surgeon, teen pop idol, and high school boy all have ridiculous gun-ninja skills and we’re expected not to care because boobs. Triage X can’t even commit on that front, however. It has all the makings of a standard harem anime but can’t bring itself to follow through on any of the tangents it sets up.
The action is really the only thing going for this series. It’s generally a telltale sign that a studio has no faith in the plot’s ability to retain watchers when they pepper the cast with gargantuan milkbags and this is no exception. The show could have been decent if it had just decided to be about some good old-fashioned vigilante justice. Instead it comes across as a cowardly attempt to pander to young boys who don’t understand basic female anatomy while still passing itself off as adult and edgy. The result is that this series has no sentient demographic.
Recommendation: Skip it.
Title: Triage X
Original Source: Manga
Source Writer: Shoji Sato
Source Publisher: Fujimi Shobo
Director: Akio Takami, Takao Kato
Writer: Katsuhiko Takayama
Music: Nippon Columbia, Shunichi Uemura
Run Start: 04/2015
Review Date: 04/2015
Episodes Reviewed: 01-03