Speed Grapher (スピードグラファー, Supiido Gurafaa) is a 2005 anime series, created by GONZO Digimation and Toei Animationnote Through their studio in the Philippines. The series ran for 24 episodes from April to October 2005. The series was licensed for release in North America by FUNimation Entertainment in 2006 and has been showing on IFC since March 7, 2008.It starts when the cynical and jadedIntrepid Reporter Tatsumi Saiga is sent to investigate a fetish club for the richest in Japan, whose "goddess" is a teenager named Kagura. She's an odd, waifish young girl with the power to give people super-powers coming from their desires, obsessions and fetishes; when she kisses Saiga during their first encounter, she grants him the power to destroy anything he takes a photo of, related to the sexual pleasure he gets from photographing something really interesting.His curiosity piqued, Saiga decides to learn more about Kagura and her powers, then vows to free her from the Roppongi Club and the Tennouzu corrupt group (whose head is Kagura's ruthless mother, Shinzen) that cruelly uses the girl for their own purposes...
Shinzen underfeeds, slaps, belittles, and pimps Kagura to Suitengu, as revenge because Kagura's father ran out on them when she was pregnant.
Two people whom Suitengu deals with also abuse their kids. He even kills one of them when he offers his daughter as a sex slave for him, unknowingly hitting Suitengu's Berserk Button.
Miharu's Stage Mom, too. No wonder she's completely fucked up.
Actor Allusion: Suitengu is voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa who also voices Sephiroth. There's a scene where Suitengu flies with his wings that invites comparison to Sephiroth, and the characters look similar to begin with.
Adult Fear: One of the otherwise stoic mooks hunting Kagura covers his ears and trembles when the crazy dentist is killing a girl in the next room.
Bob also sort of declares his love for Saiga once or twice, though this is more for comedic effect.
Anti-Villain: The Muggle majority make many of the villains seem pleasant by comparison. The ones who last longer over the course of series show a surprising decency.
Chouji Suitengu is a HUGE bastard, but he genuinely cares for his henchmen and shows a softer spot for children since he thought his sister died.
In any other series, Suitengu would probably be one of the heroes, considering his Start of Darkness.
Miharu, as well. She works for the Big Bad and assassinates people, including an attempt on the main characters, but when the show delves beneath her exterior, she turns out to be rather sad and pitiful.
Corrupt Bureaucrat: Seemingly every single person in the Japanese government and from what is shown/implied of other countries- possibly all politicians- see Crapsack World.
Crapsack World: Literally everyone in the series with any power or fame belongs to the secretive Roppongi Club. Almost everyone in the series is bought off or blackmailed by the Club.
A broader description would include the severe corruption of the police, the ability of the wealthy to literally get away with murder (and with ease, too), and the fact that lives are essentially bought and sold on a regular basis. And a constant statement is that only those with money are truly free in this society.
Cross Counter: Saiga gets into a boxing match with Ochiai, ending with this.
Cursed with Awesome: Most Euphorics rather enjoy their superpowers, usually not minding the downsides.
As the Euphoric virus physically manifests a persons fetishes, and most of the Euphorics weren't nice people to begin with this makes perfect sense.
Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Ginza, on an unconscious Saiga. But in keeping with the deconstructive tone, it was portrayed as incredibly screwed up. The problem is that it was among the least screwed-up thing that happened in such a Crapsack World.
The Dragon: Tsujido, to Suitengu. Suitengu himself, to Shinzen.
Eagleland: Major type two. America launches missiles at Tokyo at the end of the series to kill Suitengu, who is "evidence" of the biological weapon experimentation program of which America had a part in sponsoring. Judging by the accent, the President is definitely George W. Bush.
Only in the dub, though, which would mean that any connection to George Bush is more likely the result of the American dubbing company than the Japanese production company. In the original Japanese version, the American politicians speak their lines in English, but use Japanese voice actors to do so. Their accents, therefore, are impossible to link to any real life US politicians.
Ending Theme: The softly incredible (1st) ending theme evokes lounging in bed with your lover on a Sunday morning.
This is series that can even successfully show a Girl on Girl Is Hot scene with both parties being attractive, yet it still comes off as horrifying and depraved while still being played totally straight.
Healing Factor: Part and parcel of being a Euphoric is that the body can regenerate any damage taken to it... so long as the brain is intact, as the virus is controlled by subconscious impulses from the brain.
The Hedonist: Every single member of the Roppongi Club and most Euphorics, in both cases to the most despicable extreme possible save for very few exceptions.
Hookers and Blow: Members of the Roppongi Club are often shown with women draped over them, who they are generally abusing in some way. One episode shows Makabe and Niihari partaking in this to celebrate, but without the abusive part (again, this is a series where the major villains are more likable than minor ones).
Karma Houdini: Ginza. The fact that she betrayed Kagura back to her mother and Suitengu then threw Saiga in jail after a friendly rape is never mentioned or acted on afterwords.
Arguably, Kagura's Evil Matriarch mother, who though she was killed in the end by Suitengu, is generally fondly remembered by her daughter, though this could be all a part of Kagura's Woobieness.
You could also count Niihari, since thanks to Suitengu's machinations, he ends up as possibly the wealthiest person in Japan. This isn't a case where the audience feels that bad, since the character is sort of sympathetic. Not to mention, his end goal is to build a monument to honor his dead friends and savior, which is rather noble. The methods he's shown to accomplish this, however... not so much.
Kiss of Death: If Kagura kisses you and you don't have the Euphoria virus, you're as good as dead.
Level Up Fill Up: Saiga got one when he received the Euphoria factor from Kagura.
Mad Artist: Saiga, to an extent. The dentist from Episode 8 is seen carving a tiny statue out of Kagura's molar.
Made of Iron: Euphorics in general seem to get a major toughness boost, even accounting for their Healing Factor. For example, when facing off against a Euphoric dentist, Saiga gets multiple drills straight through either arm, and is still able to activate a specially prepared camera to blow him to pieces. They do feel pain, but their susceptibility to it seems to go down the longer they are infected.
Magical Camera: Saiga has a power that lets him blow up anything he shoots with his camera, although the magic is in himself rather than the object.
Nasty Party: In the final episode, Suitengu invites a bunch of particularly important, and corrupt people to the Roppongi Club and then blows it up with them inside
Nigh Invulnerable: Euphorics are pretty tough to begin with, but if a Euphoric's power involves heavily manipulating the makeup of their body, then they become all the tougher. They will still die if their brain is pulverised or their head removed, but one needs to account for their flesh and bone being replaced by, say, rubber or diamond.
Not Allowed to Grow Up: Kagura, who's injected with a strange substance that stunts her growth on a regular basis.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Ginza's diminutive, cowardly, and kind of perverted boss turns out to be The Mole for the villains, and has a fetish for women's legs that he pursues by cutting off with a chainsaw - including the legs of his wife and daughter.
Obfuscating Disability: Suitengu spends a short time pretending to be wheelchair-bound after Shinzen shoots him in both knees. He drops the act at his earliest opportunity, as it annoyed him to act so confined.
Our Vampires Are Different: Showing some Genre Savvy, Dr. Nishiya compares having the Euphoric virus to being a vampire - especially the modern kind wherein vampirism is actually given a scientific explanation. Like vampires, euphorics have some impressive benefits to their powers, but also some quite negative drawbacks. Also true, but unmentioned, is how both exhibit the Interplay of Sex and Violence.
Panty Shot: Kagura, in the later version of the opening credits.
Pet Homosexual: Bob, Saiga's friend and neighbor. Who also is one of the few completely decent people in the series, doubling as Saiga's Only Sane Man friend, which Saiga does appreciate (though not romantically).
Pet the Dog: Believe it or not, Shinzen can be very kind and sweet to her mentor Goutokuji...
Suitengu's pardoning of play money girl's father is another example. Killing the guy when he offers to sell his own daughter is an arguable example.
Unfortunately, when Funimation approached Duran Duran about using the song for the English release of the anime, the band found out that their record label had sold the rights to "Girls On Film." Since Duran Duran no longer owned their own song and were therefore not authorized to okay its use, Funimation instead used one of the tracks from the OST, "Shutter Speed."
Sex Is Evil: Well, fetishes are evil. The series seems to be on the fence about whether vanilla sex is bad, but if you've got a sexual fetish of any sort, even one that sounds utterly harmless (diamond fetish, tattoo fetish), you're going to do horrible, horrible things to satisfy it. This is part of an overall anti-perversion moral, hammered home brutally.
Shadow Archetype: Suitengu has some of this in relation to Saiga, as both have very similar perspectives on the world; they just act on them very differently, and have an even closer bond in sharing a Meta Origin both contracted the virus allowing them to become Euphorics on the same island- Saiga as a photographer; Suitengu as a young soldier. There's also Ochiai, who was someone Saiga considered an inspiration, but turns out to be evil, and a fellow Euphoric, and keeps pulling Not So Different on Saiga during their fight.
Terrible Trio: Tsujido, Makabe and Niihari fit the personality and physical requirements for a Team Rocket. And they would be a full-fledged TR, were this series a comedy... but since it's NOT, they're competent and a genuine threat to Saiga and Kagura for most of the series.
Thanatos Gambit: Suitengu knew he didn't have long to live and planned on his complex being destroyed with himself inside. Also in the complex is tons of money and investments, and since there's been lots of shady deals by powerful people, destroying the building means destroying the world's economy- and this happens exactly according to plan.
Japan's economy, not the entire world's, though the rest of the world would suffer.
The Thing That Goes Doink: It's not enough that Kagura lives in a penthouse compound atop a skyscraper with numerous mile-high private elevators, there has to be this bamboo contraption in the courtyard.
Wife Husbandry: More deliberate in Suitengu's case, but the plan gradually grows on Saiga.
Woman Scorned: The true reason (aside of jealousy) why Shinzen is so cruel to Kagura is because she has believed for at least 15 years that her husband and Kagura's father, Dr. Kazuki Odawara, abandoned her right after their marriage, when she was still pregnant with Kagura. It turns out she was wrong. The guy was late, and then died days later, though it's ambiguous if he was murdered or if he committed suicide over the fact he didn't make it in time.
Which she learned justas she was dying, causing her to leave the world regretting pretty much everything, especially how she'd treated her only child. This may well be deserved.
Xanatos Gambit: Suitengu's marriage ceremony with Kagura. The paperwork was already completed and so there was no point if someone interupted it. If someone did, then he could justify any protective brotherlyfeelings for his Replacement Goldfish. If someone did, then he wouldn't feel bad lossing her to that person. Considering that he deliberately spares Saiga at the end the latter may be the case.
You Are Too Late: The well-intentioned extremist variation- while Saiga manages to prevent Suitengu from killing Kagura (or at least talks him out of it), he fails to stop Suitengu from killing the movers and shakers of Japanese society and literally blowing up the world economy- but both are sort of treated as a good thing. Also worth noting is that Saiga only lives because Suitengu decided to save his life before carrying out his Thanatos Gambit.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The diamond lady. The henchmen had clearly seen what a liability her demand for diamonds had been, so were unsurprised by the execution order.
You Killed My Father: The Group generally preemptively addresses this by paying off the survivors. Suitengu personally advises a boy who's father had failed a payment deadline on how he should go about holding up his end of the Prepare to Die part.
Your Days Are Numbered: Saiga only has six months to help Kagura before she dies of her illness. And even less, with everyone chasing after them.
Zettai Ryouiki: As a part of Kagura's school uniform AND her Divine Goddess outfit.