Entry updated 5 February 2024. Tagged: TV.
Japanese animated online tv series (2023). NUT. Directed and written by Hiroyasu Aoki. Voice cast includes Shōya Chiba, Taiten Kusunoki, Shin-ichiro Miki, Asami Seto, Yūki Takada and Ken Uo. Twelve 24 minute episodes. Colour.
Ryugan Island's inhabitants had left following Monster attacks and the presence of toxic gas. Namidome Industries, a subsidiary of Shiota Chemical, had been building a desalination plant on the island at the time, but retasked itself for removing the monsters – subsequently named "Giant Beasts" – using Mecha. This is officially referred to as "pest control" due to concerns that if the Giant Beasts' existence became widely known the islanders would not be allowed to return. The monsters killed are being studied by Shiota Chemical Scientists, but their origin is still unknown.
The staff of Namidome Industries consists of its hard-pressed President Kōji Tajima (Miki), dedicated to helping the people of Ryugan Island; Miyuki Shirogane (Takada), the kindly General Affairs Manager; Kintarō Kataoka (Uo), the Accountant, constantly angered by other staff's obliviousness to the financial and legal constraints they work under (see Economics), and the two mecha pilots, the distant Arumi Nikaidō (Seto), a former inhabitant of the island, and the bluff Ginnosuke Mutō (Kusunoki). They are now joined by Tetsurō Okino (Chiba) from Kanie Technologies, who – though young and insecure – has designed Bullbuster, a new mecha that he will pilot and train Arumi and Ginnosuke to use. Arumi discovers a Giant Beast that was once her pet dog (see Mutants): though captured, it eventually escapes and she has to kill it.
Though the head of the Shiota scientists is half-hearted about studying the Giant Beasts, seeing no profit from it, one of his team, Nagisa Mizuhara – who has to suffer his sexual harassment – does research in her spare time. With Nagisa's help the Namidome Industries team discovers the mutation is connected to a lake on the island. She explains that electrogenic bacteria are found both there and in the beasts: one of the waste products being hydrogen sulphide – the toxic gas (see Biology). The bacteria in the lake "may resonate with one another, almost like a Hive Mind, to emit powerful electromagnetic waves", drawing creatures into the lake, altering the brain cells of those infected. She also discovers the source of this bacterial strain: they are "Halophilic microorganisms, genetically [see Genetic Engineering] altered into electrogenic bacteria", having been developed for the Shiota desalination plant where they would "digest large amounts of salt to generate electricity [see Power Sources], turning seawater into freshwater". But the nano-machines used to rewrite the genetic code remained inside the bacteria, where – following leakage into the lake – they now rewrite the genetic code of animals, so creating the Giant Beasts. Though the Nanotechnology was designed not to be infectious, a coral in the lake emits a mucus whose enzymes break down animal cell walls, allowing it to enter.
Shiota has also realized this – which explains its announcement to provide more funding for the cash-strapped Namidome Industries, but at the cost of it being merged with the parent company: Kōji is promised a senior position. The staff find they have to deal with more regulations and less independence; and as Shiota employees they would have to keep silent about what they have seen. They later learn the Giant Beasts' genetically altered brains have produced a previously unknown neurotransmitter that could "revolutionize next-gen bio-Computers"; so Shiota wants to farm Giant Beasts on the island, signing a deal with the Government to take control of the island in two days. Kōji calls off the merger and after Shiota uses a troll farm to undermine their attempts to reveal the truth, Namidome Industries works with the displaced islanders to destroy the bacteria in the lake before the other company's jurisdiction begins. In the end Shiota Chemicals is investigated for covering up an industrial waste leakage (see Pollution), but its Managing Director evades prosecution and departs Japan with a sample of the coral.
The mecha versus monster battles are secondary to the Anime's main theme: the evil of giant corporations (see Satire). Initially Shiota Chemicals appears stuffy but friendly, its worst crime seemingly being to offload an unpopular intern (who, though a stickler for the rules, turns out to be helpful) on Namidome Industries. However, as soon as Shiota feels threatened or sees financial advantage it is clear, behind the usually cordial tone, that the company is devoid of scruples. This is contrasted with another businessman, who believes the lake's coral can be used to cure baldness: wanting to work with Namidome Industries and the islanders, he asserts: "If I can succeed in business by forming equal symbiotic partnerships I think it might really change the world." We have seen this approach already, in Namidome Industries' relationship with Kanie Technologies and others. [SP]
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