Senkou no Night Raid

Title:Senkou no Night Raid
Night Raid 1931
Senkō no Night Raid
閃光のナイトレイド (Japanese)
Keywords: , , , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - A1 Pictures
Animation - Anime no Chikara Project
R1 License - Sentai Filmworks (ADV)
The story is set in ↗Shanghai in 1931, when the Imperial Japanese Army had been ↗sent into mainland China as an escalation of the relatively recent events of the First Sino-Japanese War (1894), Russo-Japanese War (1904), and World War I (1914). Shanghai had been relativity unaffected from the earlier wars and during the peaceful interludes, quickly grew into a cosmopolitan city of commerce and intrigue. The year of 1931 was the opening moves of the ↗2nd Sino-Japanese War and a special Japanese military spy organization called "Sakurai Kikan" was assigned the task of collecting information in preparation for the coming war.

For more information as to the long history of conflict between Japan and China (and other various Asian countries), see ↗1st Sino-Japanese War (1894-95), ↗Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) and ↗World War One in Asia (1914-17).

Premiered on April 5, 2010 for 13 TV episodes.

Animated by A-1 Pictures
Licensed by Sentai Filmworks.
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Watch 8 7 7 7 8 7 Dreamer [series:2259#2279]
I liked what I read as the synopsis above, thus picked this one up. I've always been a fan of history so I figured I'd enjoy this one. However, it wasn't exactly what I expected.

Art, Animation & Character Designs
Artwork seemed a bit on the western style. It wasn't your traditional anime artwork. But it was pretty good with a good amount of details to boot. Animation itself seemed a bit below par. Framerate must have been slightly below the norm. Character designs were decent but at times seemed to lack detail. Other times, they were good.

The OP was a japanese rock piece with male vocals. It wasn't too bad really. Not my flavor but accceptable and passable. The soundtrack definitely gives off a sense of spy novels, smoke filled bars and ladies with red lipsticks and stockings. There was some occasional violins thrown in as well, which sounded pretty nice. The ED was a nice soft piece with female vocals.... alternative. Beautiful voice for vocals.

Series and Episode Story
The synopsis above is sort of misleading (as of this review 2011/02/23). I was expecting a real-world spy drama or suspense but instead, I get an almost superhero style of spy vs spy. Our characters has "superpowers" such as clairvoyance, telekinesis and the like. This isn't to say it was bad, no, quite the contrary. It's pretty good with interesting characters and partly based in real-world events (history). Speaking of history, this series doesn't portray history as accurately as one would expect, but it does pretty well with bits and pieces here and there. It made me want to bust out the history books to learn how much of what the series tells is historically accurate.

As the series progresses, many things are revealed... some of which were pretty obvious. But at least it wraps up loose ends by the end of it all. The end itself was a sort of let down. I almost want to say it was anti-climatic how, our antagonist goes out with a fizzle.... a small fizzle at that. But still, we end up nicely concluded with everything in place and with a bittersweet ending.

Overall, it was a fair entertainment with a bit of a history lession..... even if it wasn't historically accurate. Worth watching at least once for sure.

Last updated Thursday, February 24 2011. Created Thursday, February 24 2011.
Rent 9 8 8 6 7 7 Ggultra2764 [series:2259#1552]
(Watching 1 episode, three years ago)

I feel like I got duped into seeing this. Seeing the trailer for Senko no Night Raid had me thinking it was gonna be a down-to-earth spy action title in 1931 China before I took notice of the special abilities of the spies during their missions. This, combined with the creative reimagining of history to create a black-and-white moral focus with China as the pure enemy, has me dropping this without caring for later episodes.

(All episodes watched, years later)

Gotta love how jaded I could be with preconceived notions from years earlier. Night Raid does believably depict events from the historical setting it is placed in in 1930s China, an era when Japan began shifting to an imperialist government and trying to expand its power into other Asian countries to strengthen their influence against Western powers. The mentioned superpowered spies have limitations to how they can use their powers, having abilities such as clairvoyance, telepathy, deflection and teleportation. The group even come across some enemies later in the series that have abilities like themselves. The first several episodes of the series play out as standard spy-action with the group of spies entangled with seedy activity in China's criminal underworld and are also scattered at a couple later points in the series and bonus OVA episodes. Activity explored at these points include human trafficking, opium dealing and prostitution.

Where the show truly shines is in the later episodes when the series explores the touchy events that led to Japan's start of organizing an imperialist government. Night Raid provides narration on some of the major events that led to these developments and the corrupt activity within Japan's military that led them to assert power in the country and beyond, as well as reduce their country's emperor to a figurehead. This is a unique element as many Japanese titles are quite touchy when it comes to bringing up this questionable element to the country's past. The group of spies also come at odds with a resistance movement that threaten Japan's imperialist developments and the populace, a few of whom are related to the spies in some way and have superpowers like them. The ending depicted is tragic yet believable, showing that the spies can't inevitably change the course of history that is about to come for their country's future.

Another nice feature of the series is that it features several languages spoken by its cast, a number of whom appear to be naturally fluent in it. While some cast members have difficulty with proper pronunciation of words and have a thick accent coming from their natural upbringing, it is made up by those able to properly speak Mandarin and English at a number of points in this series.

When it comes to character development in Night Raid though, the series is a bit of a mixed bag in its delivery of it. While you get to know about the spies and any relation they have to the title's antagonists, they get limited development and growth with their characters upon learning of the shady events going on within their country's politics and military. Also, the show's attempts at comedy shown with the four spies occasionally interacting with Chinese girl Feng Lan feel awkward and inappropriate for a series as serious as this.

Visually, Night Raid is of high quality for a TV series with plenty of detail and subdued color tones used in the designs of scenery and characters. Characters are drawn believably with facial features to depict whatever their racial origin is, with scenery showing historical landmarks, settings and items that are natural for the time period they are shown. Action scenes are fluid in movement and feature nice implementation of the various superpowers depicted by the spies for use in reconnaissance, communication or battle.

While not perfect or standard in some areas, Night Raid 1931 is still a solid historical/ spy-action title that believably implements the historical events that the four spies get entangled in and features a nice visual presentation with nicely animated action scenes and above average designs of scenery and characters.

Last updated Monday, June 24 2013. Created Friday, April 23 2010.
Unevaluated Jan-Chan [series:2259#967]
The Japanese government has long been accused of ↗creatively revising history to diminish ↗the atrocities that happened in WW2.

And I don't think that too many people are aware of the ↗Rape of Nanking.

The "Sakurai Kikan" (Cherry Tree) spy group is probably part of the Japanese ↗Kempeitai. A unit of the Kempeitai known as the Joho-Kikan (Japanese Army intelligence) had a number of special services groups such as the "Matsu Kikan" (Pine Tree) responsible for reconnaissance missions in Australia and the "Minami Kikan" (Little Tree) tasked to spy on the Burma National Army.

Last updated Tuesday, December 29 2009. Created Saturday, December 26 2009.
Unevaluated Stretch [series:2259#628]
(Preview watched):

It seems to me that the Japanese-Chinese wars of the 1930s would be about the last topic that an anime would want to draw attention to, what with all the Japanese atrocities (Rape of Nanking, etc) which created a deep-seated hatred between the two countries which still exists to a certain extent today. I'll be watching this, but my hopes for historical accuracy are not high.

Ah, I get it--the preview describes Shanghai as a "demonic" city. So this won't really be historical at all, rather a fantasy/alternate history story, sort of like Baccano. No doubt the agents of the Sakurai Kikan will be fighting against demons rather than the Chinese people. This makes more sense, in a way, but is kind of disappointing, too, because I was curious about how history would be re-branded by this show.

No, it turns out that the only supernatural powers in episode one are those of the Sakurai Kikan members. The episode claims to be "based on real events" with fictional characters, which is pretty obvious when they can do things like mentally deflect bullets. On the one hand, claims that the agents are working to prevent "useless wars" from continuing are absurd, given actual history; on the other a Japanese businessman is partially to blame for the situation. The problem is that if this pretends to be actual history it is nonsense, and if it is some sort of alternate reality history, then I have little idea what's going on. If the main characters are going to be a sort of Fantastic Four I'd like some semblance of an explanation for their powers. This seemed like the usual "look how cool we are!" intro, but if they are invincible and undefeatable it will be hard to feel excited. Thus, I had some trouble establishing and maintaining interest. It wasn't make any easier by the fact that things were going on at night and it was hard to tell what was happening and who was who. The characters haven't established much interest or likeability yet in my mind, and I'm not sure if I can find much point in watching this.

Last updated Friday, April 09 2010. Created Saturday, December 26 2009.

Other Sites
閃光のナイトレイド (Japanese)
Official Japanese Series Web Site

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