What did you do?! You see, I liked the manga, but this is just s***. The original story was much better, without so much BL, it really explained things and it hadd a real ending. Average animation, the characters are okay, sound is rather good, but the story is just s***.
Monochrome Factor is a shonen-ai fantasy that squanders a promising storyline and ends up leaving the viewer bored and frustrated.
The plot premise is surprisingly good. Nikaido Akira, the Chosen One (in an alarming deviation from the norm, a Japanese schoolboy!) is attacked by demons, forced into a contract by a mysterious stranger, Shirogane, and subsequently battles the forces of evil along with his school friends, whose powers conveniently 'awaken'. Goodness, it's exactly like Bleach! And 3/4 of the shonen series out there. This isn't necessarily a criticism, (if it works, why fix it?) but boring. In the first six episodes, Akira fights demons and recruits his team members. So far, so good. There then follows 15 EPISODES OF FILLER. Let me repeat that. 15 EPISODES, which serve to advance the plot in NO SIGNIFICANT WAY. AT ALL. My capitalisation expresses my disappointment on this front. Every episode involves a (amusingly sexually confused - see below) guest star, who interacts pointlessly with the main group, becomes possessed, fights the group, is snapped out of it by his friend/lover/family/dentist, then cries and becomes a better person. Episodic doesn't cover it. Repetitive as hell. I got to Episode 21, and still there was no sign of the main plot, in a 24 episode series! The ending is predictable. Overall, there are gaping plot holes, a curiously impotent and motive-less evil force, and as always, a cast baddie for each cast goodie to fight so that hero goodie can fight arch baddie.
The animation is, however, very good. Or, if you're being less charitable, as good as you would expect a 2008 Genco production. It was good, though. As expected of a shonen-ai, the show is bishie-tastic, with a lot of pretty men fulfilling most major requirements. The young one, the brash one, the mysterious one - and all with broad shoulders and teeny waists. Perfect. Backgrounds are however serviceable at best, with little attempt made to ever impart a sense of beauty. Art Monochrome Factor ain't. I should note, however, that Akira's outfit in his 'Shin' form is one of the best I have ever seen for the hero of any anime. I have the urge to cosplay!
The sound is the same as the background. Utterly unnoticeable, it serves only to frame the 'characters'. The op is your typical shonen; fast and angsty without being something you would ever choose to listen to again. Ed is unmemorability defined.
The characters are clearly the point to this anime, where plot is central to Code Geass, animation to Red Garden, and sound to Nodame Cantabile (generalisations, I know - incidentally those are GOOD examples of anime). The characters are stereotypical but still quite charming. Stupid male sidekick, aggressive female, genius boy... stop me if any of this is new. As a shonen-ai, females get a very bad deal. In particular, Kengo's sister, Mayu, is both a comedy foil and a 'light-hearted' assault on woman-kind. Big-breasted, shallow, vapid, falling for man after man, the series goes out of its way to show that there is nothing sacred about heterosexual love. The queer credentials of Monochrome Factor are show-cased, with transvestites, lesbians and every gender bender you can think of.
Monochrome Factor however fails dismally on two counts. One, there is no character development. At all. None. Not a single character, in ANY WAY (caps again!) CHANGES AT ALL. Secondly, for a shonen-ai, the relationship between Akira and Shirogane is unconvincing. Shirogane in particular fails to move the watcher in the slightest, and spends 22 episodes leching on Akira, who could up till then be entirely straight, for all we know. There is zero emotional depth between the two, which means the viewer couldn't care less, something even Gakuen Heaven manages!
Overall, the series is deeply disappointing. If you watch the first six episodes, I heartily recommend you skip to Episode 22, and it would not make an iota of difference. As fantasy Monochrome Factor is derivative and has goddamnawful pacing, and as shonen-ai Monochrome Factor concerns an effete weirdo trying to touch a schoolboy for twenty episodes. Rarely have I watched an anime and wanted it to end.
Monochrome Factor is another one of those anime which to me spell only wasted potential. Which is a pity and extremely frustrating. The initial 6 episodes introduce the characters and then until episode 22, it's just filler. Watchable, but certainly not great. If not to progress the plot, all of those episodes could have been used for character building and development, but -alas - they weren't. The characters, though clichèd are likeable; sadly, the openings for development are totally ignored. The story kicks in at episode 22, but these final three episodes where the main storyline is developed and reaches an end are really not enough to redeem the previous 15 episodes of mediocre filler.
The story revolves around the fight between light and dark, between a world of shadows trying to overtake the world of light and a balance that must somehow be kept between the two. Our protagonist is 16 year old Akira, who quite by accident finds himself transformed into a shin - a creature of darkness with fighting abilities - by a mysterious stranger, Shirogane. Shirogane asks Akira to fight with him against the kokuchi, evil spirits who possess human beings in order to spread darkness. The two are aided in their fight by Akira's school friends, Kengo and Aya, as well as a lonely little rich boy, Haruka, and a brazen - but deep down kindhearted - delinquent, Kou. All of the filler episodes are about them freeing people possesssed by kokuchi. The story which is hinted at during the anime and then unfolds in the last three episodes refers to a world which is relayed to us in an absolutely patchy and sketchy way, with gaping holes. So we do get an inkling of who Shirogane and Akira might really be, along with Homurabi and Kou - but just vague notions.
The characters, as already said, do not develop. Thus, no matter how much I liked Shirogane or Kou, I have to say that they stay the same clichès as when first introduced. Shirogane and Akira's relationship is, likewise, not developed. So even if the anime is tagged as shounen-ai, it's basically just Shirogane telling Akira that he likes him and Akira ignoring every overture made to him by Shirogane.
The animation and character design are good; they are bishounen, but I personally have nothing against that. And I also appreciated the voice actors.
In conclusion, if the anime had properly developed the characters as well as the relationship between the two protagonists and if instead of 15 episodes of filler they had narrated a story worth telling, this could have been a good anime. As it is, it's probably a waste of time.
If you're expecting a BL story, mixed with some good action, don't watch this. You'll just end up with a ton of frustration. There's basically no romance here, the plot is easily predictable, the characters are plain and boring and the entire show could have very well been summarized in 12 episodes.
Monochrome Factor was kindof an up and down type of show.
The story itself had a good idea behind it; darkness attempting to take over the world and average teenagers being thrown in to try and save it. It was pretty slow moving in places, and a lot of the episodes were pretty repetative. The shounen-ai wasn't really there. There were a couple of kisses (which had no romantic link to them really) and a few suggestive comments (all one sided). If you squint you could say there is love between the main two characters but that could be there just because I wanted it to be.
The animation isn't bad. It isn't clean cut, but the colours are good and quite impressive. You can tell it isn't brand new but it doesn't ruin it.
The sound is very good. The voice actors all did a very good job, and none of the characters had annoying voices or anything. The music was good as well and fitted the show. The theme song was different, as in not a pop type song, but it is a very good song and I really like it.
The characters were likable enough, but there was no character development really. There was a lot of comic relief characters, but I like comedy so that wasn't a problem for me.
Overall, I watched all of it, but some episodes I didn't especially enjoy. The ending was really good, but the ending suggested a season two, which hasn't yet seen much sign of coming out.
It wasn't my favourite anime but it was good enough to watch once.