“Speed Grapher” is a twenty-four episode Japanese anime series that originally aired back in 2005. It is directed by Kunihisa Sugishima and produced by GONZO. The North American license was obtained by FUNimation Entertainment which is headquartered in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas.
The series meshes together the genre of drama, mystery, psychological, supernatural, and a bit of science fiction. The main character is Tatsumi Saiga, an ace photographer. He used to be a war photographer. His last job was covering a war on this one island. Saiga’s latest assignment is sneaking into a secret fetish club for the ultra-wealthy. In the club, Saiga sees politicians, public officials, and all sorts of wealthy individuals indulging in their fetishes.
Then, Saiga gazes on the club’s “goddess.” The goddess is a 15-year-old girl named Kagura Tennouzu. It is said that she can grant bizarre abilities based on fetishes and obsessions. However, there is no sexual intercourse involved. As Saiga is caught taking pictures, the people try to sacrifice him to Kagura. However, when Saiga is kissed by Kagura, he does not die.
Instead of being given death, Saiga is granted a special ability.
In a sense, Saiga is no different from those in the club. But, his love of photography had developed into a sexual fetish. Early on in the series, it is revealed that whenever Saiga takes exciting pictures, he develops an erection. But, after returning from the war, that passion went away.
After the turn of events, Saiga decided to grant Kagura’s wish, freedom. Saiga has to use his newfound ability in order to protect Kagura from those that want to exploit her ability. Ultimately, it is revealed that the only people that can be granted abilities by Kagura are those that have been exposed by the dormant Euphoria virus. Those who have been given powers are known as Euphorias.
In Saiga’s case, his fetish for photographs manifests into his euphoric power, which is Death by Photo. When armed with a camera and loaded with film and a specific lens, Saiga can cause whomever and whatever to explode by taking their pictures. In short, if Saiga took a picture of a trashcan, it would explode. The ability comes in handy when going up against other Euphoria users.
The anime shows the negatives of capitalism and materialism within Japanese society. It also delves into how people use their wealth for superficial and materialistic gain along with indulging in their own fetishes. It shows how the wealthy use their wealth to exploit others.
For example, Kagura is the daughter of the wealthiest woman in the world. Her mother is one of the series’ antagonists. While being the daughter, Kagura is kept a prisoner and nearly starved.
The other antagonist is Chouji Suitengu who looks to only care about cash. He smokes cigarettes wrapped up in 10,000 Yen bills.
Speed Grapher does a good job of bashing capitalism and materialism. It sets up Saiga as the anti-thesis to it. In short, Speed Grapher shows the downfall of greed and corruption.