#1 The entire concept makes no sense at all
In a near-future setting where Akihabara is an entire city on its own, a new trend has broken out among kids. Like the tamagotchi days of long ago, the newest hype are Patapi robots, which are sort-of like companions with a self-teaching AI that the user can train. That already sounds like technology that is far too valuable for toys, but there are far bigger plot holes to point out.
Hibari is a 12-year-old girl that doesn’t have her own Patapi, making her the only one at her school to lack one. As luck would have it, she soon has one literally appear from thin air and, while she is overjoyed to be part of the hype now, it soon turns out that maleficent forces are trying to steal her Patapi. Why? Well because hers and that of her friends have the uncanny ability to transform into a “Diva”, an armored warrior that looks like an adult version of their owner.
The entire idea of the Patapi just baffles me and not just because mass-producing a sentient AI just to entertain little kids seems sort-of overkill. The fact that the Patapi also sleep and process regular food would imply they are organic, yet everybody insists they are robots with internal machinery that needs hands-on maintaining. The Patapi also just seem to be able to do whatever the plot needs them to and flat-out transforming even surpasses the robotic vs. organic debate entirely; That is just magic! Furthermore, it’s magic that is entirely nonsense, because Patapi that identify as males transform into female fighters, and though the show tries at length to explain it all away with technobabble, there is just no logic to it.
Sometimes things happen because of technology, sometimes because of magic. Sometimes magic happens that they refer to as science, sometimes science happens that people call magic. I kind of enjoyed the idea of a mahou shoujo show where it’s not the main characters transforming, but when I actually saw it in action it just didn’t make any sense, and the elaborate attempts to explain it away are just wasted time.
#2 The show looks absolutely terrible
I kind of like this late-90’s look for anime and at first I kind of enjoyed the character designs, but when animated it just falls apart constantly. I compared the way the characters look to an allergic person that was just assaulted by bees, with faces often looking swollen and out-of-proportion. Then, at other times, those same faces look very thin and unnatural, it’s actually rare for characters to actually look good for any amount of time, and that is a shame considering I do like the design of the relevant characters.
Then there are the Patapi. I already ranted about how they make no sense at length, so I apologize for adding more on top of it, yet I can’t let their design slide. What the heck are these supposed to be? These are the highly advanced robots of the future? The latest hype among children the world around? The Patapi look like potatoes with legs and googly eyes stuck to them. Insulting their appearance might be a tad petty of me, but I honestly can’t imagine a design like this being popular in the slightest, and it’s not like their form holds any kind of function.
Animation-wise there is nothing to really get excited about either. The show is very static and uneventful, with the fight scenes in particular failing to impress and fan-service failing to appeal. What do I care if ugly characters have large boobs to show off?
#3 I hate everybody in this show
The characters in Cyberteam in Akihabara are so stupid that I was honestly frustrated with it. Main girl Hibari herself is a loud and generally useless person that spends most of the show whining about the prince she dearly wants to meet, though the labels “loud” and “useless” can apply to most of the main cast. It also doesn’t seem like any of them like each other, with frequent fights breaking out over the pettiest of things.
I think a turning point came for me when Hibari’s parents adopt a child her age and the other Cyberteam members are so upset by this they threaten the girl to get out of Hibari’s life, physically shove and push both her and Hibari, and repeatedly demand Hibari picks between either them or her sister. Even within the context of the show, the whole episode where that played out was remarkably mean-spirited and soured what sympathy I held for these characters. They complain, they hold grudges, belittle and insult each othe; this isn’t what I would call a “team”.
The villains are pretty much the same, though the Team Rocket band of side-villains does go through an arc that is kind of well done. The remaining bad guys are just boring and spend the entire show sitting around an office proclaiming that everything is going according to plan. Their ambitions are lame, the plots flimsy, and all the bad guys are such shallow hypocrites that it’s hard to buy into their character at all.
Loud, obnoxious, unfunny, and often outright toxic, there were few moments where I could enjoy the interaction of the characters and found myself with a show where I equally wanted everybody to fail.
#4 Horrible time-management
Cyberteam in Akihabara goes on for an entire 26 episodes and struggles to meaningfully fill at least half of them. After the mandatory character introductions are over, the show tends to flop around a lot with filler episodes and distractions, and in the process of doing so it makes an absolute mess of everything. It forgets to include some characters, like the aforementioned Team Rocket-inspired villains, for several episodes at a time. Cast members just randomly disappear, sometimes without resolving their story threads, and then resurface again an hour or so later to continue where things left off.
Entire episodes are also wasted on stuff like elaborate attempts to explain the entire story, even going so far as to have characters sit down and verbally explain parts of the plot that were already explained with flashback sequences earlier. There are filler episodes like visits to the beach and repeated showdowns with villains that were already beaten once or twice, but most egregious of all is a filler episode in a hot spring, a third of which is recycled to pad out another filler episode later on. Characters literally waste an episode at the bar and fill up the remaining time by reminiscing in great detail about the hot springs episode.
I’ll admit that 13 episodes would have been kind of tight to fit the entire, overwritten plot into, but giving it a full 26 is absolutely mad. It would probably have been worthwhile to simplify the plot and cut it down to a single cour, then use the budget to improve the animation quality.
#5 Lacking any sort of clear appeal
I am calling Cyberteam in Akihabara a magical girl show mostly because that is the one genre I am comfortable filing it under. It has a cast of young girls, magic happens, they fight bad guys, that hits most of the items on the checklist. Beyond that the show really is a whole bunch of whatever and while I generally admire a project that won’t let itself be defined by genre trappings, at one point somebody, somewhere has to buy your show.
If you like Cyberteam in Akihabara, then I just want to say upfront I am not accusing you of anything here. Despite this article, there were things I did enjoy and on AniList I gave it a 3/10 because of that. It’s just that, for a general audience, there is little to find here. Boys will find the action scenes simplistic and lacking any sort of impact or tension, with some of the final battles being particularly lackluster. The fan-service is either unapologetically underage or taken way too far, and this was way before magical girl shows started targeting a seinen audience.
The comedy is generally poor too, though this is a subjective matter and I am sure some will enjoy it if their fondness for cheesy 90’s anime surpasses that of mine. Even then, the romance in the show is really flat and limited to Hibari’s constant talk about her prince, which just… who cares? The “Prince” isn’t even around, and like so many other characters he can go entirely unmentioned for episodes at a time. Unreciprocated love can be interesting, see also Cardcaptor Sakura, but likening Hibari’s whining about a prince that may or may not exist to Sakura’s much more believable crush on an older boy would be insulting to one of the best mahou shoujo manga ever written.
The girls do little to no fighting of their own, so there is no female empowerment, which is generally key to a magical girl show as well. There are also no real morals or themes about growing up, not even the token “power of friendship” stuff because the characters get along like piranhas. Sometimes it feels like the show is made for young boys until Hibari start swooning over princes again, sometimes it feels like the show is for girls until all the villains start putting on fetish costumes. It’s not a satisfying magic girl show, nor a mecha, romance, or even much of a sci-fi one. Cyberteam in Akihabara is Cyberteam in Akihabara. And Cyberteam in Akihabara kind of sucks.