A Quantum Entanglement of Weird Science and Incompetent Animation: Tesla Note

Alistair Hyde
Oct 31 · 4 min read

“Genius is a mix of “inspiration” and “perspiration. “Talent is perspiration.” — Kate Sanborn[1]

Tesla Note is the type of manga I like because of how it creatively reinterprets quantum physics and the personal histories of noted scientists Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison to enrich its plot and (perhaps accidentally) inspire scientific curiosity. The anime adaptation’s first three episodes set the stage for a bizarre free for all contest full of suspense and action.

My unfortunate first reaction was a jump scare due to the frequent, indiscriminate animation changes from 2D to 3D CGI art styles. This makes it look like a Real 3D engine videogame with still frames that give the impression that the video file can’t load properly due to the poor mixture between 3D textures and 2D backgrounds.

If she said something creepy during this take, we would be in Doki Doki Literature Club territory right now.

The execution lacks fluidity and adversely affects the tone, interfering with plot development. This is a particular problem when it comes to mood changes that should be communicated through the characters’ facial expressions, skin or hair changes, and body movements. The staff involved clearly lacked time and money, considering the studio is experienced with videogame industry standards. It seems like they have attempted to adapt resources that work for visual novels in the wrong media.

This just looks weird in comparison to the manga, considering she is not wearing the clothes selected specifically for her disguise.

Although the staff previously produced videogame cinematic sequences, in a similar situation to other dumpster fires like Ex Arm, they had the technology but no prior animation experience. They fail to understand that visual novels and videogames involve the viewer in an active role, while animation alone must engage the passive viewer’s interest.

This anime adaptation pales in comparison to the original manga, which develops its plot in a far more engaging manner. They even manage to screw up the grass and sunlight in episode two and the houses and building structures in episode three.

The narration of titles while antagonists talk is distracting and disrupts the pace of the scenes in which they interfere, forcing the viewer to rewind it to catch the dialogue.

The scientific concepts integral to the plot in both versions are poorly explored, and the author greatly misinterprets the relationship between Tesla and Edison. He uses a popular quote that Edison took from Kate Sanborn (“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration”), just to change it so it appears that Tesla disses his intellectual rival in a rap battle (“Genius is the one percent of inspiration that renders the ninety-nine percent of perspiration meaningless”).

In a more positive scientific light, Tesla Note makes clear that living matter is not capable of traveling to the speed of light without becoming energy. It also illustrates convincingly how teleportation might work following quantum physics principles. The show also covers quantum computing of information and even quotes fictional conspiracy theories such as the Philadelphia experiment of 1943, adapted as the well-known 1984 Sci-fi movie of the same name. Tesla Note is particularly accurate regarding Tesla’s hotel lifestyle and the circumstances surrounding his death.

The author even posits the use of crystals to store and transfer data, which requires the viewer to consider how crystals might convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, for example, to turn on the lights in a room. Since only a small percentage of crystals are magnetic, in theory they can store and transfer data by converting electrical energy into magnetic energy. Similarly, a spinning platter hard drive writes data by passing electrical currents through an electromagnet (the drive head), generating a magnetic field that is stored on the medium.

Tesla Note is an effectively entertaining and even engaging data scavenger hunt as the extravagant plot combines quantum physics and shady underground organizations.

However, my suggestion is to ignore the lackluster anime adaptation and read the manga for the full experience, although I still get that feeling of reading a newspaper comic every time I read manga due to the black and white illustrations.

Title: Tesla Note (テスラノート)

Based on: Tesla Note manga by Masafumi Nishida and Tadayoshi Kubo, illustrated by Kouta Sannomiya

Produced by: Gambit, Kodansha , Movic , BS11 , JR East Marketing & Communications , Bandai Namco Arts.

Streaming on: Funimation

Episodes Watched: 1, 2 & 3

[1] Ziegler, Maseena. 7 Famous Quotes You Definitely Didn’t Know Were From Women, online. Forbes. Consulted on: October 17, 2021. Recovered from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/maseenaziegler/2014/09/01/how-we-all-got-it-wrong-women-were-behind-these-7-famously-inspiring-quotes/?sh=6640810b1016

This article is a part of AniTAY’s Autumn 2021 Early Impressions series, where our authors offer their initial thoughts on the new, prominent, and exciting anime from this season!