S-Cry-ed is about fighting, in every sense of the word; but mostly the physical kind with fists.
The series has a rather silly premise: A few years ago there was a ‘Great Uprising,’ a localized geological disaster in which the ground swelled up in Kanagawa Japan. After the uprising, people in the area started being born with alters, a kind of power that lets them transform matter into something else, like a monster, or robot, or something that grants them other powers.
But the alter powers are limited. People only have one, and it seems to be tied into their psyche in some way.
Kazuma is a native alter, just a random dweller of the Lost Ground (the area that suffered the Great Uprising.’ There is good in Kazuma, as we see in his first non-fight scene in which he gives a poor child all his money; and yet, he’s ruled by his emotions. When he, or those he cares about are threatened, he turns violent, and is blinded to the consequences. Ironically, in these moments he can cause just as much pain to those he is trying to protect, as those he is trying to protect them from.
His alter is an enhanced arm, a stronger fist to punch things with. Fighting isn’t a means to an end for Kazuma, it’s a form of expression. It validates him, and it could be said that it’s the only thing he’s truly good at.
Kazuma’s foil is Ryuho. A member of HOLY, a group of government employed alter users whose job is to control the native alter population. Had he not joined HOLY, Ryuho would likely have ended up just like Kazuma. He too, has strong emotions that lead him to reckless violence. But unlike Kazuma, Ryuho strives to contain them. His alter is a humanoid figure restrained by a straight jacket. A literal representation of Ryuho’s character. When a battle is going badly, and Ryuho’s anger rises, his alter strips its straight jacket, becoming far more powerful.
Ryuho sees in Kazuma everything that he hates about himself. When he was a child, Ryuho’s mother was killed by a rampaging alter. On some level, he seems to fear that he could do the same thing, should he lose his discipline.
The character drama is set across an effective plot line concerning the mainland’s fear of the growing alter user population. Indeed, HOLY itself operates under their authority. The mainland’s response to the alter threat is the same response every country in history has made after seeing another country gain superior power: to covet that power for themselves.
The series was produced by Sunrise and has excellent production values for a TV series of its vintage (2001), mixing computer graphics with traditional animation.
S-Cry-ed was released in North America by Bandai Entertainment back when they cared about the quality of their work. It includes uncut video (Japanese credits and titles) and a variety of extras across its six discs.