We’ve got ourselves a grimdark anime series! That’s right, it’s nother show from Okada Mari that hints at wanting to be dark and twisted, but let’s hope this one is a little more successful than the other one.
Eight students are gathered together to investigate some strange phenomenon known as the Lightless Realm. In order to do so, they’ll have to pilot mechas and battle monsters known as Admonitions. On a routine patrol one day, an Admonition attacks, but our hero quickly defeats it with a little bit of quick thinking. For his troubles, he runs into a Corpse, a singing apparition also from the Lightless Realm. Oh yeah, rumor has it that if you meet a Corpse, you’ll die in nine days. Fun!
• The backgrounds are… hm, a little too “I’m in 11th grade, my soul is dark, so here, have a glimpse at my twisted mind” sort of deal. When you then go and overlay cute children drawn in the traditional TV anime style on top of these backgrounds, the whole thing doesn’t really work:
I think it’s kitschy. I realize the characters are not this young in the actual story, but whatever. Replace them with hot, sexy teenagers all you want, but I honestly don’t think it’ll matter. Kawaii anime characters just don’t lend themselves to visually-disturbing horror. You can’t make the setting gritty, but avoid giving the same treatment to the characters.
• It doesn’t help either that the quality of this RAW is pretty bad anyway.
• So in this world, we’ve got these things called “Admonitions.” According to the narration in the cold opening, these Admonitions are born in some sort of “Lightless Realm,” and it’s “as if these aberrations were mirror images of the despair and chaos humans felt.” So it’s not set in stone yet that these things are physical manifestations of negative human emotions, but they may as well be. In any case, these Admonitions can also cross into the real world where I assume they attack innocent people or something. I will also assume that they will only do so at night for whatever reason, and as a result, civilians are not expected to be out in public during this dangerous time of the day. Despite this, the characters in this show sure are flirting with danger. I guess everyone’s expected to immediately return home at 7PM on the dot, but our hero saunters through the streets as if he doesn’t have a care in the world. And what about the poor combini employee? It’ll take the guy some time to close down and lock up the store, no?
• The story takes place in a city where a lot if not everything is run by some organization called IX. Even the school is operated by IX. That’s usually not a good thing in practice or in fiction. Such organizations always tend to be corrupt or whatever, but we’ll see how the show ultimately ends up portraying this mysterious IX. Maybe the billionth time is the charm.
• I’m not a fan of this relentless narration though. It’s literally just feeding us information.
• Corpses are guardians of the Lightless Realm, sing songs, and you will die in nine days when you encounter one. Gotcha.
• And since this is Japan, giant robots are the best defense against these Admonitions, naturally. So much so that students even duel each other in these mechas at school. It’s some sort of sport, I guess.
• I think Akashi is supposed to be our main character, and as the main character, he kicks ass at piloting the Admonition-slaying mechas. As such, he’s been picked for a special course that will train students to fight back against the monsters in this show. Well, at least the main character isn’t painfully average skillwise despite his painfully average looks.
• The animation quality in this show is not too hot. Maybe they’ve got the B-team working on this while the A-team tackles Nobunaga the Fool.
• Emiru isn’t even a student. She’s a temp worker, apparently. I remember the girls at school referring to her as an old hag, but is she really older than everyone else? She sure does speak to Akashi as if they’re the same age. By the way, the characters all look as if they’re wearing a bit too much eye shadow. 2edgy4me.
• And for reasons yet unexplained, the Lightless Realm is expanding, and at this rate, it’ll consume all of the real world. As a result, teams have been put together to investigate this grimdark phenomenon and hopefully come away with some sweet gothic swag.
• Long-haired guy with a lollipop sure is a dick. Well, he’s got long hair, so he’s probably a villain.
• Our hero’s got a dark, painful past. Our hero isn’t interested in “photographs and stuff.” Most of all, our hero has no time for your damn caeki, lady!
• Anime guys, please. Stop doing this all the damn time:
That’s right! If a woman is ever in a guy’s room by herself, it means she’s a sexually frustrated whore! We’ve got this gender shit nailed down, son. People just can’t be nice! After the kid leaves, the lady just goes, “What’s with that? A rebellious period?” Well, if you’re going to be a doormat like that…
• For some reason, Akashi really resents his oniichan, a.k.a. the Aoshi dude from the photograph.
• Well, this Emiru girl sure is desperate. I wonder if she’s actually just boy-crazy or if there’s a real agenda at work here. Hopefully the latter, ’cause the former would just be boring and lame. In any case, she snatches up that pendant that our hero had found at the start of the anime. That’s probably not a hot idea. I bet it attracts the escaped Admonition to her or something.
• Some more infodumping: the body of Admonitions contain both metal crystals and human tissue! Wow, very morbid. Quite scary.
• But even though this is a grimdark show about abject human despair turned real, it doesn’t mean we can’t have Mahmu’s tits flopping about during a training exercise! I mean, what else is a megane for?
• Here’s a slightly clearer look at an Admonition:
Somehow this thing — made up of mostly metallic crystals, by the way — can run at high speeds. And apparently, they’re like vampires or something, because you can only kill them by driving a very expensive stake through a weak point.
• So Akashi and Emiru are on patrol. We’re told you can’t detect the Admonitions with equipment all too well, so the instructor tells them to just rely on their instincts. Right, students who have yet to fight these Admonitions should just rely upon their battle-honed instincts.
• Oh look, the Admonition attacks, but it’s only going after the girl. Who on earth could have predicted that?
• These characters apparently share some sort of special connection that kicks in whenever one of them is in trouble. I don’t know why they end up being kids during these moments, however. Please don’t tell me they were once all childhood friends but have plumb forgotten each other somehow. I can’t take another Final Fantasy VIII plot twist.
• Akashi quickly deduces that the Admonition is after the pendant, so he tells Emiru to throw the pendant to him in order to distract the Admonition. Aaaaaand Emiru proceeds to sit there and argues with the guy about everything.
Jesus Christ, what is with these anime characters? Why are they always written this way? In Brynhildr in the Darkness, I got to see a paralyzed girl complain about a guy copping a feel even though he was only trying to save her from a burning house. As for Emiru, the oh-so-scary Admonition is right in her face, but she’s just chirping away as if the threat on her life just isn’t all that pressing. C’mon, writers, this is just stupid. Who fucking acts like this in the face of danger?
• So the pendant contains a picture of a mother and her child. Ah, so sad. Akashi then gets all emo on us because the Admonition failed to label its pendant with a proper trigger warning. Check your privilege, please, Admonition-san.
• Naturally, our hero saves the day.
• But then he hears singing all around him. It’s a Corpse! But what does a Corpse look like? This?
Oh hey, it’s the thing from the cold opening. But look closer, Lenny!
Truth be told, I’m pretty unimpressed. The premise is so uninspired. Dark, human emotions, huh? High school students being trained to combat twisted, scary monsters? Meh. The main character seems like a grade-A asshole too. No, even worse, he’s an angst-ridden asshole. Going into the show, I was hoping for a little thematic depth, but as far as the first episode is concerned, I see nothing.