11eyes (TV)

Visual novel adaptations are problematic. If they don't have the proper amount of episodes to put in everything, something will get left out, and entire routes can go missing if the adaptation only follows one main route or a fused route. It's tricky to please the fans of the original game with these adaptations, but it possible, as seen with the fantastic adaptations for Fate/Zero and Steins;Gate. 11eyes was another promising game to adapt, a story filled with demons, gray morality, superpowers, and all sorts of other interesting stuff. To put it bluntly, twelve episodes was not enough to cram everything in there, and they somehow managed to still change even more, resulting in one of the most loathed VN adaptations in the past few years. The hate is justified.

The premise of 11eyes is that seven young high school students keep ending up in a mysterious "red night," a sort of parallel dimension where no time passes in their world while in it. It's just like their city, but with red skies and demonic spawn hunting any living thing they can find, not to mention the seven mysterious Black Knights, strange demonic warriors that refer to the seven as "fragments" that wish for nothing more than to kill all of the said fragments. Along with this, the knights are guarding over a young girl trapped in a crystal, who begs the seven to free her. The kids decided to join together and fight for their survival, along with discovering the truth behind the red night and how to stop it for good.

There are a few impressive elements to the show. The score is superb work, willed with organs and choirs. It matches perfectly with the gothic elements, sounding like lost Shin Megami Tensei battle tracks. The concepts at play are also all vastly more interesting than the actual use of said ideas, including multiverses, blood pacts, heroes and villains mostly in grayish moralities, and even some alternate history. The problem is that none of this is used properly, and the end result is a confused, poorly paced mess.

The cast isn't particularly interesting. Kakeru, the hero, has the personality of old pizza crust, and his drive to protect the ones he loves feels hollow due to how poorly the relationship between him and Yuka, his childhood friend, is explained and fleshed out. What little back story we get between the two is briefly mentioned in a short bit of exposition in the first episode, and a flashback in the final episode, notably leaving out the more interesting elements from the VN (I looked up some of the content from it after I finished the anime). Yuka has a similarly dull personality as well, until a point in the series where she starts to become unstable. Once again, the series leaves out her crucial back story that explains why she's so possessive of Kakeru, leaving a slightly sexist character that is far too easy to hate, and that was obviously not the intent since she wins the affects of the main character in the end. Tachibana simply has no personality besides happy and mute, and one of the seven is completely absent from anything of importance until the last three episodes, leaving the remaining three members of the group to carry things.

These characters fare a little better. Misuzu, the shrine priestess and team's main fighter, is stern and stoic, but infinitely more likable than her crazy counterpart Yuka. She also ironically has far more chemistry with Kakeru, making his obsession with Yuka all the more obnoxious. I also do like that she has interests and desires outside her relationship with Kakeru in the form of her admiration with one of her ancestors, which eventually plays into the plot. Yukiko and Takahisa are easily the best members of the cast by default, simply because the two seem to have the liveliest personalities. Takahisa is underdeveloped, with his most important back story cut, but he still manages to be a fun contrast as the local bad boy character to Kakeru's generic nice guy (aka lifeless) personality. It's Yukiko that stands out the most among the paper constructs around her, with her energetic personality and constant peppiness when she has her glasses on. Some of her back story remains and makes her developed just enough to be endearing. The villains, on the other hand, are one-note and lack any development whatsoever, while every other side character has an utterly pointless existence and only serve to annoy. An exception is made for the nurse and her relationship with Takahisa, but she doesn't get enough screen time to get any real development, which is a shame because her past as a biker gang member sounds far more interesting than what occurs in most of the series. 

11eyes is spread out into twelve episodes, or rather eleven and one pointless "what if" episode included so the staff could animate the bad ending. The first four episodes are dedicated to gathering the team, the second four focus on some light development and bringing along whoever was left out in the last four, and the final four act as the extended climax, with episode eleven as a fake out ending that doesn't serve any purpose within the show at all. This is all problematic, because after the initial two episodes, nothing of interest occurs within the red night until episode nine. Characters gather together and fight villains, but none of the villains are threatening besides the main two. In fact, a few of the black knights are one-shotted by the cast, including one guy who's taken out by the rather weak main character in an embarrassing manner. There's no sense of danger until the end of episode eight, and all the character development in this time is either uninteresting or phenomenally stupid. Of course, the source of most of the issues come from Kakeru and Yuka.

The relationship between these two is downright awful. At start, Kakeru is only a dull hero character trying to protect his love, while Yuka is simply a damsel in distress with no other qualities to her. When she starts to go into yandere mode, she only becomes insufferable, while Kakeru and Yuka both fall into the usual idiotic inability to read signs in any given situation. The start of her descent into madness comes from a tiresome romantic misunderstanding, and the show pulls this trick at least two more times. The only reason it doesn't occur a forth time is because Yuka is delayed by another party, but it doesn't make all the heavy handed hinting any better. She becomes downright sociopathic towards anyone but Kakeru, and not a single character ever thinks to do anything about it, just staying quiet until she does one of the single most unforgivable acts in the series. This version of the character is just an offensive "women are crazy!" stereotype commonly used by awful writers who know less about relationships than I do. What Kakeru even sees in her is a complete mystery until the last episode, and that just makes their relationship a creepy and poorly built one based entirely on dependence. It's entirely unhealthy and portrayed in a positive light, which is just disturbing to me.

While they're the sources for most the frustration, everything else is just a source of boredom. Much of the show just becomes incomplete info-dumps, with characters discussing obvious concepts or poorly explaining the more confusing elements. The multiverse stuff that gets introduced in the final few episodes is especially baffling and just raises more question in the way it's explained. Yukiko and Takahisa's relationship only gets one episode of real development, and it's rather simplistic and uneventful for the most part. That just leaves Misuzu, as the other two major characters might as well be non-entities for most of the series, and her only real conflicts don't truly appear until the last third. This mostly leaves a series filled with white noise and forgettable moments of activity, without the animation chops to allow for interest fights or sequences, outside one solid showing from Takahisa in episode nine.

I have seen worse series than 11eyes, but I have also seen far better. Despite the fantastic score and good ideas used, the execution is completely amateur, and rarely is anything used properly to develop the story and characters. Instead, it waste its time with generic and tired-four-years-before-its-release comedy bits. When the story does come up, the fights are too dull and the character development too empty or obnoxious to care. When I was invested, it was mainly due to frustration, and that's never a good sign. The best thing I can say is to just go play the visual novel (if you're of proper age, of course).


Popular Posts