Satsuki Kakeru, who has never been able to see out of his strangely-colored right eye, lost his sister by suicide when he was a child, and he has been living a dull and lonely life ever since then. One day, he and his childhood friend, Minase Yuka, are transported into a bizarre alternate universe haunted by mysterious monsters, where his once-useless eye suddenly allows him enhanced vision, and they encounter Mizusu Kusakabe, a teenage girl who informs them that she has been fighting against the monsters in this so-called "Red Night" for some time. They and a group of other people who appear to have hidden powers find themselves fighting against a force called the "Black Knights" whose mission appears to be ridding the world of its "impurity", but whose true mission they will only later begin to comprehend.
Spoiler Warning: This review contains some mild spoilers, as it is very difficult to talk about some of my major criticisms without them.
Those who prefer watching movies to watching television could potentially make this argument: that a film short on ideas, while painful to watch, is relatively concise, over within a single sitting, and given relatively little "padding time" in which the lack of material can become painfully obvious. A TV series devoid of ideas, in contrast, has far more time for its vapidity to be exposed, and such is the case with 11eyes. It constitutes an undistinguished entry in the canon of anime telling the story of people, having been forced to defend their world, who begin to appreciate its value through doing so (a la Neon Genesis Evangelion), and its already thin and messy story is muddled further by plot holes and absence of interesting characters. Having first gained a strike for introducing a banal premise, it proceeds to spend the rest of its tiresome run doing nothing besides failing in every aspect that might have salvaged it.
As one example, even the dullest VN-adaptation might be saved from the refuse bin by virtue of having competent visuals. Not so with 11eyes, which is weak on all technical fronts. One of my major complaints lies with the character design, which in addition to having few distinguishing characteristics suffers from badly-proportioned figures, the females in particular having oversized heads and impossibly thin arms in addition to the soft facial features and oversized eyes typical of bishoujo games. The Victorian, maid-like uniforms that the female characters wear throughout are quite ungainly-looking, the ugly red-brown color drawing attention to the series' overall sloppy color scheme more than anything, and the "Black Knights,", meanwhile, constitute yet another case of a series attempting to create imposing villains and instead rendering what appear to be rejected designs for an apocalyptic version of Pokemon. The animation is never impressive, and the music, which is cited in some other reviews as the series' strong point, never stuck out to me in any way (the opening and closing themes are fine, but I doubt I'd ever listen to either again). My biggest criticism in regards to the presentation, however, lies in the voice acting, with Mai Goto's unbearably sugary delivery of Yuka's lines making her scenes almost unwatchable and most of the other actors scrambling and failing to convincingly deliver the banal utterances given to them. Given the abysmal writing, I can hardly blame them.
Indeed, 11eyes is not one for intelligent writing or sound story structure, nor does it make up for this by being entertaining. What can be determined from the series is this: Kakeru's unusual yellow eye somehow brings on the so-called "Red Night", a parallel universe that only an ill-defined set of "chosen people" can enter, in which said people, having unlocked powers whose origin is conveniently left ambiguous, fight malicious entities known as the "Black Knights". The key to this parallel universe, meanwhile is apparently a mysterious damsel-in-distress kept prisoner by said Knights. This would be all well-and-good, if not especially interesting, but the nonsense this series introduces to keep the story moving brings it to a new low of careless plotting. For example, the main Black Knight, "Superbia", appears to exit the Red Night in spite of supposedly not being able to interact with anybody besides Kakeru and his friends, in one case doing so to murder the mother of a main character for no apparent reason. In spite of the series' revealing the fact that the Black Knights have somehow "lost their bodies" and are fighting against the "impurity" of the human world (an aspect the series conveniently forgets about later), said main Knight appears in her "true form" at will several times, with no explanation for this sudden ability being given. To add insult, the Black Knights are established midway to not, in fact, be the true enemy, something anybody could have guessed, and they are abruptly treated as being "good" in spite of having committed atrocious acts whose reasoning the show never even bothers to establish. I could easily go on at length poking holes in the quagmire that is the plot of 11eyes, particularly its ending, whose use of the deus ex machina and other arbitrary devices makes the ending of Clannad: After Story look downright logical.
Instead, I will detail the flaw that underpins this series' failure: its characters. Generic as the worst dating sim archetypes can possibly be, it is their rapid and inexplicable changes in personality on the one hand and their complete inability to speak intelligent words on the other that renders them as unlikeable as they are. My already great dislike of "I will protect you" and "I must protect her" being spoken aloud by insecure boys hoping to appear "manly" in front of neotenic, hyper-feminine girls was increased 10-fold by this series' overuse of it, and Kakeru does little besides employ those phrases, being the worst combination of the bland "must prove myself"-type action hero of shounen anime and an overprotective, patronizing boyfriend from the most sexist bishoujo VN possible. Yuka, meanwhile, spends half the series as an infantile and helpless figure interested mainly in childish diversions such as a penguin-shaped backpack from whose mouth one can pull a plush fish, in spite of the fact that she is clearly in high school; in the rest of the series, in contrast, she is abruptly and arbitrarily refashioned as a jealous, machinating figure whose deplorable actions are apparently meant to be excused as "mistakes made in the name of love". I did not buy this justification, nor did I like either of her personalities.
Rounding out the rest of the main cast, we have an "misunderstood punk" with Takahisa, a bored and bookish loli with Shiori, the combination of a clumsy-glasses-girl and a crazy-split-persona-girl with Yukiko, and a mysterious, otherworldy silent girl with Kukuri; I have almost nothing to say about any of them beyond these brief descriptions of their archetypes. The only character I at all liked was Mizusu, the object of Yuka's jealousy, the only fighter who is at all competent, and just about the only character whose dignity is not destroyed by atrocious comic relief scenes (on that note, the show's comic relief characters, of which there are a few, are best left unmentioned). While she does represent overused "cool and mature" archetype and is admittedly not developed far beyond it, she is the only female character whose level of intelligence does not render her an insult to female viewers. The show might easily have been better, truth be told, if she had been Kakeru's only romantic interest, a possibility that the show plays with before inevitably launching into banal "power of love" nonsense in order to bring Yuka and Kakeru together again.
Now that I have picked it apart in detail, I will be blunt and give you my raw impression of the series, and that is that 11eyes is junk. It is a boring and generic piece of drivel, and I am hard-pressed to find anything positive to say about it. Unless you happen to be a big fan of the original game, I would recommend that you stay far away from it.
Oh joy, another vapid anime series based on a Visual Novel. Perhaps add a star if you really, really can't get enough of VN-adaptations, but even then I'd say look far and wide for alternatives before settling for this. — Nick Browne
Recommended Audience: There is one implicit sex scene in the main series, along with plenty of violence, some of it graphic. The fanservice-oriented OAV episode is far, far, far raunchier (in addition to being incredibly stupid), but if you're watching that you probably already know what you're getting yourself into.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital stream from Crunchyroll, Japanese with English subtitles.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
11 Eyes © 2009 Lass/Nijikou Kougengakubu.
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