Satsuki Kakeru, who has never been able to see out of his strangely-colored right eye, lost his sister to suicide when he was a child, and he's 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.
Warning: This review has some spoilers, since it's very difficult to talk about some of my major criticisms without them.
Here's an argument for why sometimes it's better to watch movies than TV shows: a bad movie or a movie that's just short on ideas might be painful to watch, but it's over within an hour or two, usually, and there's never that much "padding time" that makes it obvious that there's just nothing there. But a bad TV show has way more time to expose itself as a vapid, useless piece of garbage, and that's the case with 11eyes. It's another entry in the canon of shows about people who are forced to defend their world and start to appreciate its value through doing so (a la Neon Genesis Evangelion), and its thin and messy story is made worse by plot holes, ugly character design, and a terrible, terrible cast. It pretty much fails at everything it tries to do, and it's quite honestly one of the worst TV series I've ever sat all the way through.
Even the most boring dating sim adaptation might be saved from the garbage bin on the strength of visuals. Not so with 11eyes. It doesn't help, for one thing, that the character design is awful. The show goes for the "moe" aesthetic you find in bishoujo games with soft facial features and big eyes, but the proportions just look weird: everybody's head seems oversized, and their arms, legs, and necks are too thin. The Victorian-esque, maid-like outfits the girls wear are ugly, too, with a sloppy red-brown color scheme, and I had a hard time getting my eyes off their uniforms (not a good thing) the entire show. The "Black Knights" were meant to be imposing and frightening, I guess, but they look like rejects from a darker, more apocalyptic Pokemon spinoff, and hell, that might even be an insult to Pokemon: that franchise can be fun, but this is just so goofy and ugly. The animation is sloppy, and the music, which some other reviews treat as the show's best part, never stuck out to me, for good or bad (the OP and ED are okay, but I'd never seek them out again). But by far the worst of the technical aspects is the voice acting: Mai Goto's unbearably sugary delivery of Yuka's lines made her scenes almost unwatchable, and while nobody else is quite that bad, the other actors just tend to sound confused and lost. I can't blame them, given how badly-written this show is.
So we've established that 11eyes is ugly. Sadly, it isn't intelligent or entertaining, either, nor does any of it really make that much sense. I could figure out this much: 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 an okay if generic and plothole-filled story, but the nonsense this show tries to shove down our throats to keep the story moving is a new low as far as bad writing goes. 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 other than being evil. And even though the show says that the Black Knights have lost their bodies and are fighting against the "impurity" of the human world (an aspect it conveniently forgets about, later), Superbia appears in her "true form" at will several times, with no explanation for this being given. Of course, we find out midway that the Black Knights aren't actually the "true enemy", and they're abruptly treated as "good" in spite of having done atrocious things whose reasoning the show never even bothered to try justifying (the first bad guy from Sword Art Online is another example of why I hate this trope). I could easily go on, and on, and on poking holes in the mess that is the plot of 11eyes, particularly its ending, whose use of the deus ex machina and other arbitrary devices makes the hand-waving of Clannad: After Story look like a literary masterpiece.
But it's about time I talked about the show's characters, who are generic as the worst dating sim characters can be, on the one hand, and prone to inexplicable personality changes on the other, in addition to just being insultingly stupid. My already big dislike of insecure boys saying "I will protect you" and "I must protect her" trying to be "manly" in front of neotenic, hyper-feminine girls went into overdrive while I was watching this show. Kakeru is simply the worst possible combination of the bland "must prove myself"-type action hero of shounen anime and the overprotective, patronizing boyfriend from the most sexist possible bishoujo dating sim, and he's just an awful protagonist all around. Yuka, meanwhile, spends half the series acting helpless; in the second half, she abruptly turns into a jealous, machinating character who does deplorable things "in the name of love," which means we're supposed to forgive her....somehow. I didn't buy it. Rounding out the rest of the main cast, we have a "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 zilch to say about them, aside from listing off their archetypes. The only character I at all liked was Mizusu, who's the only girl who isn't either written as being either crazy or useless, the only person who actually fights at all comptently, and the only girl who isn't written to be a complete idiot. She's of course the object of Yuka's jealousy, and the show briefly plays with the notion that it might put her and Kakeru together, instead, but it then launches into "power of love" nonsense to get Yuka and Kakeru together (even after she's done things that've gotten several people killed), and any chance of the show being saved is gone. There's also some comic relief characters, and the less said about them, the better.
I've picked things apart in detail, and now I'm going to just be blunt: this show sucks. 11eyes is a boring, generic, and horribly-written piece of drivel, and I almost nothing positive to say about it. Watch it if you somehow really liked the original game, but everyone else need not bother.
Oh joy, another terrible anime based on a bad visual novel! Perhaps add a star if you really, really can't get enough of those, but even then I'd say look far and wide for alternatives before settling for this. — Nicoletta Christina 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: Streaming on Crunchyoll, Japanese with English subtitles.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
11 Eyes © 2009 Lass/Nijikou Kougengakubu.
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