The Severing Crime Edge
Killing Goods are murder weapons handed down from generation to generation within the families of their owners. They are cursed to compel their current owners to repeat the original murders. The curse also makes them indestructible. Kiri Haimura is the current owner of a pair of shears that can cut seemingly anything, although he only wants to cut hair. One day he meets Iwai Mushanokoji, a girl of whom he has only heard rumors that her hair cannot be cut, a girl who can grant one wish, any wish, but only to the person who murders her. Every morning he cuts her hair, which grows back every night; and every day he helps protect her from people who know about her curse and who want a wish granted.
You won't catch me saying this very often but some series need to be darker. The trend towards 'darker and edgier' stories is often, in my opinion, a nasty euphemism for the practice of producing the same old juvenile crap but with added nudity, violence and crudity (or, in other words, fanservice). That all said I am keen on genuine maturity. I am keen on entertainment that addresses deeper human concerns in often stark and uninhibited fashions. Not entertainment that plays with violent or distressing themes but that takes them head on and tackles the scarier parts of living. What I'm talking about, is, of course, art and one of the saddest things about The Severing Crime Edge is that it did, amongst the bizarreness of its plot, have the potential for artistic moments; the pain and struggle of compulsion, for example, is begging to be explored but the themes are not adequately addressed and that disappoints me. As strange and as random as it is, I did think Crime Edge had a real potential for pathos if it had actually tried to be darker, more often. That all said I shouldn't be forcing my dreams on the series, so I will just judge it for what it really is: a limp Future Diary clone.
Okay, that is a little mean but the description more or less holds up. There is a game of death set up, a morally ambiguous protagonist compelled to fight against his will, a male and female pairing dynamic and tons of violence. There are key differences, of course: Iwai is a cute loli non-combatant that the protagonist protects as compared to Yuno of Future Diary who is an axe-wielding psychopath and Kiri is an awful lot less whiny than Future Diary's Yukiteru and far more pro-active, but the basic set-up of the show is after the pattern created by the Future Diary and its predecessors. The protagonists go through character development as they face off against various short arc antagonists while further complications and an overarching plot is established and maintained. All well and good, there is nothing wrong with using a solid formula, but Crime Edge fails to achieve the two things necessary to make this set up work. First, it does not achieve the plot momentum needed to carry the absurdity of its premise and secondly, it does not have a conclusion. The latter is, of course, the cardinal problem of adapting any material that is ongoing but Crime Edge is an especially potent example of how not to end a series even if you are hoping for a second season. As it stands, it renders an okay series an almost pointless watch.
There are plenty of positives when considering this show. The characters, for one thing, manage to stand out. The two main protagonists are more than adequate in their roles: Iwai is cute, kind and offers a moral centre to the often immoral scenarios the protagonists face and Kiri stands out as a character with personal drive and struggles of a unique nature. They have good chemistry and the burgeoning romance is sweet if not necessarily well integrated with the darker side of the plot. There was an opportunity to counter-point the romance with the unnatural feelings generated by the Killing Goods but this is not quite achieved. Still, the protagonists are good and so are most of the side characters. The other wielders of the Killing Goods are varied and interesting. Yamane Byouinzaka is a particularly good example of a character completely terrorized by her own compulsion to kill, leaving her pale, haggard and unpredictable. The show looks pretty cool too. The character designs are interesting and varied – individual characters do not look like others and they have a style of their own that helps the show to stand out. The action scenes are tense and exciting and come in an arty monochrome that I suspect is more to do with censoring than anything else. Still, Crime Edge gets most of the basic things right.
The problem Crime Edge has, though, is that its flaws are not ones you can overlook. The biggest issue is that the series is almost entirely plot-driven yet does not succeed in the aspects of the plot that are necessary to make a satisfying show. Firstly, the pacing is off. The fact that the different aspects of the show, such as the violence and the romance, are so poorly integrated means that character building moments feel more like diversions that let the steam out of what should be an intense scenario. Series like The Future Diary build on themselves, becoming more and more intense and fascinating as they continue, but Crime Edge fails to deliver that – ultimately feeling flat with what should be an exciting premise. This makes the lack of a conclusion feel even more disappointing. Crime Edge begins and ends without ever feeling like it has really gone anywhere interesting or exciting. It remains perfectly watchable - don't get me wrong - but never anything more than that.
So yes, if you want a limply plotted, incomplete take on the death game premise then Crime Edge is the show you want. It did some things well, like portraying its characters, but its positive points never came together to make a positive whole. It is by no means bad but the only feeling left at the end of the final episode was the sadness of unfulfilled potential.
I considered a third star but I will save that for the case that it gets a second series. As it is, it is below average and I cannot recommend it to you despite its positives. — Aiden Foote
Recommended Audience: This is a story about murder weapons that drive their wielders to kill so it is, unsurprisingly, very violent despite the particularly violent scenes being set in a semi-stylish monochrome since it is a well known fact that blood is less distressing when it is not red… apparently. On top of that there are occasional moments of nudity (and other sexual moments) and horror elements related to serial murderers. So yeah, this is for adults and older teens only.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
The Severing Crime Edge © 2013 Tatsuhiro Hikagi, MEDIA FACTORY/The Severing Crime Edge Production Committee
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