Anzu Hoshino is a stay-at-home girl who has her three great pleasures in life (games, chocolate, and her cat Momohiki) taken away from her- along with her parents (!)- by a sadistic yellow blob in a wizard's cap named Riri, that declares she needs to work on romance instead (for two to three years, apparently.) Anzu tries her best to defy Riri's wishes, but this show has other ideas...
The first thing I thought was that the show should maybe be called "Romance Killer", after Anzu's noble attempts to defy Riri's heavy-handed scheme; but there actually IS a "Romantic Killer" here, a much darker character that appears later. Personally, I find excessively dark characters inappropriate for (at least attempted) romantic comedies, but concede that the miscue here is not quite as egregious as that in the last episode of Science Fell In Love, Season Two.
But Riri...well, no. Just NO. This is the single most contemptible floating, incessantly jabbering, magical THING since Mana in Conception, as much for its methods as for its sadistic glee in depriving Anzu of all she loves. Unlike the Rec, Riri does not plunge Anzu into an Isekai setting resembling an otome game; instead, it alters reality to create an otome scenario, including brainwashing innocent people, Anzu's parents in particular; it effectively condemns poor Anzu to be an orphan, as noted for up to 3 years. (Riri shall be referred to as "it" throughout, since I refuse to honor it with pronouns used with human beings, even though it sometimes takes either male or female human form. If the "Romantic Killer's" ire could have been directed toward Riri while it's in human form (and therefore vulnerable), some good might have come from their violence. Another idea might have been a Deathmatch between Conception's Mana and Riri, with the survivor rewarded with summary execution. Just spitballing here.)
OF COURSE, Anzu ends up meeting some hunky guys. One is Kazuki Tsukasa, who remains aloof from the women who are attracted to his good looks. (He has a reason for this.) Circumstances (some of them arranged by the yellow blob, of course) force him and Anzu into close quarters with each other, but they both try to keep it strictly platonic. Alas, that just isn't good enough for our yellow blob, which throws into the mix another handsome guy, a baseball player named Junta Hayami who is supposedly a "childhood friend" of Anzu's, though Anzu herself doesn't remember him at all. Anzu thinks he was "made up" (created out of nothing) by Riri; I thought he might be another brainwashed soul (like Anzu's parents); but the show, to its (slight) credit, finds a third alternative. Reviews of Junta's prospects by people in the show are rather mixed: one character notes that "childhood friend" is the "Easy Mode" in otome games, but another maintains that the "childhood friend" almost never wins out. (I guess almost nobody playing otome games goes for the easy win?)
A few other potential suitors are thrown in, though I'd rate their chances with Anzu as virtually nil. They include a narcissistic rich kid named Hijiri Koganei, who's intrigued by the "challenge" of winning over Anzu (she gives him the cold shoulder quickly, and persistently); and there's a much-belated confession from an old classmate during a class reunion. The class reunion segment was my favorite part of the show; it felt much less contrived than the rest of it. It raises a mystery, though: when we see Anzu's past, we see she was a very social girl who was well-liked and respected by her peers. So how did she become so hikikomori? (With her cat obsession (including in her clothing), I'm afraid that the "cat lady" sexist stereotype of females uninvolved in relationships might plague both the U.S. AND Japan.)
I wasn't very impressed with the character art here, which often seems poorly done and inconsistent, especially on Anzu. (Her face is intentionally depicted over-the-top grotesque when she's deliberately trying to look ugly (to deter potential suitors), and of course none of us look great when we first wake up, but otherwise I think she's supposed to have at least a somewhat consistent level of attractiveness. I don't think the show quite maintains that standard.)
I'll give the show credit for one device I liked: it likes to self-consciously use visual euphemisms for "unpleasant" things, a nice bit of anarchic humor. If the rest of the show had been as creative, I would have gone at least three stars; but with Riri in it, no matter HOW clever it was otherwise, it could never get more than two.
I kept thinking that Anzu blew a perfectly good opportunity to shut down Riri and its schemes early on; she grabs its wand, so why doesn't she simply snap it in two? But then the full horror dawned on me, an abomination before which even Cthulu would shrink in revulsion: the whole show is on Riri's side! I guess the show's creator(s) can't tell the difference between "tough love" and abuse. Certainly Riri can't.
Riri is the show's deus ex machina (god in the machine), but THIS machine really needs to be set on fire, and its god cast into Hades. Or maybe nuked from orbit; it's the only way to be sure. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: One character is threatened with sexual violence, while another suffers ACTUAL (not just threatened) violence, which includes bloodshed. So violence and mature themes here. Neflix says TV-14, though to be honest given the dark stuff I might have gone a little older on that.
Version(s) Viewed: Netflix digital stream
Review Status: Full (12/12)
Romantic Killer © 2022 Domerica.
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