May 30, 2010

11Eyes -- it's been done before

So I'm watching a show called "11eyes" (and yes, the lack of a space is part of the name). After two episodes, my reaction is: Realbout High School did it better. But it's close to being the same story, though there are differences. One is that this one's not a comedy. They're playing it completely seriously.

Our hero is Kakeru. His best friend is Yuka. They're both orphans. Seven years previously, at the orphanage, Kakeru's sister killed herself before him. Yuka came into the room just after it happened.

Kakeru has been emotionally stunted ever since. Yuka has been his closest and best friend, and she's really the only one he feels comfortable with. She eventually got adopted by a childless couple, with whom she lives to the present day and with whom she seems very happy. He never was adopted, but now that he's second-year in high school he's old enough to live alone in a cheap apartment.

The two of them have been getting pulled into an alternate universe, where the fixed scenery is exactly the same, including all the bridges and buildings of their city, but nothing else is. The sky there is dark red. There are hardly any people. There are monsters of various kinds, and strange beings known as "black knights".

The second time they go through, they meet a girl from their school. She's third year. Her name is Kusukabe.

Kakeru wears an eye patch over his right eye. He's blind on that side, and the eye is bright golden colored. Kusukabe says that there are three other students besides them who have been in and out of the other world, which Yuka calls "Red Night". Kusukabe says that's a good name for it.

Kusukabe says that all the others have unusual abilities, and presumes that it's the same for Yuka and Kakeru. In his case, it seems that his right eye is the key to his power. For Yuka, no clue at all.

Kakeru and Yuka also start seeing what looks like Kakeru's older sister appearing in various places. And there are other mysterious characters, including a blonde dojikko who isn't what she seems. She was introduced at the end of the second episode.

The general feeling I'm getting from the first two episodes is that the director really is trying to do a good job here, but the result is still kind of second rate. It all feels entirely derivative.

And at least so far, Realbout High School really did do it better, with more interesting and engaging characters, better action sequences, and more and better fan service.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Mystery Meat at 10:16 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 442 words, total size 3 kb.

1 Did what better, exactly?  11eyes is a dark horror show with a lot of gnostic undertones.  I don't remember Realbout High School being anything like that at all. 

Posted by: tellu541 at May 31, 2010 01:43 AM (pJ1uW)


By the end of the first episode of RBHS I was really interested in Ryoko as a character, and not just because she's a pretty girl. She was a worthy hero, someone I respected, and yet someone I believed in as a character. She wasn't chosen at random to be the hero, and it wasn't a curse she was born with. The war priestess chose Ryoko because she was the best fighter available at the school, as proved by the fact that she was the reigning K-Fight champion.

In that first episode they showed us enough examples of her fighting to demonstrate that her possession of that title was no fluke. She really was an overwhelming fighter. She won 24 (I think it was) challenges just in the first episode, and while most of those challengers were clowns (the magician?) several of them (the black belt) were reasonably formidable, and in several cases she took on groups (the ninjas and the rugby team) without any problem.

Ryoko doesn't like being the K-Fight champion, but her pride won't let her throw a battle. So she's learned to live with being ambushed, and she always does her best -- which is why she keeps winning. Her best is pretty damned good.

(It's strange that I'm citing a Gonzo show as an example of "how to do it right", isn't it? But RBHS is one of the few shows where Gonzo got it right, and I have to acknowledge excellence when I see it, no matter who it's from.)

So when Ryoko was pulled through to the other world, and informed that she'd been chosen to be the Demon Lord of Yenen, and later when she started manifesting shinki while fighting, I believed it. And I believed her reaction to the situation: totally freaked out, initially, but rapidly collecting herself and eventually winning. I believed every bit of it. And I wanted more.

I didn't have that reaction to these characters. Kakeru is OK, I guess, but he was born with his power. (Which, as of the second episode, we haven't even seen yet.) And he isn't a very likeable guy. Yeah, I understand that he's seriously traumatized. But that's no excuse.

Yuka is worse. She isn't a character to me to me at all. She's a moving prop. I don't believe in her as a person. Her job is to be in love with Kakeru, to cling to his arm, and to flash her panties. Maybe it changes later, but right now that seems to be all there is to her.

And after two episodes I don't really care much what happens to them. I'm not sure I'll watch anymore of the show.

I believed in Shizuma when he showed up in RBHS. Like Ryoko he's a vivid personality to me. Maybe he is a gang guy, but he's deep-down decent and honorable. He's fun. He's also a hell of a fighter. I enjoyed his fights just as much as I enjoyed Ryoko's fights.

I believed in Azumi, too. And I really liked how the love triangle played out, because they didn't stick to formula.

RBHS felt fresh and exciting. I understand that a horror show like 11eyes isn't supposed to feel that way; it's supposed to be oppressive.

Eventually, anyway. It should start fresh and exciting and then descend into oppressiveness. That's what Divergence Eve did, for example. You start fresh and exciting and make your audience love your characters. Then you put them through hell, and your audience feels it because they identify with the characters.

I'm not getting that from 11eyes, and that's because the characters don't work for me.

In the end, all good story telling is about good characters. And that is the most important thing that RBHS did better.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 31, 2010 10:11 AM (+rSRq)


You know what? Yumeria tells the same story, too, albeit placed in yet another genre.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 31, 2010 02:46 PM (+rSRq)

4 Lots of stories follow that path; it's very well trod.  But 11Eyes didn't; and that was one of the reasons it didn't work for me.  Whether or not it started cheery and turned dark wasn't relevant in the long run.  What did it in for me was that I never developed a bit of empathy for this characters.  I just didn't care.  Three episodes and out.

From what you've described RBHS to be like, I have a very hard time grasping the parallels here; beyond the alternate world shtick, I just don't see it.

Posted by: ubu at May 31, 2010 07:08 PM (J8ntZ)

5 The parallel is the "alternate world" schtick. The point was that they seemed to be telling about the same story, albeit in quite a lot different ways.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 31, 2010 09:56 PM (+rSRq)

6 Sounds like something Joseph Campbell would come up with.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at June 01, 2010 06:09 AM (/ppBw)

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