Renai Boukun Review

This is review number three hundred and ninety seven. This anime is part of the Spring 2017 lineup, and it’s called Renai Boukun or Love Tyrant. It’s a twelve episode anime about a lot of stuff involving a guy and his harem. Yeah, let’s read on.

Story

The anime follows a guy named Seiji being forced to be a couple with an angel, a yandere and a tsundere thanks to a “Kiss Note” that bonds two people together. Seiji is now trapped with a harem, but the misadventures don’t stop there. With superpowers, bloody encounters and even gawd himself, Seiji’s life is about to turn upside down and then tumble around a couple of times as well.

Taking the Pants Off

I think the general consensus for this anime is positive, but I really don’t like it. It feels really soul-less, and there’s just so many things wrong with it. My gripe with the show boils down with this thing called “adaptation”. How do you do an adaptation? Do you just copy every manga panel and call it a day? Is there a deeper, more complex way to adapt a show? I always mention “the intention of the author” when I praise a director, because that’s really the essence of how an adaptation should be. In my opinion, if you can capture the idea that the author is trying to deliver then you’re doing a good adaptation. Small nuances, like the camera angle in the panels or the mood the panel is trying to deliver, makes for a wonderful adaptation. You’re basically adapting the author’s style, so adaptations can be a complicated matter. If Keijo’s insane energy was absent in the show, then it’s awful over the top Ecchi visuals would just look cheap. The author’s intention is much deeper than a cheap Ecchi anime, and Xebec delivered on capturing his vision. This is what bothers me the most with Renai Boukun. It’s not really a good adaptation. Sure, the zany rom-com of the manga is featured but it feels lacking. The animation feels super cheap, and I just think the premise is too complex to be featured in the way the anime did it. The pacing feels off, the characters look dull and the initial tone of the anime just didn’t feel right. The animation is really just bad, and it just ruins this adaptation. Let’s just start with this. Here’s what the characters look like in the anime:

Here’s what they look like in the manga:

Doesn’t the anime look kinda flat? The stock colors suck the life out of the characters, and look at how lifeless those eyes are. There is no background, and everything just feels “default”. Compare that to the intention of the author. Look at the colors. Look at the fun design. Look at the characters. The guy in the anime looks dull, but he looks like a cool rom-com character in the other picture. Check out how expressive those eyes are. Every single character has interesting facial features, and the eyes are the main piece that draws you in. See how warm the color is, and there is this gritty texture to the manga. Just one look at the original source and you can tell the anime did a bad job from the get go. It’s really the small things that make the difference, and it’s a glaring flaw this anime has. This is part of its identity, and it’s really hard to like this show given how cheap the entire thing looks.

It feels a bit mean though. I’m judging the anime’s content from just the visuals, and it’s not really a fair look. I know I’m being unfair myself, because there are other factors to consider. Please understand that I just can’t get over how soul-less the show is. It’s a flat adaptation, and I think they could’ve done better. We’ll dive into the story in the paragraphs below, but let’s just hone in more on this bad adaptation. The anime did capture a lot of the panels of the original source, and the first episode is actually just the first chapter of the manga. That’s great, but the style of the author seems to be flushed out. Here’s an example from the first episode:

Here’s the one in the manga:

It’s the same, right? It’s the anime adapting the manga panel correctly, but look closer. Look at how flat the kiss is in the anime. It was a sudden moment, but it doesn’t feel like that in the show. Compare that to the manga, and you can see the problem. The move has weight to it, and there’s just a wonderful atmosphere to it. See the reaction of the girl’s eye? That’s a girl whose sentence was suddenly cut off. The scene has nuance, a definite style and the anime lacks that. I don’t know if it’s just me, but it’s really a major turn off for me. Anyways, let’s have one final comparison. This is the yandere girl in the anime. Yeah, we have a yandere here and she goes mental when the guy gets close to another girl. Her reaction is scary, like so:

This is her in the manga:

Do you see it? Do you see the problem? I don’t read manga, but I can immediately tell something was wrong. Check out her eyes. She is scary in the manga, because the proper tone was used in the panel. In the anime, she just looks dull. Focus on the eyes, and compare each picture. Do you see what is majorly lacking in the anime now?

Maybe it’s just me though. I dunno. I just have big problems with this anime from the get go. Anyways, let’s talk about the show. This anime starts with a Kiss Note, an obvious riff of the Death Note, and any two people’s name written in it will become a couple. One day, this girl named Guri visits our main character, Seiji. She accidentally wrote his name down, and she tells him that she must write another name down or else he’ll die. So he seeks out his crush, Akane, who turns out to be a massive yandere. She stabs Guri for being close to Seiji, but the girl just thinks the entire situation is fun. So the unpredictable girl with the Kiss Note wrote down Akane’s name, and then wrote down her name as well. Seiji is now in a relationship with two girls as dictated by the Kiss Note. As the show progresses, more girls enter the picture and Seiji’s harem eventually grows.

Despite the premise being easy to follow, the anime doesn’t really stick to it. I think around the second half, the Kiss Note premise is abandoned in favor of other things. This is actually the beauty of the story. It’s fast paced, and it is erratic. It doesn’t settle, and it throws too many things at you. A walk in the park can turn into a hostage crisis with a yandere. This anime is insanely fun like this, but it still has method to its madness. This rom-com is actually a big character showcase, wherein the story is setup to make the characters look good and nothing more. While there is progression in the plot, the show mainly focuses on the characters. It can either be Seiji with his harem, or it’ll be some misadventure with the Kiss Note. Towards the second half though, majority of the episodes focuses on the characters and their background. This anime had a lot going on, and an angel with a Kiss Note is actually the sanest one in it. Soon, we’ll have assassins, super powers, death and even abusive parents. The show just slaps you with one situation after another.

Of course, this is actually a weak aspect of comedy. Since it doesn’t have anything big to offer, it’ll just introduce new characters, new stories and anything else to keep things interesting. This show acknowledges that though, and just goes wild with it. At first the entire thing was jarring, because the fast pacing is too much to handle. In episode one alone, we discover an angel, a Kiss Note, a yandere and a lot of people kissing. There is no time to rest in this anime, and it will overwhelm you. I think after the third episode though, you just kinda go “f*ck it” and just enjoy the ride till the end. I personally look for structure and a premise in the first three episodes, and I didn’t get it. I think the show revealed its full premise at episode five, almost halfway through the show, so the previous four is just too many f*cking random things just passing by at you. It’s like being dragged by a moving vehicle. You can run along with the car, or you can just fall down and let it drag you to whatever place it’ll go. It’s just morbid crazy fun that way.

There is a big problem with the anime though. The execution is bad. Here I am again with the adaptation thing, but this anime is a comedy. Yeah, it doesn’t really come off as funny. Sure it had some good moments here and there, but the jokes don’t really land properly. The anime’s fast pace isn’t really properly handled. There’s no time for any scene to settle or make an impact, because the anime shuffles along whether the joke comes off as funny or not. One of the show’s main appeals is how it tries to catch the audience off guard. For example, the main character has a cat, and he looks like a f*cking sin to the world that should immediately be burned. The joke is that he thinks he is beautiful, but the rest of the people just find him fugly. It’s a situation ripe with gags and the audience being taken for a weird ride, but the anime doesn’t really sell the scene. It doesn’t build up to the joke, and the execution comes off as flat. It goes back to the lack of vision in presenting the scene. The anime did such a bland job at capturing the comedy that it doesn’t really come off as funny. The sad part is that there are a lot of moments that should’ve been funny. From the get go, the big reveal of the yandere should’ve been funny. The way the harem interacts with one another also had great potential, but it just really falls flat. I wanted to like this anime a lot more, but I seriously just cannot get over this one big hurdle about it. It’s that big of a distraction for me.

The anime also has a lot of gimmicks, and it just lays one stupid gimmick over the other. The Kiss Note premise was replaced with a harem premise that was taken over by an assassin storyline that was taken over by a Heaven versus Hell storyline. When one gimmick is about to run its course, another gimmick would be jammed in to keep the show going. It’s a very cheap way of presenting comedy, but I do think it works. In the manga, the clashing tones and the various right turns the story takes culminates in a very fun experience. Sometimes the story would pummel you with useless exposition only to setup more jokes down the line. It’s pretty clever, and it reminds me of how D-Frag presented its comedy. D-Frag is the only comedy anime I’ve ever given a nine, and that’s actually too high for that show. Its nonsensical story is used to deliver amazing comedy, and it works. It’s a club themed anime with jabs at stupid School anime tropes and various rom-com situations as well. I still laugh at the random gang names, like the Evil Orchestra of Fourteen and the image has only six because eight is absent in school today. Renai Boukun feels like it can be as good as D-Frag. The unique style of comedy, the situational gags and the insane characters does add up for one hell of an anime experience. So it really stings that I know how good this anime should’ve been, and yet the entire thing feels soulless. D-Frag is a stupid character showcase as well, but it doesn’t really blemish how smart of a comedy show it is. Renai Boukun feels like that. The story doesn’t matter, because the comedy should’ve been able to stand on its own. Sadly, it doesn’t. It just looks really bad.

The characters are the best part of this anime though. Well, some of them. There are some characters that are just flat out annoying, and they really ruined some great scenes for me. I’m talking about the pink haired yandere and her stupid voice. She looks like a very bad version of Yuno Gasai from Mirai Nikki, but her voice is like a very drunk Italy from Hetalia. What the f*ck am I even saying? She just doesn’t look threatening, and she’s doing the yandere bit all wrong. Yuno can scare the sh*t out you with her creepy existence, but this pink haired chick just feels so random and awkward. A huge chunk of the episodes focused on her, and I always fear hearing her awful voice. It nails the playful yandere trait, but it just sounds really really annoying. It comes to a point where you don’t really want to see her anymore. I’d take the creepy cat over her any day. From her very first scene, you just know this girl has overstayed her welcome. But check her out in the manga though:

It’s really the same thing in the anime, but you can appreciate her foreboding aura more in the tone of the manga. She is straight up yandere all the way, and I can’t believe the anime can’t nail a literal rip off of Yuno Gasai.

Anyways, I like the rest of the cast. Every girl in the harem has something fun to offer, and I appreciate their playful nature with each other. Seiji is pretty bland though, but I do think that was on purpose. Since he plays the straight man, the most level headed normal person in the series, the show can’t do much with him without breaking his stereotype. Keeping his cliché intact is important, because the rom-com and harem plays off his bland nature. You should only expect him to freak out when he’s with a girl, get mad at the absurd things the girls does, and he’ll occasionally have his cool moments that’ll make his harem girls fall for him. His bland personality also makes him flexible to pair off with any girl. From the yandere to the tsundere, his bland personality mixes well with the rest of the cast. I think it balances out as well, because the rest of the cast are supposed to be standouts in the most over the top way. I’ll refrain from talking about the rest of the cast though, because this is the best aspect of the show. Just be sure to ready yourself for the random girl that cosplays a lot, the other badly portrayed yandere and the tsundere that has the powers of TSUN to match her DERE personality. That was actually a very nice touch for the show. The author is a genius for coming up with that.

The side characters are extremely underutilized in the show though, and they didn’t have a chance to strut their stuff in the small scenes they were in. Since the anime lacks impact, the small gimmicks the side characters had weren’t really properly presented. I think the best example of this is the evil penguin that wants to mate with Seiji’s sister. That is the character’s main role, and it should’ve come off as shocking or maybe a bit WTF. It didn’t really do anything special for the show though, and so many missed opportunities like this happen in the show. Guri’s father’s appearance in the show was badly presented, and even the backstory of the yandere girls weren’t properly played out. Without the tone and the nuance, the side characters are just grossly misused in this anime. I think the same goes for the romance. Since the anime doesn’t build anything up, sudden kisses and strange pairings aren’t used to the best of their abilities. It’s wasted potential all around.

This anime is presented by Studio EMT Squared. I have never heard of them, and it makes sense because their first work is back in 2015. I have not yet visited any 2015 anime, so their entry in the industry went by unnoticed by me. This also makes a whole lot of sense though, because this anime feels like it’s presented by an amateur studio. Their first work is this anime called Ame-Iro Cocoa, and it sounds interesting enough. Looking at Renai Boukun though, you can tell this studio is undergoing the same experience as Studio Project No. 9 that greeted us with ImoCho and then slowly died with each new release. I fear for Studio Nut now, since I want them to give me Yojou Senki 2 before they crumble to dust. I don’t have to explain it some more, but EMT Squad really did a bad job with this show. If you liked one aspect of this anime, I can bet the manga did it better.

This anime is directed by Atsushi Nigorikawa, and he mostly did a bunch of episode directing before doing this show. He directed a bunch of Naruto episodes though, and I’m honestly not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing. But man, this director sucks. The animation of Renai Boukun shouldn’t be an excuse to deliver a soulless adaptation. The director’s job is to inject life to the damn show, but you can clearly see he doesn’t know how to. He doesn’t know how to transition scenes and pace an episode, and he also lazily put together several shots. The manga had more compelling camera angles than the moving medium, and that’s a pretty bad sign. It’s sad, because he has directed some stuff before. It felt like he phoned this one in, or maybe he just doesn’t really care. The writer for this show is Takashi Aoshima. He also co-wrote Rewrite, so hello there. His talent is more useful for this comedy show, since his previous script and series composition are for slice of life/comedy shows. He also did a poor job here though. I commend him for trying to capture the insane nature of the manga, but you can tell he just doesn’t get it. It’s really weird, because D-Frag honestly behaves like this show but it’s a better presentation overall. Is it too complex of an original source, or did they just have no clue how to properly do this anime?

Sight and Sound

I’ve already stuck a bunch of manga images above, so I think this point is already proven clear: the anime ruined the character design. I don’t want to go back on explaining the soulless thing, and the eyes and the lack of nuance, so let’s just simply end this. The anime ruined the character designs. With that being said, I do love Megane Mihoshi’s design. They just look fun and playful, and it’s an engaging part of the manga. She does body proportion extremely well, and she layers those beautiful bodies with equally beautiful outfits. Guri’s angel costume is really well done. I love the show of her skin, but also how innocent in comes off as. Guri is actually a big centerpiece for the manga, because she likes putting on various costumes that ruins the pace of the story. They did this in the anime too, but it had more impact in the manga. She’s the light fluff and innocent thread of the anime, and the rest of the cast contrasts that visual. Akane’s yandere mode is fantastic, and I really love how much personality is put into the details of the eyes.

x8bf6lp

Every character has different ways of expressing their stereotype, but their eyes tell the most in the visual way. Every sudden kiss, every serious threat and every comedy routine is conveyed amazingly in the eyes. It helps in the tone and the unique style the author is trying to pull off. Megane’s panels aren’t consistent though. Some panels look rushed and others aren’t given much care, but that’s actually alright. She makes up for it by giving us insanely detailed panels that even takes out dialogue so the reader can just enjoy the visual spectacle. The rest of the cast has a minimalistic design, but they still standout in their own special way. I personally love Seiji’s little sister. I think the anime’s overly bright and soulless look actually made little sister a lot better to look at, so that’s one positive for the show. She is a lot more bulky in the manga, and it makes sense because she’s a very cute tomboy. Looking at the beach episode though, it feels really sad that Megane’s vision isn’t properly captured to help show off little sister’s beautiful design. I’m leaning too much on the little sister, so let’s move on. Yes, let’s talk about the f*cking animation.

It is awful. It is just really awful animation. This was actually the first thing I noticed about the show, along with the stock colors and lack of background. The animation is just weird. It has scenes with full motion, and some manga panels are captured nicely but the entire thing is inconsistent. First of all, the show would shortcut a lot of animation as if they didn’t want to animate it. When a character is surprised, we just go to a scene of them raising their hand in shock but it’s already in the shocked posed, and their mouths are just the only thing moving. Some scenes had the eyes blinking, but other scenes are just lazy side to side motion with no blinking, and the mouth is just the only thing moving. As I said before, the anime lacks execution, so certain scenes just don’t look right. The fight scenes are atrocious, and the characters don’t really move. Some shots are just from the waist up, I kid you not, and it looks cheaply made. With no proper transition, some scenes are also really dumb. For example, a character goes “let’s go look for her!”, and the scene immediately after that, with no transition, is the characters talking while looking for the other character. It doesn’t have establishing shots, like a wide shot of a building, before we see the characters searching. No, it’s just an immediate shuffle to the next scene. Some scenes are done a lot worst where time actually jumped, like two weeks later, but the transition is so horrid that you wouldn’t realize it was two weeks later unless dialogue is provided. They couldn’t even flash a “two weeks later” sign to establish the scene. What the f*ck is going on? With no proper transition, nothing builds in the show. There are a lot of character arcs, but they’re all presented haphazardly. During the big climax of the anime involving Guri, I seriously cannot take it seriously because the animation is just horrid. I know there are a lot of factors to making anime, and the director isn’t solely responsible (Mari Okada sucks), but there was no artistic stamp to this show. It felt like the storyboard itself is the one animated, but it’s done badly. This means that the various shifts from light fluff to yandere serious are never properly done, and the sudden romantic sequences just feel hollow. I say it again, because it’s fun now, this anime is just soulless.

The anime’s OP is “Koi? de Ai? de Boukun desu!” by Wake Up, Girls! I think it’s the same group from the anime, and I saw the cover album and they’re real idols. So, I’m not really sure what the hell is happening with this world. I think they’re the same Wake Up, Girls voice actresses, like in Love Live where both the anime girls and their VAs are called Love Live. In other words, Love Live has spun a gimmick that I absolutely hate. I like the song though. It has a cute crazy energy, and the lyrics are playful. It’s about being in love with someone and the other party has no choice. It has a yandere vibe to it, but the dark tone is layered with the cute style of the song. It fits the anime perfectly, and that’s thankfully one of the good aspects of the show. The OP sequence is just a bunch of crazy things wrapped together in a cute montage. It does point to how much of a character showcase the anime is, and it also has the best decent animation in the entire overall series. They also flashed the side characters, and I love how they make the montage confusing. That’s actually the main goal of the show, so good for the OP sequence for realizing that.

The anime’s ED is ” ‘Suki’ wo Oshiete” by smileY inc. I thought this was an idol group, but it’s actually a two man musical group. One is a female singer, and the other is described as a “vocaloid” music producer, whatever that means. Once again, the song is pretty great. Yuka Ootsubo has an angelic voice, and she puts so much heart into the song that I really like the vibe of it. The lyrics are also very warm as it gives us a perspective on Guri wanting to learn about love. It’s a song about learning love from the person you love, and it just makes for the warmest love song I’ve heard in a while. Well, in the realm of Japanese pop songs anyways. The ED sequence is just still images of Akane and Guri,and it builds to this funny image of the two along with Seiji. They’re in a harem, and it’s the visual for the warm love song. That’s a very good job.

Overall Score

5/10 “Potential is wasted because no one cared enough to give life to this anime.”

I recommend the manga. The author’s style is really fun, and it makes for a unique experience. This is coming from a guy that never reads manga. I just skim them, and I can tell this anime is bad. Horrible animation doesn’t really ruin the show, but the lack of care and even directing in this anime is just sad to see. Comedy anime is honestly a hard thing to do, but it’s an even worst thing when the people behind it have no idea how to make a very funny thing come off as funny. They literally just animate the manga panels, and they sucked at it. I’d also like to recommend D-Frag for anyone curious on how this anime should’ve been. It had its moments, but the anime just feels cheap. It’s not worth anyone’s time, and I do not recommend it.

2 thoughts on “Renai Boukun Review

  1. I’ve gotta agree with you here. It felt like it was trying too hard to be funny and instead just came off as really off-putting for me. Only made it through 3 episodes before deciding to drop it, it just wasn’t entertaining enough to continue with.

Thoughts~

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s