This is one of an endless number of anime series where the main character crosses over into a different world. What makes this one so creepy, at least initially, is that the other world is a distortion of the real world, almost entirely deserted, except for monsters roaming around, a black moon and a red sky. This phenomenon is known as “Red Night”.
The main character, Kakeru, has some major emotional baggage before the events of the series even begin. He was an orphan, and his sister has died, so he has had it tough. The one constant blessing in his life is Yuka, a girl who has been his friend since the orphanage, and is completely devoted to him. At times throughout the series her devotion crosses over into the realms of obsession, which can be quite disturbing.
The series veers back and forth between Kakeru’s high school life in the real world, and the dangerous Red Night, and very soon other characters are added into the mix who exist on both sides of that divide. Misuzu is a fairly stereotypical fiery, red-headed swordswoman, much like any of dozens of similar characters in fantasy based anime. Yukiko is a bit more interesting, with a sort of split personality that depends on whether she is wearing her glasses or not. I have thought carefully about how to talk about Takahisa, the other important male character in the group, without spoiling any of the story, and have drawn a blank, other than to mention that his skill is really cool. There are a couple of other important characters, one of whom looks exactly like Kakeru’s dead sister, and another who is very quiet and mysterious. They are both great characters and I can’t say anything about either of them.
As you can see, this is a difficult series to write about without massive spoilers, and what makes matters more difficult is that there is a massive twist about halfway through the series that is utterly brilliant and makes you look at everything you have seen so far in an entirely new light. And I can’t talk about that either. But take my word for it: it’s worth watching for that bombshell alone.
That’s not so say everything is great about this series. A good 50% of the characters are hard to like, including Kakeru, who is just a bit dull and spends far too much of the series watching the others fight. Yuka is hard to like because her characterisation is almost entirely dominated by her obsession with Kakeru. Takahisa is moody and annoying, and Yukiko is over the top. Despite being a carbon copy of many other anime characters, Misuzu is probably the best of the main group, with the characters on the sidelines often proving much more interesting and entertaining, especially the mysterious Shiori, and of course key to the main storyline is Lisette, a girl trapped in a crystal. Nope, I can’t say anything about her.
11 Eyes comes so close to achieving greatness, but frustratingly never quite gets there. The final few episodes ramp up the danger levels to a huge extent, and had me wondering if any of the main characters could possibly survive to the end. The final couple of episodes seem to be a bit of a confusion of people getting killed and then not being dead after all, and I must admit I struggled at times to figure out exactly what was going on. There are also regular lapses into very clumsy fanservice, and it seems like the animators weren’t content to let a single episode go by without showing off Yuka’s underwear for some contrived reason, which they didn’t really need to do, because it’s surely a good enough series to keep people interested without having to resort to those tactics. The OVA is awful, packed full of pixelation and bleeped out words to cover up the crude jokes. I don’t particularly like crudeness, but I certainly can’t stand that kind of intrusive censorship.
The premise of the series is scary, and the twists and turns are excellent, but somehow 11 Eyes left me cold, and I think that comes down to the characters. I just didn’t like enough of them. That’s really the key to the success or failure of any television series, not just anime: you can think of the most amazing story ever told, but if the viewers don’t care about the characters then it won’t count for much at all. RP