Genre: Action, Fantasy, Romance, Tragedy
Release: S1 and OVA (2009)
Known for its reputation as Persona 3 and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni‘s bastard child, 11eyes may seem your generic shounen and harem anime at first- you know, the kind where the heroes are forcible taken into an unknown dimension and must defeat the dark forces there to be able to return to their normal lives. It is generic in a way, but also not quite as there are still interesting elements this show has to offer.
Plot: Due to his sister committing suicide when he was a child, Satsuki Kakeru has been living an empty life ever since. The only thing that kept him going is the company of his childhood friend Minase Yuka. And just when their lovey-dovey relationship is about to open new doors, they get taken to another world that looks exactly the same as theirs, only that it is bathed in crimson and deserted with people. They call it the “Red Night.“
Out-of-this-world creatures start attacking them, but was saved by the onmyouji and fellow schoolmate Misuzu Kusakabe in the nick of time. It appears that there are others who are trapped in this Red Night. At this point in time, Kakeru and Yuka are completely powerless. No one knows why or how they got there, but every time the Red Night occurs, time stops in the real world and they get attacked by monsters.
After exploring the pseudo-city of the Red night, they find a crystallized princess seeking for their help. A typical scenario, right? Not quite.
Of course, the bad guys show up with a menacing entrance. They are dubbed the Black Knights and from their point-of-view, the Fragments‘ (main characters) existence is a sin itself and therefore must be eliminated. So the protagonists and these Black Knights fight every time the Red Night occurs- with our heroes totally oblivious as to why they are getting attacked in the first place. Survival comes first, so they say. But what lies behind all that fighting?
In all honesty, I intended dropping 11eyes after the 2nd episode because of the very cliche high-school ecchi atmosphere (and Kakeru’s irritating eye-patch design). But I also wanted to see why it’s considered to be similar to Higurashi so I carried on. It was only on the 6th episode where things get interesting because of a certain plot twist I’ll dare not touch.
Also, I never expected the story would derail so much for our main heroine Yuka. In the latter parts, she gets really mental due to unfortunate and inevitable occurrences within their group- which makes it all the more awkward in watching the show. After all, who would want a gentle and shy friend to genuinely smile while playing with her fingers as her comrade dies? This sort of awkward makes the story more interesting though. It builds up curiosity on how things will end since the main heroine shouldn’t be left like that.
It does have some violent and bloody visuals to offer, but not as brutal and morbid as those in Higurashi. The fighting scenes are somewhat interesting with each character having a unique power: Takahisa uses pyrokinesis, Kakeru can read his opponent’s moves via the Eye of Aeon, and Kusakabe uses her talents as an onmyouji.
Amid all the seriousness, these two classmates of Kakeru, Kaori Natsuki and Tadashi Teruya, keep the balance between the grim and comic aspects of the anime. Whenever the show digests a lot of drama, expect these two to appear and save the day.