DVD Review: 11 Eyes – The Complete Collection
16/09/2016 Leave a comment
It only takes one eye to watch anime but in the event of this particular series 11 Eyes (11Eyes) may be needed; especially with the amount of events transpiring at once. In any event what can one expect to receive from this latest subtitled-only-release by MVM Entertainment? Well let’s find out in our review of 11 Eyes – The Complete Collection.
Raised in an orphanage after witnessing his sister’s suicide, Satsuki Kakeru’s life has already been dark and cruel enough. When he and his friend Yuka are thrown into a alternate dimension called the Red Night, it takes a gruesome turn from bad to horrific. Now, trapped flickering between our world and the Red, Kakeru quickly discovers that he and Yuka are not alone, and that, together with the other so-called “fragments,” they must defeat the malevolent entities known as the Black Knights.
Facing monsters from beyond imagination and at the center of a deadly hunt, Kakeru’s only chance of saving their lives now hinges on finding the power buried within himself and unraveling the mystery of his own origins and family… if he can survive long enough to do it! The horrors of the Red Night are just the beginning of the nightmare as shocking truths are exhumed!
Adapted from LASS’s adult-visual-novel comes the anime series 11Eyes; a unique story which sees seven individuals who seemingly have nothing in common transported to a mysterious world whereby they must defend themselves from an onslaught of attacks. What’s happening and why isn’t abundantly clear but sit around long enough and you’ll soon find yourself immersed within the world and it’s seemingly normal characters. Of course this isn’t any normal anime series and as such a few surprises will be in store… and that includes waiting until after the credits of each episode for more storyline content!
Although 11Eyes has been available for streaming as part of both Crunchyroll and Viewster, and despite the fact the series initially made its western DVD debut in 2011; this is the first time I have heard of it and within 45 seconds of the first episode starting I soon realised that I was watching something special. Why exactly is this? Well it sees the brutal death of two characters and while this act of brutality might seem pointless it plays a key part in the events that transpire; you just do not know it yet. In any event the series starts by following the everyday antics of student Kakeru Satsuki and his long-time-childhood-friend (and potential love interest) Yuka Minase; however upon becoming familiar with their daily routine of school and banter with friends they are whisked away into an unknown world that is later dubbed the Red Night. It’s a bizarre occurrence and its one that sees Kakeru and Yuka attacked by various monsters until they are mysteriously warped back to their own dimension. Why were they transported? What were those monsters and more importantly how did they escape? All of these questions and more race through your mind; but unfortunately none are answered.
With questions being left unanswered it’s here where the series starts to progress forward by introducing it’s more ‘dominant’ cast of characters; namely Misuzu Kusakabe – a skilled swordswomen and a member of the Onmyoji from the Kusakabe clan, Yukiko Hirohara, a girl with a split personality that bizarrely cannot be killed, Kukuri Tachibana – a girls that looks like Kakeru’s older dead sister and Takahisa Tajima – the hot headed rebel that likes to do things by himself. Each of these characters, along with support characters such as the student nurse and friends of Yuka, are introduced to the viewer in a steady fashion and while it may seem cliche (especially as each episode sees a new dominant character introduced) it is done so in a refreshing manner.
Why exactly is this? Well unlike most anime series all of the characters are relatively clueless as to why they are being transported to this alternate dimension or the fact that upon arrival they are being attacked by strangers known as Black Knights and their demonic creatures. Basically everything about the Red Night and its world remains a mystery and as such they attempt to work together to find out the truth; but it is abundantly clear that they must fight to survive by using the powers that become awakened within the world.
Usually if an anime has a unclear goal or objective I tend to switch off and become a little bit bored; but with 11Eyes that wasn’t the case as although a clear objective isn’t immediately presented to the viewer the story does eventually unfold and it does so in a rather superb fashion. For instance we get to see each character develop into their own; with some awakening their own power in a rather explosive fashion, such as Kakeru’s mysteirous yellow eye, or coming to terms with their feelings and desires; such as the feelings Kakeru has for Misuzu and the love triangle it creates with long-time-childhood friend Yuka.
In hindsight the progression of the series is steady with each episode taking time getting viewers acquainted to each character, their personalities and the bizarre Red Night world they are forced to appear within ; however just when things settle down that’s when the truth begins to unfold. In short these characters, which turn out to be known as Fragments, believe they have been summoned to the world in order to defeat the Black Knights and rescue the sleeping ‘princess’ that lies within the centre of the world; the truth however is a much more darker and sinister than you might expect. As a result of this the rules begin to change; and it turns out that everything the ‘fragments’ thought they were fighting for is a lie and it’s this secretive storyline that brings the best out of 11Eyes to make it a much more compelling storyline. It’s deceitfully destructive until the very end and it offers up plenty of twists and surprises along the way; some of which you may not have been expected…as I sure did not.
Sentai Filmworks continues its trend of having the ‘basic content’ in terms of inclusive extra features as while it does include the Bonus OVA (which is listed on the second DVD disc) we are only treated to trailers and textless/creditless songs.
All of the bonus content is placed on the first DVD disc while the second DVD disc remains strictly for the remaining six episodes of the series as well as the ‘questionable’ bonus OVA episode.
In terms of the bonus features that one can expect a selection of trailers produced by Sentai Filmworks, majority of which have yet to see a UK release, as well as the inclusion of textless opening and ending songs; both of which are actually pretty good and give a ‘tease’ at what to expect from the series.
Media: DVD 9 x2
Running Time: 2:35:24 (Disc 1), 3:01:18 (Disc 2)
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 480 (480p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 30 fps
11Eyes is a series I expected nothing from but it ended up delivering everything I could want; Entertainment through action and great storytelling that just gets more inviting the further you jump down the rabbit hole. What starts off as your traditional ‘unexpected adventure’ sees a group of students fighting for survival in ‘what they believe’ to be self-defense and through the hardships new bonds are formed, powers are awoken and the enemies are seemingly defeated. Of course this is what the series would leave you to believe; as actually everything is a lie and instead the person they thought they were protecting is actually the evil that they were trying to defeat. It’s tactical, it’s clever and it makes for great viewing… almost.
The problem I have with 11Eyes is its relatively obscure choice of fan-service. From my experience most shows will either tend to have a fair amount of fan-service or have non-at-all; but with 11Eyes it is slightly different. Basically viewers will be treated to plenty of intentional upskirts of Yuka and during the later episodes (specifically the eleventh episode) there will be a whole scene which sees two of the main characters having sex; and what’s even more disappointing was that it wasn’t entirely relevant to the events of the series (one would assume it’s a directors choice in adding some ‘adult material’ from the visual novel into the anime). To make matters even more ‘questionable’ the bonus OVA episode, which takes place in an independent universe, sees the characters warped to the world known as ‘Pink Night’ which gives everything a more ‘erotic’ view on things. For instance Misuzu sword-wielding abilities sees her able to make sword-styled-vibrators appear where as Kakeru’s eye allows him to see through clothes. Of course it does add that much needed comic relief to what has been an intense ending but it kind of spoils the atmosphere and ruins the tone of what the general series created.
A strong series with a slightly bizarre fan-service-approach is whats on offer but when it comes to this DVD release by MVM Entertainment, with discs originally authored by Sentai Filmworks, then it’s pretty much as expected. According to the technical details the series is presented in NTSC format, so no PAL slowdowns/speedups, additionally as this is a Subtitled only released there is no English Dub available which could be potentially disappointing especially when you consider the limited number of characters on screen. As this is an older release, it was originally released in 2011 by Sentai Filmworks, the twelve episodes (plus bonus OVA episode) are spread across two DVD discs as opposed to the traditional three DVD discs that the firm use nowadays; however despite this the picture and audio quality remains consistent throughout the episodes with no noticeable distortion or pixilation; even during fast-paced-scenes.
In my eyes 11Eyes reminds me of Shakugan No Shana; a story which sees two distorted worlds collide in battle with a love-story between two prominent characters thrown in for good measure. It’s a great series and if you can ignore the questionable types of fan-service, especially the OVA series, then you’ll be in for an enjoyable experience that gets better with each passing episode.
11 Eyes – The Complete Collection is now available on DVD within the UK.