When a strange girl named Guri comes knocking at Seiji Aino's door, he quickly finds himself thrust into a world of romantic troubles. Claiming that she will die if he doesn't kiss someone within 24 hours, Guri's pleas of desperation are misunderstood as pleas for love, leading Seiji to kiss the cute stranger that came barging into his house. In actuality, it turns out that this cosplaying cupid is the wielder of a Kiss Note, in which any pairing of names she writes will kiss and become a couple. Guri explains that she misspelt and accidentally wrote Seiji's name while indulging in her yaoi fantasies, but because she had yet to pair him with anyone, their kiss was meaningless. Even worse, Guri reveals that if Seiji is not coupled with anyone soon, not only will she die, but Seiji will remain a virgin for eternity!
Eager to escape his fate, Seiji sets his sights on the beautiful and popular Akane Hiyama. But after Akane hears that he kissed Guri, she reveals the obsessive and psychopathic feelings that she holds for the unfortunate boy and proceeds to viciously attack them. In the ensuing confusion, Guri is able to pair Seiji with Akane in the Kiss Note, temporarily saving Seiji from any further bodily harm. But to complicate matters, Guri's newfound feelings lead her to also pair the two of them with herself. Just when the situation could not get any more convoluted, this new coupling with Guri has turned Seiji and Akane into temporary angels, forcing them into assisting the cupid with her work of pairing humans, lest they be cast into hell. With all semblance of normality snatched from his life, Seiji gets to work at matchmaking with these eccentric girls by his side.
Death Note is easily one of the most popular and instantly recognisable anime out there, currently sitting at the number one spot here on MAL for the amount of members it has. It's a show that has been referenced and parodied time and time again by fans of the show, as well as in other anime. However, Renai Boukun, otherwise known as Love Tyrant, takes it a step further by making an entire show a parody of Death Note itself! And it's completely mediocre, with forced and bland comedy that becomes stale incredibly quickly, a lack lustre cast of characters while, at the same time,
hardly doing anything with its set-up or parody elements. I honestly really wanted to like this, I really did, but each passing episode became even more incredibly bland and dull than the last resulting in an end product that most people will forget in only a couple of months and leaving me with a feeling of genuine disappointment.
As I just mentioned, the show is essentially a parody of the series Death Note, but in this instance, the Death Note is now replaced with a new book called the Kiss Note; an extremely powerful tool that, when two names are written inside it next to each other, they will both fall madly in love with each other regardless of the gender, providing that they kiss one another that is. This feature in particular, comes greatly in use for the yaoi enthusiast, Guri, a hyperactive idiot cupid whose task is to match up potential couples with each other. However, she accidently writes the main protagonist's name in the book, by the name of Seiji Anno, and he has to kiss someone otherwise Guri will die (which we later learn is an outright lie). He decides to kiss his crush, who turns out to have a mad obsession with our bland as fuck main character here, bordering on Yandere tendencies, pulling out random knives and swords from her tits in the same way a girl may keep her phone down there or some shit. They eventually do kiss, but Guri makes herself, and Yandere-chan, known as Akane, into a three-way relationship, eventually adding Akane's sister, Yuzu (who actually loves Akane) into the mix. And that's pretty much it for an overall narrative, which, I believe is fine for a comedy anime as long as the characters are fun and the comedy is funny and varied, which, unfortunately, is something I believe the anime lacks.
For starters, let's discuss the wasted potential in the Death Note parody gimmick and set-up of the narrative. Despite being a parody of said series, Love Tyrant hardly utilises the Kiss Note to any substantial merit and the show pretty much forgets about this item throughout much of the duration, which, in my eyes, is wasted potential for some comedic moments. It feels like the Kiss Note was added as a way to make the show more marketable by riding on the popularity of Death Note, rather than being used as satire. There is no clever meta commentary or call backs to the actual series either, so the Kiss Note, aside from being used to start the story, feels inconsequential and rather pointless to boot. Not only that, but the comedy, for the most part, feels incredibly weak and trite despite the potential in the first two episode. I'll honestly admit, that the first two episodes of Love Tyrant are actually pretty funny and engaging to boot; I was having a great time with the show. The jokes, at the beginning anyway, felt fresh and they often were more hit than miss, but, as the show progresses, it feels more tiring to watch since they never switch up the dynamics and repeat the same jokes throughout. This makes the show feel so damn repetitive to watch, and repeating the same jokes is essentially a cardinal sin in comedy; it becomes stale by episode five! In addition, the jokes and comedy itself feels extremely forced and most jokes can be seen a mile away before they're even delivered! It doesn't help all too much either that the characters have hardly any chemistry with one another nor do their personalities bounce off each other well either.
For the sake of argument, let's compare it to another comedy this year, from the previous season, called Gabriel Dropout. While that show is not a comedic masterpiece or anything, it was able to remain a fun ride throughout since its characters had defined personalities which had chemistry with one another, while, at the same time, spicing things up just enough with its joke variations to keep things from becoming too stale. This doesn't happen in this show and each joke feels as bland as the last. There is no snowball effect taking place, nor are the character's personalities strong enough to carry the weight of the show. The comedic timing could also feel pretty off, and often at times jarring! The problem with the show is that it doesn't quite know if it wants to be a comedy, a drama or an edge-fest and combines them all together, with an end result that feels clunky to watch. It's not necessarily uncommon for anime to combine multiple genres together, but here there is hardly any down time between any of the events, so in one moment they are laughing and joking, and in the immediate next, the main character is being tortured. There is no downtime between any of these events and thus it can feel really awkward and jarring while watching the show since the pacing for this show is strangely inconsistent, but is normally pumped up to eleven at all times. Again, for the sake of argument, Gintama is also an anime that features a lot of comedy intermixed with more serious and emotional moments, but, in that show, these two never feel all too intrusive on each other since there is a good amount of downtime between each one. Perhaps this is an unfair comparison considering the sheer difference in the lengths of both shows, but there are plenty of other shows that can achieve this, so why not this one?
This doesn't help when the music for the show is so badly implemented and placed at the worst of times. One of the worst examples comes from episode eight in which the main character is being continuously stabbed with a sharp object, while light and carefree music is being played over it, music that would fit right at home in children's shows. It just feels, yet again, jarring, and that's the best word I can use to describe this show: jarring.
When it comes to the characters, they don't fare much better. The main character is as boring in personality as he is in visual design. He plays the typical main character lead; spiky hair, getting embarrassed when a girl gets close to him, and so on and so forth. He is a rather boring character, who is pushed into playing the straight man role for the group and nothing else beyond that. He responds with the typical reactions you'd expect from a character in his position and jumps in to save the day whenever he is needed to do so. He is not a bad character necessarily, just an extremely dull one. Akane has a little bit more going for her, in that we do actually learn her back-story, which does explain the reason behind her action and general personality, details I can appreciate, it's just that each scenario and joke she is in, always is about how she is a yandere, while, at the same time, pulling out weapons from her tits. While beautiful in her visual appearance, her character doesn't really have all too much in likeability nor does she receive all too much development as a person either, aside from her rebellion against her mother in the eighth episode of the show. Yuzu recieves a little bit of exploration into her character and reasoning behind her love for Akane, while, at the same time having super powers (which the show never actually explains why she has those now that I am thinking about it) but, again, it feels like I'm repeating myself here, needed more in the way of development in order for her character to be good. The only character I liked was Guri, mainly because I have a soft spot for his aloof idiot types of characters, but I generally found her to be kind of charming in her own little way. I liked her character design perhaps the most, and the various facial expressions she did were kind of funny in their own little way, although nothing remarkable as a whole.
If there is one thing I can praise, it is the artwork and general look of the show. It is very colourful and pops pretty well, and, as I said, I liked the various faces and chibi-ness of some of the facial expressions too. I also liked the opening and ending tracks, especially the opening which is incredibly catchy. It's up beat, lively and full of energy, which, the rest of the show should have been as well, which is a shame since it did have a few things going for it. Some of the comedic moments were alright and the initial set up was good, but unfortunately the show was not funny in my eyes.
But this is where it becomes difficult however. Comedy is something that is extremely subjective, and thus, I can imagine many people finding this show very funny to watch, which is completely fine. After all, many people consider the second season of Konosuba to be weaker than its prequel, yet I found it funny still, which is something I have to consider when talking about comedy. My sense of humour is pretty fucking strange, and I find pleasure in absurd humour. On that end, I would like to recommend this show, on account that you personally may find it funny to watch, but, on the flip side, there are so many other comedy anime out there that take the time to write much more varied jokes that don't come across as forced or jarring when they switch to a more serious tone. It's unfortunate that I didn't enjoy this show, since, as I said in the opening paragraph, I really did want to like this show, but I just couldn't...
Love is weird. On one hand, you can fall head over heels for your partner, but you could also want to dig your fingers into their throat because of how annoying they can be. I hope not every relationship is like that, but it can and has happened. Through it all, love can be hilarious due to how nonsensical the concept it can be when you put it in perspective. So why does it matter anyway? Well to Renai Boukun (aptly titled ‘Love Tyrant’), it means a lot.
Story: Aino Seiji is just your typical harem protagonist. Nice
to everyone, easygoing, and comes into contact with a plethora of very troublesome women through very unfortunate circumstances. After coming into contact with a girl who presents him with a “Kiss Note” (Yes, it’s a death note reference. Don’t think too hard about it), he is brought into the realm of couple-making where he must help couples get together, all the while dealing with a small trail of women himself.
This show is in a word, rushed. Smashing together about forty or so chapters of the original manga into a twelve-episode anime, the story for Renai Boukun follows the story of a hyperactive fujoshi, a shrill, incestuous stalker, a kukuri wielding yandere, and the main protagonist, as they come across various, loosely love-based scenarios that culminate into…something. When looking at it from face value, it’s quite unclear to understand what it is the show wants to be.
Aside from the overall theme of love and how love exists in various kinds of romantic relationships, the show zip zaps around from being one-off episode comedy plots, to one-two episode long drama plots involving one of the main characters. Due to the rushed nature of trying to get to the end, the show suffers from poor comedic timing, as the necessary time to let the audience breathe from in-between jokes is absent and thus makes it very difficult for the audience to really get a full kick out of what we’re supposed to laugh at. Not only that, it doesn’t help that the show relies mostly on repeated gags in order to try and be funny either.
Another problem is character development. Due to the fact that the show attempts to squeeze so much in so little, any and all character development that the show tries to accomplish feels contrived and stiff. Two of the main girls in particular get arcs dedicated to them, and it doesn’t really feel like they accomplish much of anything in the end because we’re given less than hour each of total focus to even give a crap. The ending doesn’t really help either cause things are more or less thrown back into the status quo of things, so I guess like some aspects of life, some things never change.
Overall, the story of Renai Boukun is a mess of fragments broken off from an existing manga shoddily put back together to try to create some semblance of an anime. A lot of the in-between details are missing and while the show does tell a story in the end, it doesn’t really feel genuine or rewarding because the journey watching these characters feels so half-hearted.
- TERRIBLE pacing (Some episodes are one chapter. Others are three-four.)
- Poor comedic timing
- Contrived character development
Characters: If I’ll give the show anything, it’s that its main cast is…something. It’s something all right.
First off, we have Aino Seiji. Now I don’t know why this guy is our protagonist of all characters, but I safely say that he is as bland as they come. Seiji is your typical ‘nice’ protagonist: respects women, nice to all, easygoing, and most of all, dense. Maybe he’s not that last one so much, but the rest for sure. The most interesting part about his character I’d say is how he at least acknowledges the affection he gets from the girls (At least one of them) and has the willingness to be a kind soul regardless of the situation. Which honestly is something you have to give to the guy considering his harem is filled with absolutely terrible people, deals with haphazardly stupid situations daily, and he gets blamed for stupid shit when his involvement in things aren’t always his fault anyway. Beyond that, he’s about as interesting as a saltine cracker.
Then there’s Guri. I want to separate this one from the rest of the harem specifically because she is the cause of everyone’s problems. Noted previously as the ‘hyperactive fujoshi’ who likes to cosplay, Guri doesn’t understand love, yet does whatever she wants because she’s a free spirit and can’t be held down by any form of convention so long as it’s fun and whatnot. This can be a good archetype, except the show makes her really, really annoying. For the most part, she causes a lot of the series’ conflicts (she’s the one that jumpstarted the plot anyway), leaving Seiji in particular to try and fix some things. She’s just…not a very good character, especially since the ending tries its best to get the audience to care about her when the show up until that point gives us very little reason to give a damn in the first place.
Then there’re the two half-sisters, Yuzu and Akane. Yuzu shares similar problems with Guri, with most of her gags and annoyances coming off as creepy yuri as she jealously tries to garner the attention of her ‘onee-sama’ when in reality Akane gives little shits about her half-sister’s attention. Yuzu’s whole saga throughout the series is all over the place and lacks enough cohesion to warrant any form of sympathy or care from the audience. As for Akane, she acts as the series’ mediator while also being batshit crazy herself. Carrying kukuri knives and comically threatening anyone who gets in the way of her and Seiji, Akane is surprisingly the most level-headed member of the entire female cast as she carries a lot of reasoning and understanding that most of the girls in this series lack. Of course she does share her own fair share of problems (like having her arc be completely rushed to the point it didn’t even really matter), but in comparison, she fares so much better than the other girls in the series.
Beyond them, the sidecast involves various family members of the characters’ families (who are also all crazy might I add) that add to some of the arcs in various ways with similarly varying degrees of success, a bunch of cast members who provide their own one-off love stories to help fill up the runtime and provide a different kind of romantic relationship, and the rapey penguin. Yes, you read that right. Why he’s there, I don’t know, but he has a surprisingly large part (by supporting cast standards) in this series so…that’s there, I guess. (There’s also the character ‘Shikimi’, but we don’t talk about her and how much of a bitch she is.)
+ Some level-headed characters
- Most of the cast is crazy (and not the good kind)
- Rapey penguin? (Don’t know if this is necessarily a bad thing, but I’m adding it.)
Art: Produced by EMT^2, Renai Boukun’s art is what I would describe as lazy. The colors are blindingly bright to the point that it looks uncomfortable to watch; background characters are usually just gray silhouettes, and the characters just look gaudy with how the colors used on them are.
It’s not even just the art. The animation for some scenes clearly show little effort is put into them, thus giving off this really cheap, cost-efficient look to the whole thing that looks very uninteresting to look at. Not only that, but character designs have their own sets of problems. Personally I find Yuzu’s hair very irritating to look at. The huge pigtails on her sides combined with the cheap looking animation make her look like an eyesore every time she came on-screen.
- Lazy, cheap looking art
Sound: The OP known as…"Koi? de Ai? de Boukun desu!” (Lord that’s a mouthful) is a poppy, upbeat song that actually fits well with the show’s wacky and comedic story. Sure it’s just a pop idol girl song, but it has merit to it for having a unique beat to it so that it’s not just some generic anime opening that sounds similar to heaps of other openings from other shows.
Its ED, 'Suki' wo Oshiete’ on the other hand isn’t so fortunate. Comparatively, it’s not really all that unique and falls into a generic sounding song that while sounds good, doesn’t really have much in the way of memorabilia so that you would want to listen to it again, and not so you have to loop it in the background so you can accurately come up with the words to describe it.
+ Decent tracks
- Ed isn’t really all that memorable
Personal Enjoyment: Having read the Renai Boukun manga, the adaptation disappointed me for not only not being on the same level as the original, but for rushing so much to get to a certain point in the story that it had to sacrifice so much just to get there. As such, I had a really hard time finding many positives to say since not only was the plot not that stellar to begin with, it actually got worse because it was adapted into something with a limited time frame. As such, my enjoyment with this series dipped down a bit, and I really wish it didn’t. Because I did kind of enjoy just being forced to go along with the flow of things sometimes cause like the MC, there’s really no other way out of it.
Did I like this series?
There were a few choice moments I’m glad they animated. Not only that, but I’m glad Akane mostly stayed intact. Despite her obsessive nature, she’s the series’ main voice of reason and maintains her sensibility (mostly) throughout the show despite the random shit going on around her.
What didn’t I like about this series?
Aside from the obvious plot problems, the rest of the girls in the main group: Guri, Yuzu, (and Shikimi, technically) really irk me. Their archetypes to me are actually really unlikeable because not only do they center around one thing, which is being annoying, they do it so persistently throughout the series that it never feels like they have any kind of growth to them that would warrant me to like them. There’s almost no change with their characters and it upsets me that in a harem series of all things, there are very few candidates for ‘best girl’. (Not like any of them really are stellar choices.)
Would I recommend this series?
If you are going to watch this, turn your brain off. Your enjoyment will skyrocket if you do. Beyond that, this really isn’t something worth recommending. Its plethora of problems with its pacing and characters combined with a really cheap looking animation style make Renai Boukun a really difficult watch. Coupled with poor comedic timing and a newbie seiyuu for Yuzu whose voice grates the ears, I honestly have a hard time finding many redeeming merits for this show to watch. I’d say read the manga if anything, but even then it’s best to turn the good ol’ noggin off.
-- This review contains spoilers. Only read if you have finished the series. --
When thinking of this show, the word wacky comes to mind. We're introduced to characters that fit their "niche," if you will, but with a slight spin on it. They are basically forced together with the end result of their shenanigans being rather bizarre at times. This comedy follows the job of a cupid and the troubles that go along with it. With that said, it may be repetitive here and there which brings the show down overall. However, one of my biggest problems with the show is that the story itself
quickly goes downhill somewhere midway when Guri is basically forced to find love for the sake of "developing" her character; the way it was brought about was rather sudden and obvious in intention. As if the romance wasn't stiff enough as it is.
On the other hand, I do enjoy the ever-present theme of "good vs. bad" within the show; to be more precise, angels vs. demons. It really plays off the characters really well, and I think it was a great setup. For instance, our "antiheroine" Akane comes from an assassin family skilled with swords while her half-sister's family offers protection in the form of a shield, or rather, a barrier. Likewise, we can say the same thing towards Seiji's sister - being on the good side - and Shikimi - being on the bad side. Interestingly enough, Guri is a living and breathing oxymoron herself. She's an angel, yet she loves to stir up trouble every so often.
The exaggeration of the characters' actions brings home the idea that this anime should not be taken too seriously. It's really more for entertainment value, rather than being realistic. From the faces they make to the times they should have "died," the art makes sure to convey a comedic tone to it. Much to my surprise, it does a decent job of balancing out the tone in critical points.
This department was pretty lackluster, admittedly. While it fits the general atmosphere, it's not exactly something you would want to listen to by itself. It has a somewhat quirky feel and generally compliments the show. Overall, it definitely gets the job done when it needs to, even if it's half-heartedly.
Probably the most disappointing aspect of the show. It's a comedy, and I get that; they are funny in their own way. Although, that's not necessarily a good reason to cling to when they get so predictable early on. After a first impression or two, it's pretty obvious to see that Akane is a yandere, Guri is a carefree spirit, Seiji is clueless, Yuzu is obsessive, Shikimi is sadistic, and Akua is a tsundere. It's not exactly original. There may be some character development here and there - which is great - but then why does it go back to being redundant almost immediately afterwards? The change is definitely there, but it's just extremely hard to tell sometimes. More often than not, it's stagnant. While the characters did bring a smile to my face once in a while, I would not go so far to say that they have depth.
To summarize, it's an entertaining show. I would recommend it to anime fans that are looking for something... "peculiar." Despite the things it does right, it's just not my cup of tea. From my perspective, there were more negatives that outweighed the positives. As a whole, I would say it's pretty unoriginal yet amusing at best. You can interpret that however you wish.
*No spoiler review*
TL;DR: A deconstructed school harem rom-com parody that is actually quite fun to watch if you are ready for a Love Octagon of epic proportion. The humour never dies, the seriousness never shines. The love comes and goes & the parody just flows.
[Story: 5/10 , Characters: 7/10, Art: 7/10, Sound: 6/10, Enjoyment: 7/10]
What do you get if you give the power of something serious as "Kiss Note" (similar to Death Note but kissing) to a clueless cupid who just wants to use it to make her wildest fantasies come true? You get a deconstructed rom-com parody that somehow keeps you watching for
more. This show never takes itself seriously and frankly it's because of this that this show shines as a whole. In Renai Boukun aka Love Tyrant, a Kiss Note (parody of Death Note) is a powerful notebook that makes people who have their names written together instantly fall in love if they kiss each other, regardless of any circumstances. If they don't… they will remain a virgin forever and c'mon which person would want that? Enter Guri, a cupid clueless about Love, accidentally writes Seiji's (MC) name mistaking him for someone else. She shows up to his door, explains the concept to him, they kiss, and the problem begins from there. This whole show starts off from this tiny snowball of a problem that just keeps rolling down the hill and it gets just bigger and bigger. Quite a rollercoaster ride if you ask me.
Before I get into the plot, it's the characters that makes this show so enjoyable. You have Guri, a BL obsessed undere cupid who is clueless about love. Then, Akane, a psychotic beautiful yandere, that will kill anyone that touches her love. Cue in Yuzu, a tsundere wincestual stalker, in love with her step-sister. Next the cousin of Akane & Yuzu, Shikami, a sado-maso mayadere who gets off on pain, obsessed with stealing other's love. On the side, you have the MC's younger sister Akua, a kuudere with severe brother/sister complex hoping for her brother's love. Finally, you have the weak & pathetic yet kind MC, Seiji, who is "not handsome, quick to anger, stubborn, insensitive and just a really boring guy" wanting to find true love. Throw them all in one pot, thanks to the supernatural power of "Kiss Note", you have a chaotic mess that will deliver enough comedy to keep you watching for more. Seriously, the characters all feel unique and though the point isn't for viewers to identify themselves as one of the character in the show, you just can't help laughing at each of their hilarity. Even the Kami, aka God, and Maoh, aka Devil, are presented in such comedic manner that the only less outrageous character in this show is the MC himself. You really do start to pity him seeing the stuff he gets himself into. Despite all the chaos, each of the characters actually undergoes some form of character development to better their personality. Now that you have a better grasp of the characters and their "goals", let's dive into the plot.
Plot wise, the story sort of follows a linear pattern as the show is supposed to showcase Guri's coming of age story as she becomes a better Cupid who will succeed Kami in the future by truly understanding the concept of love. However, this show isn't about reaching that destination, it's about enjoying the messed up journey these characters gets themselves into. At its essence, this is a parody that deconstructs the rom-com genre by showing how obscure the concept of school love is by portraying it through a comedic lense. Each episode is a two part episode where the characters find themselves in stereotypical harem/rom-com messy situations that gets resolved by the end after poking much needed fun at its obscurities. The constant juxtaposition of presenting different deretype characters really adds to its comedic value, plus the dialogues go from corny to cheesy to somewhat deep at times. It's almost as if the director snaps their fingers at the viewers to tell them, "sssh, serious matters are being shown here… or so we think." Seriously, the best part about this show is that neither the plot nor the director takes the show seriously which allows for the "quit pro quo" comedic style to flourish so well.
Nevertheless, the animation team behind Renai Boukun did a great job. Each of the major characters stand out from one another and they made the MC a very relatable looking character that is both bland yet unique looking. The use of bold vibrant primary colours really shines throughout the anime. It is able to contrast the deep satirical emotions of love with the outrageous comedic elements of chaos. Though scattered if observed individually but seems cohesive when seen together. The OP song is quirky & catchy and the ED song is nice but its the OST that really shines as it helps the anime flow well with the story by constantly aiding in the creation and diffusion of tension. Definitely worth a listen as a standalone.
Overall, Renai Boukun is a fun show to watch, not just on a whim. It's a good parody and it never takes itself seriously so the comedy never dies. I enjoyed watching it despite not being a fan of rom-com because it is a deconstructed parody of this genre. If you are debating whether or not you want to watch the show, just ask yourself this. Do you want to watch a show that is utter madness due to hilarious characters? Do you enjoy good comedy? Do you like a bit of fan service? Regardless of yes or no, you should watch this show. Simple as that... joking. Anyways, give it a watch and let me know later how you like it.
P.S. Thank you for reading. I hope you found this short and supaishi review helpful!
P.P.S. "What is love? It's not about knowing what love is… being in love means whether you are happy or sad the heart always aches for that one special person"