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Many exciting romance-themed anime are coming out lately that have sparked fan approval and disgust. While many shows offer fun characters and hilarious shenanigans, they follow a trend that some fans might find bland or repetitive. Romantic Killer is a new romantic comedy anime that provides a refreshing spin on the shoujo anime demographic.
The anime consists of 12 episodes directed by Kazuya Ichikawa and animated by Studio Domerica. Despite being adapted from a manga by Wataru Momose, this is one of Netflix’s latest anime originals. While most of the episodes have a runtime of 26 minutes, there are a few that last about 30 minutes.
This series revolves around a high-school freshman named Anzu who is living a great life as a shut-in. She enjoys playing video games, spending time with her cat Momohiki, and eating endless supplies of chocolate. One day, Anzu receives a new video game in the mail and decides to play it. She’s weirded out by it and realizes it’s the wrong game. Regardless, she presses on.
Suddenly, a wizard-like creature named Riri enters her world through her TV, startling her. Riri explains that Anzu is their company’s first test subject in their plan to fix Japan’s dwindling population. To do so, they hired Riri to assist Anzu in helping her achieve romance. To ensure Anzu follows their plan, Riri confiscates Anzu’s favorite hobbies and has her parents sent away on a trip with her beloved cat Momohiki.
Riri promises to return the items once Anzu falls in love with one of the Ikemen (good-looking men) he has lined up for her. To spite Riri, Anzu plans to become a Romantic Killer, a being who can defy all romance. She hopes that her consistent lack of interest in romantic affairs will provoke Riri to quit and return her life to normal. Unfortunately, her plans are thwarted when she meets Tsukasa, a popular Ikemen in her school.
Riri continuously pushes Anzu to her limits. Anzu is put in many romantic scenarios and Riri introduces more love interests in Anzu’s life for her to combat. Despite wanting to defy all romantic affairs, Anzu develops an unexpected bond with each Ikemen and gathers some information about them as the series progresses. Although there are several highs in Romantic Killer’s story, there are also some mixed emotions.
This show offers a nice mixture of hilarity and romantic elements to keep viewers engaged. Our central lovebirds, Tsukasa and Anzu, receive enough spotlight in this show to warrant fans’ attention. Anzu and Riri had a memorable rivalry. Many viewers will find Riri’s attempts at getting Anzu involved in romantic excursions brilliant and hilarious.
At the same time, the anime doesn’t lean into its romantic love quadrangle between Anzu, Tsukasa, and the two other Ikemen, Junta and Hijiri, as much. While there are some heartwarming and funny bits with Hijiri and Junta, they lack the needed characterization and drive to warrant them as excellent rivals for Anzu’s heart. This anime would’ve benefitted from more intimate scenes between Anzu and the other boys.
Having a scene involving Junta playing baseball with Anzu or having Anzu spend more time doing commoner-like activities with Hijiri would have helped these two Ikemen feel less bland and more critical. Sometimes, the narrative feels contrived as a result. There are many times when the show presents viewers with head-scratching questions or sets-up confrontations, never to elaborate or go anywhere with it.
The issues don’t rest there. Some chapters offer little value to the overarching narrative. Riri’s mock date with Anzu is an example of this. While Riri develops some attachment for Anzu because of their date, it feels odd for him to ask for advice considering his job is to help her. Granted, Anzu’s Riri’s company’s first test subject, but it feels too bizarre with the boatload of romantic knowledge he flaunts in prior episodes.
Otherwise, this anime contains several plot twists and mature themes that are unexpected but adorable all the same. Despite being drenched in humor, this show takes risks and places some of our cast in deadly and traumatic scenarios. The way our characters handle these saddening ordeals feels authentic and relatable. While the series doesn’t contain enough content like this, the severe material it offers will leave you on the edge of your seat.
Romantic Killer’s cast suffers a similar fate as its storyline. While some characters like Junta, Hijiri, and Anzu’s friend Saki leave an impression, Anzu and Tsukasa are the best in the cast. These two characters receive the best interactions, moments, and development. From Tsukasa’s tragic past to Anzu’s fiery persona, these two feel the most likable and memorable among the cast.
Riri’s character was slightly enjoyable. Riri pushed the narrative forward with his rambunctious attitude, clever antics, and rivalry with Anzu. However, there were times when Riri overstayed his welcome. The comedy spawned from his arguments, and shenanigans with Anzu carried mixed signals. Finally, Riri makes many questionable decisions that are hard to ignore.
Although the cast and story have issues, Romantic Killer’s art and animation leaves a remarkable impression. Each character has a fun design that helps them stand out. The endless facial expressions and reactions to scenarios will leave you laughing hysterically. Surprisingly, this anime offers some intense and fluid action scenes too. From Anzu beating up Riri to Tsukasa trembling from his anxiety, these scenes will leave an extraordinary impact.
Another aspect that needs to be addressed is the show’s implementation of gaming elements. The Romantic Thriller characters looked horrendous. While they’re made to be ugly for context purposes, most scenes would have been fine without them. Besides those monstrosities, everything else looks incredible. I adored seeing Anzu envision herself in gaming-based roles and loved when the show implemented gaming interfaces.
Sound-wise, Romantic Thriller features excellent music and decent voice acting. It’s definitely recommended to watch this with original Japanese dubbing. Everyone performs their roles wonderfully, from Rie Takahashi as Anzu to Mikako Komatsu as Riri. Granted, Rie’s Anzu comes off as too over-the-top toward the beginning. However, after episode 2, she pulls off a solid performance; the same can be said for Komatsu’s Riri.
The anime’s opening and ending themes are splendid choices. The opening theme, “ROMA☆KiRA” by YURiKA, captures the show’s wholesome vibe. However, it pales compared to the show’s catchy Eurobeat-like ending theme, “Romantic Love: Ren’ai Shimasenka?” by Mikako Komatsu. This song always gets the adrenaline-pumping, and I never wanted to skip it. While both were great, the ending theme is definitely a stand-out.
Romantic Killer isn’t a perfect anime, but it certainly exceeds expectations. I went into it expecting a typical romantic comedy setup but received something unforgettable. You can tell much heart went into creating this work, and everyone involved should be proud of their effort. Romantic Killer offers an entertaining outing that’s worth watching with a side of chocolates.
Verdict - 7/10