I shouldn’t be so unperturbed by the image of a hand the size of a skyscraper deflecting an orbital laser blast, yet Engage Kiss manages to soften what should have been its rough edges. Despite the fact that we are well towards the finale, the programme keeps stumbling its characters into dull, drawn-out expositional segments that break the flow of both its emotional and action-oriented elements. The series has now turned into a concatenation of predictable narrative twists and uninspired redos of imagery and concepts from better anime since it lacks the room to explore its (albeit limited) distinctive particularities. Engage Kiss was at least entertaining when it embraced its trashiness, but today it’s worse than trashy. It’s average.
The exposition really gets on my nerves since it flattens all of these characters into identical mouthpieces for the sake of describing storyline and mythology that are not even really captivating enough to warrant taking up so much time. Asmodeus has been the subject of several words, yet despite this, we still know very little about the person. A huge nasty demon who wants to rule the world serves as the finest opponent Engage Kiss could come up with in ten whole episodes. That’s not what I’d expect from a high-profile anime production; that’s what I’d expect from a grade school creative writing project. Given that Shu’s sister Kanna is likely to end up being the “real” bad guy, the issue still remainsWhy should I care about her when she hasn’t been given any character development to date?
I don’t think another cour would have fixed all of Engage Kiss’ issues on its own, however it would have been good to give these expositional flaws the room to be stretched more organically across more episodes. After all, the early episodes’ attempts at humour and cuteness were rather intolerable. I would rather that it devote more of its running time to its finest feature, which is, in my opinion, the racy sexual drama between Shu and his several ex- and present lovers. That run of episodes towards the middle of the season, in my opinion, marked a significant improvement in the storey and the characters, and I wish the writers had stuck with that direction.
Even if we focus only on the triangle between Shu, Kisara, and Ayano, Engage Kiss hasn’t fully explored all the anguish and spice. Ayano’s gaze at Kisara as Shu leaves Sharon’s room gives us the first hint of it this week. Naturally, Ayano is upset with Kisara for “stealing” Shu from her and for taking his memories, but she ought to be furious with Shu for succumbing so completely to his destructive quest for vengeance. She should struggle with that. While Kisara has some control over this, it is limited, and I’d want to see her struggle much more with that confused helplessness—that her relationship with Shu is inextricably linked to his own selfishness—more. Shu is the most cynical and cunning of the bunch, and if the show were ready to properly deal with it, he’d make for a far stronger lead character. Currently, the literature merely seeks to lament his passing memories, and this has been done to the point of cliched exhaustion.
I applaud Sharon since she is the only character left who is dedicated to having fun. A better, more intelligent anime would have given her own drinking and eating fast food in her hotel room its own complete episode; at the very least, it would have given the show personality. The majority of the programme, though, is spent with her droning on about Asmodeus and summoning circles. With her and Kisara going off together, we had the ideal chance, but all they discuss is Asmodeus once more. Sharon ought to be honoured for her unrepentant awfulness at a performance.
Thankfully, once the action starts, the show starts to take up. And by that I mean, even if the final setpiece is far from amazing, it’s still better than the drab explanatory speech. You have a responsibility to match the degree of cosmic horror of works like Evangelion and Berserk if you’re borrowing images from them. Engage However, Kiss struggles to make their coolest moments seem uncool. Why does it matter who sold them the satellite cannon? Stop spending time discussing that. This scenario suffers because there is no sense of awe toward these very powerful foes and weapons. At least Sharon gets some amazing kick choreography, and Shu making a spooky copy of his mother is an excellent way to emphasise how much of himself he’s wasted. However, the whole thing is very drab.
At the moment, Engage Kiss is in a bad spot. It lacks the power to push itself to an exciting finale because it lacks both a solid character-driven base and a great creative vision for its final conflict between good and evil. As it veers even further away from the melodrama I want to see from it, it spends the whole episode circling around a nonexistent opponent. I guess it still amounts to a passably skeletal rendition of a demon-infested action-romance with just enough visual panache to distinguish it from its contemporaries. However, its edges have given way to a dull and overblown storey that lacks the previous scandalous thrill.