11 Eyes Complete Collection (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2011
When the sky turns red and the world changes, one disparate group of high school students find themselves involved in the fight for their lives.
What They Say
Raised in an orphanage after witnessing his sister's suicide, Satsuki Kakeru's life has already been dark and cruel enough. However, 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, 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 in 11 Eyes - The Complete Collection!
The audio presentation for this series is pretty standard with a basic stereo mix for the Japanese-only track on here encoded at 224kbps. The show doesn't stretch things much as even the music in the opening sequence feels more center channel based than a fuller stereo mix normally does. The show varies between action and dialogue throughout the course of it and it handles it pretty well with a clean feeling and some mild depth in a few scenes. Generally speaking, the dialogue is fairly center channel placed since the majority of the time it's a single character talking and they tend to be kept closer to the center of the screen in general unless they're offscreen. The action scenes are decent if unexceptional and carry it off pretty well though there's not that much richness to it. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series and OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The show is spread across two volumes with six on the first and seven on the second disc, allowing for a good bit of space with the lack of extras and the singular audio track. The show spends a lot of its time with some heavy reds in the background due to the nature of the series and generally these hold out better than you'd initially guess when it comes to noise and break-up. They're not fully solid but they look good from a normal sitting distance. Colors outside of that hold up rather well and they have a good clean and solid look to them. Some panning sequences do introduce a bit of line noise at times, but it's negligible overall. The show isn't a standout piece but it works well here and there's a fair bit of decent detail picked up through the encoding.
This complete collection is presented in a single sized keepcase that has a hinge inside to hold one of the discs. The front cover plays things as you'd expect for an ensemble show with a look at the majority of the lead characters spread all over all done to different heights as some are definitely bigger than others. The logo along the bottom is one that I haven't cared for since I first saw it since it's not distinct in what it is but there's something to be said for the circle aspect with the cross through it. The name itself just doesn't lend itself well to logos. The back cover has things in half to some extent, cut from one corner to the other, with the left side having a lot of white while the right side is more obscured in blacks and reds from the background image. The left side has a decent and rather text heavy summary of the premise that fills you in on a lot of things. The right side has a number of shots from the show along with a tagline and what features are on the disc. Add in the production credits and technical grid along the bottom and it's a well laid out cover, even if a bit text heavy.
The menus are designed in a way similar to some other Sentai releases in that there's a row of blocks along the bottom with the episode numbers and titles, and any extras that are there, with the titles fully written out. These are done with black text on top of a mixture of reddish-pink backgrounds that looks pretty good. The majority of the screen is given over to the character artwork though, static pieces that show off various configurations of the cast of characters against the heavily red backgrounds which is only made all the more dominant by the amount of red in the kids uniforms as well. The layout is definitely nice overall and everything is quick and easy to navigate as I like having the episodes titles. Well, as long as they don't have spoilers in them.
The only extras on this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences found on the first disc.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based off the property that started off as an adult visual novel that then went to the console world, 11Eyes is a twelve episode series with a non-continuity OVA that came out in the fall of 2009 alongside a manga that's still running as of this writing. The visual novel to anime route is pretty normal for the last few years, both for normal ones and adult ones. The problem that you can have with the adult conversion ones is that once you remove the adult factor from it, you can wind up with something bland. With just twelve episodes to tell the tale, 11Eyes has a lot of ground to cover in order to achieve that. Unfortunately, I don't think it really succeeded in setting itself apart.
The story of 11 Eyes is one that takes place in your fairly standard high school setting where we're introduced to Kakeru Satsuki, a young man who has been doubly hurt in his life. The first is the loss of his older sister seven years prior while the other is a problem with his eye where he has no real sight in it so he wears a surprisingly stylish patch over it. Kakeru is a pretty average student otherwise in that he's generally liked and doesn't seem to have any social or academic issues. What he does have is a girlfriend in all but name with Yuka, a childhood friend of his who dotes on him much the same way he dotes on her in various ways. The two are a bit much at times with how they interact without actually making it pretty plain as to where things really stand.
Where their lives change dramatically is when they're walking across the bridge one afternoon after school and everything goes wonky where it all shimmers and the sky turns red. This is something that happens repeatedly throughout the series that's termed the Red Night that takes them outside of the normal world and into a more controlled one where people aren't there outside of a select few. Yet unlike some shows where events there don't impact the real world, what happens here does leave its mark out there, which is why the bridge is eventually destroyed, buildings on fire and a whole lot of open holes in the ground. It's unusual for it to go this route but it's a whole lot of fun when it does happen since you get to see the bridge warped and in ruins while they go through their normal days.
Kakeru and Yuka aren't the only ones that can see this other world though as several others from the school can do it, such as the onmyouji named Misuzu who has a lengthy family history in dealing with magic and the occult. The strange inclusion of Kukuri to the show is that she looks like Kakeru's sister except she's mute and gets everything across with a sketchpad. The amusing characters here are that of Yukiko, a young girl who has been alive for quite a long time who comes from Dransvania and Takahisa, a delinquent in the school who was taken in by the school nurse when she found her eking out a life on the streets years ago. The two are very different and watching their relationship development is one of the better parts of the show because of how they are and the way Yukiko realizes how she feels about him.
What drives the series is the Red Night incidents themselves, which happen rather frequently. When the kids are there, once they figure out the basics of things, they realize there's a large scale battle going on for the fate of the world. Encased within crystal in the center of the city is a young woman named Lisolette who wants to bring HellFall onto the world for wrongs done against her and her lover some eight hundred years prior. With the Black Knights that operate around her, they fight against the kids while denigrating them as little more than fragments which is part of the mystery that's slowly explored over the course of it. There's a lot to it that's teased out at first with the various characters and then the truths being revealed in full.
Watching this series, I kept wondering when it would connect in a way that would let me enjoy it. Some of the individual aspects are pretty good but as a whole it has a hard time really coming together. With just the twelve episodes to the main series, it has a lot it wants to cram in there with the various kids as the fragments and then the range of villains that are drawn in with the Black Knights and Lisolette. When it throws in more background with a character named Shiori who represents a large magical organization that's largely unmentioned in the series, it just adds to the amount of information that really doesn't help it flow well. There's a lot of characters running around here with a fairly basic plot but the execution leaves you wanting. Everything feels too forced when it comes to how they interact and in trying to figure out exactly what it is they're supposed to be doing. It just sort of washes over you.
Like a lot of short run series, 11 Eyes includes a special OVA in addition to the core series. This OVA is a completely out of continuity episode in which the gang ends up not entering a Red Night but rather a Pink Night where everything is very raunchy. Kakeru can see through everyone's clothes (but not their underwear, or swimsuits) and Kikuri can talk but it's with every couple of words being censored. Even more amusing is that when the show turns to fighting for a moment, Misuzu whips out her sword and on her hilts is nothing but a mosaiced vibrating dildo. Takahisa takes it further with his flame power being altered to that of spraying water from a finger. Which he drinks. And slides in his pants and out the zipper to make it look like he's peeing. It's highly childish and surprisingly raunchy considering the way the main show is but it provides more fun than the main series does overall.
I went into 11 Eyes with no expectations and left it with no real strong feeling about it. This is the kind of series that has a lot going on but it feels more like it's washing over you rather than getting you involved in it. My first instinct was that it felt like Venus Versus Virus because of the eyepatch and I found myself largely feeling the same about it overall in that it has some nice ideas but didn't execute it well. And because of its erogame origins, it's the kind of show that you have to feel that it probably worked better with the smutty elements in it than without it. Some games can make the transition with ease but others come across feeling hollow without because it was all trapping and little real substance. 11 Eyes fees just like that.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: C
Audio Rating: B
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: 11 Eyes