This anime had some enjoyable moments, it is very fast-paced, and the characters . . . while I think they have some issues, they seemed decent enough. Nevertheless, I can’t help but label this anime in the “meh” category. I suppose my main criticism is that it feels as if the author isn’t sure where they want this story to go and my main problem is with the villain. He’s a been there, done that bland as they come villain whose endgoals have been done better by other villains with the same motivations from Metal Gear Rising to Shin Megami Tensei. I don’t know if the author is a fan of Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, but when the main plot was revealed, it seemed to be paying homage with the talk of the masked people being angels and fighting to survive to reshape the world, even if all the main cast wants to do is go home. I’m sorry to say this type of plot has been done far, far better in one of my favorite video games, Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. The Yuri romance between the main character, Honjou Yuri and Nise Mayuko was pleasant but didn’t seem well-developed. It seemed as if Mayuko became a stock stalker-obsessed lover with her previous personality degrading after she does something important to the story.
It seems as if the author just wanted to showcase individual tense scenes and made this crazy-world scenario to do it. The rest of the cast seems adequate to decent, but not particularly well-developed. Moreover, there might be a bit of a plot hole at the end since the villain took control of an angel and it was established that “God candidates” can’t control an angel that was already under the control of a fellow God candidate, but this is exactly what happened at the end of the anime. So, unless that’s explained in a second season, it’s a plot hole. To be fair, it was the only one I noticed and there does seem set-up prepped for “person’s individual willpower destroys the brainwashing” that was set since the start due to Sniper Mask’s character. So, this may not actually be a plot hole, but some type of weird foreshadowing for future events if there’s a Season 2. We do get an indication of this from another minor character, so I’ll hold back from judgment on that particular plot point.
I’d say the biggest failing is the villain. The villain is not interesting, there’s nothing that makes me convinced that Honjou Yuri or even her brother Honjou Rika are meeting someone who challenges them, and it seems like they just gave some random dude with petty motives a bunch of extra powers to keep the conflict going. There’s nothing about the conflict that particularly grabs me; which is why I say Nocturne did it far better. Demi-fiend’s former high school friends being driven to madness and seeking God-like power was a fascinating deconstruction to watch. This anime series continues to feel heavily underutilized due to the lack of a good, compelling villain so far. They don’t need to have a tragic backstory or even be a good person; just make them interesting.
Finally, I can’t help but notice the lack of nudity for something rated TV-MA with nudity explicit in the rating warning. So apparently, seeing 18-year old high school girls get brutally murdered is fine, but showing boobs needs to look like some weird 2D PS2 pixel work taped over their areolas so we can pretend women don’t have them. Also, age is certainly not a factor for this censorship, the characters can easily be 18-years of age from Japan’s high school system where Third-Year High Schoolers are ages 17 – 18 since Middle-school in Japan is three years, unlike the US’s two years. Apparently, blood and gore are fine, but adult women having tits is a major taboo for Netflix. This is pretty pathetic on Netflix’s part.
Overall, if you like murder royales with “power of friendship is the way to keep our humanity!” and enjoy fast-paced bloodsoaked battles, then this might be of interest to you. I guess I’d rate it as 4 or 5 out of 10 in the absence of any potential Second Season on the horizon.