There’s no way getting around this, so I’m just going to lay it out straight; I’m a huge devotee of old Studio Gonzo. So even if the brand is basically meaningless now, I always get excited when I hear they have a project.
One more bit of full-disclosure regarding me before I get to the show itself, since it is to hair as Mysterious Girlfriend X is to drool – I enjoyed Mysterious Girlfriend X. The superior direction and creativity behind that show was enough to offset its fundamental weirdness. I guess that also qualifies as a warning for the faint of heart, as DBnCE is also quite weird.
Before I go over the basic premise of the show, I’d like to start by talking about what actually matters. First and foremost, the soundtrack of this show was immensely good at being creepy and bone-chilling, as one would expect from the composer who wrote for Shiki and Mononoke, among others. The show is aiming for the horror genre, and it started by flexing that soundtrack and being as ominous as possible. It also wasn’t shy about using the seriously creepy tracks in association with the male lead when his behavior trended towards stalking (which it did more than once).
The direction was good, but a little more heavy-handed. While Yuuji Yamaguchi generally did a good job of maintaining focus on the characters and their emotions, there were a couple of times when he resorted to really abrupt scene transtions that broke the flow of the show. That’s not something that has to be a pattern, but it’s something that makes me cautious about the future; it takes just one mistake at the wrong time to ruin a crucial scene.
The premise of the show was odd, there’s no way around that. But it’s well-managed, and the leads, at least, come off as likable. The male lead seems to have already taken his haircut obsession too far, and acted like a criminal of the week would have in almost any other show. But he’s at least aware of his own issues, and he’s found someone whose desires match up well with his own. The female lead succeeded in her chief role of garnering sympathy, and I expect to see her fleshed out more as the show moves along.
It wasn’t the best opening I’ve ever seen, but it bodes well to see the Spring 2013 Season get underway with a show that has plenty of heart. I’d say it’s earned a full 3 episodes more, at a minimum.