Hey, what do you know? It's another anime show that was originally an eroge visual novel! Lately these kinds of projects are a dime a dozen, though I suppose the industry should stick to what works. In this case, 11eyes was actually released as a PC title in 2008 and became an animation one year later.
Produced by Dogakobo, who has handled key animation in several popular shows, 11eyes is a twelve episode series based on the game and manga. The series has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks for release here in the States. The twelve episode series is presented on two DVDs, though the additional OVA is available in this collection as well.
Let's get one thing straight right away: 11eyes isn't all that and a bag of chips. The show's premise is rather generic, the characters are one-dimensional and never really stand out, and for the majority of the plot things are mostly void of charm, personality, and development. It's a very dry experience that only titillates in rare occasions. What's it all about?
11eyes focuses on a young boy named Satsuki Kakeru. This tragic youth has a rather ornate eye-patch over his right eye, but even more disturbing is the fact that he witnessed his sister's suicide several years ago. Since then he basically was raised in an orphanage and became rather reclusive. He doesn't stand out in any way, aside from the eye-patch, and for the most part he's mostly alone in the world. That is, at least, except for a childhood friend from the orphanage named Yuka. They pretty much crush on each other though their relationship isn't exactly put into words.
One day Kakeru and Yuka are walking with each other when they are transported to an alternate reality. This other dimension is known as Red Night. Here the world is skewed and there are indeed monsters and things that go bump in the night. As quickly as their visit to Red Night began, it ended, leaving them with all kinds of questions. As the episode count starts to rack up Kakeru and Yuka meet more people who experienced the Red Night as well, and eventually they get to the root of the problem and why they are visiting this strange world.
To be perfectly honest, the big plot reveal isn't very compelling. That eye that Kakeru happens to have? Well, yeah, that has something to do with it. And there're flashbacks to his dead sister. Oh, and things that happen during Red Night and the black moon actually have an impact on the real world. There's also a girl who seems to be at the center of these evil events.
On the surface the show seems to be rather interesting, but in execution it falls short. The pacing is all over the map and to be perfectly honest, the show feels like it's stretched thin, even at twelve episodes. One really has to wonder how an entire PC title kept players strung along for hours if the show couldn't even muster enough entertainment for 325 minutes. There are moments where the show stands out, the characters seem greater than they were, and battles are impressive. Unfortunately these elements are few and far between and ultimately the show is a letdown.
11eyes is presented on DVD with its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The show is presented with an anamorphic widescreen display and for the most part the transfer only suffers from negligible flaws. Grain and some occasional blocking are what you're going to find here, but for the most part they aren't pervasive. Designs are solid overall and there's a nice sense of style at work here, even if the animation seems budgeted. There are times where the show impresses from a visual standpoint, and others where it feels rather flat, much like the show itself.
Predictably, Sentai Filmworks has presented 11eyes on DVD with its original 2.0 Japanese language track. The cast sounds decent enough and from a technical standpoint the dialogue doesn't suffer. A 5.1 presentation would have gone a long way to enhance the creepy atmosphere of Red Night, but alas that's not in the cards. Optional English subtitles are included here.
Some trailers and clean animations are presented here for bonus features. There's also an OVA episode which sees the characters going to Pink Night. While the series itself was rather underwhelming, this OVA episode was downright hilarious in its inappropriate approach to the franchise. One character's swords are vibrators, Kakeru can see through people's clothing, and there are profanities aplenty here. It's fresh and funny and it's just a shame the whole series didn't have as much personality as this one episode had.
11eyes is kind of a dud. The show's concept is interesting enough, and I enjoyed moments throughout, but the payoff in the end just isn't there. The pacing is all over the map, the characters are flat, and the overall feeling I had was that the show could have been wrapped up in even less episodes, which is kind of a shame. The OVA episode is a hilarious payoff at the end, but that hardly justifies picking this one up. I'd say it's a rental all around.