Kure-nai is..... well, it's a complicated show to review. I'm not talking about elaborate plot elements or anything, but instead how the show works or doesn't work. It worked for me, but at the same time it left me feeling a bit off. This is going to sound dumb when addressing an anime series (i.e. something that everybody KNOWS is made IN JAPAN), but you really need to understand Japan (and most especially its traditions) in order to even get this show. In order to FULLY comprehend and appreciate its ending you need to be raised in 17th century feudal Japan, and be from a rich or royal family. I obviously am not, and hence my frustration with certain sticking points of this thing, most especially the ending.
That being said, Kure-nai is about a 16 year-old high school boy called Kurenai Shinkurou, whose after school job is that of a "dispute negotiator" for a yakuza-like woman named Benika (who once saved Shinkurou with her mad karate skills from some kidnappers who killed his parents when he was a child). This job title covers everything from bodyguarding to beating up assholes who are trying to muscle some protection money out of local businesses. Shinkurou is a bad ass... Well sometimes he is — when he's not busy being a submissive, pussy emo-tool. Honestly, for being a bad ass while on the clock he seems to get beaten up quite a bit when he tries to go the pacifist route first. Pacifists suck. Especially pacifist yakuza wannabes.
Anyway, Benika's newest job for Shinkurou is that of protector to a 7 year-old "poor little rich girl" by the name of Kuhouin Murasaki. Murasaki is a totally spoiled little WHORE when we first meet her: She expects everyone to bow to her every whim, buy her whatever she wants, clean up after her, and basically treat her like a princess... Because she pretty much is one (A princess I mean. Well, we find out about the "whore" part later too, but I digress). Despite the fact that Shinkurou is a bit of a pussy himself most of the time, I truly liked how he didn't kiss Murasaki's ass like a leech on an open wound. A good part of this series is just Shinkurou teaching Murasaki how to not be a bizatch, and with the help of his 2 wacky neighbors (who are the Yotsuya and Akemi to Shinkurou's Godai) they gradually turn the little coont into a functioning member of society.
"Why is Shinkurou guarding this chick?" you poot out of your mouth in a putrid fart of crassness... That'd be because her rich family, the Kuhouin clan, has kept her locked up since birth in an old (but very elegant and extremely Japanese) building on their ginormous compound, and had her raised believing that her father's new whore wife was her mother, when in fact her real mother was made to watch her daughter grow up from the sidelines while holding her tongue. "Why--?" I'll cut you off right there. The reasons the Kuhouins locked Murasaki away from the outside world is because *SPOILERS OUT THE ASS* all she's meant to do with her life is to get pregnant and plop out babies... She's to start doing this at the age of 13.... She's to get knocked up by her own brother. Her completely psycho, pedophilic, and lolicon brother... Who also likes to schtoop his father's wife (who is not his real mother, true, but that doesn't make it any less fucked up). *END SPOILERS* Oh wait! *MORE SPOILERS* The reason the Kuhouins don't let Murasaki know who her real mother is is because her real mother is in fact her father's sister... Holy fuck yeah... *END SPOILERS*
So anyway, Benika and her bad-ass assistant Yayoi keep a watchful eye on Shinkurou and Murasaki as they live their new lives in relative bliss. Murasaki likes to get her new guardian (or her two new wacky neighbors) to take her to places she never dreamed existed (which is pretty much everywhere other than the inside of ancient Japanese mansions), she meets new people, and she grows a little more each day. Now, I made that sound pretty ghey, but the characters are (for the most part) so damn likeable (yes, Shinkurou is too, when he's not all in his pacifist mode, trying to talk bad guys into not punching him instead of kicking them first) that you simply sit back and enjoy the daily lives of everybody and smile at all the culture shock that comes with each new story. But then.... Something stupid happens and the final act stumbles into play like a Downs Syndrome kid just getting off the Tea Cups ride at Disney World. I absolutely HATE when stupidity is the only way writers can think of to move a story along.
*SPOILERS.... Actually, pretty much the rest of this review is going to be spoilery in order to explain my previously mentioned confusion over this show.* See, this whole time that Murasaki is living with Shinkurou Kurenai, her entire family's security force is scouring the country looking for her. She's supposed to stay hidden in her protector's tiny apartment, but of course she gets bored easily, and her stupid wacky neighbors decide to start taking her out to do stuff behind Shinkurou's back while he's at school. That's fully understandable. Murasaki is a smart kid though, and she knows the situation... On top of that Benika is extremely intelligent and knows just how high the actual cost is to keep Murasaki safe... Yet they don't change Murasaki's appearance at all, nor do they come up with a code name for her... So on one of the wacky neighbors' outings with the girl, the neighbor continuously draws attention to Murasaki by SHOUTING her name out in a public restaurant... Where a Kuhouin family stooge hears and follows them. That was kind of dumb, but it gets 10Xs stupider if you'll let me continue.
Okay, after the Kuhouins discover the whereabouts of Murasaki, they casually and continuously DRIVE BY THE APARTMENT IN BROAD DAYLIGHT until they BLOW THEIR COVER quite stupidly, and Benika is made aware that Murasaki has been discovered... And Benika eveeeeeeentually gets Shinkurou and the girl out of there (Honest to fucking Mary Mother of God! The Kuhouins work slower than Georgia road crews when working near a brothel!). *Whew!* They're safe! They're out of Shinkurou's pad and they're safe... But then Shinkurou wants to go back and have Murasaki say goodbye to the wacky neighbors.... I was absolutely dumbfounded... I found it even dumber still that Benika allowed it, and even dumberer than that when she let the two kids STAY OVER NIGHT in the old apartment.... Of fucking COURSE the Kuhouin enforcers showed up early the next morning and surprised the shit out of our gang. How fucking STUPID is the Japanese mafia?! If Benika is the best of the best, how the hell don't the Japanese police wipe them out in a week?!
Okay, so Yayoi (who was diligently standing guard) and Shinkurou get their little Asian asses handed to them by the Kuhouin muscle, and then Murasaki's therapy-deprived (soon to be a pedophilic sex offender) older brother shows up and forces his little sister to submit to him or he'll have her friends killed. She does, and for some asinine reason he really does let Yayoi and Shinkurou live. Shinkurou then begs Benika to help him break into the Kuhouin compound in order to ask Murasaki face to face if she really meant it when she repeated what her brother told her to say while holding guns to her friends' heads, and if she truly preferred to stay with her fucked-up family than with him.... Because he had some doubts as to whether she really meant it when she told her mental onii-chan that she'd prefer to go back home as opposed to watching her friends' heads get splattered by bullets in front of her eyes (I just wanted to re-emphasize that because it's simply so goddamn dumb). So they lead a small raid on the Kuhouin residence complex in the middle of a snow storm.
It is at this time that the assholes in the Kuhouin family start turning into "wide-eyed, raving psychos," as all shitilly-written villains tend to do in the end. Lots of cool fighting takes place between Benika, Shinkurou, and Yayoi and the psycho bitches and bastards of the Kuhouin. Then, after fighting all the way to the Inner Sanctum where Murasaki is being held against her wishes, Benika's crew has their final confrontation with psycho-dick bro and beat-down dad (after already taking down every other security guard in the place). Shinkurou FINALLY acts like a man and beats the shit out of the foaming and ranting brother, and makes the gathered Kuhouin family members actually listen to Murasaki's true wants and wishes. But the bro (too hepped up on goofy pills apparently) somehow gets back up and stabs Benika in the fucking kidney, to which Shinkurou is about to issue some major payback, but Murasaki stops him, and tells everybody that her true wish is to stay with her family (WHAT?!?!). She adds that she wants her daddy to change the rules of their lineage though, and allow her to leave the Inner Sanctum when she wants to, and eventually pick her own husband when the time comes (preferably one who didn't come out of the same birth canal as her), so that she won't have to be raped by her brother on her 13th birthday. Dear old dad says, "I'll think about it." Murasaki then thinks she's won. HAPPY ENDING FOR EVERYBODY!....
I had to stop and think about this for a few hours after I finished watching this show... This is a man (Murasaki's father) who never spent any time at all with his only daughter for her first 7 years of life, yet she places her entire future in his hands based on the slight, slight possibility that he'll think about changing things and NOT let his deranged son rape his daughter (when she turns 13.... THIR-FUCKING-TEEN... I just want to stress that point as many times as I can). Then I thought about it.... This is sooooo Japanese. After seeing the real world, and realizing that she was merely a slave her whole life, and would simply be a baby factory for her BROTHER/husband for the rest of her worldly existence (an existence that drove her mother to suicide), she still sticks with her family because it would disgrace them if she did not. Not only is the honor to her dishonorable family that important to her, but Murasaki spent almost her whole life thinking that this was unavoidable. She already resigned herself to this shitty fate. The few bliss-filled weeks she spent with Shinkurou really didn't amount to much. HONOR to the family first.
Holy shit. Okay, I understand the whole concept of "honor and family above all else" that was Japanesely ingrained into Murasaki's skull since she was a baby, but this was just too much for my Western mind. The bad guys are just a bunch of incestuous douchebags of the highest magnitude. Psycho, SMUG, incestuous douchebags who get their way SERIOUSLY make me so goddamn frustrated. It was like visiting Tammi With an "i"'s family reunion, but I wasn't allowed to physically hit anybody in Kure-Nai since they were just characters on the TV. I... I seriously don't know how to feel after sitting through that whole series. My inner critic is confused. The bad guys did (over many centuries) so many bad and douchey and really sick things (murders, incest, loli-rape, slavery, etc.)... And no real punishment came to them (no retribution even came to the hired muscle who brutally murdered innocent nursemaids). Not really. Just forced to finally accept a teensy bit of change... Maybe. If daddy decides to go that route. That just pissed me off.
The last two things I want to talk about are the opening animation and Shinkurou's strange ability. The opening animation is really goofy and gheyly lame. It scared the shit out of me when it first popped up; I thought the whole show would be shitty Cartoon Network-like Flash animation (see title graphic). Luckily it was not, but that was still a shitty way to start such a serious show (oh yeah, I'd categorize this puppy as a drama first and foremost... Only slight sprinkles of comedy lightly peppered it throughout its run). As for Shinkurou's "ability," well that's a serious Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. I'm sure it plays a bigger part in the original mini novels, but having Shinkurou be part demon in this storyline just seemed completely unnecessary and retarded. I hope it leads up to something big if there is a sequel, but if they needed to put it into this show, they should have made something that silly a bigger part of the actual plot as opposed to just having it tacked on with no real payback for it in the end. The way it is now it just seems like the writers added it 'cause it was COOL to have a half-demon lead character... and then they forgot about it. *END SPOILERS*
Ah don't know what the Rossman's talkin' 'bout. He thinks this is weird? He should really come visit mah family's next gatherin'. What he really just visited that last tahm was just some close kin over for a small BBQ: Mah brother/cousin, father/uncle, mother/sister, grandma/everybody's fuck-buddy, second cousin/third cousin, uncle, aunt/cousin, and dog who's done humped everybody's leg in the county.
Honestly, he didn't even meet my Uncle/Aunt Mabel yet, nor any of his/her 14 children and their boyfriends/girlfriends... which don't add anything to the actual numbers if ya'll get mah drift.
Many shows I show to sister Kim-Chi hoping to make her to say "Yes! Kuni! Kim-Chi loves Kuni and wants to make baby with hot, hot brother!" Kim-Chi only laugh politely and said to Kuni, "Oh my Kuni, you are so cute to be eaten up like rice ball! Tee hee!" Kuni say "Please eat Kuni! Please!"
Kuni then see Kurenai and have most important thought ever to be having in Kuni's smart brain! Kuni show Kim-Chi Kurenai and point out that it is good family value to keep hot sister locked up and then have many babies with her! Kim-Chi simply blush at Kuni and say Tee Hee again and over until Kuni uses bathroom for self-sex one more times.