Doreiku The Animation Series Review: Another Cool Premise Gone To Waste

Doreiku presents viewers with a very cool set-up. What if there was a device that would allow you to play a game with someone and the loser was made to become the winner’s slave? There’s so many places such a concept could be taken and yet what we find in this anime is that we’re just going to tread over the usual vices we’ve seen before with nothing really new on the table.

Review:

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There’s nothing wrong with stories that want to explore the darker side of human nature or even human misery. I’d argue that stories are a good place to explore such things and to make audiences think about situations they might not otherwise understand or to ‘safely’ experience emotions that might otherwise be pretty traumatising. With the initial set-up of Doreiku I was kind of hoping once it got over its shock factor in the first episode (and believe me, it is trying to be shocking with its rape and idea of total enslavement being paraded around front and centre) that it would actually look at the motives and desires of those involved or maybe explore the notion of freedom overall.

And while you argue that the anime does explore these things, it ultimately ends up being a very shallow dive. Meanwhile the viewer is subjected to a meandering plot, an unnecessarily large cast, and more than a few illogical plot points that kind of exist just because someone somewhere must have thought they were cool.

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It all just kind of ends up being an empty viewing experience. Every character (with the possible exception of Eia), seems to think they are amazingly smart and that somehow there’s no chance of them losing. And every character ultimately cheats at the games or resorts to violence and intimidation to set the game up in such a way that they can’t lose. And as the number of masters gets fewer and fewer and the number of slaves gets larger, what we realise is that no one writing this show really thought about what these characters would do with slaves.

Yes, there are the usual sexual antics in places and a lot of the male characters are used as muscle. But scene after scene will show a master talking, and boy do these characters like to talk and yet say nothing, while a handful of slaves stand pitifully in the background. Is that really the best they could do? You enslaved multiple other humans and now you just have them kind of standing around.

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Though Eia and her original partner Oota aren’t all that much better really. Oota’s just thrill seeking and uses Eia for insurance. And once he gets a taste of power he gets nasty yet we’re still somehow supposed to hope Eia saves him. Eia gets swept up in Oota’s scheme because… well I think it is meant to be because she’s bored or wants a challenge but it never really becomes clear. Midway through the series, Eia suddenly decides she wants to free all of the slaves by, naturally, enslaving them. I just wonder if after all is said and done if their brains are going to permanently fried but the series also isn’t interested in answering that sort of question about the devices in question so don’t ask.

So the characters are pretty dull, there’s no real theme or message to wait for, and the plot is a meandering and cluttered mess held together only through who currently owns who, what does that leave us with? Visuals that are okay but not great. Music that works with the show but isn’t memorable. A cute puppy, but it is also wearing a device and is a slave.

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If you’re just kind of curious, it isn’t the worst thing ever, but there’s not a lot to recommend this one. That and if you are easily upset by difficult subject matter, then definitely give this one a skip. It is deliberately confronting at times but doesn’t really address any of these issues.

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And Now… The Results of the Worst of Spring Reader’s Poll Are Here!

If you missed it, the best of the Spring 2018 season reader poll results can be found here.

For those who are new to my end of season awards, I’ll just remind you that worst of the season is a slightly misleading term given I ask people to vote for a show they didn’t drop but was the worst thing they actually watched. That means there are plenty of anime out there that never get voted for that are significantly worse because people have simply dropped them without completing them.

First up, my choices for worst of the season.

Worst Story – Tokyo Ghoul: Re

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It seemed mean to give it to Record of Grancrest War considering it already won this ‘honour’ at the end of the Winter season, and Tokyo Ghoul Re has it coming. No explanations, no attempt to link the previous anime season to this, and just abandoning the anime fans to muddle their way through was a really poor move. Worse, even when you look up all the things you need to look up, we essentially spend 12 episodes gaining very little ground and it is hard to see much point to most of this. There’s the ongoing issue of Haise finding his memories but that’s about three episodes worth of content stretched out and then there’s a bunch of stuff with side characters I was never made to care about. Basically, this one was a bit of a mess but if you just want some ghoul fight sequences, it might deliver that for you.

Worst Visuals – Devils’ Line

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There was never any question on this category. Devils’ Line is ugly to watch whether it is the weird filter they put over scenes, the terrible effect used to make the vampires seem faster or whatever, or just the drab looking everything, it is hideous. While I appreciate not every vampire needs to be an Adonis existing only to draw the female eye, this show is just bad to look at.

Worst Opening – My Hero Academia Season 3

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Yes, I hear your complaints and yet I’m standing by this choice. After some truly thrilling OP’s, My Hero Academia has delivered one that neither gets me fired up, nor visually interests me, outside of the final image of Midoriya standing with All Might. Basically I’ve taken to skipping the OP and am hoping for a mid-season change.

Worst Character – The Cast of Caligula

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This was probably a cheap call, and yet I knew my least favourite characters existed in this series and yet when looking at each one I can barely remember their names let alone distinguish one from the other in terms of which was a more poorly introduced, fleshed out or developed character. This cast is way oversized and not one of the characters pictured above does a single thing of consequence in the entire series (watch it, remove each of these characters, note how that makes no difference to the plot at all). So yeah, it is an entire cast but this is my choice for worst character this season (they even beat some of the choices I had from Grancrest).

And now…

Worst Anime of the Spring 2018 Season – Doreiku The Animation

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I was really torn on this one. Caligula was a great contender for worst of the season as was Devils’ Line. But ultimately both of those had some redeeming qualities hiding deeply beneath layers of poor choices whereas Doreiku is just a concept thrown out there and then used by someone who doesn’t have a clue what to do with it. The first episode presents what could be a rich world of exploration about human desire and morality and ultimately the story barely manages to remain coherent and certainly doesn’t explore anything. It routinely shows us that the characters are horrible but that isn’t really exploration so much as just piling more mud onto what is already a mess. So despite having what arguably could have been one of the more interesting concepts this season, Doreiku has managed to be the anime I really wish I hadn’t stuck with.

Finally, Reader’s Choice

There was some tight competition for worst anime of the season that people actually watched and we ended up with a tie for third place. See the results for yourself.

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And so, with 9 votes, Darling in the Franxx won worst anime that people actually watched this season. I think the show’s popularity worked against it here because as bad as some of the other shows were, more people were watching Franxx. Still, you have to admit it became quite a mess as the series progressed.

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Devils’ Line therefore took a comfortable second place as worst anime closely followed by SAOA: GGO and Doreiku the animation in third place.

It seems like it has been a long season but now we are about to move into the Summer Anime season and begin it all again. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for some amazing stories, and for those anime that disappoint us, there’s always the chance to vote for it in the worst of Summer poll.


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Doreiku The Animation Episode 12: All Those Slaves And No Ambition

Having finally enslaved almost everyone in the game, we realise that neither the writers, nor the characters, have really considered the implications of having total control of another human being. Instead, we have hormonal moron who just wants to satisfy whatever impulse comes his way. Not much of a grand scheme really.

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So apparently getting involved in a game where a device is used that can enslave you is a bad idea that can lead to bad things. That is apparently the sum total of the story that this anime wants to tell given any of the other considerations have just been completely ignored at this point. However Eia has a plan… Wait, no she’s just going to listen to Ryuou and then they are going to burn a building down. And the yellow haired guy is involved because… I’m not actually sure. Was Eia a closet pyromaniac because she also set ten million yen on fire earlier in this season.

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Basically though after all the foreshadowing of horror to come, we get the single worst character as the final bad guy to overcome. Mostly because it isn’t the scientist guy with a masterplan for enslaving humans, it isn’t the kid who seemed to gather massive numbers of slaves early in the game, it isn’t even the split personality Zero, but rather it is the whiny idiot who really just thinks about what he wants right now. I want to shoot someone. I want to hit them. I want to have sex. Really, he has no plan here. None at all. Was he just going to hide out in his school house for the rest of his life sleeping with his enslaved harem and hunting them down when he got bored?

But hey, we’re done and I’ll get to do a final review soon.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 11: This Anime Just Needed More Psycho

The higher they rise the harder the fall I guess is the message here. Though I am kind of stretching to assume this has any underlying significance other than people still being horrible.

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After another round of “Look how smart I am” we get yet another shift in the power balance of who owns the most slaves. The fact that Eia still hasn’t actually lost is kind of surprising and to be honest I’m not sure whether I’m supposed to see her as an actual player in this game or an observer. The bad guy revealed his plot, gloated about how clever he was, and then got taken down a peg by someone even less emotionally stable, meanwhile Eia is nowhere to be seen.

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Speaking of, the new guy actually was present way back at the start and I guess that’s kind of foreshadowing, but the fact that they have to do a whole flashback to remind us that the scene in question even existed kind of makes me feel like it might have missed its mark. Whichever way, I’m not overly concerned with how this plays out as long as it ends at this point.

Maybe the message should be, don’t stick random devices in your mouth that could lead to mind control.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 10: Ten Minutes Retell, Ten Minutes Of Confusing Story

I genuinely don’t get what the point of the first ten minutes of this episode is supposed to be given we’ve already seen this story from Julia’s view and the Ryuuou’s view adds nothing. But that’s this show in a nutshell, really.

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Dumb characters continue to make dumb choices once the story finally gets over retelling the story of how Julia became a slave and that Ryuuou is trying to free his mum (given we already knew all of that). Essentially, all of Ryuuou’s slaves decide to face down the guy they know nothing about with the weird star icon on the map and dutifully get stolen as his slaves. It is too stupid for words and it is a plot development that makes little sense at this stage of the game.

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Meanwhile, the new characters we met last week are apparently important and get a section here, though why on earth we care at this point about their story I can’t begin to figure out. And unless something tragic is happening to Eia in the next two episodes, I don’t understand her opening monologue where she said that she was going to regret things. Because so far Eia has walked through most of this series more or less unscathed.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 9: Introducing A New Cast of Characters

I always thought episode 9 seemed like an excellent time to introduce two entirely new characters plus a split personality in an existing character. Makes perfect sense in terms of narrative pacing.

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So this week we get a flashback to see how Crazy Girl lost her dual to the sleazy scientist guy and it turns out she didn’t. His custom SCM just lets him enslave people who are wearing an SCM. Great. That’s just what this story needed, a god-mode style cheat to the game.

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And were you still wondering what the deal with Zero was way back when he first got enslaved and there was that whole five minutes where it was a big deal that he resisted an order before no-one ever mentioned it again? Turns out, even though this anime hasn’t addressed the point in any episode since, Zero now has a split personality with his dead mother taking over at times and she has her very own SCM (how) and is now making her very own slaves (why). Does this noticeably improve the story? Not really, but it does create yet another faction in this mess of a plot and eats up screen time so we don’t get to notice how shallow Eia’s characterisation has been despite her technically being the narrator during early episodes. Incidentally, she doesn’t show up at all this episode.

Onward to more fun with human slaves and poor plots next week.

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Doreiku The Animation Episode 8: Protagonist Resorts To Singing Own Theme Song

If the goal is to make Eia look smart, her challenge this week certainly did not work. Doreiku continues to push some fairly poorly thought out character interactions even as it tries to escalate the tension.

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This episode really had two parts. The first has Ryuuou and his group of slaves looking into an unusual symbol on the SCM map and their actions land Julia in pretty hot water. But again, what else could be expected. And why on earth would they even take their SCM’s with them. If they didn’t have them, they couldn’t be challenged to duels and they couldn’t be stolen as slaves. It all just makes little sense. I guess the drama of Julia’s predicament is supposed to be the payoff as we wait to see how she’s either rescued, gives in or goes crazy, but I’m really indifferent to her plight.

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Meanwhile, Eia and her newly formed band are trying to gain more slaves. All for freedom of course. And yet there was a lot left to chance here. Eia had to rely on one of her slaves collecting enough in donations that she would be beat what the guy could take from his stores. And there was no way to know what the store take would be. While the whole trick with the 10 million yen kind of seems superficially clever, it really serves zero purpose. If they’d never offered it, the guy might have worked a bit harder to gather money, but if he’s had a brain he’s have collected everything he could regardless. So basically, Eia just burned 10 million yen for nothing. The outcome of the game wouldn’t have changed either way. Unless she really just wanted to have Outa beaten up. And I guess maybe that is motive enough.

I think what really annoyed me was how smug she looked while holding up her bank book and showing that it really was 10 million. Seriously? That’s even stupider. At the least, only put the money on top if you are going to burn it.

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This show really frustrates me because it’s like the writers keep trying to be clever but it all ends up really dumb or pointless.

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Karandi James

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