Love of Kill Review: Comedy Assassination

Studio: Platinum Vision

Director: Hideaki Ooba

Streaming on: Crunchyroll

I don’t often get to time my posts well; I stick to a strict schedule, so anything coming out at an opportune time requires a lot of hassle and even more luck. It just so happens that I accidentally saved this season’s dark romcom Love of Kill for Valentine’s Day. Don’t say I never did anything for you.

I’m going to square with you, dear reader; I read the synopsis of Love of Kill, as I often do before deciding what shows to review, and I had to blink a few times, and take a step back. “Isn’t this just the premise of Spy x Family minus the kid?” You can forgive my confusion, and disappointment if Love of Kill doesn’t live up to that lofty comparison.

I appreciate a good quirky romcom, especially one with a dark sense of humor and adult characters. We all know every anime is set in high school, but I’m way more interested in a story about adults. Even if Wotakoi wasn’t brilliant, it’s actually about adults and their problems, so I’d probably still love it. Does Love of Kill manage to win me over, even with that on its side? Well…

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Chateau Dankworth (no, I’m not joking, that is her actual name) is a bounty hunter on the trail of Ryang-ha Song, one of the world’s most dangerous assassins. She fails to apprehend him as he renders a parking garage full of trained killers into mince meat, but she catches his eye, and he begins pursuing her…romantically.

In his own words, he doesn’t get a lot of chances to date, considering his busy schedule in a field dominated by men, so he’s got to take what opportunities come his way. Besides, he’s not so petty he’d worry about how they just tried to kill each other. He’s gotten this far with persistence, hard work, and a willingness to get the job done no matter the cost, so something as simple as dating should be a cinch.

Except, well, Chateau is the kind of person who would let that whole we tried to kill each other get in the way of their unconventional meet-cute, so not everything goes to plan. Despite her reservations, though, she still has a job to do, but she realizes now that she can’t take Song in a straight fight. Maybe if she can get him to drop his guard, she can make her move…to arrest him, yeah, that’s what she meant.

Except Ryang-ha Song isn’t just an unorthodox boyfriend, he’s also a wanted man, so Chateau not only has to deceive the assassin, but survive the threats that go along with dating him.

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You know what? I deserve a commendation for that synopsis, because I want to watch the show I described. Unfortunately, that show doesn’t exist, and is a lot more compelling than the show we actually got. That is mostly because Chateau Dankworth, brilliant name aside, is written like wet cardboard.

Ryang-ha isn’t so bad; he’s charming in an off-kilter sort of way, even if his approach to romance is…questionable. Hey, I’ve been out of the dating game for awhile, so maybe I’m not in the loop, but I don’t think women like it when you call them repeatedly after they reject you, and they especially don’t like it when you follow them home and hang outside until they let you in. Sure, he’s a murderer, so he’s not exactly a moral paragon, but he’s genuinely trying to woo Chateau, so he could at least do it right.

And honestly, I have no idea why he’s interested in her. Chateau has no personality to speak of, other than she’s a stick in the mud. She might not be thrilled to be the target of Ryang-ha’s affection, but this story is written in such a way that I have no idea how she would ever grow to like him. Here’s a basic rule for writing a romance for those of you at home; if your characters aren’t enjoying themselves, neither is your audience.

Love of Kill wants to be Spy x Family badly, which is absurd because it’s utterly devoid of charm. In Spy x Family, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, any story where two assassins become romantically involved, they generally don’t learn about their partner’s identity at first. It creates an immediate conflict and comedic situations kind of write themselves.

I’m not saying it can’t ever be done; genres grow and evolve by making tweaks to established formulas. It’s just that the reason this classic set-up works so well is because writers have to work to create conflict in romance stories a little more than battle shonen, and balancing that deception enhances both the com and rom in your romcom.

The leads in Love of Kill just suck. Ryang-ha is a creep who would put most early ’00 romcom leading men to shame in how he has no boundaries, and I have no idea why he’d like Chateau in the first place. Heck, I don’t know why I should like Chateau.

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But no anime is completely without merit; there has to be a redeeming feature. Maybe Love of Kill compensates for its terminal lack of charisma with sharp visuals and a snazzy soundtrack. The opening is pretty neat; it’s the jazzy sort of spy-type track you’d want, harkening back to old James Bond films. Then the characters start moving and your heart sinks.

Love of Kill looks bad. No way around that. It has its moments, though they’re rare and fleeting. The character design is drab and boring across the cast, and even if it wasn’t, the show never looks good long enough to feature these characters in a favorable light. Everyone just looks…wrong.

The opening shootout in the parking garage isn’t half-bad, but even that has a fair amount of jank, and nothing that comes after even lives up to that scene. The dramatic scenes are neutered by how cheap the whole production looks; Chateau’s car plummeting off the cliff is just laughable, and that’s the show at its funniest. I remember being surprised in the third episode because I actually found a joke funny. It took over an hour before Love of Kill made me crack a smile, and it hasn’t happened since.

As for what the show does right, the backgrounds are pretty good, especially the cityscapes. That’s it, I ran the gamut, and Love of Kill has one decent joke and good backgrounds. The lighting’s not always bad. Pack it up, let’s get this conclusion done and we can go home.

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There is simply no good reason to watch Love of Kill. It does nothing well: it’s not funny, charming, or flashy. You can find another anime that does every single thing it does, but better. It’s not terrible, but it excels in nothing, while that leaves it with nothing to compensate for its defects.

And let me repeat, Spy x Family does a similar premise far better, and the anime adaptation comes out next season. Just wait a couple months and watch Spy x Family instead! I can’t keep watching this one, so don’t let my sacrifice be in vain. I think about watching another episode and my eye twitches. I mean, they couldn’t even translate the title right! Love of Kill? That’s gibberish! If a literal translation doesn’t work, then localize it! That’s your whole job! I…I need to calm down.

So Love of Kill gets a Boring Mediocre and it will be grateful it doesn’t receive worst, because mediocre is the kindest way I can describe the anime equivalent of the stale mashed potatoes that Golden Corral tosses out at the end of the day. Sorry if I tanked my chances of getting a Golden Corral sponsorship, but I’m done, with this anime, and maybe life in general.

So, uh, follow the Otaku Exhibition on WordPress, or talk to me about actually good anime on Twitter @ExhibitionOtaku, please. Thanks for reading, I am going to walk into the ocean now.

MediocreLove of Kill
FineGenius Prince
PleasingSasaki & MiyanoMy Dress-Up DarlingDemon Slayer

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