Ayakashi Triangle Review: Anime Was a Mistake

Directed by Noriaki Akitaya

Produced by Connect

Streaming on Crunchyroll

I have defended ecchi anime about as often as I’ve criticized it. For every Food Wars and My Dress-Up Darling, there is a Seven Deadly Sins or a Classroom of the Elite.

While fanservice can be used to enhance a story by embellishing existing romantic elements, communicating themes and messages to the audience, or just appealing to the fact that otaku are a bunch of horny nerds, there are just as many that do not. In fact, it’s likely that there are more anime that use fanservice and ecchi as a cheap tool to get people watching.

And there is value to anime like that, and I don’t want people to come away from this thinking that a fanservice anime is inherently bad. An artist’s goal is important to criticizing the art they create, and if their goal was to create suggestive or explicit material, then it should be judged in how well it accomplishes that, not whether or not I believe it should have attempted to meet that goal.

And then there’s anime like Ayakashi Triangle, which tries to be a lot of things: shonen battle anime, ecchi, a comedy, a blatant ripoff of Ranma ½, and the list goes on. Does it succeed at doing any of those things? You know we wouldn’t be here if it did.

In the shadows of modern day Japan, a war is waged between the ayakashi, fearsome spirits who devour human souls, and the exorcist ninja who protect humanity by slaying them. Well, not really in the shadows, because even though they claim only special people can see the ayakashi, they still have massive ninjutsu battles and really don’t explain how no one sees all those explosions, but whatever.

Matsuri Kazamaki is a young exorcist ninja of a famed clan, dedicated to eradicating dangerous ayakashi, all to protect his childhood friend Suzu, a medium who is the equivalent of a really tasty snack to ayakashi. However, Matsuri can never tell her the truth, because…they don’t really explain why he never tells her that her life will always be in danger and how to take steps to protect herself. He just knows that she’s eventually going to get killed because of this and shrugs it off because she’s clearly too stupid to be trusted with that information.

But it is this misunderstanding that leads to disaster! Suzu believes that Matsuri is being cruel to the ayakashi, and protects one called Shirogane, running away with it. He decides that the girl who every evil spirit wants to eat will be totally fine with the evil spirit and heads home to complain to his grandpa about how women just don’t get it.

Once home, though, his grandfather reveals that Shirogane is actually the king of ayakashi, and was able to hide his power level from Matsuri to lure Suzu into a trap! Why, you ask, doesn’t Matsuri know that powerful ayakashi are able to conceal their power, or what the name of their king is? The show never explains. Are you seeing a theme here?

Matsuri rushes to find Suzu at the shrine, now in the clutches of Shirogane, preparing to devour her and regain his full power. He knows she’s at the shrine because she always goes there when she’s upset, so it really makes you wonder why he didn’t go after her earlier if he knew where she’d be going. So, he was fully capable of going after her and stopping the monster that was going to kill her, but didn’t. The one time the show bothers explaining a plot point, they actually wind up creating a bigger plot hole.

In a heated fight, Matsuri unleashes the full force of his exorcist ninja powers, and defeats the king of ayakashi actually pretty easy, so if you were hoping that there would be any tension in any fight going forward, forget it. Before he succumbs to the onslaught, though, Shirogane is overcome with rage. If he falls here, then these two will make up and get all mushy, and he must not allow that to happen! He casts the one spell left at his disposal, the powerful gender swap art!

The plot of this anime is that dollar store Naruto got turned into a girl because a demon incel was mad that Notruto had more game. Yes, really.

I think I already explained everything that’s wrong about Ayakashi Triangle by just stating its plot as the writer communicated it. I mean, there’s a lot more that I could say, but the story speaks for itself.

I mean, I guess I still have a review to write, so I kind of have to keep talking about it, but you see what I mean.

I will say that there is potential to a character exploring their sexuality through the lens of a magical sex change. There’s a lot of subtext and real world issues that can be addressed through this kind of storyline, but it requires infinitely more tact and talent to pull off than this anime is capable of.

Besides, everything that Ayakashi Triangle does here has already been done better by Ranma ½ over thirty years ago. And that’s something else you’ll be noticing a lot; I have no idea why this anime exists. There is no clear purpose, nothing that it does well, and no audience that it could appeal to. Its characters are insufferable, the dialogue is repetitive and bland, and the animation? Oh, buddy, let me tell you about the animation.

When I tell you that Ayakashi Triangle has nothing going for it, I mean nothing. Name something about its presentation, and it is a technical and artistic disaster.

The character design is as bland as a saltine; forget it, the salt on a saltine has more flavor than any one of these cookie cutter designs. I have seen each of these characters in five better shows, and the scenes that these characters are placed in are no better.

The fight scenes are the most egregious example, combining laughable storyboarding with little to no animation. There is not even one shot that begins to look good; how do the still frame dialogue scenes manage to be off-model? Half the time they twist the characters unnaturally so half their face is visible so the animators only have to draw one eye.

The fact that a show in 2023 is ripping off the action from Naruto, which came out more than 20 years earlier, and still looks this bad is astonishing. And that would be bad enough if this was just an action anime, but unfortunately, they also try to go for fanservice.

Ecchi is a delicate art, and trying to trick a human brain into finding a simplified likeness of a person believably attractive requires a certain degree of artistic talent and anatomical fidelity. Instead, you get some bare bones jiggling and the main character acting like a creep. Even the opening, which common sense dictates would receive a large portion of the studio’s time and attention, just shoves some poorly rendered fanservice in your face that wouldn’t be out of place in your 2007 Deviant Art OC folder.

Heck, the sound mixing is even terrible! Half the time they crank the music so loud that you can’t hear the dialogue. On every conceivable level, Ayakashi Triangle is a failure.

There are good anime that are simply not for me. There are bad anime that I understand the appeal of. And finally, there are anime like Ayakashi Triangle, whose deficiencies are so severe, whose strengths are so scarce, that I don’t believe anyone who claims to like the show.

Maybe the manga is better. The art I’ve seen doesn’t look terrible, and fixing the presentation would at least make the story tolerable. Either way, considering that anime adaptations generally serve as advertisements for their source material, I’d be very worried if I were the author. Anime like Ex-Arm often wind up killing their manga from sheer notoriety, and while Ayakashi Triangle isn’t exceptional enough to be as bad as Ex-Arm, neither does it have the potential for a good hate watch, either.

Ayakashi Triangle snags the illustrious rating of Boring Egregious, and the worst of the winter season is over, I can breathe a sigh of relief. The last two shows I’m reviewing actually happen to be two of my favorites this season, so look forward to those.

In the meantime, follow the Otaku Exhibition to get notified when those reviews go live, or follow me on Twitter @ExhibitionOtaku for your notifications packed in with bite-sized scathing commentary. Until next time, thanks for reading.

EgregiousAyakashi Triangle
MediocreThe Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten
FineTomo-chan is a Girl!
PleasingKubo Won’t Let Me Be InvisibleNieR:Automata Ver1.1a
FantasticTrigun Stampede

One response to “Ayakashi Triangle Review: Anime Was a Mistake”

  1. Yeah, I kind of had a feeling this anime wouldn’t be one of the season’s best. I’m glad I followed my instincts! Thank you for the review, I learned a lot and I didn’t even have to watch this series!

    Liked by 2 people

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