EVIL OR LIVE – Anime Preview
Synopsis: In this modern society, a new kind of “illness” is striking young boys and girls; Loneliness, disbelief and outrage push this generation to get more or more attached to Internet and technologies. The experts called those symptom “Net Addiction”. To prevent that, a certain Rehabilitation Facility has been set up to “Lead the young man back to the right path”. Enrolled to treat his addiction, Hibiki had no idea that this Rehabilitation Facility is nothing more than a prison. In this place where it’s not permitted to escape, how will Hibiki challenge despair in this hell? (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Evil or Live’s presentation is likely to be divisive. Not only does the series utilize live action shots and cut aways during its introductory minutes that help to set up the series’ general atmosphere and plot, but the actual animation isn’t exactly top of the line. It’s decidedly low budget, not uncommon for titles from Haoliners Animation, and frequently attempts to obfuscate this by touching up the art with darkening, shadowy filters. It’s not to say these are inherently wrong choices, and in some ways fit with the series’ overly dramatic style, but they often only highlight how low budget the entire thing really is.
Linny: Between the live action sequences, the webtoon like art and jittery movements, Evil or Live is not a show for anyone stringent about top quality animation. Also, be prepared to watch the show with remote in hand as the episode often flashes the protagonist’s inner thoughts in very quick bursts onscreen meaning you’re unable to really read it all without hitting pause.
Tom: This first episode is truly focused on guiding viewers into understanding Evil or Live’s overly dramatic premise. We’re treated to a world where internet addiction, a difficult truth about our current society, is receiving a serious crack down that involves breaking the minds of children and reconditioning them to be faithful, work ethic minded members of society. It’s dark stuff, though highly exaggerated. Evil or Live nails this however, and manages to suck the viewer into its harshly dark world where teenagers are finding themselves reigned in by an oppressive society. While Evil or Live has some serious criticisms about society, particularly Chinese society as it’s based off a Manhua, its tone is unreasonably dramatic, with characters and concepts taken to the extreme. It’s lovably over the top, similar in tone to the Japanese Film Battle Royale, although Evil or Live isn’t really violent in the same way.
Linny: Evil or Live seems aware of how ridiculous its premise is and takes full advantage of it, pumping up the violence and content to come off as over the top as possible. It does its best to really sell what an extreme situation it’s depicting by showing people engaging in horrible behaviour, from the instructors to the institutionalized kids themselves. The episode is violent but the muted and dark colours help it avoid looking excessively gore-y even with all the physical beat downs that happen in the episode. But it’s not just about physical violence and manipulation. Evil or Live quickly lets the audience know that there’s a lot going on beyond sadistic brainwashing in this institution with corruption and some sort of secret networks coming into play.
Tom: While Evil or Live nails selling its tone to the audience, and getting viewers to understand the basic premise, it doesn’t have a lot to offer character wise. Our main character, Hibiki, is mainly depicted as coming to grips with the situation, keeping him in a frightened panicked state that, while believable, offers little to truly sink your teeth into. It’s only toward the end of the episode that Hibiki exhibits a more lively, three-dimensional persona. The only other avenue to understanding Hibiki is through a flashback explaining why his mother enrolled him into this rehabilitation center, showcasing a decidedly unlikable side to him that wallowed in his obsessive internet and gaming addiction.
Linny: Evil or Live is over the top but it also occasionally seems to take a more believable and realistic approach to certain matters. For example, Hibiki’s panicked reaction seems like something anyone would suffer from in a situation like this. His desperate attempt to escape and the ensuing failure of it all also helps to really sell his twisted nature and give him some character growth. But there’s no denying that most of the episode is outrageous from the excessively violent treatment doled out to the teens, to Shin, a seemingly conniving student, telling Hibiki to pick any girl as his reward in exchange for swearing allegiance to him.
Tom: Evil or Live isn’t perfect, and might be considered by more conventional standards to be pretty poor. But there’s a certain charm presented with its extreme drama and ridiculous premise that still holds some serious social critique on Chinese society, internet addiction and the like. If you like your anime a bit more hammy than naturally dramatic, Evil or Live has a promising start that I can’t help but hope will get even more extreme next week.
Linny: Evil or Live is the kind of show you watch mainly for the over the top acting and story, while trying to overlook the shoddy presentation. It takes an everyday situation or problem, dials the crazy up by a hundred and serves it up with the smallest dash of humanistic and realistic content to keep its audience entertained and engaged. It’s not a show that’s going to blow anyone away, maybe most viewers will enjoy it as a bit of a campy watch but for those intrigued by the idea of an over the top violent and conniving approach to dealing with internet addiction, Evil or Live might just turn out to be a fun watch, if nothing more.
EVIL OR LIVE is available for streaming via Crunchyroll