Libra of Nil Admirari – Anime Preview
Synopsis: It’s the 25th year of the Taisho Era in Imperial Tokyo. Kuze Tsugumi, daughter of aristocrats, agrees to be married to save her family from decline. But before she goes through with it, her younger brother Hitaki gets her involved in an incident caused by a “maremono,” a type of book that casts a great influence on whoever reads it. As a result, Tsugumi gains the power to see “aura,” a light that represents the emotions that dwell within a maremono. This is the story of a woman whose destiny seems to sway up and down, as if on the delicate balance of a scale. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Libra of Nil Admirari kicks things off with some dark stuff, people attempting suicide; one through self immolation, the other through self strangulation. But what makes this so remarkable is that Libra then immediately cuts to the opening credits, which are saturated with bright colours, pretty people, lots of dancing and smiling (as you’ve might’ve seen from the preview image when accessing this review.) This jarring tonal shift isn’t exactly show ruining; but it does make for an awkward and extreme shift that could make audiences feel startled, amused or even a little offended at the sheer clash of moods.
Tom: Libra’s in that odd place where it’s clearly Otome pandering, yet wants to also present a story that’s to be taken seriously. If it wasn’t for the jarring opening and ending credits Libra might actually work as a serious fantasy romance, even if the boys all scream Otome bait by design. Setting aside those elements, this first episode actually does an acceptable job of introducing the setting, set up, and very premise for the series going forward. We spend more time exploring the nature of these cursed tomes (for some reason referred to as maremono in the synopsis, but translated for the show’s subtitles) and how our lead, Kuze Tsugumi, becomes wrapped up in this secret quest to rid the world of these horribly dangerous books. We spend so much time on this that we don’t even entertain the notion that this story is actually a romance otome game property, making the opening feel like something a wider audience could potentially get sucked into, save for the otome pandering via opening and ending credits that really does cause extreme tonal whiplash.
Linny: Despite the lack of romance, there’s no mistaking the classic Otome signs, such as all the pretty boys in credits, the few featured in the episode itself and a most timid, self insert, generic nice girl, Kuze Tsugumi who needs to be ‘rescued’ from a situation that she’s stuck in out of the goodness of her heart.
Tom: As leads go, Kuze Tsugumi is generally likeable. While she’s perhaps a bit meek and too accepting of her forced arranged marriage at first, her admission later on that this path in life is not truly something she’s comfortable with makes her endearing enough, finally bucking against her fate and choosing to join up in the quest to seal away the Cursed Tomes that nearly claim her brother’s life. But as far as greater characteristics, quirks, and personality traits, she still comes across as the archetypal good girl, self-insert lead and that can make her feel perhaps too bland and uninteresting at times.
Linny: I have to disagree with Tom in that while Tsugumi does finally grow a backbone, it still feels weak as it arises from the instigation of male characters; her brother’s suffering and the boys that visit her from the organization tasked with stopping the cursed tomes. If all these events and people hadn’t come into her life, the show almost makes it seem like she would have continued on, secretly unhappy, without any protest. All we ever get from her side is a meek monologue about how she’s doing this to protect her family name. This could still have been honorable but the way she talks about it is so insipid and cliche, self sacrificing damsel in distress that it’s likely to frustrate someone seeking a truly strong female lead.
Tom: Overall Libra’s Otome pandering keeps it from feeling like a series I can recommend beyond that demographic. As Otome game adaptations go, I do have to say this feels like one of the stronger ones, save the tonal shifts, as it spends time setting up the story and world, rather than opening with pretty boy romance from the get go. It’s trying to be more than it really is, and while it doesn’t succeed at that, it does put it up above some of the more shameless, cash grab adaptations.
Linny: What I adore about Libra of Nil Admirari so far is that for an Otome with a dark tone, it keeps its drama at a believable level. There’s no excessively melodramatic outbursts from our heroine; and even the few outbursts from others are explained to be the work of cursed tomes. The episode never lingers on them too long, prioritizing set up over emotional sequences that outstay their welcome. It’s still clearly an Otome game adaptation though, featuring a wealth of the cliches that come with those genre of games. I would say Libra of Nil Admirari might be best watched by fans of Otome games seeking an adaptation that’s a little dark but not overtly melodramatic.
Libra of Nil Admirari is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.