December 27, 2011
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Title: Cube x Cursed x Curious
Genre: Action, Comedy, Romance, Supernatural
Rating: 7.8/10

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Summary: Haruaki Yachi is a high school student living alone in an old solitary home. When he wakes to a suspicious sound in his kitchen, he finds… a naked rice thief. The woman calls herself “Fear” and claims to be a cursed tool who has come Yachi’s home to remove her curse. Since he’s affected by the curse, Fear ends up moving in with Haruaki, and that’s where the story begins

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Review: An unexpected series in my watch list that pulled me in and got me curious. I’m starting to see the error in my cover-judging ways as more and more series arise like Cube x Cursed x Curious. The first episode threw me off completely because it was filled with bad jokes, cutesy characters and far too many unwanted panty shots. My judge level was so high I felt that one more episode would have maxed it out. As the second episode rolled around the week after I was hesitant to watch it. The first half just as I expected. The new mysterious Fear in Cube is now a student enrolled in the main character’s school. The cursed tools and removal of the curse was beginning to look like a slice of life. Suddenly, action hits. Intense fight scenes, bloodshed, and a dark, twisted atmosphere shrouded the world of Cube x Cursed x Curious. I was taken back by the sheer about of scene switches, jaw-dropping backgrounds and some of the greatest action I have seen in a while. The evil smiles and horror gave Mirai Nikki a run for its money. The villains of this series actually seemed to be pure evil instead of the “misunderstood bully” some other anime tend to have. They were out for only one thing: blood. I couldn’t believe my eyes at first when I saw a sudden transformation from the sweet and innocent Fear to a torturous beast. The stitching covering her inner nature snaps and all hell broke loose. I watched the scene multiple times in disbelief that this series took such a sudden turn. From then on I was hooked. Every week I was looking forward to the next episode, most of which never left me disappointed. The anime had turned out to be both visual pleasing and aggressive. The anime hits you hard with action and breaks the tension with minor jokes in between.

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The art for Cube x Cursed x Curious is some of the best I’ve seen. It is easily ranked up their with some of my favorites like Bakemonogatari. The backgrounds always had something going on. It was the minor details that made the art astonishing. There was never a dull moment even during dialogue scenes. The screen would constantly be changing angles and minor changes and fluidity of the scenery were amazing eye candy. The fight scenes were all different and well choreographed. Despite using many of the same torture devices in every fight, it always felt like something different. The weapons themselves were well thought out. The torture devices that Fear used were all based off actual torture devices from different cultures. The Brazen Bull, Rack, and Break Wheel were all part of her arsenal. Of course each had a slight twist to fit the style of the anime. When she summoned the devices it wasn’t the same scene over and over again. The illustrator managed to change things ever so slightly to keep it fresh. The characters were also rather well drawn out. I wasn’t a huge fan of the repetitive clothing (school uniform), because I feel that is the lazy man’s way out of of thinking of something new. One of the things that made this anime so unique was the representation of many gory scenes. As I said earlier the fights were far from swords clashing and minor cuts. The battles often had deep puncture wounds, oozes of blood, and other such unpleasant scenarios of pain. However, instead of relying on the dreaded black bar of censorship, they took these scenes and represented them in a different manner. Instead of censoring someone’s intestines getting ripped out, they represented it with silhouettes. An unexpected and far better method than anime before such as Blood-C. Using simple designs and colors to show the action instead of blacking out the entire screen made the anime flow better.  Against other beautiful artwork this season from anime like Guilty Crown, I still find that Cube x Cursed x Curious takes the cake for best art of the season. Why? I find that Guilty Crown has amazing art, but it isn’t something that is ground breaking. What shined most in Guilty Crown were the fights. While still pretty, the rest of the anime isn’t something that should be considered unique. Cure x Cursed x Curious took it a step further and made every instance a masterpiece.

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The story of Cube x Cursed x Curious is where many of the points were lost. It wasn’t that the story was completely horrible, it just didn’t captivate me as well as others. I’m still not entirely sure what the point of many of the fights were or where Fear came from. The entire anime remains a mystery with very few explanations along the way. There are these things called disks that Fear is apparently collecting from these other cursed tools. What they do exactly I’m not sure entirely sure. The idea of lifting a curse off of a tool to become a normal human is also vague. There is no surefire way of lifting the curse, but the characters seem determined. I would say that was a negative point of the series, but they managed to make it work. The ambiguity of an actual cure to curses made the anime a little more believable. There also seemed to be a split of factions that were after Fear in Cube. Some wanted her dead while others wanted to study her. I’m not entirely sure who was on what side or why. There was no definite motive other than, well, curiosity. I’d argue that the ones out to kill Fear did it for vengeance. But then they would use cursed tools to kill a cursed tool because they hated cursed tools? Seems a bit ironic and faulty in my eyes. Why would you want to use a tool to destroy another tool for the simple fact that you find them dangerous? Common sense is overrated in that society I suppose. The characters of the show weren’t too bad. None of them completely grabbed my attention though. The main character Yachi was the typical boy in a mix of girls that would stand up for each and every one of them despite the dangers. He would never back down from a fight and always acted with the best intentions. Other characters, even Fear, who were meant to show changes in behavior, didn’t. The character development suffered dramatically because nothing ever changed. There were hints of change with one of the characters at the very end, only to be overlooked. One of the characters that stood out the most was the student body president, Kirika. Voiced by the beautiful Eri Kitamura, Kirika soon became one of leads of the anime in the second half. I dare say she even outshined Fear. Her back story was probably the most fleshed out and a continuing character that kept getting better. The reason I found her so intriguing is because you saw her many faces. Her calm collected self, overly joyful, jealous, venerable, and angry. It created an in-depth personality I didn’t’ see in other characters. Seeing her as the lead in the second half only made me like Cube x Cursed x Curious more. Thankfully, they kept the ending open enough for a second season. That being said, it doesn’t require a second season in the least. If the series ended the way it did this season I would still be satisfied. It answered enough questions and wrapped things up nicely to give the viewer a decent sense of closure.

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The soundtrack of Cube x Cursed x Curious wasn’t bad either. The openings were what stood out to me. With only twelve episodes they managed to pump out two different openings. One with the focus on Fear and the other on Kirika. It seems to me like the anime could easily go for another season and use the openings as a segway into other characters’ backstories. Just as I mentioned how the series had wonderful visuals so did the openings. Seeing Fear dancing in the cherry blossoms to the beat of the song was gorgeous. It may just be me but I don’t recall any special background music per say. Only key sounds and ambiance that made the fight scenes more enjoyable. I listened to the full openings and while I enjoyed them I don’t think I’ll place them in my playlists.

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Final statements: A surprisingly good anime that I never expected to catch my attention this season. The blood, gore, and general creepiness of the story kept things interesting. Most credit has to go to the illustrator of this series because without such jaw dropping art I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed it as much as I did. I’m hoping for a second season with a couple new character introductions and unanswered questions, but if it remains as is I still consider it a preferred watch.

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