Ayakashi is a load of garbage that will make you want to delete your memories so you won't be embarassed with how you wasted your time and instead be left with the intriguing proposition that you drank until you blacked out. Don't watch it. Really, just don't. I can't stress it enough. I made the mistake because the first few episodes are promising, and then went through the rest in the hopes that there might be one moment where it stops making me want to cause internal bleeding in my brain. There wasn't one.
Allow me to explain.
Under the definition of ill-executed generic rubbish, you will find the poster for this series. It starts out rather promising, but at a certain point the production team just said "screw this, let's go get some drinks since we ran out of money". What we're left with is more a collection of concept art than actual animation - including choppy animation and just a sliding layer over a background. The soundtrack manages to be both cringeworthy and forgettable. Characters whose development is haphazard at best and mindbogglingly stupid at worst. And the story, dear god is that a trainwreck of cliches and oh god I wish I had never seen it.
You know the thing where they say that if you put a million monkeys in front of a million typewriters and give them a million years, at some point they will write the complete works of Shakespeare? Well, give twenty monkeys five typewriters and a couple of weeks, and you would probably get a better team to adapt the visual novel. I'm not sure the source material was good, but it couldn't have been this bad.
There are plot twists which are rather nice which save this from being an utter failure, and there were some nice concepts. My guess are that all of these come from the visual novel. But just like they don't make Batman movies by copying comic book dialogue word for word, then... oh who am I kidding, the best thing the writing staff could have done was learn the value of the copy and paste functions.
Oh, and the last three episodes were obviously written by a particularly untalented fifth grade special ed class. A bunch of normal fifth graders could have done better. Just putting that out there.
The high point of the series is subpar. The concept art is cool, because hey, magic monsters with scribbly things on them is awesome. But animation is not a collection of still shots, so this feels like something that was produced in the mid-90s. Really, I'm not expecting top-of-the-line stuff here, but in the age where there are computers, I don't want "animation" to be a picture moving over a background. Is that really too much to ask?
In this series, yes.
Now really, I wanted to give it a higher rating because some of the monsters and stuff were rather nice. But I tried giving it four and a half out of ten and just thought "oh who am I kidding?", as the four I gave is obviously too generous and probably because I am rationalizing how I wasted my time with this crap.
The sound for Ayakashi cannot be properly described without the use of four letter expletives. I really don't know who to blame for this. Was it the mediocre voice actors? The bad composers? The guy who decided to reuse crappy melodies over and over? The special effects guy? For a better world, I would recommend all of these guys get shot in the face.
The only redeeming factor in any of these things is that I have heard worse. The bad part about this is that in most of those cases, it was for parody purposes.
The writing is terrible, the dialogue mediocre, and you can just imagine some douchebag going "hey, this character needs more character, let's have her say 'peace' a couple of times, you know, like a, uhh, thing!" and the other guys just went with it because they're tired of him being so loud and talkative since he's been drinking. I cannot say I liked even one character. I actually hated some of them actively. Do you know how hard it is to get me to actually hate a character in an action series? I cheered for Joffrey in Game of Thrones, and I couldn't get myself to like a single character beyond "they're not a terrible copy of other characters that this has obviously ripped off".
There's bad. There's so bad it's good. And then there's Ayakashi. I would write more specific things, but really, you don't want to watch this, I don't want to remember it, and hopefully, I will manage to forget this ever existed. I really wish it was worse, because then it would be funny. Unfortunately, even that isn't going for it.
Elfen Lied meets Tokkou. That pretty much describes this series. It has a lot of splatter, along with some psedo-serious aspects, such as people forced to do things that hurt them. But, like the aformentioned titles, the series is just a chain of shocking scenes, unreasonable bahaviors and convinient events.
ART SECTION: 5/10 [Cute Japanese schoolgirls, covered in blood.]
Analysis: General Artwork 1/2, Character Figures 1/2, Backgrounds 1/2, Animation 1/2, Visual Effects 1/2
Visually, the series is fine. Colors and shapes are wonderful; girls in mini skirts and monstrous Ayakashi are lovely. It gets a bit ridiculous if you don’t like the dumb expressions the characters have, or the simple special effects that are used in the fights. The battles also feel “turn based” and without choreography, the monsters are static, and the splatter scenes lack realism. Overall it is quite mediocre once you see it past the pretty colors.
SOUND SECTION: 2/10 [-Me kill you. –Me screw you.]
Analysis: Voice Acting 0/3, Music Themes 1/4, Sound Effects 1/3
It didn’t strike a chord, in any way. Forgettable music themes and lukewarm voice acting is all there is to it. What I didn’t like at all is the context of the dialogues. It was completely stupid and shallow, from one-liners of seduction and threats, to endless monologues full of shallow motives.
STORY & CHARACTERS SECTION: 1/10 (spoiler alert!) [-Oh my God, they killed Kenny! –So what? Big deal!]
Story Analysis: Premise 1/2, Pacing 0/2, Complexity 0/2, Plausibility 0/2, Conclusion 0/2
Character Analysis: Presence 1/2, Personality 0/2, Backdrop 0/2, Development 0/2, Catharsis 0/2
We have an interesting main idea for a story (monsters empowering humans but destroying them in the process). The usual “kids that level buildings with energy beams, without a penalty by the police or their parents” has gotten very tiresome. Then we see them using their powers, despite knowing that they hurt them. That initially feels stupid but then you see that they are either gotten overboard by the power they possess or are forced to use it for helping somebody else. Very nice.
But then … the nice premise is ruined by the silly presentation. The anime is based on an eroge. That means that the feeling of having “all the females in the story acting like dumb, squeaky voiced bimbos who want to screw the hapless leading male” is strong. Males on the other hand just talk like barbarians and simply want to hurt or kill the protagonist. The game also featured action and gore, so expect somebody’s head or limbs to be thrown across the screen every 5 minutes. This is NOT part of the story. Just shocking events to lure you into watching more.
The story has little sense and the characters behave in quite ridiculous ways. (major spoilers follow) I mean, there is a scene where a villain cuts to pieces dozens of people. The protagonist looks and says “Hey, another Ayakashi user is near.” Get it? Not “Oh my God, he killed my friends!” Then a phycho little girl appears out of thin air and he says “Nah, it can’t be her. She is just a girl.” Very reasonable answer, right? Then the scene changes and he is mysteriously bound with chords in a warehouse. The girl is dressed like a bride and wants to have sex with him. Then another girl (which of course also digs him) is mysteriously freed and summons her Ayakashi to defeat the evil girl. And then the protagonist gets all powerful (a thing he could do anytime he wanted, but didn’t) and saves the little girl because “She is just being used.” Yes, she is just being used and so, all the hundreds of people she has turned into mincemeat are no longer an issue. The girl simply fades into thin air again and the protagonist returns home while caring the other girl on his back, while feeling her legs all over his body… Did any of these make any damn sense to you? It was just 15 minutes of the entire series. You can imagine how it goes from there. Villain women trying to seduce the protagonist instead of simply capturing him and stealing his powers. Characters standing still in plain sight when fighting with Ayakashi that move like the wind and cut people like butter. Totally senseless stuff.
VALUE & ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10 [You are one cheap whore Ayakashi.]
Analysis: Historical Value 0/3, Rewatchability 0/3, Memorability 1/4
Just like Elfen Lied and Tokkou, this series tries to pass for serious by implementing as much splatter and insanity possible. It even tries to play it mysterious by having secret organizations, the amnesia routine and lost old friends in the background. Which of course is like having a naked woman talking about the injustice in the world. Are you going to listen to her or look at her hooters? Thus, it is just a scam or even an insult to one’s intelligence. I didn’t like it and so shouldn’t anyone who has basic logic or a shead of taste.
Just play the damn eroge and skip this entirely.
Elfen Lied and Tokkou, if you don’t care about decent storytelling and characters.
Berserk and Gantz, if you do.