Love Tyrant Could Well Be The Worst Anime Ever Created
I almost never do posts dedicated to a single anime. I find room to fit what I want to say into my lists. However, this is a special case.
Love Tyrant (jap: Renai Boukun) is an anime it was hard to remain unaware of. The marketing push was big enough that it soon enough appeared on my Twitter timeline, where it quickly became infamous.
The premise of Love Tyrant centres around the Kiss Note, a self-confessed rip-off of Death Note. The idea is that any two names written up as a pair in the book will have to kiss, without their consent, and without knowing they didn’t consent to it. The marketing and the show itself tries to sell this as “forbidden love”, but let’s be honest: it’s trying to make sexual assault seem cute.
So that’s what I went into the first episode expecting. I make a point of of looking at shows I know I won’t like, because it’s hard to properly write about something without knowing how bad it is, and why it’s that bad.
Then it turned out to be so much worse than I could have expected, and I am still flabbergasted by that. It is simply staggering. I made it five minutes into the episode before I broke down. The scope of the implications this thing creates is horrifying to try to wrap your mind around.
All things taken into consideration, Love Tyrant could well be the worst anime ever created.
It’s like an amalgamation, a homunculus, of everything good and bad about anime combined into a product that is somehow worse than the negative value of the sum of its parts. Every bit of it, big and small, contributing to the monstrosity. The bad parts make it awful. The good parts make the awful even worse. The premise and moral of the story are abhorrent. It all melts together into this terrifying end-point of the evolution of anime.
Every new thing I learn about it just makes it worse. I feel like I know both too much, and too little. As if I’ve glimpsed some cthulian horror that’s tainted my mind. The only thing that could make this better is if it bombs horribly, just crashes and burns completely. But we all know it won’t. This is going to be really popular. Most people don’t think too much about this stuff, and in a way I can’t blame them.
It’s a very cute and nice-looking show with well-designed characters, which just makes it all the more sinister and insidious. It gives it the power to slip its horror past people’s defences. A lot of people are going to watch it, and see nothing wrong with it. And some, not all, but some are going to have an impression quietly and unknowingly seeded into the back of their minds of how this is all perfectly fine. This is going to affect people. Which is absolutely terrifying.
So this is your warning: I am about to get into the details of this show. If you would prefer to have your mind unspoiled by this knowledge, stop reading now.
We start with this vampire-fanged girl showing up at main dude’s door dressed in a grim reaper cloak, and holding a scythe, because… references, I guess. I’ve been told she’s actually a cupid within this universe, so the outfit makes no sense beyond being another nod towards Death Note. Anyway, she tells him that he has to kiss someone within 24 hours, and he rightly closes the door on her. She manages to get him to open again, and worms her way inside to show him her Kiss Note and how his name is written in it. To which he comments “considering what this is ripping off, does that mean…?”, and she confirms it means death if the kiss doesn’t happen. Which doesn’t make sense considering how it’s demonstrated to work just minutes later.
She also adds that it means her death, not his, at which point he tries to throw her out again. Worming her way back in once more, she starts to go into more detail, I think… main-dude isn’t really paying attention, as he’s trying to work up his nerve for this kiss, feeling coerced to do so to avoid her dying. Except when he kisses her she doesn’t even react, and instead moves into the part of her exposition where she decides to demonstrate how the book works. Which is where things get worse.
She writes down the name of the prime minister, and I believe his secretary of state (I am not going back to check), and turns on the news to see the two of them sharing what looks like a very passionate kiss. When he asks why she would do that, she says it’s her hobby. Which has very dark implications on its own. But don’t worry, it’s still going to get worse.
Opening the book to his name, she points out how he is by himself and not matched up with anyone, which means that it doesn’t do anything. Doesn’t that mean she lied earlier about him needing to kiss someone? Maybe this is further explained later, but I didn’t get to that, because this is immediately followed up by what broke me and sent my mind reeling.
He then tentatively asks “So when I kissed you earlier…?”, and she responds “…that was just sexual assault.” So they know. They know! They know it’s wrong to kiss someone without their consent. Except somehow it’s okay when it’s done via the book. Then it’s cute and romantic. Thrilling forbidden love. Writing two people’s names in a book, which forces them to kiss each other, neither understanding that it isn’t by their own choice, but by the whim of someone like her. Because apparently she’s not the only one with a book like this. She’s not the only cupid. The implications of that are simply staggering. Astounding.
I had to stop watching. I was completely broken. My mind was having deep trouble comprehending what I’d just heard and seen. It was awful enough when I thought they thought it was simply okay to kiss someone against their will in the name of love, but they know. They know it’s wrong. They just think it’s okay when it’s done via the book, when two people are being unknowingly coerced into kissing each other. Both unaware it wasn’t by their choice, but for her amusement.
Yet it gets even worse, as I am told by someone who read the manga that in this universe, these Kiss Notes are the only reason, the only way, anyone becomes a couple. How does this keep getting worse? How does falling in love work then? Is the best case scenario that a cupid is paying close attention to those who develop feelings and only write those people down as couples? How many of them are like her, though? Or somewhere inbetween her and the good ones? What happens if someone isn’t working out and want to break up? Or does that not happen because the magic of the books keeps them loyal and in love? Is cheating still a thing? Can one cupid encroach upon another’s couples by writing one of them with someone else?
See, this is what I mean by knowing both too much, and too little. I am in too deep, yet a morbid curiosity still wonders how much deeper it goes. Every explanation, justification, and excuse; every new piece of the puzzle just makes this creation worse. Everything bad makes it more awful, everything good makes it more insidious.
I’m not sure if I want to know whether the creators weren’t aware of exactly what they were saying with how they made this, or they were fully aware and made it like this on purpose.
And it’s going to get a pass because it’s so cutesy and fun. People are going to go “eh, it’s harmless”, “you’re overreacting”, “what’s the big deal”, “it makes sense within its own universe”, “but it’s so cute/funny”, etc.
Maybe if it existed in a vacuum it wouldn’t really matter. Maybe then it wouldn’t be so bad. But it doesn’t, and it is. Every piece of media exists within our culture, influencing it and being influenced by it. Everything has a message, whether or not the creator intends for it to. People’s values, views, and experiences affect what they create and it makes some sort of statement. And someone is going to pick up on it, knowingly or unknowingly.
I am certain this show is going to be popular, and that is honestly the most terrifying thing of all.