Ryota OhsakaKenichi SuzumuraKazuyuki OkitsuRyohei Kimura
Libra of Nil Admirari
Also known as: Nil Admirari no Tenbin: Teito Genwaku Kitan
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2018
Director: Masahiro Takata
Writer: Tomoko Konparu
Actor: Akane Sanada, Akito Sakuragi, Ayumu Murase, Daichi Endo, Eiji Miyashita, Hikaru Midorikawa, Hiro Shimono, Junya Enoki, Juri Kimura, Kazuyuki Okitsu, Kenichi Suzumura, Kentaro Tone, Makoto Ishii, Masakazu Nishida, Minami Takahashi, Nobuhiko Okamoto, Norio Kobayashi, Rio Natsuki, Ryohei Kimura, Ryota Ohsaka, Seirou Ogino, Takahiro Sakurai, Yuuki Kaji
Keywords: anime, fantasy, rubbish
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=20069
Website category: Anime 2018
Review date: 12 December 2019
Nil Admirari no Tenbin
I'm startled by how bad that was. I'd liked ep.1. Admittedly it's an otome game adaptation, but it didn't have to flop this hard. It was a struggle keeping my hand from the fast-forward button during the last few episodes... and they were the more dramatic ones!
The ideas are quite good. It's a historical, set in an alternate Japan in the 1920s or 1930s. People are killing themselves after reading some books called "cursed tomes". Maybe they'll burn themselves alive, or maybe they'll hang themselves. Our heroine, Tsugumi Kuze, has the supernatural ability to identify cursed tomes. They glow and burn. Discarding her wealthy but restrictive life, she joins the Imperial Library Information Assets Management Bureau to try to save the victims. (Importantly, for an otome game, this means she's now surrounded by handsome men. There's not much romance, admittedly, but it's still a reverse-harem. You'll have suggestive scenes like our heroine being pressed down on a bed by a handsome man who opens his shirt and says that he needs her... but it won't be what you think. I was surprised by our heroine's bosom-emphasising uniform, though.)
The actual script is weaker, but still sometimes okay. There is a plot. Even when I was fighting to stay awake and convinced that nothing was happening, there is still a plot. People are dying. Someone's writing these books. There's an evil organisation that may or may not have agents. However there's also a fair amount of dead air, with Tsugumi and the boys being charming (if you're generous) in going-nowhere scenes that only exist for thumb-twiddling genre reasons. Food! Restaurants! Zzzzz. Oh, and Ukai is a brat.
Despite this, though, the problem's just as much in the execution. Direction, static animation and character design.
The big ep.10 Sasagoi scene is the one that convinced me of this. The last few episodes are dreadful... but they shouldn't be. On paper, they're fine. Actors on stage, for instance, could have made that Sasagoi scene work. The script has lots of meat and more than enough drama. As realised here, though, it looks static and cheap. Too much dialogue from characters who are just standing there, reading the lines. It goes on too long and it all feels the same. The voice actors are doing their best, but the visuals look like someone playing with dolls. The cast are doll-like. Look at their faces, especially Tsugumi. She's got huge, expressionless eyes that are usually too wide to convey anything at all. Similarly, the boys are porcelain, pretty and mannequin-like.
In this scene, the good guy's just standing there, on and on, talking calmly as he looks cool and beautiful. I got no sense of a character with dramatic motivation. Is he trying to achieve a goal? Convince someone? Nope. The scene should have been dramatic, but it just feels like people exploring their feelings until it's time for the next scene and/or a hug. It's like a counselling session.
There's meatier material to come. There's a murdered mother, attempted killings, "you are my [relative]", etc. Quite a lot of the latter, actually... but in practice you're still watching dolls. It's possible to find one's attention drifting in a scene where a woman's holding her rapist at gunpoint.
Oh, and I struggled to tell the boys apart. They tend to have a similar appearance and manner. Lots of iterations of "charming and slightly cocky". In the romantic scene in ep.12, I couldn't remember which generic boy I was looking at. Ukai's the main exception to this, being obnoxious.
That said, though, all those opinions are subjective. My reactions might be unusual. The things the show does wrong are subtle and often don't come from the script. The story's quite interesting, underneath, and it should be straightforward to tell apart the ill-distinguished cast if you put in some additional effort. The historical setting adds flavour. It's dark. (Forced suicide, sexual violence and more.) It's also downplaying genre conventions, to the extent of not really being a romance at all. The boys aren't competing to win Tsugumi's heart, while Tsugumi herself is less wet than most harem and reverse-harem hero(in)es.
The opening credits are fun. The closing credits are riotous manservice.
I should stop watching otome game adaptations. The only ones I've seen that worked are the disturbing ones where the fantasy is about vampires and devils who abuse you, torture you, threaten to kill you and/or treat you like a slave. Yeah, I know. That's a specialised definition of "worked", but at least those shows have a (bad) personality. This one was just a slog. It's harmless, but empty. An episode will either be content-light or content-flattening (thanks to the animation and direction). Its dramatic peaks tended to misfire for me, while its bread-and-butter episodes made me tune out. I got on the wrong side of it.