Kure-nai–Anime Review

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3.5 Stars
I initially had mixed feelings about this show, but it’s definitely interesting, if a bit unsettling. I find that it grows on me as I rewatch it.

The show has some offputting elements. It has a grim vision in which the bright, safe world of everyday life is a thin veneer over a dark reality of lawless violence. Also the hero can be annoyingly stupid.

Good points: Firstly, Murasaki, a bossy 7-year-old girl who is an absolutely wonderful character. I think it’s worth watching the show just to see her. Murasaki is played by 11-year-old Aoi Yuuki, and it should be interesting to watch her future career. This show actually has several great characters, but Murasaki outshines all the others.

  • Title
    Kure-nai [1]
  • Genres
    Adventure, Drama
  • Demographic
  • Contents
    12 Episodes
  • Based on
    a series of light novels by Kentarou Katayama
  • Director
    Kou Matsuo
  • Original Character Design
    Yamato Yamamoto
  • Character Design
    Kumi Ishii
  • Art Director
    Kazuhiro Arai
  • Chief Animation Director
    Kumi Ishii
  • Animation Studio
    Brains Base
  • Broadcast
  • Region 1 Publisher
    None, as yet

The opening sequence is oddly misleading. It features dancing chibis and suggests that this is some sort of cheerful comedy, which it is not.

The ending is also disconcerting–at least it certainly wasn’t what I expected. It’s not necessarily a bad ending; in fact I’m pretty sure that it’s supposed to be a happy ending, but you may or may not agree. It depends on what you think will happen in the future, and what value you set on possible trade-offs. On the whole I suspect that Japanese viewers will like the ending more than many Americans will.

Parental Advisory

Bloody violence and adult themes make this series questionable for pre-teen viewers.

On the other hand, that implies that Aoi Yuuki should not be allowed to watch the series that she starred in, which seems a hard position to defend. At a minimum I suggest previewing the entire series before allowing younger children to watch it.

Premise and Characters

ShinkurouShinkurou Kurenai is an atypical sixteen-year-old. An orphan (his parents were killed by terrorists) he lives alone in a tiny, unkempt apartment. By day he attends high school. By night he has a part-time job as a “dispute mediator.”
Dispute Mediation“Dispute mediation” seems to involve using his martial arts skills to beat up people until they are willing to relinquish their claims, so an alternate term might be “hired thug.” However the people he beats up are all nasty characters who thoroughly deserve it, so I guess that’s OK.
BenikaBenika Juuzawa is Shikurou’s boss in the dispute mediation business. Tired of low-level assignments, he begs her for a more challenging task to prove his mettle. She thinks it over, and agrees. He is to guard a young girl, keep her hidden in his apartment, let no-one know that she is there, and protect her from anyone who might try to harm or seize her.
MurasakiSeven-year-old Murasaki Kuhooin [2] obviously comes from a wealthy background. Her speech is elegant for such a small child, and her manner is imperious. She starts out by treating Shinkurou like a servant. She is bright and observant, but very naive and ignorant about ordinary life. Her arrogant attitude conceals a deep loneliness and vulnerability.
YayoiBenika doesn’t really trust a neophyte like Shinkurou to handle such a dangerous assignment alone. She orders her trusted lieutenant Yayoi Inuzuka to keep an eye on him.
Kuhooin HouseBenika has reason to be concerned, because she actually kidnapped Murasaki, and her family, the Kuhooins, are wealthy, powerful, ruthless and more-or-less above the law.
Kuhooin ThugsTheir agents are searching for Murasaki and are prepared to use force to get her back.
RenjouMurasaki’s father Renjou Kuhooin is a grim-looking man, haunted by a sense of guilt.
KazukoHis wife Kazuko is a beautiful woman with a cold manner, nursing a hidden resentment.
RyuujiHis son Ryuuji seems more confident than his father and has a cruel look about him.
ShoppingFor much of the story we follow Murasaki as she learns about the real world and interacts with Shinkurou and his friends and neighbors.
Murasaki and Baseball Player
TamakiTamaki Mutou lives next door. She is a college student and pretends to be very worldly.
Yamie and ShinkurouYamie dresses in black and affects a mysterious, gothic manner.
Yuuno and ShinkurouYuuno Houzuki is Shinkurou’s classmate and occasional sparring partner.
Yuuno Fighting ShinkurouHer family took him in when he was young and trained him in martial arts. She appears to be secretly in love with him.
Ginko and ShinkurouAnother classmate, Ginko Murakami, is a computer maven and often helps Shinkurou by digging up information on the Internet. She also seems to have a secret crush on him.
Ginko and Yuuno seem somewhat underused as characters. Perhaps we will see more of them in a sequel.


Wikipedia article (spoilers.)

ANN Encyclopedia entry.


[1] The hyphenation of the title suggests that a pun is intended. The hero’s name Kurenai means “crimson”, but kure nai could mean something like “there is no end.”

[2] I’m not sure whether this counts as a hidden meaning, but there is an interesting symmetry between the name of the two main characters. Kurenai Shinkurou means something like “Crimson, True Ninth Son”, while Murasaki Kuhooin means “Nine Phoenix Temple, Purple.”