You know what I miss? Having more B and C grade shows to watch. Not shows that are mediocre or just sloppy, but shows that are good because they are comfortable being what they are. Show that aren’t trying to be the best, or redefine the discourse, Just anime that are happy showing up, telling their story and then bowing out. Even if those shows are middling to ‘eh’, it is important to have those around. Now does the show we are looking at today do this? Well after the cut let’s take a dive into Engage Kiss and find out.
About a year or so ago, I took a look at a show called High-Rise Invasion. And while I had no real love for the show, I really enjoyed that it completely owned being a B-grade horror movie. Was it good? Not at all, but it was so content in just being what it was and owning that vibe that I couldn’t help but respect it. And after watching all Engage over these last few months, I couldn’t help but start to get that feeling again, in some regards.
Let me be clear, Engage Kiss, at its best, at least has an interesting premise. Set in the future island city of Bayron, we follow Shu Ogata, owner of a two-man military company who spends his days either mooching off his ex-girlfriend Ayano, or barely making ends meet. Desiring to find out what happened to his family, he makes a deal with the mysterious devil girl named Kisara who offers him a choice: The power to defeat his enemies in exchange for his memories, and of course the only way to do that, is through frenching.
Now I’ll be honest. There were many times throughout Engage’s run where I was close to dropping it. Moments were I felt the story was losing me, the pacing was too slow, or there wasn’t enough stuff going on to keep my (heh) engaged. Yet every time I thought I was out, it somehow pulled me back in and I managed to finish the series quite enjoying it, despite thinking that overall, the entire show was ‘eh’.
Part of the reason is that Engage continues this new trend of committing fully to it’s more sexual nature. While not an Ecchi in the slightest, Engage allows it’s main characters to actually act like adults when it comes to their relationships. While Shu is a bit of a player, stringing Ayano, Kisara, and best-girl Sharon freaking Holygrail along. They at least let their relationships evolve and be intimate. We never see the sex, but it is clear that each of them has slept with Shu and they treat their relationship accordingly. Had the anime instead kept the characters locked in that eternal ‘teenage’ stuff that anime often falls into it, it might have been grating, but seeing that Shu and the others actually getting to bone each other feels refreshing, dare I say it, a mature take for an anime like this.
Furthermore, Engage, despite its problems of pacing, had a story that again, saved me from dropping it multiple times. Most of that has to due with the characters who managed to avoid being completely one-note. Shu’s deal with Kisara and the slow stripping of his memories is an interesting premise and shows the conflict between him trying to find out the truth, and sacrificing the fulfilling life and relationships he had afterwards. Seeing Ayano struggle with wanting to help Shu in his quest, but also trying to protect the man she loves was compelling, and thankfully explained why she puts up with his slacker tendencies. Kisara manages to balance being the ‘fish out of water’ demonic girl, and obsessed stalker girlfriend pretty decently, and of course everything with Sharon freaking Holygrail was perfection. I don’t think I’ve fallen in love with a character that easily in a long time, but man it just works.
Engage Kiss was a mediocre show that came out in a very mediocre season. I doubt I will think about the show after I finish this blog post, because frankly there isn’t much to chew on. Yet despite that, it easily slides into that comfortable zone of b-grade movie slop, that I am quickly coming around to respect. This is an anime you watch, decided whether or not you’ll stick with it, and enjoy your time accordingly. A true ‘pick up and put down’ piece of entertainment that wasn’t trying to create a fandom or be the next big social media trend. I think we need more of that, and regardless of its overall quality. I am glad I stuck with this show and maybe you’ll give it a look and find the same thing.
Or just fall in love with Sharon freaking Holygrail.
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