REVIEW: Love of Kill Needs More Assassinations

Season aired: Winter 2022

Number of episodes: 12

Genres: Drama, Action, Mystery

Thoughts: As a lover of all things related to assassins, I jumped onto Love of Kill faster than many. A love story between two assassins? I couldn’t have asked for more. As it turned out, there was much more I could have asked for.

Chateau is an assassin who works for a small mercenary group of three people. While out on a mission, she encounters the mysterious yet dangerous Ryang-ha Song, an infamous assassin with a long list of victims. Surprisingly, instead of killing her, Ryang-ha declares his feelings for her and starts bugging her for a date. As Chateau continues on in her assassin life with an adamant Ryang-ha following her steps, she begins to wonder if there was another reason that the world’s most wanted assassin took a liking to her.

The one thing the anime does right is the plot. The intrigue and mystery behind Chateau and Ryang-ha’s connection builds up well and ultimately unfolds with the anime’s events in perfect tandem. For all my other critiques of the anime, I did not find any fault with the story. Every arc connects well, and the eventual reveal of why Ryang-ha, a loner assassin with more enemies than my fingers and toes, continues to chase after Chateau romantically makes complete sense.

Excellent intrigue of what connects the protagonists

The cast of characters, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. Ryang-ha is by far the more interesting character between the two protagonists. His cloaked past kept me on the edge of my seat, and his nonchalant attitude while determining ways to kill, escape, and rescue is appealing to many. One of my favorite scenes involves Ryang-ha casually closing a curtain. It’s a completely ordinary activity to do at nighttime, but a thrilling one in the series because I knew it meant he was going to kill someone in that room. He’s cunning, experienced, playful, and dangerous. He fits the reputation the story assigned him.

However, Chateau lacks considerably when standing next to her co-protagonist. She’s supposed to be an assassin, yet we never see her assassinate a single person. In fact, she has no agency in the story until the last arc. From the beginning, she’s swept into a conflict because of her association with Ryang-ha. She continues to do as her company bids her and rarely makes a choice of her own. Out of all the fights she finds herself in, she only wins a single one. Even after she manages to gain some agency in the last arc, she doesn’t gain the upper hand and instead is dependent on Ryang-ha to rescue her once more.

I can tell I aged out of this story. As a teenager, it wouldn’t have mattered to me that the story jostled Chateau along wherever it needed her. I would find her admirable just because she uses a gun, she knows how to fight, and she acts in defiance against the hot assassin chasing after her. However, that sort of writing no longer works with me, and Chateau remains endlessly disappointing for the majority of the anime. The well-written mystery of her past is the only thing that saved her from a more scathing opinion.

I need more from Chateau

That and her voice acting. Chateau shows little personality aside from introversion throughout the story, but at least her seiyuu performs it well. Saori Oonishi did her best with the work given to her, and in moments of emotional expression, Chateau genuinely sounds broken, excited, or scared. However, the true master of the cast goes to Hiro Shimono for his acting as Ryang-ha. I’m sure many people only hear the screaming Zenitsu from Demon Slayer when they hear that name, but Hiro Shimono’s voice curls deliciously around the dangerous assassin. With a voice that barely oscillates yet tilts in amusement and curiosity, he makes Ryang-ha sound terrifying at his worst and silly at his best. Better yet, the pitch of his voice never changes despite the clear changes in attitude and emotions. I would say this is one of Hiro Shimono’s best performances.

Still, the art and animation struggled. There is limited animation when fights break out — in fact, the opening theme song shows a better animation of those scenes than anything in the entire series. Scenes that take place in the dark are so dark that I wish they’d happen in daylight. Though even in daylight, scenes that take place in dark alleyways are washed out in color.

At least the soundtrack is great. The opening theme song sounds exactly like the type of music that would accompany an anime about assassins, and the melancholy longing of the ending theme fits into the entwined past that Ryang-ha and Chateau share. A magnificent organ slams different keys at once whenever danger nears, and it fits together with the sound of gun triggers pulled.

I need better lighting

I think Love of Kill’s issues are a combination of less-than-stellar production and actual characterization issues from the original source material. In regards to the anime, even the most praiseworthy element of plot is thanks to the source material rather than the actual anime. However, as criticizing as I am, the plot’s ongoing mystery still trapped me. The series ended on a cliffhanger, so if it ever gets a second season, I would still be more than happy to sign up just to see what happens.

Rating

Plot: 8 (Multiplier 3.5)

Characters: 6.5 (Multiplier 3.5)

Voice acting: 7

Art/Animation: 6

Soundtrack: 8

FINAL SCORE: 71.75

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