A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Anzu describes how she defies social convention by eating lots of chocolate while other girls ask her if she is afraid of gaining weight (yet Anzu is thin, like all the other girls). We see her gobbling chocolate later while she plays a game, and still later, when the chocolate has been magicked away by wizard Riri, he tells her chocolate "is bad for her skin and is a lot of fat."
Positive Role Models
The show is centered around a Japanese teenager, Anzu, who is generally self-confident, though she goes gooey-eyed around male "hotties." Other characters, male and female, are sketchily drawn.
There's very little diversity except for hair and eye color: skin is pale white, eyes are big, bodies are thin. Though intended satirically, in-jokes and references can read as misguided and sexist, to male and female characters alike.
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Violence & Scariness
Riri the wizard is usually presented as funny but there are moments that he swells up to enormous side and laughs slowly and in an evil manner. When Anzu is mad at Riri she twirls him and bangs him violently against the wall, whereupon he coughs but is unhurt.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The premise of this show is about a girl who's forced by a magical game to start romantic relationships with boys, so expect lots of talk about dating, kissing, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Some Japanese concepts of romance may seem problematic to some viewers, such as kabe-don, a gesture common in manga in which a boy slams his arms and sometimes legs into a wall to pin a girl there, sometimes against her will (and yet it's considered romantic). Riri also tells Anzu that the reason she was selected for magical intervention is to "solve Japan's extremely serious low birth rate problem."
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Infrequent cursing: "damn."
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Products & Purchases
This series is based on a manga, which viewers may want to purchase and read after watching.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this series is based on the manga of the same name which attempts to satirize romantic games and romance itself, though the satire is subtle and may not be understood by younger teens. The main character Anzu, a high school student, is characterized as not very feminine and not interested in romance; other characters view that as shameful. She's forced to date by a magical power, and frequently told to grow up and "stop dreaming" and "accept reality," which apparently includes romance. There's lots of talk of boyfriends and girlfriends, flirting, and dating, as well as references to Japanese social conventions like "kabe-don," in which a boy prevents a girl from moving by punching a wall and pinning her; this is seen as passionate and romantic. Language is infrequent: "damn." Violence is played for laughs, like when a character is spun around by an angry girl. Anzu herself is confident and appreciates herself, but falls for a boy nonetheless. Mixed messages and subtle ideas make this outing better for adults and older teens who can understand the layered ideas being put forth.
Is It Any Good?
On its face, this animated adaptation of a popular manga is awfully regressive. Romantic Killer is definitely aiming to satirize otome games, a genre of story-based computer games in which the player is a female protagonist trying to start a romance with a male character. Yet to a viewer who may not get all the in-jokes and references, some of the satire reads as misguided and sexist, to male and female characters alike.
In Anzu's new gamified reality, most boys are interchangeable "hotties" that have to be more or less coerced into a relationship. For Anzu's part, she's told by wizard Riri that the most important thing for her is to let go of the things she loves most (her games, her cat, and her chocolate snacks) to date and fall in love. This is repeatedly characterized as growing up, facing reality, and otherwise doing the right thing, whereas Anzu following her inner lights is cast as the wrong choice. It's all very surreal and often funny (like when Anzu finds a roach in her kitchen, which turns into a slice of cake as a voiceover tells us that "roaches are unseemly, so instead, cake!"), but the mixed messages make this one best for older teens who understand the layers to the show's messages.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.