Let’s face it, many recent, critically acclaimed anime are all very intense. That isn’t to say titles such as Cyberpunk: Edgerunners or even current media darling, Chainsaw Man, aren’t good shows. Their one downside is perhaps that they are too good, too action-packed and too much to enjoy mindlessly before bed. For a change of pace, give Romantic Killer a try. The new Netflix series aims to entertain with the simple premise of not falling in love… while also falling in love.
Who is the Romantic Killer?
Anzu Hoshino is a high school girl with absolutely no interest in romance. Instead, the loves in her life are video games, chocolate and her cat Momohiki. While shopping for a new visual novel game, a wizard named Riri appears. He is determined to steer Anzu away from the 2D world and find her a romantic partner in the real one. Not much is known about where Riri comes from, though some comedic hints suggest his motivations are somehow related to alleviating the declining birthrate in Japan. All of Anzu’s games, sweets and pets are confiscated (Riri even goes so far as to stage a situation where Momohiki is sent overseas) only to be released after she completes a series of events revolving around three different potential, real-life love interests.
The plot is silly enough to work, with the pacing bearing an uncanny resemblance to how most otome games unfold. Key moments manipulated by the wizard are tropey but in a humorous way. Think ‘accidentally’ bumping into your crush at a convenience store, reuniting with an old acquaintance, or getting hit by a car.
Pick Your Best Boy
Speaking of Anzu’s candidates, who are the lucky boys? Undoubtedly inspired by shojo anime and otome games with multiple possible endings, each love interest has his own quirks to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. You can’t help but pick one and root for your own best boy to win Anzu’s heart over. There’s Tsukasa Kazuki, the cold and reserved hottie with a dark past. Childhood friend and rookie basketball superstar Junta Hayami might be the preferred pick for those who prefer the more wholesome sort. Last but certainly not least is rich boy Hijiri Koganei, whose prince-like disposition is marred slightly by a Napoleon complex.
Each character realizes their love for Anzu in their own way and at different points in the story, resulting in sometimes friendly and not-so-friendly competition.
Anzu herself is a breath of fresh air as the anti-heroine who refuses to fall in love. She genuinely believes that Riri has taken the hearts and minds of the three guys hostage and thus tries her best to avoid all romantic situations. Her determination, bluntness and enthusiasm can be a little annoying, but ultimately, she has strong morals and loyalty to her friends and classmates.
Romantic Killer‘s characters are rounded off by a strong cast of seasoned voice actors. Notable names include Rie Takahashi (Anzu Hoshino), Yuichiro Umehara (Tsukasa Kazuki) and Natsuki Hanae (Hijiri Koganei), all of whom worked on series such as Shokugeki no Souma and video games like Genshin Impact and Ensemble Stars.
Is This the New Trend?
Romantic Killer was first released as a manga and eventually serialized in Shonen Jump+. The anime was released in October 2022 on Netflix and produced by Domerica (Subarashiki Kono Sekai, Persona 5 Scramble, The Phantom Strikers).
As an ONA (original net animation), the show is part of a new breed of anime releases that are launched first and foremost on the internet before anywhere else. It wouldn’t be fair to compare Romantic Killer to the bigger shonen titles or the likes of Kaguya-sama: Love is War or Nana as it isn’t a genre-defining anime that will change the way you see the world, but it does make for a great watch. If you’re searching for a bit of fun, this is one of those titles that can easily brighten your day within a very manageable 20-minute-per-episode timeframe.
It’s a simple story that’s told well thanks to good pacing, a clean animation style, strong voice acting and twists that don’t try too hard but keep the story interesting. Through these elements, it manages to spark commentary on themes such as coming-of-age and gender discrimination without coming across as preachy.