In this modern society, a new kind of “illness” is striking young boys and girls; Loneliness, disbelief and outrage push this generation to get more or more attached to Internet and technologies. The experts called those symptom “Net Addiction”. To prevent that, a certain Rehabilitation Facility has been set up to “Lead the young man back to the right path”. Enrolled to treat is addiction, Hibiki had no idea that this Rehabilitation Facility is nothing more than a prison. In this place where it’s not permitted to escape, how will Hibiki challenge despair in this hell?
Evil or Live was one of those anime that I considered on a bit of a whim. I was being a bit more cut-throat with my anime choices this season, knowing my tendency to get over-excited and add far too much to my queue. Whilst erring on the cautious side, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by its premise. The fact that internet addition has become such a problem that correctional facilities are required for young people who need to be re-conditioned in order to become functioning members of society was an interesting concept. So I thought I would give this one a go.
What I learned first was that Evil or Live is a product of international co-production, perhaps to make things cheaper and less labour-intensive. As a result, production is noticeable poorer here than on other titles I’m watching currently. There have been a few of these popping up over the last couple of seasons, and Evil or Live isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but this doesn’t mean that I think co-production is improving at all.
When we are first introduced to Hibiki, our protagonist for this adventure, he isn’t anything impressive. His mother has enrolled him in the Elite Re-Education Academy and some flashbacks show the terrible behaviour he demonstrated in order to end up there. Now, on his first day, Hibiki is spending a lot of his time as a new recruit in this horrible place bemoaning his fate. He’s also a total wimp in the face of any real-life adversity, so he doesn’t really endear himself to anyone in the beginning – so much so that I begin to wonder if he’s meant to be a sympathetic character at all.
Then we have the mysterious Shin. When Hibiki is reaching his limit with all the drills, military-style operations and regular beat-downs for anyone that steps out of line, Shin appears with his apparent ‘special status’ (meaning he is able to dismiss the terrifying Head Instructor with barely a gesture) and takes Hibiki under his wing, promising to make him his toy and his dog. There are definitely some manipulative undertones at work here. Hibiki also notices that his childhood middle school crush Shiori is also at the Academy – but she is a far-cry from the sweet girl that Hibiki remembers her as.
Then things get a little… weird. Shin blackmails Shiori into sleeping with Hibiki in return for letting her have a contraband cell phone. Shiori is desperate for a cel phone, so plans to go through with the exchange. However, she appears to have haphephobia of some sort (at least I hope so, otherwise she finds Hibiki absolutely abhorrent) as when they start touching and kissing, she throws up everywhere. Hibiki, being somewhat of a decent guy, agrees to fake the whole thing. Apparently this whole scene was about ‘making Hibiki a man’, so now this means that he has to act all touch like he’s a totally new person. Go figure.
Anyway, this fake sex appears to be a turning point and Hibiki stops being a wimp. Others are wary of him because they think he is in Shin’s employ. Hibiki’s not exactly happy and ignores Shin, but a clash with the Head Instructor over the cruel, militant way he treats everyone, he crawls defeated back to Shin, who is prepared to welcome him back if he becomes the leaders of his class and ‘stops being a loser’. Suddenly, this results in a sudden personality change where he becomes a touch ass-kicking prisoner with plans to fight the twisted authoritarians running the Academy.
Evil or Live doesn’t really stand up to close inspection. The production isn’t great, and it’s meant to be quite the gritty anime, so the setting doesn’t really help things. The characters aren’t very sympathetic and things don’t really make much sense when you try to deconstruct them. This is where I’d say the action makes up for things but… it doesn’t. There’s plenty of other options to watch that are better overall if you’re looking for some gritty and dynamic action. It’s not the worst I’ve seen, but it is rather middle-of-the-road considering what the rest of this season’s line-up brings.