When The Line Between School & Prison Blurs
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Psychological, School, Drama
- Airing Date : October 2017 – December 2017
- Studios : Studio Emon
Evil or Live Introduction and Story (Spoilers)
In the modern age–*coughs*China because that is where the series is set, but I digress*coughs*–people are addicted to technology. This is true wherever and in whatever country. However, within the world of Evil or Live, it has jumped to new heights with people, especially young people. Refusing to go to school, interact with others, and abandoning their families, these students stay online all day long only stopping to sleep and briefly at that. This condition is known simply as “Net Addiction.” In order to fix this, certain facilities have been set up in order to reform young people into upright citizens.
Before he has any idea what is going on, a mouthy Hibiki wakes up at what appears to be a reception and is beat into submission right off the bat. When he wakes up, he meets the rest of his “class” where he is at the bottom of the pecking order. It is there that he learns the horrors of this purported school. There are no classes, there is physical violence, power plays, and people pulling the strings behind the scenes. After being beat into submission again, he sees a girl he knew on the outside. Her name is Shiori and she wants nothing to do with him. Downtrodden, Hibiki realizes that since he is trapped in this hell, he only has one out: he must take his own life. It is at this low point of his life that he is pulled back by someone named Shin.
“Become my dog and I will help you escape.” Yet even more suspicion and betrayal awaits Hibiki who is trying to make sense of a constant, rapidly shifting situation. He has to betray Shiori, the girl he likes, beat his own classmates, become even more cunning than his foes, and even outwit the instructors if he is going to survive the school. In fact, Hibiki needs to become evil to live. Is he really living if he just submits?
What We Liked About Evil or Live
There were reasons why I started watching this show, and then there are different reasons as to why I stayed. Originally the concept of an evil school sounded awesome. How many anime are produced every season where we have the same school setting and it’s either some magical harem or slice of live? Too many. Something else I can guarantee that very few people realized is that the voice for Hibiki was Shinichirou Ueda. This is interesting because he voiced Takao in Aku no Hana. Since it has been almost four years later, I was interested in what he sounded like. Now, what I ended up staying for was how shocking the story was as well as the very polarizing characterization of Hibiki.
Anime is notorious for censoring everything and since the DVD/BD takes months and months to come out, it’s no surprise that everyone forgets about popular anime and never checks out what it is like uncensored or unfiltered. I definitely believe that Evil or Live pushed the envelope for this. They showed students rebelling against teachers—a big no-no in Japan—they showed the teachers hitting students—a very big no-no in Japan—and they also showed students physically fighting. While you might see someone fight in anime, young people are never portrayed violently with the intention of beating their foes into submission and then actually doing so. With Hibiki, he was nothing more than a mouthy brat who only took a few slaps in order to make him submit in the beginning. As the series went on though, you see him attain power, use it to manipulate those around him, and then to control the student body. The viewer is also able to see Hibiki change physically as his face grows more and more narrow the deeper into darkness he descends.
Here is where we are going to break down as to why you should be watching/should have watched Evil or Live. There are plenty of points to be taken into consideration when looking at a show and reviewing it positively or negatively—so sit down, sit tight and enjoy!
1. Characterization of Hibiki
Hibiki starts out as this mouthy little brat who really does need a reality check. Boy does he get one too when he is dropped into the academy. The viewer gets to enjoy his descent into darkness and madness with his realizing, after getting assaulted multiple times, that being kind or talking about nice things will not work. He has to become evil or simply live. Which will it be? He embraces darkness fully and quickly uses it to his advantage to bring down the school. Not to mention too, his “punishment” in the final episode is the fact that he is confronted with a crying and imprisoned Shiori. While she is the only thing he cares about, Hibiki realizes that in order to keep up the front, he has to play it up, and simply taunts her from the other side of the bars. Of course too, we see the art for his face change throughout the series as he embraces the evil within which is an interesting development.
2. Evolution of Foreign Based Anime
It’s no surprise that Japan, with its rapidly decreasing talent pool, is having to shift more and more labor overseas. While anime takes a dip in quality, and has done so since the early 2000s, this has led to more and more anime being made by foreign animators who, at some point or another, come into contact with domestic animation companies in their countries and then are able to take what they have learned and combine it. Then to add on, this attracts money, and nothing talks quite like money, which means that anime—which is for the most part, not even made in Japan anymore—is more heavily produced overseas. Evil or Live was made domestically here in Japan, but you know that it comes from a Chinese source and the money is Chinese. Nothing is wrong with that either, but it is very interesting to see how it is evolving. Besides, with foreign investment, within the next 20-30 years, people are starting to predict that foreign holders will be the main stakeholders in anime. The world will be a very interesting place then.
3. The Story
Finally, the story of Evil or Live is very interesting, and here is why. It is safe to say that with at least 95% or more of all school anime, it will always have either, a harem or sexy ecchi scenes where boobs have to be present constantly, or it will be some drama/romance/slice of life anime of which, we get multiple a season. Yes, there are anime like Gakkou Gurashi and HighSchool of the Dead, but Evil or Live really takes it to a new front where you have people being held against their wills and being forced to conform. This makes the show so much more interesting in my opinion. Was it the best I have ever seen? No, but the story is still there and it is still very interesting and different. If anything, the anime world needs more different and diverse stories instead of being a cookie cutter season after season.
If you think that everyone is going to love or everyone is going to hate an anime, well… that’s just not the case. There is an audience for everything and it’s just a matter of connecting the two. There are issues with almost every anime under the sun—have you heard Asta in Black Clover?–Evil or Live, like others, is not without its hiccups or faults. These are the following reasons as to why one might not want to sit down for a watch.
1. Every Single Character Is Forgettable Save for Hibiki
Can you name a character other than Hibiki? Yeah, us neither. Sure, there is Shin and Shiori, but the problem with them is that they do not grow at all. Shiori is in the school because she fought back against her uncle who was raping her, see point #3, and Shin was… well… Shin was something. But honestly, with the constant stream of characters flowing across the screen, some staying and others gone in minutes, it was impossible to remember anyone’s face, let alone name. There was just too much going on in order for anyone to really develop characterization.
2. The Art is Still Trying to Get There
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The art from Emon is on a journey. It’s getting better, but it’s easy to see how the artists are not fully to where they want to be at this point it time. There are many times where the sound does not match up with the characters when they speak, frame shifts happen frequently and can be jarring, and there are times where, say, a character is going to punch someone else, they do, and then the noise comes well after the time when the character moves. The opening was cool with the CG, but it’s a shame it was not used in the anime to smooth things out. CG is the future of anime, so it’s only a matter of time.
3. Rape & Incest
In Evil or Live, there was a rape scene and multiple references to it. While there are other anime that have it, and sexual misconduct is something that is considered secondhand nature in Japan, to actually see it played out the way it was in the anime was actually kind of shocking to be honest. Sure, people will watch hentai and that has it, but that is pure fantasy and nothing more. While true, anime is the same, when the medium is not about sex, ecchi, harems, or hentai, to have a flat out rape scene plus rapid-fire flashback scenes about it after, can be very off-putting. It did not sit well with this viewer and absolutely should be mentioned for people who are triggered by it.
While the two main characters of Evil or Live are dead and we will definitely not be getting another season, the show is a great look at how the anime world is expanding as well as how stories can be told differently. Did you check out Evil or Live this season? Be sure to let us know down below as we would love to hear your comments! Till next time!