OP:「Midnight Dancer」by Toshiki Masuda
「WHAT’S YOUR NAME?」
Koroshi Ai sets the scene immediately with an awesome, jazzy opening that lends itself to the stylish and sharp tone it’s going for. But will Ryang-Ha Song’s unsettling personality interfere with his likability as he catches feelings for the bounty hunter after his head, the one and only Chateau Dankworth?
FOR WHAT IT’S DANKWORTH
As neat as the show is, it’s hard to make heads or tails of what the tone is supposed to be. I was able to enjoy it because it felt like a Japanese television drama where it’s entertaining to see how the plot unfolds as Chateau starts to peel back the layers behind why Song is being tracked down. I’ve always been easily hooked on edgier TV dramas where a mismatched duo has to solve a violent mystery while getting closer to each other, so this felt like familiar territory.
With Chateau as a bounty hunter, it’s also neat to see how she’ll have to weigh her options on whether she should humor Song’s love-struck delusions to get more salient information from him or just start going for the jugular and collect the bounty like her agency would hope from her. And because Song’s interest in her makes it all the more difficult for her to be face-to-face with him without looking like you two are buddy-buddy, she has to be careful about when and how she meets up with him for useful intel.
Deep down, the show is at its most interesting when we focus on Chateau’s perspective because of how her tragic past and bounty hunting alters her perception of how to navigate around spaces. She’s careful not to poke the hornet’s nest, but gains enough control of a situation to get the info she’s looking for.
At the moment, however, I can do without the romance. There’s an unhealthy power imbalance where Song, as charismatic as he is, always has Chateau under his thumb. We’re supposed to laugh about how crazy it is that Song would have such puppy love for a calculated assassin, but it just comes off as creepy. It comes off as incredibly unsettling to see Chateau have her phone swamped with back-to-back calls, be stalked around town, and be forced on a date where she had to pull out all the stops not to stay the night.
It doesn’t help that Song is kind of a tryhard character you’d expect from a story trying its hardest to come up with a quirky assassin. Everyone loves a wacky hitman who’s ecstatic about the lust and violence they crave. That’s the foundation of some of the best stories on Archive of Our Own. But it does feel like the difference between night and day to see him happily parade around the screen as Chateau is bitterly submitting to his demands. It comes off less like a fun romcom between two trained killers and more of an unnerving game of cat-and-mouse where the cat is in pursuit because of love.
THE THRILL OF THE CHASE
That’s not to say it isn’t a good game of cat-and-mouse. It’s still got a ton of style and moxy to it, and atmospherically, it accomplishes its aim to create a cool, snappy thriller where our two leads are entrenched in a large-spanning conspiracy to snuff out Song. If they’re able to balance out the power and agency of Song and Chateau, it should be a fun action anime where our main duo is allowed to have more chemistry than they currently do. I’m looking forward to seeing what unfolds with regards to what Song had done as an interpreter to have such massive bounties on him and how Chateau’s youth ties into the experiences she has today.
ED: Makoto Period「マコトピリオド」by Aika Kobayashi