When watching anime you are bound to come across a Chuunibyou character. The normal human being who acts like they are the protagonist of some terrible power trip anime. But did you ever wonder just what it was that gave them the idea to act like this? Well wonder no further because these people likely played 11eyes. This visual novel is essentially a distillation of every tired anime trope under the sun so your enjoyment of it will likely depend on how exposed to these tropes you are. Most would know this title from an anime adaption made in 2009 and I remember reading the anime’s synopsis and getting interested. However I heard that the anime adaption was poor and having recently got into visual novels I wanted to experience the story in it’s original format. Lucky for me, there was an ongoing fan translation of 11eyes so I waited patiently for it to be completed. Unfortunately that fan translation went the way of many a fan translation and ended up going silent with work stopping completely. It’s things like this that make me appreciate companies like Mangagamer and Sekai as while a kickstarter may be necessary and it takes time, at least it gets done. Eventually I just gave up on playing the story entirely when suddenly in 2016 an English patch for 11eyes was released. Thus I saw this as an opportune moment to see what I missed all these years. As it turns out, it wasn’t all that much.
Our story involves a Heterochromatic eyepatch wearing boy called Kakaru who along with his childhood friend Yuka find themselves thrown into an alternate version of their town which they refer to as the red night. A world shaded in red with is filled with monsters that seek to kill them that disappears after a certain period of time. Soon they run into a group of monsters calling themselves the black knights who swear to kill Kakaru and Yuka as well as the four other people who were pulled into the red night. So they work to join the other people dragged into the nightmare, work together to beat the black knights and hopefully regain their normal lives. The thing that mainly intrigued me about this concept was that at any moment of their lives they could be pulled into the red night without warning and the idea of a bunch of superpowered teens fighting off a nightmare world on a regular basis is a rather interesting. However this story has serious pacing issues as the beginning really drags due to the characters. A big feature of this visual novel is something called crossvision. For you see the majority of this VN is read from the perspective of Kakaru and crossvision allows you to see a scene from the perspective of another character. In theory this is interesting as it allows you to see what the characters are thinking at particular moments and see things which happen to other people when Kakaru isn’t around. However in practice you find that you can only see certain scenes from a specific person’s perspective rather than the freedom to move between characters at any moment. In essence it’s like watching a movie where every now and again you have to pause and go to the scene selection menu to watch a scene that wasn’t included in the movie. This is a game with bad pacing as is so this certainly kills it. What doesn’t help that some scenes are exactly the same as a scene from Kakaru’s perspective, just with some extra lines of inner monologue.
When Kakaru first introduced himself by trying to make lying on his back thinking about nothing some deep philosophical hobby I knew I wasn’t going to like him very much. Sure enough he’s an emo kid with a massive sister complex and ultimately a plank when it comes to personality. He has the particular annoying habit of acknowledging the flaws of his character but never attempting to change himself. For one he knows that Yuka is madly in love with him and yet still has the gall to be utterly dense to her feelings. “Wow, I wonder why she was so taken back when I said I was thinking about her?” He has plenty of moments of being moronic like seeing a girl that looks like his sister and somehow thinking it was his sister back from the dead despite the fact that if his sister was still alive she would be in her twenties by now. Certainly not some high school girl. It takes him a long time to recognize he has a superpower with his different colour eye despite plenty of evidence to the contrary and when he finally does start to aim to improve it’s pretty much too little too late. Even at his highest point Kakaru comes up short when compared to the other characters which is surprising as would would think he would be hogging the spotlight. But due to the nature of his power his battles tend to end up the weakest fights. Regardless he isn’t the worst character here, that honor belongs to Yuka. Yuka is in love with Kakaru, that is essentially the entirety of her character. The large majority of her dialogue and inner monologue is just about Kakaru. As a character she is boring and more or less waifu bait in it’s laziest form which isn’t helped by the fact that for the large majority of this Visual novel she is useless in battle and only serves as a burden for the others. Topping off her dislikeable personality is her annoyance over their friends helping Kakaru become more social and friendly instead of remaining hers alone to monopolize. Considering that the majority of the story is under the impression that you are gunning for this girl she gets far more attention than she deserves which makes the story suffer more for it.
Misuzu is the third character introduced and by all accounts she is essentially an Onmyouji bootleg version of Rin Tohsaka. She acts mainly as a exposition device and stereotypical badass in the beginning and only really works when she has characters who can throw off her confident image. After that we got Kukuri who is an amnesiac girl who happens to look exactly like Kakaru’s sister who committed suicide years prior. Her character is hindered by the way she is mute and can only communicate through writing on a sketchpad. Other than being a kind upperclassman there isn’t really much to her besides her persona like power to summon an angel that can heal and summon chains. These characters are what makes the first third of 11eyes such a slog as it’s carried by these four people and none of them are interesting enough to make the story compelling. The group dynamic is improved somewhat by introducing the final two leads, Yukiko and Tajima. They are the more animated of the group even if still rather stereotypical. Yukiko is more or less characterized as being energetic and annoying while Tajima is essentially Yusuke Urameshi with fire powers. Otherwise we got a horny mature nurse character, a tsundere and idiot combo who have no relevance to the plot whatsoever and a kuudere loli who only becomes relevant in the final act of the game. The nurse character acts well for fleshing out Tajime’s backstory though the sex jokes got more than a little tiresome. One of the biggest faults of this story is that any real plot progression takes place during the red night segments while outside of that the story essentially becomes about the gang getting together in a school club to have comedy hijinks. At the beginning there are some attempts to figure out what the red night is but this just stops and the gang just mess about until a red night happens. The red night parts are where the story gets somewhat interesting as the action scenes are rather well done. I appreciate that the attempt was made to make the fights dynamic even with just some sound effects and switching CGs as far too many visual novels just use the bare minimum and hope the writing can carry the adrenaline.(Looking at you, Majikoi.)
So the story starts with gathering the main cast, moves into a monster of the week deal as they defeat each Black Knight before having one final twist and moving to a final fight. Other than that the rest is just comedy padding and hijinks. Sure there’s a black moon in the sky that’s growing larger every day but who cares about that when we can dress up all the girls in maid outfits! I am going to go into spoiler territory now though truthfully the foreshadowing is so blatant that you will figure out these things long before the story unveils them. Anything that you don’t see coming normally just comes out of nowhere without warning. In it’s final act they try to pull a twist of the protagonists being the villains all along but this just makes some things not make much sense. For example if you are the good guys then why would you introduce yourself as gods of destruction named after the seven deadly sins and look like some demonic abominations? Then you are surprised that people mistake you for being evil? It’s never made apparent as to how killing these kids will save the world as the end of the world seems to come regardless if they are dead or not. Also why is it that the black knights choose to fight them one by one instead of doing an all out attack? One such knight shows she has the capability of killing all of them outside of a Red Night and yet doesn’t for unspecified reasons. Before the finale we have a couple of main characters have abrupt personality switches for the sake of heightening the drama which i just found jarring and confusing. If you try to complete a specific girls route you unlock a true end which essentially explains how everything was resolved with a literal deus ex machina that was never foreshadowed nor spoken of. This also happens to render a twist involving alternative worlds used to up the stakes before the finale utterly pointless.
The music is fairly decent though the artwork is rather rough. The exception to this is the is the introductory CGs of the Black Knights where it appears they put the concept art in game because it looked so good. Sadly this contrasts heavily which the villains less impressive sprites and CGs ingame. Rather than have alternative routes where the story changes depending on which heroine you go after, this VN just has one route where the only real thing that changes is a small epilogue with whatever heroine you choose. On a more positive side I really liked that if you don’t go after Yukiko then Tajime ends up becoming a couple together with her. In most VN’s they treat it like the protagonist is the only viable romantic option for every female in the game which can lead to male side characters getting the short end of the stick.(Looking again at you Majikoi. Clannad, you are guilty of this too.) Much like you would expect from a chunni visual novel, there are numerous references to mythology and history that ultimately mean nothing other than to look cool. As much as I love Crom Cruach(Basically Irish Cthulhu) showing up, I admit that the creature could have been called anything else and it wouldn’t have made a difference. To summarize my experience with the visual novel overall, after about seven years of waiting I cannot say this lived up to my expectations. I was thinking this would be a mixed bag but looking over it I find that the negatives far outweigh the positives. It does have some good fight scenes and a few genuine character moments but the rest of it feels far to “been there done that” to really make an impact. In the year this was made these tropes were not quite as worn out but nowadays they are practically beaten into the ground. It takes too long to get going and when it does truly start it never defies expectation. At times this feels like a cheap lower quality knock off of Fate/Stay Night and I fear that whatever time that could be spent on this would be better put into more worthwhile visual novels. If you have played a majority of the Visual novels out there and have a small thing for these kinds of stories then I hesitantly say you might get some enjoyment out of this. Otherwise I believe this isn’t worth your time. Despite a large amount of typos I still appreciate that a fan translator took the time to translate this into English. Even more so when fan translations have become rarer nowadays. I appreciate the level of dedication it took to bring this out in English, even if my experience with it was not too favorable. Guess I can say thank you for letting me be able to knock another Visual Novel off my wishlist.