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C3 (Cube x Cursed x Curious) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 05 January 2012 01:00
C3 (Cube x Cursed x Curious)If ever there was a series that didn't seem to know what it wanted to be, it's C3. Partly ecchi comedy, part horror, part.. uh, something else, it's a constant series of shifts from one thing to another. And that's really not a good thing...

When high schooler Yachi Haruaki gets a package one day from his jet-setting, curio-collecting father, it turns out to be Fear: a curse in the human form of a girl, and she's come to Haruaki's home to be cured of her "condition". Haruaki has a natural resistance to curses, so he'll be okay, but what happens when he's off at school and the living curse wanders the neighbourhood..?

C3 pulls a far one on you out of the gate - the first episode introduces Fear as this cute young girl, charming and yet with a tsundere streak, someone who of her own free will wouldn't harm you. She arrives at Haruaki's house, settles in nicely, and the series goes on to get itself up in much the same style as, say, Heaven's Lost Property - generally nice guy with cute girl(s) who come to rely on him. So far so normal. But there's an undercurrent here that kicks into full gear in the 2nd half of episode 2 that brings the show's split personality to the fore...

Curses are dangerous things, and in C3 they come in two forms: tools, who like Fear are curses in human form; and Worses, cursed objects that place obligations on those that use them. In her natural form, Fear looks a lot like a Rubix cube, with various combinations calling forth a wonderfully varied array of medieval torture devices - created by the Inquisition, her Curse is to bring pain and death to her victims. But curses can be lifted, and that's where Haruaki comes in - with his natural resistance to curses (meaning that Fear's not likely to up and kill him on short notice), he's best-place to help her find the "Indulgence Discs" required to lift her curse, which will ultimately leave her essentially human. It's a noble aim - and fear is just one of several Curses we get to meet in the course of the series. There's also Haruaki's next-door-neighbour and wannabe girlfriend Konoha (a sword in her natural state), killer doll Sovereignty, and more besides.

Worses, on the other had, are cursed objects that people can use. They mostly turn up on the side of the series baddies, but there's one notable Worse that's in the possession of one of Haruaki's classmates, Kirika - a piece of leather armour that grants immortality, the ability to quickly heal any injury, and a few other tools able to bring swift retribution to her enemies. As with all benefits, though, there's a price - should Kirika remove the armour, she'll die, while for as long as she wears it she cursed to explore the fine line between pleasure and pain, using the armour's abilities to inflict pain and injury upon herself. It's certainly... curious.

Against our group of misfits we have the series villains. Peavey Barowoi, representing the Battlefront Collection Knights, is first up - the most unpleasant character I've seen in anime in quite some time, she positively loves inflicting pain and injury on those around her - and Fear is her latest target. Peavey is one of those character who you're wishing a painful death on within moments of her first appearance - just watching her is painful, as her attitude to others is so unpleasant and uncalled for that she's way beyond offensive. Fortunately, she doesn't last all season. Later on, there's Alice, who represents the Bibolio Families, a group dedicated to ensuring that Curses and Worses are used as the tools that they are to create maximum suffering. Equally as deranged in her aims are Peavey was before her, she's at least pleasant about it, which makes her arc a little less disturbing to watch.

All of this is, of course, somewhat darker than what you'd normally see in a highschool harem show, and that's where that split personality comes in. C3 can get remarkably dark and violent at times - the first time the tone switched, it was a real case of "what the hell just happened?" as it was so unexpected, but as it keeps happening that shock value is soon lost. It never quite feels right, though - the two styles just don't sit well together. I like dark and gruesome - I count Deadman Wonderland and Mirai Nikki amongst my favourite recent shows; I like highschool harem, and we've had a few good shows in that category recently as well. But they're two genres that really shouldn't go together - 11eyes recently tried with limited success, and while C3 fares a little better (mostly through shock value - the first time Fear goes beserk and the sight of Kirika inflicting her Worse on herself are two things that'll stick in the mind for a while), it still feels like a failed mashup.

All of which leaves me ultimately disappointed. This is perhaps one of those ideas that, like Full Metal Panic and its Fumoffu! spin-off, would have done better split into two separate shows, one for the comedy and one for the action. There are some good characters here and the idea of sentient curses wanting to be more than they were created to be is certainly worth exploring, but C3 doesn't quite to either of them justice.

Rating - ***