Lychie DE Hikari Club First Impresions
It’s rare that you hear a piece of news quite as damaging to your notion of how reality works then the announcement that Lychie Hikari Club, the prominent Guro-Horror-Comedy Manga by Usamaru Furuya, was getting an anime adaption. That simply is now how things are. Shitty harem manga and shonen jump manga get anime adaptations, artsy tounge in cheek parodies of the Ero-Guro genre designed to construct elaborate metaphors and shock you do not get an anime adaption. For a little while there I had a lot of hope that this might actually really be a project of interest And then I heard that it would be a series of two minute flash comedy shorts.
For those who do not know what Lychie Hikari Club is (much to their better fortune), LHC is a one volume manga about a totalitarian and cultlike middle school boys club obsessed with the mortal nature of beauty who create a robot AI designed to kidnap beautiful girls. At the height of their progress however, a combination of treacherous forces within the club’s own ranks and the increasing sentience and morality of the robot threaten to bring an end to the Lychie Hikari Club. This premise results in a lot of the usual stand ins of the Ero-Guro genre mixed with a surprising amount of depth. Rape, disembowelment, head squishing, burning, and all sorts of horrifying imagery are spread over the page like butter (which I will mercifully not use any pictures of).
But, it is a parody after all. By having adolescent boys be the subjects and the perpitrators of all the murder, sodomy, and perversion, it in effect tells the audience that the act of enjoying it is in itself adolescent. The contrast by having the literal monster be human and the human leader be a monster was a clever addition By in large the whole series is filled with little tidbits and pieces of symbolism. It is, in a word, artistic. So one can imagine that the idea of such an artsy project and such a challenging project being brought to the anime screens would be quite jaw dropping.
It’s not to say the source material is among my favorite mangas, or possibly even in a realm that I would recommend it to even the most strong stomached of readers. The level of violence in it is deeply disturbing even in the face of my artsy acceptance of vile things in the name of theme. And whereas most good projects use twists and turns as ways of making you recontextualize the material, LHC just uses them for shock value (though I imagine that is just part of the parody of the genre).
I’m sorry to say that I’ve found little value, even for the people who actually have read and enjoyed the manga (as much as that is possible without a sick mind). People who haven’t read the manga will get none of the jokes. People who have read the manga will find none of the jokes remotely funny. Instead of even jabs at anything really relating too much to the manga, we get a PG-13 series of gay jokes that not so much miss the point as are unaware that there is even a point to get. Honestly, the less I say about it the better. In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, about half the episode could have ran.
There is something honestly disturbing about this. Why would someone take LHC and think that it would be a good source material for lowbrow comedy? My faith in anime’s ability to turn out crap was taken and doubled by the results of this. Not only was it not very good, but it took unique and interesting source material and filled through the meat grinder of generic schlock (in reflection I’m kinda surprised there were no meat grinders in the original manga). I mean come on, the source material was only one volume and contained plenty of things that can’t be aired without a million censor black holes, but some good extrapolation and tasteful discretion could have mostly solved those problems.
I think the part that calls me the most has to be the fact that what this anime is making fun of, doesn’t even take itself seriously. You can’t parody a parody, that would be stupid. LHC is ALREADY takings jabs at other Ero-Guro manga, how can you try to take jabs at it like it’s playing it straight? Simply put, this is a disappointment that could only be a result of failure to understand the source material. When you read Lychie Hokari Club, you are supposed to come out of feeling disgusted, like you’d just been violated. The anime may not get much right from the source material, but at least it nailed that.