After seeing a lot of hype for Engage Kiss I decided to give it a try and immediately there were a lot of things I really liked about this show. First I’ll explain the setting which is where a young man named Shu is on a quest to learn more about the deaths of his family at the hands of demons and in the process he forms a contract with a demon named Kisara who is very possessive of Shu uses her powers to fight on his behalf but not without a cost. Supporting Shu in his endeavor is also his ex-girlfriend Ayano who clearly still has feelings for him.
Now I’m sure you noticed that summery was rather brief and not very detailed at all, short even with my spoiler-minimum take on reviewing anime. That’s because this show starts with an action sequence after a lot of the story has been developed and as the episodes continue the show slowly provides bits and details of the events that transpired before episode one. Now I actually really like this idea as it deviates from what a lot of shows do which is to spoonfeed the lore leading up to episode one right at the beginning so the audience understands the details right away. Now there is nothing wrong with that approach but when a show deviates from that and manages to do that well it makes a strong impact and this was well executed here. I found myself genuinely invested in each detail as the full story unraveled bit by bit. Because the audience is given so little information to work with from the beginning each detail comes as a pretty big surprise and the details they reveal are more interesting as the show goes on. This is easily the biggest plus for the show as this is the hook that really kept me engaged with the story.
The characters themselves are actually rather terrible which oddly enough works. I found myself not liking any of the main characters as I found them to have some seriously grating aspects of their personalities. Shu is very manipulative and seems very uncaring towards the people around him, Kisara is unhealthily possessive and Ayano just can’t seem to let Shu go. However, while I don’t like any of these character traits they are well executed in how they work together. These traits put Kisara and Ayano at arms with each other frequently and Shu uses his manipulation to get what he wants out of them. If I were to see these characters on their own I probably wouldn’t like them but because of how well they bounce off of one another I found myself very entertained by the banter and the ever-changing power dynamic in their relationships as they try to achieve their own agendas.
The story itself is rather complicated which does work well here as well because the characters all have aspects of their past that are unknown to the audience that requires a lot of time to be invested in them to explain that to the audience over time. The current events of the story are actually deeply connected to their past and seeing how the demon attacks connected to the gaps in knowledge we have about the characters was fascinating. So in a way, the story is complicated because it’s heavily influenced by what we don’t know about the characters and connecting the two together like this was a huge success.
The show has a lot of fight sequences and those are rather entertaining. I really liked how they had quite a bit of variety. Sure you had a lot of battles where people tried to fight a demon with no success until Kisara arrived to beat them. This did happen quite a bit but you also had a lot of battles that made little use of Kisara and showed what the other characters can do and those I found to be the most entertaining battles.
Overall I found this show to be quite entertaining mainly due to the fact that you go into this knowing so little. However, because the characters themselves are pretty terrible, even though they work well with each other, I think the show would be pretty unwatchable if we had a lot of those details upfront because I found the mystery to be the driving force of the show. For that reason, I don’t see this show having much entertainment value after seeing it for the first time. Once you do know all of the facts all that’s left is the characters themselves and they do not have the ability to carry this show on their own. So while I did enjoy the show I really hope it doesn’t get a season two unless they can somehow cobble together a brand new mystery on par with season one.