With the help of his supportive childhood friend, Eiko, Kietaro has taken great strides over the past two years. He’s the top-scoring student at his new school, has been working to overcome his social anxiety, and is even taking on a new job as a tutor. But little does he know that his first student is connected to both Eiko and his past. You see, Keitaro became a shut-in after his friend was hurt in an incident involving evil spirits, which he can not only sense but who seem to have an affinity for him. And his new student, Yayoi, has an obsession with evil spirits; she can clearly see them with her double-pupiled eyes and can also exorcise them. But is exorcism really her goal? A tragedy in this spooky young girl’s life is leading her down an unusual and frightening path, one along which she’ll be dragging Keitaro too.
The newest supernatural/exorcist anime series has some things going for it, but it feels pieced together and has an odd tone. It all begins and ends with middle-schooler Yayoi. Having reviewed volume one of the manga, I was prepared for this unusual lead character whose design conveys a duality: she has a cute side, conveyed by her colorful clothing and dry sense of humor; and she acts in a way that is verging on evil, represented by her eyes, which look like skulls. But despite these unusual characteristics, Yayoi isn’t a very memorable character. Her voice is soft and she’s not terribly likable. We’re supposed to find her compelling, but I don’t feel any type of strong emotion toward her. The same can be said about the responsible Keitaro and the kind Eiko. They’re all just kind of there. The bloody and violent spirit scenes are also muted, neither exciting nor scary. As evidenced by the shift from a brighter-colored palette to grainier animation during such scenes, they’re supposed to contrast against the “regular life” parts of the story, which are somewhat funny but aren’t particularly involving. And because you’ve got these two tones that don’t stand out against one another as much as they should—the scary scenes aren’t frightening enough and the slice-of-life ones aren’t warm enough—you end up with a series that’s odd and a little boring. And while it’s not so soporific as another recent exorcist series, In/Spectre, Dark Gathering is definitely not entertaining enough to keep me tuning in.
Dark Gathering can be streamed on HIDIVE.
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