Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer
Yuuhi Amamiya is awakened by a talking lizard that declares its name is Sir Neu, and that Yuuhi will shortly be joined by other Beast Knights (humans with talking animal companions/mentors) to fight one Animus, a lunatic of immense psychic power who wants to destroy the world with an immense mallet called the Biscuit Hammer. The opposition to Animus is being organized by Anima, Animus' sister.
It's not just one thing that's off-putting about this show; it's a plethora of things. An obvious place to start is the animation- or rather, the relative lack of it in places, as noted by Crunchy watchers. This includes some of the fight sequences, which are NOT the places to scrimp-and-save in a shonen show. I personally didn't care much for the character design either, though it's hard to put my finger on what was bugging me here. I think it has something to do with some of the characters' eyes not quite fitting their faces, somehow- particularly our leads, Amamiya and Samidare Asahina, the girl who's the "Princess" of our group. She’s certainly the most powerful- though she has a tiny character flaw.
The main problems I had with the show were, in fact, with sudden (and sometimes seemingly poorly motivated) changes in character in Amamiya, and with Samidare's intentions in general. Let's start with Amamiya. He suffered physical and psychological abuse from his grandfather (who raised him), but Amamiya's attitude about Grandfather does a couple of 180s: from utter loathing and I-wish-he-were-dead; to I-have-to-save-Grandpa-at-any-cost!; to, if Grandpa dies, who cares?. That first change in attitude was pretty abrupt, though I suppose one CAN have a sudden change in outlook without much reflection; but having sacrificed a great deal to save-Grandpa-at-all-costs!, for Amamiya to suddenly become so indifferent to Grandpa's fate seemed inexplicable. (Grandpa finally succumbs to an anime cliche so familiar it's become a meme.) I also never understood Amamiya's sudden worshipful devotion to Samidare, who'd just been a neighbor girl he casually knew when the show started. (And I MEAN worshipful, as in literal bending-the-knee devotion.) I wondered if some past-life encounter was involved, but apparently, nope. Amamiya's attitudes often don't seem to flow in any organic way from his experiences, but rather are completely arbitrary- whatever the narrative requires. To use a comparable example, the lead in I'm Standing on a Million Lives also starts out as a misanthrope like Amamiya, but you can clearly see how his experiences are changing his attitude. With Amamiya, I often had no idea what was behind his sudden changes in attitude. When a fellow Beast Knight perished (you DO lose a few of the players here) it was almost like the mangaka went on for a while but suddenly remembered that Amamiya was supposed to grieve for the loss of a comrade, so you get these weirdly delayed reactions.
And Samidare? While supposedly everyone here is trying to keep Animus from destroying the world with the Biscuit Hammer, Samidare's only supporting the effort to stop him so SHE can destroy the world HERSELF. She's got a fatal illness, you see, and apparently can't stand the idea of the world going on without her; she feels the world is "hers" and one can only claim something for oneself by breaking it. To quote from Roger Rabbit, Samidare seems to be "one seriously disturbed 'Toon", but remember she's supposed to be the HEROINE here.
Our cast has to defeat "golems" created by Animus to defeat them. The golems are basically speckled blobs with variable numbers of arms and legs, and with variable numbers of "eyes" randomly placed on their surfaces. (Supposedly, each time a golem is defeated, the next one sports one more eye than the last one.) The later ones have more of an actual shape than the earlier ones, and, perhaps in imitation of Evangelion, there's eventually one that can pass for human. For the most part, though, the golems' design (if you can call it that) and animation are just lazy.
I should at this point do another dig at Amamiya, this time about his- uh-digs. He digs pit traps in his spare time, ostensibly to trap golems, but since the golems seem to appear in random places, and since there are fewer of them than people, logically his traps are more likely to result in human injury than golem injury. But I realize that statistics, logic, and even common sense do not apply in this show.
Over the first few episodes, a few of the Beast Knights slowly trickle in, but then the remainder arrive en masse, each with their own talking animal "squire". The smaller animals tend to ride on their human partners, and I have to admit I found the sight of that girl walking around with a chicken on her head pretty hilarious. I gather that the animals were recycled, but the humans are different in each cycle. (Time loop here: see Magikano and Higurashi.) I wanted some information on why Anima chose the animals, and how, but we may only get a perfunctory explanation, and for only part of that question.
But our villain Animus, and the organizer and empowerer of our heroes Anima, have credibility problems. Anima for the longest time seems an unresponsive flake (with an enormous appetite), while Animus is the first world-destroying villain I've ever seen who's perpetually dressed in pajamas. (Thanos would be so embarrassed to be around this guy.) And while the Biscuit Hammer may be a ridiculous concept (how DOES that thing hover without falling onto Earth?), it seems absolutely plausible in comparison to the counter-weapon Anima comes up with. (Maybe Anima's ludicrous Anti-Biscuit Hammer was awarded from points scored by the Knights in their battles?) In case you were wondering why the supersize mallet is called a "Biscuit Hammer", Crunchy readers pointed out, and Wiki verifies, that it's the title of a song by a Japanese alt-rock group called The Pillows. Yet another random, arbitrary detail in a show that is filled with random, arbitrary stuff.
In fairness, the final battle against Animus is OK; the 10-years-later view of our surviving cast was interesting; I LIKED one character (Hyou Shimaki, a heavyset, thoughtful guy who didn't reveal everything on his mind); and I was kind of fascinated by the little bits of a show within this show, which everyone in the cast seems to watch, called "Magical Girl Magic Marie", the joke here being that the weapons Marie uses to dispatch the villains don't seem that magical AT ALL. ("Magical Concrete Block!")
Oh, and I almost forgot: I hated a Knight named Mikazuki Shinonome, a belligerent little twerp who was so desirous of dueling his own team that he sometimes forgot he was supposed to be taking on Animus. But HE'S a hero too. Go figure. The story construction seems as slipshod as its art, and honestly when I sat down to write this review I was contemplating letting it go with 3 stars, but somehow I found the rating slipping as I thought about it while writing. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: A few of the cast die in combat, including one "pointless" death (as noted in the show itself), so violence, child abuse, and mature themes. Rightstuf says 13+ for the manga; I can live with that.
Version(s) Viewed: Crunchyroll video stream
Review Status: Full (24/24)
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer © 2022 Satoshi Mizukami/Shonengahosha/Knights of the Ring of a Certain Era
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