The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Engage Planet Kiss Dum

Title: Engage Planet Kiss Dum
Genre: Action/Horror
Company: Satellite
Format: 26 Episodes
Dates: 3 Apr 2007 – 25 Sep 2007

Synopsis: Traveling along the deep ocean currents of the Pacific is the Book of the Dead, a mystical object theorized to be responsible for the inexplicable mutations of deep sea lifeforms. In search of it is Dr. Rukina Yuno assisted by the pilots of the NIDF, including her lover Aiba Shu. Their search bears fruit, but too late as the Book brings forth a new breed of lifeforms, Hardians, whose entire purpose for existence is to bring about humankind’s extinction. In disbelief and grief over the events unfolding, Yuno uses the book to return the now dead Aiba to life, who himself becomes Necrodiver, emissary of humanity and their only hope against the Hardians. 

The Highlights
Premise: Plays from many rulebooks, and is lesser than all of them.
Pacing: Sprinkled with splotchy moments. Too many events rely on coincidence.
Cast: Two-dimensional at best. Varda is basically Navi from Ocarina of Time.
Hardians: Deep within the macabre, and low on visibility.
Music and mechs: Two Mix needs more work. The NES need better realization.

If there is anything I found most striking about Kiss Dum, it is how it virtually doesn’t exist. Given my appreciation for old and the obscure in anime, I was left fascinated how a Lovecraft inspired title with Kawamori Shoji’s involvement, barely older than Macross Frontier could be so quickly forgotten. It seemed perplexing given how many unremarkably bad anime are remembered to this day. But then again, so many better anime are remembered as well.

Outside the existence of a demonic alien squid, my familiarity with the Cthulu Mythos is fairly limited, so how much of Kiss Dum is an allusion to Lovecraft’s work I cannot say for certain. In its stead, I saw hues of Highlander, shades of Evangelion, and accents of 2001, all of which only succeeding to remind you what you could be watching. If there is one aspect centrally that does Kiss Dum in, it is that it is less directed from ideas and more put together out of disparate stuff. Few story elements throughout gel, whether the superfluous mecha, the eye rolling use of Chekhov’s Gun, or questionable character motivation that context doesn’t satisfy. Only accentuating the issues is Kiss Dum‘s out of synch pacing, which only makes sense if Aiba has the ability to quantum leap or his allies had been in stasis for five months.

Where the story is a mess, the characters do as one would expect and falter as well. A whole series devoted to the character of Aiba Shu, and he gets about as much development as his one off former comrades, which is less a compliment of their depth and more a comment about Shu’s dearth. Eliciting no real emotion from the audience, the best  that can be said about the cast is that they neither draw out any annoyance. Almost that is. Tremendous satisfaction came from watching insufferable fan service bait Rei receiving her comeuppance while Varda’s incessant repeating of “shikaku” makes me pray for an more immediate extinction.

While a mess, there was some semblance of effort put into Kiss Dum. Being a Satellite work, Kawamori Shoji‘s handiwork is on display, providing a novel approach to mecha, that is unfortunately unlikely to be seen again, or by anyone. While NES presence is pervasive throughout the series, their ineffectual nature in face of the Hardians makes me wish Kawamori had applied the concept towards a bigger project. The music, though is on another level to everything else. I’ve been a fan of Two Mix from the moment I first heard “Just Communication,” and it fills me with joy to not just to hear not just their OP tracks “Toki wo Koete” and “A Runner at Daybreak,” but also the entire BGM, which, despite its occasional decline into kitschy synth, does the most to give Kiss Dum some much needed emotional valence.

When the animation is visible, it becomes obvious that there was creative spark in the monster designs. I’m not sure if sharks with breasts and a plague of locusts were what Lovecraft was going for. But the way in which humans fare against the Hardians amounting to ants in the face of a a sadistic child with raid and a magnifying glass can make for a terrifying experience. Such a experience ultimately rings hollow when the collective human race elicit as much sympathy as ants themselves. Unless there was a scene where Cthulu devours the planet that I inexplicably missed, nothing in Kiss Dum that warrants a necessary viewing. But a listen to the soundtrack is most certainly in order. 

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: Kavik Ryx

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