Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Jul 18th 2013
Severing Crime Edge
Episodes 1-6 Streaming
Some people inherit art, some land; Kiri Haimura's ancestors left him a pair of scissors. Part of his family legacy for generations, the antique snippers are a favorite of Kiri's. He has a hardcore hair fetish and loves nothing more that trimming girls' hair with his ancestral shears. One day he hears of a girl with long, luscious locks. A missed bus stop puts him in her neighborhood, so he visits. And so he meets Iwai Mushanokoji, the Queen of Hair, whose flowing locks cannot be cut by any known means. Until, that is, they meet the Haimura family's barbershop heirloom. You see, Kiri's scissors once belonged to a vicious serial killer and are now cursed, along with the killer's bloodline. Kiri's bloodline. It's a curse intimately tied to the innocent girl with the uncuttable hair, a curse that will draw Kiri into a world of evil organizations, mass murderers, and a generations-long game of death.
Is The Severing Crime Edge the most perverse anime ever made? Absolutely not. Most of us could think of a good half dozen more perverse anime, and that's without dipping a toe into the wild and wooly world of hentai. But for sheer love of perversity… for that, Crime Edge is hard to beat. It hops with visible gusto from fetish to fetish, from perversion to perversion—all while maintaining a disturbing romanticism that embraces all the twisted, sick, and unpleasant forms that love can take.
Before we lose ourselves in Crime Edge's multifarious perversions, it should be mentioned that it is, nominally at least, an action series. It has an action series' basic premise and an action series' basic structure. Kiri is the innocent outsider who finds himself in possession of a special weapon that grants him special powers, which in turn plunges him into a secret world of others like him. There are rules governing the use of the weapons, arcane history behind them, and an organization devoted to pitting the weapon-wielders against each other. Kiri then proceeds to fight, reluctantly of course, against more and more powerful foes, growing more powerful himself.
It's an easy, familiar set-up, where details matter more than broad strokes: The special weapons are called Killing Goods and are the murder weapons of old time psycho-killers, passed down to the killer's descendants. Their powers are based on the obsessions of their original owners. The descendants—known as Authors—are caught up in a game, the object of which is to kill the descendant of the woman who cast the curse, the Queen of Hair. Proctoring the game is a shadowy organization called Gossip. The Killing Goods channel the bloodlust of their original owners, which if unchecked will eventually overtake their Author's sanity. To escape the killing madness, Authors must find proxies on whom to perform a kind of ritual murder, a non-lethal form of their ancestor's preferred killing method. These proxies are known as Insteads.
All of which is important in its own way, but not necessarily for what it adds to the action. Of the series' action component, all you really need to know is that, driven as it is by madness and ambition (killing the Queen is said to grant any wish), it is intense and bloody and full of weird combinations of weapons: scissors vs. sledgehammer, scissors vs. syringe, scissors vs. quirt. There's even a villain—a recurring one—whose weapon is a book of law (it kills by hanging the guilty). As Iwai's death is generally the aim of the enemy, the stakes are always sky high; even more so since each successive fight binds Kiri closer to the skills and urges of his evil progenitor.
Action, however, is something of a secondary concern for Crime Edge. Its premise supports action, sure, but it's a veritable petri dish for perversion. In the Author/Instead pairings it finds infinite opportunity for diseased romance. Here is a relationship between two people bonded by a psychotic lust inherited against their will and channeled through an instrument of pain. Icky is the baseline. Kiri and Iwai's relationship—yes, they are Author and Instead—is clearly the healthiest, and it's predicated on a bone-deep hair fetish and frequently spiked with a chill of fear (at what Iwai sees happening to Kiri as he protects her).
As for their opponents… Kiri learns of Insteads when he sees his first opponent engaged in some, er, needlework with her sister—needlework that clearly has sexual overtones for both. Lesbianism, incest, and the intricate intertwining of pain and pleasure… all in one scene. (Which, it must said, is not to put those three quirks on equal moral footing). They next encounter a blind pianist and her deaf piano-tuner, a pair whose exact nature is unclear but who are blithely supportive of each other's homicidal tendencies. After them comes the judicial Author, who is being harassed by a clumsy policewoman whose taste for autoerotic asphyxiation means she's almost definitely his Instead. Throw in some foot-licking, dominance-play S&M and you have yourself a nice little party.
Of course, any old show can throw perversion at you. It doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to stack up a pile of deliberately sick relationships. It does take a certain warped genius, however, to wrap all of that unhealthy obsession around a weirdly sweet core of pure romance. For all their rampant perversion, no matter how unsightly the form, Crime Edge sees the Authors' relationships with their Insteads as redemptive, loving, even healthy. These are highly unstable individuals who, in finding just the right match, become a stable (if sexually warped) binary being. That's a deeply romantic view of love, and in its own way a deeply resonant one. That women are often equal, or in some cases dominant, partners also helps to take some of the sting out of the nastiness.
Yuji Yamaguchi is a director better known for his mastery of atmosphere than his ability to present a coherent narrative. His series are often gorgeous and just as frequently insensible. Crime Edge, with its straightforward action-show plot and wealth of gothic excesses, is about as perfect a match for his talents as there is. Opportunities are plentiful for Yamaguchi to exercise his atmospheric chops, dressing Kiri's confrontation with Sledgehammer in horror flourishes and slasher-flick energy, cloaking an attack by zombie-rapists (seriously, don't ask) in eerie unreality, and just generally creating a stylized world in which the melodramatic extravagances of the plot and characters don't seem out of place.
In the meantime the plot's boneheaded progression offers Yamaguchi no opportunity to muddy the waters, while the action overtones allow him to dust off the violent skills he honed in Fate/stay night. His action scenes are relatively brief—though sometimes the pursuit leading to them is nail-bitingly extended—and very nasty, full of tendon-slicing violence and, perhaps more horrifying, loads of classic animation shortcuts. Through timing and sheer veteran know-how, though, they manage to somehow be both utterly ludicrous and seriously cool. He's also got a veteran's ear for Yasuharu Takanashi's unsettlingly beautiful score, and a veteran's skill with traditional anime character designs, which aren't terribly distinctive and yet handle emotions from creeping insanity to burgeoning desire with startling intensity.
It isn't a smooth directorial effort, just as Crime Edge isn't a smooth show. It charges with full intensity after whatever mood it's trying on, lurching full force from barely-controlled eroticism to splattering violence to moon-eyed romance to goofy SD humor. Some stylistic choices are mistakes (the lapses into black-and-white during action set-pieces), as are some plot devices (did the show really need an evil lolicon scientist for its info-dumps?). It's volcanically over-the-top and gleefully f-ed up, gruesome and perverted yet also tenderhearted. And somehow it works just right.
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B-
Animation : B+
Art : B+
Music : B+
+ Exceedingly perverse, perversely funny, and deeply romantic; excellent atmosphere; solid action.
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