Spring 2018 First Impressions: Libra of Nil Admirari – I Read A Book So Bad I Set Myself On Fire

Kuzu Tsugumi, the daughter of a wealthy family, is promised to marry a man she doesn’t know. She has been keeping this a secret from her brother, but when he finds out he is overtaken by despair and influenced by the power of a cursed book to try and burn himself alive. After this shocking event, Tsugumi gains the power to see the aura of cursed tomes, and is asked by the Imperial Library Intelligence Asset Management Bureau to join their ranks and help them keep these books out of the hands of the general populace before they can do untold harm. She accepts their offer and joins their ranks, hoping to change her fate and become stronger.

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Hoo boy, is this some nonsense! Based on an otome game, Libra of Nil Admirari is this season’s reverse harem romance starring a wet blanket protagonist who lets people walk all over her. To add insult to injury, her potential suitors aren’t even that attractive.

Nothing about this anime is attractive, really. The artwork is reminiscent of Diabolik Lovers, with a dull, washed out colour palette to match. The character designs are about as generic as they come; each of the boys that have been introduced look pretty indistinguishable from the many other men who grace these kinds of stories with nothing to differentiate them from the pack. Of the guys we saw in this episode none of them appeal to me except for her grandpa turned butler, who for obvious reasons is not a valid romantic option. That’s how slim the pickings are. To round things out the animation is limited and unimpressive, with a lot of panning shots and characters standing around lip flapping rather than moving at all when they speak. We’re off to an impressive start!

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Maybe all of that would be more palatable if our heroine was in any way interesting or memorable. Recent otome game adaptations, like Code Realize or Norn9, have had protagonists with actual personalities which was a breath of fresh air compared to some of the heroines of yesteryear who just stand around and let things happen to them while lamenting about how they deserve it. Tsugumi is unfortunately a step backward in this regard. She lacks expression and seems to accept everything that happens to her like it’s an inevitability rather than trying to stick up for herself. Her father’s marrying her off to a man she’s never met? “Oh, well I knew this would happen as a daughter of the family.” Her brother hates her because nobody told him she was getting married? “Oh, well that’s probably my fault too. Also I shouldn’t have stuck up for myself and shouted at him, that was wrong and probably the only reason why he tried to kill himself. I should have let him walk all over me so he would have come shopping.” A bunch of guys she’s never met want her to come and join their organisation? “Oh, well, I suppose that’s for the best.” She just goes along with everything she’s told and has very little agency to speak of.

If you like watching a show just to take the piss out of it, there still might be something here for you. See, this anime is about evil books that want to kill people, so you get some great dumb out of context lines to put on Twitter if that’s more your speed. The absolute highlight of the episode was the part where Tsugumi realises that she can see the aura of these evil books. She sees the book in her grandfather’s hands, glowing ominously, and screams at her grandfather to put the book down while the world’s chunkiest guitar riff starts to play in the background. The music is so unfitting, so out of place, and the scene is otherwise so devoid of energy that I erupted in baffled laughter. Of the bad shows I’ve watched so far for my Spring First Impressions this was probably the most enjoyable for that alone. It’s worth checking out the first episode just for that.

However, if you’re looking for romance I don’t expect this to be anything other than bland. What makes the uninspiring male suitors extra disappointing is the fact that there’s also a super beautiful woman who works at the Bureau as well and when the two meet in Tsugumi’s garden they have more chemistry than she’s had so far with either of the guys. And yet, you know they won’t end up together. What’s even the point? Open your eyes, Tsugumi!

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I want this lady to sweep me off my feet.

So if you’re looking for a decent female-oriented romance this season, maybe don’t go for Libra of Nil Admirari when Kakuriyo already exists. If you want a dumb show to laugh at with friends, on the other hand, this could be right up your alley! If I was watching less stuff this season I would probably stick around to make fun of this, but as it stands I just don’t have the time. Hopefully somebody on Twitter will keep posting the best out of context screenshots. Goodbye, bad otome anime. I’m sure I won’t remember you in three weeks time.

Highlights:

  • The scene where Tsugumi sees the book’s aura for the first time and screams while somebody wails on an electric guitar in the background is unintentional comedy gold

Lowlights:

  • Very average production values lead to an aesthetically bland anime
  • I already know that she’s not gonna end up with the beautiful lady so why even bother

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