12 Days 2019, Day 2: An Angel and a God – Character Fascination in Comet Lucifer and Kyouran Kazoku Nikki

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So another sort of vague self imposed rule I apply for these is to only write one post about any specific anime, in order to maintain some variety to proceedings. With that in mind let’s talk about Comet Lucifer again. Kind of. What we’re actually doing today is discussing how it relates to the series I coincidentally watched right afterwards; Kyouran Kazoku Nikki. On the surface they have absolutely nothing in common, but both shows are very much built around one central character, to the point where how much that specific character clicks for you is probably going to determine your experience of the show.

Kyouran Kazoku Nikki is an… Interesting anime. It’s hard to pin down and incredibly inconsistent; when it’s good it’s fantastic, but it’s often sort of just spinning its wheels and it has a handful of extremely iffy elements that make it hard to recommend without a lot of caveats, but it’s certainly never boring. The show just has a constant frenetic energy which while at times feels directionless means there’s always something happening. Most of that energy comes from its central character, Kyouka Midarezaki.

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A self proclaimed deity with the power and presence to back up that claim, Kyouka acts as if the world revolves around her, and the show certainly does. While not ignoring its wider cast and taking the time to let the other members of the frenzied family shine (although Ginka kind of gets the short straw and ends up being a puncline far too often) it’s an undeniable and most wonderful fact that Kyouka-sama is the axis around which the whole show turns. She’s arrogant, self centered, utterly obnoxious (and a testament to Ayumi Fujimura’s ability to talk at ludicrous speeds) and I love her. Kyouka carries the show though sheer force of personality.

 

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Meanwhile Comet Lucifer wants you to love Felia. As the Angel responsible for protecting the planet Gift she’s integral to the show’s plot, but more broadly she’s the character the series most desperately wants you to care about. Most episodes feature scenes that exist mostly to establish her as this fascinating, ephemeral being. As the central figure of the plot she’s naturally loved by everyone within it, the good guys want to protect her, the bad guys want to control her (one of the main villains is a creeper driven by his obsessive lust for her, he’s awful and not in the good villain sense of the word). And yet I don’t love her. I just can’t care about Felia because I was never given any real reason to. For all that the series stresses her significance to its storyline I just never connected with her as a character, she feels more like a plot coupon than a person. I know what Felia is but not who she is.

A lot of this comes down to agency. Kyouka may be selfish but those are at least her own desires she’s acting on, Felia never really seems to want anything beyond a vague desire to be with Sogo because he’s the protagonist. Kyouka is allowed to make mistakes, because her selfishness often creates conflict she’s able to reflect on her actions and grow throughout the series, she never fundementally loses her egotistical self confidence but she genuinely cares about her unusual family as much as herself and is willing to compromise for their sake. Felia never really makes mistakes because she rarely gets to make decisions. Her status as a plot device means her actions never really have any impact, things happen to her but it’s rarely because she chose for them to so much as forces outwith her control did something because the plot demanded it.

Maybe if I’d connected to Felia more I could have enjoyed Comet Lucifer, maybe the show’s problems run deeper than that, I never really connected with any of its characters, but the problem is clearest with Felia because of how much the show desperately wants and expects you to care about her. I have no strong feelings about Kaon or Roman either, but the show wasn’t constantly yelling at me that I should love them.

For all their significant differences the element of fascination for these characters absolutely form the core of the two shows, one just does a far better job the other. Kyouran Kazoku Nikki creates a flawed but ultimately well realised character and lets her steal the show on her own, Comet Lucifer puts a doll on screen and tells you to love her. I know which I’d rather have.

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Tomorrow we’ll be moving onto something completely different and swapping the divine for the demonic, in a way.

12 Days 2019, Day 2: An Angel and a God – Character Fascination in Comet Lucifer and Kyouran Kazoku Nikki

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