ANIME REVIEW | "Lucifer" Gets No Sympathy in Poor Adaptation
Can that just be the review? No? Sigh, okay then.
I feel like longtime fans of Satoshi Mizukami can’t catch a break. His works — despite being critically acclaimed — have never been adapted in anime form, with the 2005-2010 manga series Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer considered his magnum opus. To have to wait a dozen years for an anime to be made of it must’ve been torture for the fans. But considering its complex narrative, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer should be carefully brought to life in animation form.
So with all this time passed and the anime version green-lit, what could possibly go wrong? Well, how about the fact that the producers hired the animation studio responsible for — as of this writing — the worst anime that I’ve ever seen?! And just like that, any hype I had for Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer faded into the darkness, never to be seen again.
The story of Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer follows Yuuhi Amamiya (Junya Enoki), who wakes up one morning to the sight of a talking lizard. Named Noi (Kenjiro Tsuda), he tells Yuuhi that he’s been chosen as a Beast Knight, one destined to help a Princess save the world from being destroyed. The enemy is a mysterious mage, and the weapon of destruction is a massive mallet floating in space known as the Biscuit Hammer. As for the Princess, that title is bestowed upon his childhood friend Samidare Asahina (Naomi Ozora), who aims to save the world so she can destroy it herself.
Together, Yuuhi and Samidare train for the big fight, fighting golem after golem that pops up to keep the heroes at bay. Fortunately, there are other Beast Knights that aid in the fight, with their own talking familiar such as a horse, snake, and swordfish. As the rest of the team suits up for the ultimate battle, only Yuuhi knows of Samidare’s true intentions, as her wicked thought might trigger the others to stop her plan.
On the surface, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer has a lot of layers to uncover. Putting the fate of the world on the shoulders of a teen places plenty of pressure on the protagonist. Perhaps this is why Samidare could care less about the fate of the world, as it’s ludicrous that no one stronger was chosen. In fact, if someone who hasn’t even come of age is put in charge of keeping the world from being destroyed, do the ones giving such power even care about the earth’s impending destruction?
Maybe this is what causes Yuuhi and Samidare to want to destroy it on their own. Both have their fair share of problems, ranging from torn-apart families to psychological issues like depression. The world’s demise is the fastest and most efficient way of solving their issues, as there can’t be problems in the world if said world doesn’t exist. Still, is there even a stream of light in their lives that could sway them back to save the world and abandon any thought of destruction?
This kind of storytelling is what has made Satoshi Mizukami a namesake in the manga world, especially with Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer. He doesn’t go from Point A to B with his characters’ problems and solutions; he goes down the entire alphabet! After all, in real life, people are complicated, with issues that don’t take a day to solve. In fact, most human lives have issues that take a lifetime to figure out, if at all!
A great example of this is found in Yuuhi’s relationship with his grandfather. After his father’s death and mother’s disappearance, Yuuhi found himself under the grandfather’s roof, who used horrible tactics to teach him not to trust anyone. Years later, and the grandfather now in the hospital, Yuuhi comes face-to-face with him, feeling him straight-up that he’s not forgiven him, and may never do so. It’s a situation that — while sad — is 100% understandable, given the amount of physical and mental damage the grandfather bestowed upon Yuuhi.
Moments like this in Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer showcase the great strengths in its main characters and the narrative. With that being said, when other Beast Knights are introduced, their stories lack the punch that drive both Yuuhi and Samidare towards their goals. Yes, they can be entertaining, but in the same way that a TikTok video is: good in small spurts, but not something one would binge for hours on end. Again, this is due to how the manga was adapted, as Mizukami’s work showcases far deeper elements of the other characters.
This then leads me to the worst thing about this adaptation: the animation by studio NAZ. It’s…nonexistent, if I may be so blunt. Characters move like they’re choppy low-framerate GIFs, with the color scheme being muddled and sometimes gross-looking. Epic fights look like PowerPoint presentations, and monologues are showcased with such bad lip-synch that it almost looks like a bad YouTube re-dub.
It’s a shame, because the voice actors seem to be trying their best to compensate for the terrible animation and the subpar script. Enoki does a good job showing emotion as Yuuhi, while Ozora mixes a serious tone with a playfully troublemaking attitude. As the lizard Noi, Tsuda delivers some great slapstick, even when bringing an ominous vibe to the characters’ current situation.
Composer Tatatsugu Wakabayashi tries his best to make a soundtrack to compensate for the poor animation. Unfortunately, what he brings is not enough to mask the flaws of this anime. Opening theme “Gyoko” by Half time Old is a solid Japanese rock song, with end theme “Reflexion” by SpendyMily delivering a good vibe that’s both pleasing to the ears and — in some parts — feels epic. However, considering that this series is named after the song “Biscuit Hammer” by the pillows, I’m surprised that we’ve only had one song of theirs twelve episodes in (“I Know You”, from 2003’s Penalty Life).
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer deserves what Mizukami's original anime Planet With got, but what we received is just downright terrible. Alongside Season Two of The Promised Neverland and J.C.Staff’s The Way of the Househusband, this goes down as one of the most disappointing adaptations of a beloved anime in recent memory. When the phrase “The book was better” was first coined, it was to describe moments like this. So do yourselves a favor, and read Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, because watching it will make you wish that there was a mallet hovering in space waiting to destroy Earth.
Voice Acting: (Japanese dub)
Final Grade (not an average):
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer can be viewed on Crunchyroll and VRV. It has been licensed by Crunchyroll. Episodes 1-12 were observed for this review. Promotional consideration provided by Crunchyroll.