US Distributor: Funimation
Production Studio: Silver Link
Was this provided by the publisher? Yes
More Info: Anime News Network

Shorewood Blu-ray OcardWhen I first received the screener copy of C3 (Cube x Cursed x Curious) in the mail, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I’d never heard of this title, and while I don’t claim to be an expert in everything released in the US, I’d like to think I have at least a passing familiarity with most of what hits stores. So, I set about to looking over the case and three red flags immediately shot up:

  1. This is a Funimation release with no English dub track. A rarity, to be sure.
  2. The series has a TV-MA rating.
  3. The description on the back of the case sounded like every harem trope you’ve ever heard of.

Faced with these three giant red flags and the lingering bad taste of Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, I steeled myself for the very worst.

Surprisingly, I actually enjoyed the show.

C3 003 - 20160806C3 starts off by introducing us to Haruaki Yachi, a typical Japanese teenager who lives in a place that gives him a unique immunity to curses. This is handy because Haruaki’s father is off traveling the globe, sending various cursed items home to his son. One such item, a strange-looking cube, arrives at the beginning of the show. Shortly after it arrives, the cube transforms into a young woman, called Fear Kubrick. Fear is a torture cube, created during the Inquisition and able to able to configure itself into various torture devices.

After this point, things play out like nearly every harem show in existence, complete with the introduction of childhood friend and rival Konoha Muramasa. Muramasa is a cursed sword who, much like Fear, can hold a female form. At the end of the first episode, we get a glimpse of another female character, Peavey Barowoi, whom will serve as the antagonist for the first few episodes.

C3 008 - 20160806While the first episode leads the viewer to thinking that this would be a typical harem show, The second dives straight into the real crux of this series, which is Fear’s struggles to break her curse of being a torture device. At the same time, she must avoid those who would destroy her, such as the aforementioned Peavey. That says nothing of the real threat of those who would use Fear, and set her back on the path of being a cursed tool. Add in a secondary story in which Haruaki and Fear help another cursed tool break its curse, and you pretty much have the plot of C3.

So,why did I enjoy this show?

Well, unlike the previous two series I’ve reviewed, C3 featured a lead male protagonist who wasn’t all-powerful, nor did he die and come back to life at the end of each episode. Because of this, the stakes of each plot point had real weight to them. Couple this with the fact that characters actually die and stay dead, are maimed, lose limbs, and well, it conveyed the stakes of the show quite well. Characters also speak of being cursed and, while at first this doesn’t seem to be anything important, we later see exactly what horrors a curse entails. But more on that in a bit.

C3 006 - 20160806Despite all the death and carnage in C3, it still managed to fit in some moments of levity. By tossing out a few jokes (many of which were mature in nature) every now and again, the writers were able to keep the show from being mired in the violence. For example, the scenes in which Haruaki had to place new chips into Fear played out like sex scenes. At first, these segments had me worried, but soon had me rolling with laughter as I clued in on the joke.

What really had me coming back to C3, though, was student body president Kirika Ueno. Kirika is arguably the most interesting character in the show, and the one who shows the audience exactly how bad the show’s curses really are. Kirika is able to use two cursed items, one of which being a bondage-style outfit that heals her wounds. On the flip side, though, Kirika can never remove it, lest she die of the wounds she has received previous. Her other cursed item is a series of ropes, which she can use to bind her opponents. That said, the rope is cursed with the need to hurt or kill every so often, which Kirika uses on herself as the previous item will heal her. To make matters worse, she was forced to use these cursed objects by her brother, who works for a shadowy organization that supposedly “researches” cursed items. Add in the fact that Kirika has feelings for Haruaki that she can never act upon because of her curses, and you have an interesting tragic figure.

C3 010 - 20160806This show is not without its faults, though. C3 is based on a light novel, and like many other anime adaptations of such, it feels as though we are only getting a very small part of the story. Much like Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero, many subplots are hinted at that are never touched upon in the anime, leaving us wanting for more information. I would have liked to know more about Haruaki’s father for example, or more on the background of how Konoha came to live in the main character’s town. Also, while we get a few details on Fear, I still would have loved to have known where Haruaki’s dad came across her in the first place. Likewise, all the villains in the show work for shadowy organizations that want to either destroy the cursed items or use them for their own twisted ends, but we never get real fleshed out reasons as to why or to what ends they’ll use these items. It just leaves these characters feeling very one-dimensional.

The music was nothing to write home about, and, if not for the dance routine in the first opening sequence, I’d have forgotten it much like I forgot the rest. The animation also wasn’t very good, as the many various fight scenes were choppy at best, at times bordering on confusing to a point where you could barely tell what was going on.

Funimation’s release is very bare bones in terms of special features, featuring only the standard clean opening and closing tracks, as well a spattering of trailers.

Ultimately, despite the aforementioned faults, this show was a fun surprise. While it isn’t for everyone, if you’re not sick to death of harem tropes, you’ll find a lot to like from C3.