Witch Hunter Robin was a 2002 Sunrise anime. Yes, the same studio that brought us Gundam (the good and the bad), Code Geass, Dirty Pair and many more. What’s that, you want to know why this review is late? Well, I had some Internet troubles and the technician just fixed the situation. You know, the usual boring life stuff.
We open with a witch hunting organisation, STN-J, anticipating their new recruit. They quickly meet her, the titular Robin, as fire craft user with an improbable hair style. Which just proves that she’s the protagonist. From there, we watch as Robin and her team go up against witches of various kinds and bring them in. But there’s something amiss with STN-J. Where are they taking the witches they capture and what is this mysterious Orbo substance that protects them from a witch’s powers?
The biggest narrative problem with the series has to do with the set up. So, we’ve got these Seeds who are born with mysterious powers that may or may not awaken. If they awaken they’re either recruited by the Solomon organisation, STN-J’s parent company, or they’re hunted as witches. So, they’re basically Marvel mutants if the Xavier institute aggressively went after every mutant who didn’t join an X-team. The problem is, how did this organisation get formed and why do mutants join up with them instead of fighting back? We know Orbo is a new invention and that normal humans can’t use it without complications. That’s a major plot point. So, how exactly do they get people to cooperate with them? There’s never an explanation. It’s just the way it is. I guess their world needs a Magneto.
On the positive side, the series is interesting. It has quite a few mysterious elements that get built up throughout and, ultimately, do have pretty satisfying conclusions. So, there is quite a bit of investment to be had. I also do appreciate the way a lot of early events that don’t seem particularly significant do ultimately play a more substantial role than you might think.
This is where the series has its most significant problem. Namely, some of the major character dynamics come across as under-developed and contrived. You’ll have certain characters who show no interest in one another outside of business matters or where one does but the other doesn’t. Then the plot needs them to have a closer dynamic and they will as if by magic. Who knows, maybe a witch is manipulating the script. Probably the same witch who completely changed Squall’s characterisation in the last disc, except this series isn’t nearly that egregious. How interesting a character is also varies a lot. And this isn’t a series where the split is based on a character’s importance. You can have a major character like Amon who’s a bog standard, stick up his arse serious dude while some more secondary characters like Michael and Karasuma actually get complexity and some interesting traits.
Sunrise’s art in this has a fair few problems. First of all, the character expressions are frequently just vacant. Secondly, some of the action sequences can be really slow and even kind of tedious. With that out of the way, the series does have an interesting aesthetic and when they get their action sequences right, they’re really damn good.
This is another element that varies a bit. They got a lot of talented people like Watanabe Akeno, Yuuki Hiro, Fukuyama Jun and others. But some of them, like Fukuyama, got saddled with dull characters while others, for narrative reasons, spend a lot of the series trying to sound unaffected, rather like they don’t care. Which doesn’t exactly lead to the most impactive performances. The musical score is pretty good.
There really isn’t any.
Witch Hunter Robin has quite a few problems. As well as some things that could have been done better. That being said, it is an interesting series with enough strong characters to exonerate it, mostly, for the bland ones. If you want something with supernatural action, and you’ve already seen Yami No Matsuei, it’s a good choice. Final rating, 7/10. Next week, Tetsuwan Birdy Decode.