Tag Archives: Anime

Kill Me Baby: That’s the title, put down the knife

Kill me Baby is a slice of life comedy from 2012. It’s based on an ongoing manga by Kaduho that started in 2008 and the anime was adapted by J.C. Staff. They’re not exactly strangers to either slice of life or comedic works, having also done such anime as Azumanga Daioh, Hachimitsu to Clover, Potemayo, Love Stage & Nodame Cantabile. So, given that history, the worst we can expect is sub-par and the best is excellent. Then again, they could always hit a new low or high. Let’s examine the series and see how it compares.

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Story:

Yasuna is an ordinary student. Her best friend, Sonya, is an assassin. The two of them go to school and spend a lot of time together. This results in all kinds shenanigans. So, this is essentially a school comedy where the twist is that one of the characters is an assassin.

The humour is based around a blend of quirky character comedy and physical humour. The biggest flaw with the comedy is definitely that some of the pay offs are really obvious. For example, there’s a joke where Yasuna is telling Sonya to treat her like a dog and asks to be given a command. The first command you’d guess is probably the exact one that gets given. There are other jokes like that but, in all fairness to the series, most of them only partly rely on the pay off while partly relying on the character reactions for the humour and the reactions are usually pretty funny. The humour, in general, works quite well. The physical comedy is kind of reminiscent of the physical comedy in Azumanga Daioh. The school comedy is a bit more similar to A-Channel with every episode containing short comedic moments, usually only thinly connected to each other, broken up by transitions. In general, it is entertaining and funny stuff.

Where the assassin gimmick pays off is that it allows for some different scenarios than you would normally get in this type of anime and some responses that are unique. It gives the series its own sense of identity as opposed to the usual “group of high school girls doing every day things in a quirky fashion.” Of course, different isn’t necessarily good and there are certainly times when the humour here doesn’t work. In addition to the aforementioned obvious jokes there are times when the physical humour goes a bit too far and crosses the line into being a bit uncomfortable. At least it doesn’t take the physical humour anywhere close to the degree that Bokusatsu Tenshi did.

In terms of non-comedic elements, the transitions are awful. Every episode has multiple transition screens where the lines “kill me baby” & “baby please kill me” will be spoken before moving on. It’s not even the length of them that’s the issue so much as it is that they’re annoying. I do have to give the series some credit as well. The ending does have a fairly sweet moment that really works.

Characters:

This series is also different from the usual school comedy in that the cast of characters is pretty small. We have our two major characters, Yasuna and Sonya. We also have Agiri, a ninja and Unusued character, a girl who shows up on rare occasions and never interacts with the other three. The interactions between Yasuna and Sonya are a bit reminiscent of those betwixt Yomi & Tomo from Azumanga. Yasuna is the high energy, crazy one who gets into all kinds of trouble while Sonya is the more subdued one who gets dragged into the mess. Agiri is more a really laid back character who actively trolls the other two while Unused character just really wants to get involved in things but can never manage it. For comedic purposes, it works pretty well but it can be a bit much at times. Here’s the thing, when you’ve got a really high energy character in a comedic work they can be great, but you start to grow a bit weary of their hijinks when you don’t get a break from them. With Azumanga, they gave you that break by having segments that focused on other characters. You don’t get that here since Yasuna and Sonya are there constantly.

Art:

Kill Me Baby uses even more basic art than a lot of slice of life anime. The background characters are largely indistinct white blobs. The backgrounds themselves frequently look very basic and bland. The character designs of those few characters we actually get are based around having very plain bodies with simple heads that are too large for the bodies. The animation is basically functional but nothing great. The best it gets is the dance in the ending theme tune and that’s not exactly at the level of the dances from the PreCure franchise.

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Sound:

The big weakness of the acting comes during the transitions. Every time they say the line “Baby, please kill me” they try to do it in a different, quirky way and a good ninety percent of the time it turns out to be really annoying. It’s like they were trying to judge how bad they could make them before audiences started turning the program off whenever it reached one. Little did they realise that a mute button exists. That being said, our main cast does a good job. Takabe Ai, Akasaki Chinatsu, Tamura Mutsumi & Kugimiya Rie all deliver their lines very well and it really serves to make the comedy work, when the comedic moments are strong. In terms of music, the background music works nicely. I liked the ending theme tune, didn’t like the opening. The problem with the opening is that, like with the transitions, it’s overly fond of repeating itself and it uses a lot of spoken words. It’s less a song and more people talking while loud music plays. The effect is outright obnoxious.

Ho-yay:

There’s quite a bit. Yasuna is very enthusiastic about getting closer to Sonya. She wants them to run along the beach like a couple and there’s more than one part where she very blatantly wants Sonya to touch her. I think she might be a masochist looking for Sonya to “punish” her. I also think Sonya’s totally okay with that. 

Final Thoughts:

Kill Me Baby is a pretty entertaining series. There are parts that are too obvious or otherwise don’t work but, as a whole, it’s bloody funny and the twist of having an assassin character does work in its favour. In the end, I give it a solid 7/10. It’s a good series. Next week I’ll move on to a request I’ve been working at for a while, Hunter x Hunter 2011.

Idol Project: Lol, Random

Today we’ll be looking at an OVA from the mid-90s. Idol Project was a work by Studio Ox. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s not surprising. They’ve mostly done production assistance and design work on anime spear-headed by other studios. I can’t say I’ve ever seen an anime where they were the driving force before. So, this’ll be a first. It was written by Amano Hiromitsu & Arakawa Naruhisa. Arakwa may sound familiar since he wrote the anime adaptations for Spice and Wolf, Upotte & Terra Formars Revenge. Which isn’t exactly a record to boast about since the best of those was Spice and Wolf and the other two were quite bad and sub-par respectively. Then again, those were adaptations and this is an original work. So, we’ll see how he does with that.

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Story:

We open with our protagonist, fourteen year old Mimu, going to the Starland festival for her idol audition. On her way there, she gets caught up in all kinds of random events involving the six excellent idols. She barely makes her audition and is about to sing when she and the excellent idols are kidnapped by aliens. From there, more randomness ensues.

Therein lies the big issue with the OVA. The “humour” is based on random events happening. In the first episode, it’s the random things while she’s trying to audition. In the second, it’s random events that happen during a highly haphazard competition. In the third episodes she’s caught up in a bunch of inane nonsense while trying to make a delivery and randomness does not, in and of itself, equate to humour. Randomness can be funny when you have some kind of deliberate set up that ends in an unexpected non sequitur, and if you’re going to have a lot of it you need a good pay off or a clever logic to it that works when you think about it. It doesn’t work when everything that happens is just random nonsense. Consequently, the comedy largely just leaves you scratching your head or rolling your eyes rather than laughing.

The best thing I can say for the OVA is that the comedy is largely inoffensive. It’s stupid and it barely registers as comedy but it isn’t actively annoying, for the most part.

Characters:

There’s really nothing to the characters in this. They’re only one step above your average harem characters. They’re all very basic archetypes. You’ve got the dumb martial artist, the child, the obvious lesbian, the bad girl, the elegant young lady, the tranquil Buddhist & the ordinary protagonist who manages to have big dreams in lieu of a real personality. At least they didn’t do the Baka to Test thing and make fun of the obvious lesbian because… someone being gay is inherently funny?

Here’s the thing about under-written characters in a comedy. They can work if you can give them dynamics that offer a lot of comedic possibilities and you take advantage of those. In this series, we don’t get that. The comedy is based less on the character interactions and almost entirely on the random events. So, having under-written archetypes for characters doesn’t work in this context.

Art:

The artwork and animation in this are frequently lazy. The parts where they seem to put the most effort are the ones designed to be fan-servicey. Because when you have a fourteen year old protagonist it’s vital to see her panties because… class is something for other works.

I’ve seen so many trashy, fan-service heavy portrayals of way too young characters in anime at this point that I’m probably on some government watch list. And people wonder why anime fans have a bad reputation. It’s this sort of thing. 

Sound:

The performances in this are kind of weak. They got some good actresses. Hisakawa Aya, Kanai Mika & Inoue Kikuko are all in this. Their performances in this are just lacklustre. The music is decent but really could have used more effort considering that this is an OVA about idols.

Ho-yay:

There’s a little bit with Corvette and her clear interest in our heroine but there’s never any sign that it’s reciprocated.

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Final Thoughts:

That’s Idol Project, a stupid, unfunny OVA from the mid 90s. Ultimately, the series is one that just falls short in every regard. The characters are weak, the comedy is weak, the acting is weak, the art is generally weak, at times delving into outright trashy territory. It’s a dumb little OVA that I can’t really recommend digging up. My final rating is a “solid” 3/10. Next week I’ll look at something a bit longer with Kill Me Baby (That’s the name of the anime, put the blunt objects down.)

Palme no Ki: The Little Tree Robot Pinocchio

Palme no Ki is a film that first aired in 2002. It was the début work of Palm Studio. Which I only know as the studio behind Genshiken. The film was written and directed by Nakamura Takashi. Who also did animation work on Nausicaa. How does this film hold up? Let’s take a look and see.

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Story:

We open with a woman battling through a group of dudes. We then quickly cut to a large tree where a humanoid robot, Palme, is hanging. He activates and begins moving. A little dragon sees this and fetches an elderly man, Palme’s creator. The old man worries about what kind of tree Palme might become, since he’s apparently constructed in such a way that he’ll become a tree at some point. A tree shaped by its memories. It turns out that he was built to look after the woman who used to live in that area but he stopped moving after she died. Things shift when the woman from the opening scene shows up. Palme mistakes her for his former mistress and agrees to look after the mechanical looking egg she’s carrying. Thus begins Palme’s journey.

The biggest story issue is that the character conflicts can be pretty contrived. There’s a point where Palme and his young friend Popo are yelling about how the other one seems different but we’ve only seen them interact for, maybe, ten minutes and the whole impetus behind their fight is kind of weak. So, it comes across as a fight based on them barely knowing each other rather than on anything substantial. Palme also freaks out at a different friend because he asks to see the egg Palme’s carrying even though Palme hasn’t shown that much protectiveness towards it before and he has no special reason to be paranoid. It’s not like Frodo lashing out at Samwise when there’s a clear story reason behind it it’s just Palme randomly deciding he can’t trust this guy based on… the dude saving his life multiple times. And you know you’ve gotta be wary of that type.

That aspect aside, there are a lot of elements to admire in the story. I like that it builds suspense on the basis of this tree transformation. A lot of the tension does come from this ominous idea of just what kind of tree he might become and we see him do quite a few things that make that a cause for concern. Honestly, it also makes for kind of a refreshing change since his personal journey is, ultimately, of greater import than the physical journey. The film is also really good at taking a lot of seemingly disparate elements and tying them together by the end and at providing foreshadowing for how they’re going to do it. Which makes for a tale that’s very well woven. The pacing is well done. The climax is compelling and well executed.

Characters:

The main cast is pretty nicely done. One issue is that the film might go a bit too far in setting up the possibility of Palme going badly. To the point where it’s pretty hard to have sympathy for him after a while. Instead, you find yourself concerned for Popo, Shatta and the other major characters and what Palme going bad would do to them. I do like that none of the antagonistic characters are portrayed as being all bad. The one that comes the closest is Popo’s mum, but even with her her faults are very human and she’s not entirely unsympathetic.

Art:

The biggest flaw with the art is that the facial expressions can be off at times. Characters will go cross-eyed or they’ll be having an intense moment and have an expression of slight annoyance. However, the world design is really well done. With amazing backgrounds, creature designs and various technologies. The action moves very well and the designs are interesting. So, in general it is a nice looking film. It just has the occasional awkward moment.

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Sound:

There are some really good actors cast in this. The best performances come, no question, from Toyoguchi Megumi & Sakaguchi Daisuke. There are no weak links in the cast, though. They all do nice work. The music is also well done. It works well for the atmosphere and action.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any to be found.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, Palme no Ki is a really good film. It has some issues that hold it back, but it has a good level of complexity, interesting characters, a strong narrative, a great cast and lovely artwork. My final rating is going to stand at a solid 8/10. Next week I’ll look at Idol Project.

Tsuritama: Melding the Mechanics of Fishing with Comedy

Tsuritama is a science fiction comedy from 2012. It was written by Ono Toshiya and produced by A-1 Pictures. Yes, the studio that brought us Kuroshitsuji, Sword Art Online & Boku dake ga Inai Machi among others. In other words, their quality varies quite a bit. I haven’t really heard anything about this anime, so I’m going into it pretty blind. Let’s see how well it compares to the other A-1 anime I’ve reviewed.

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Story:

Yuki is a highly introverted lad who moves a lot. After moving to Enoshima, his life turns around. Another transfer student, Haru, comes into class and introduces himself as an alien. He then insists that Yuki go fishing with him to save the world. Shenanigans incoming.

The first noticeable issue with this series is that there’s a lot of technical talk on the mechanics of fishing and it’s all really tedious and completely uninteresting. Look, I know that your comedy here is using fishing as its method to save the world but that doesn’t mean there’s anything comedic about long explanations of how to catch mahi mahi or the proper way to cast. I would go so far as to say that that time could have been better spent on amusing hijinks. Another issue is that the series doesn’t really take full advantage of the comedic possibilities of its premise. This is a series about aliens who can control humans with water and an alien teaming up with some humans to save the world by fishing. That’s a premise that’s so patently ridiculous that it shouldn’t be that hard to make laughs happen. But they downplay the comedic elements in favour of teaching us the mechanics of fishing.

That being said, those moments where they do embrace the absurdity tend to work pretty well. The funniest scenes all centre around Haru too. I will also say that some of the quieter, emotional moments are, surprisingly, really good. The scene where Yuki tells his grandmother how much she means to him in particular.

Characters:

Tsuritama is a bit unusual in the regard that the major characters really vary. Haru is good for comedic scenes but not so much for anything more serious. Yuki can work in both, but has his strongest scenes in the more serious moments. Natsuki largely plays the straight man in the comedic bits and works better for the more emotional moments. Akira is just a flat, predictable character. The side characters largely exist to play off of the main cast and provide them with strong moments. The only ones who really stand out are Yuki’s grandmother and Natsuki’s father & sister.

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Art:

The artwork is pretty well done. There’s a lot of effort put into making the water, fish and fishing equipment look polished. The character designs are a bit lacklustre, but functional. The animation is solidly done.

Sound:

The acting is pretty solid. We’ve got the talents of Irino Miyu, Osaka Ryota, Sugita Tomokazu, Uchiyama Kouki & various others. The performances are generally good for what they’re doing. They can carry the comedic parts and sound like they’re reading from the world’s dullest instruction manual when explaining the mechanics of fishing or repeating them to show us that their character understands them. Osaka Ryota does a great job with the emotional stuff. The music is okay. Probably not anything I’d listen to again, but it’s functional.

Ho-yay:

There are some moments betwixt Yuki and Haru where I question whether they’re really just friends but there aren’t many.

Final Thoughts:

Ultimately, Tsuritama is a series that has its charming and funny moments but it’s also a bit of a slog with stretches of tedium to get through before reaching those moments. In the end, its good moments elevate it above mediocrity, but it’s not a superb series. It’s just okay. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. If you really love the mechanics of fishing, you’ll probably like it better than I did. Next week I’ll look at Palme no Ki.

Chocolate Underground: Fighting the Power for confectioneries

Chocolate Underground is a short ONA from 2008. It was brought to us by Production IG & Trans Arts. Because it’s completely necessary to have two studios work on thirteen episodes that run for five minutes each. It’s based off of the novel Bootleg, by British novelist Alex Shearer. You know, the bloke what wrote The Greatest Store in the World. That’s the actual title, not me praising him. It was directed by Hamana Takayuki. Who also did director work on Prince of Tennis, which I haven’t seen but am bringing up because it’s well known & directed a few episodes of Psycho Pass, which isn’t a bad sign. So, let’s look at the ONA and see how well it holds up.

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Story:

Our narrative is set in a dystopian future where the Good For You party has banned all sweets, including chocolate. You wouldn’t think that would be a winning political platform but they were against Cyborg Trump and Mecha Theresa May. Two lads with names that sound like they should go with raider bosses in Fallout, Smudger and Huntley, are determined to eat chocolate again. So, they set out to find people who are illegally manufacturing and distributing it. Which starts them on their own path to stand up to the Good For You party.

Honestly, there are a lot of minor issues here that the target audience will likely not notice. The absurd, overblown action sequences of chocolate detecting robots chasing our heroes are quite silly. At one point one of our heroes somehow manages to escape from an internment facility in the old “one child stands on another’s shoulders with a heavy coat over them” routine that would never work. There are several completely gratuitous, one-sided crushes that do nothing but waste time. Seriously, these episodes are around five minutes each. We don’t need filler. We also get a lot of ridiculous “purple prose” moments where our heroes are just talking about the unbridled majesty that is chocolate. I know she has that heavily sexualised dominatrix outfit, but that’s taking things a bit far, isn’t it? These kids act like she saved all of humanity while writing episodes of the best kids’ show out there.

With all that being said, the overblown aesthetic does have its appeal. I will also give the series credit for having a strong sense of tension. The episodes are short, so each one has to concisely end at a point that will get people interested in what’s coming next and give it somewhere to go. Which the series manages very well. It’s also where the series gets its strongest moments.

Characters:

The biggest issue with the characters is that they aren’t the most consistent group out there. There are a couple kids who are established early on as being very obedient towards the party. One might even say zealous for it, but then they change sides with no foreshadowing or prior indication that something wasn’t kosher about their relation to the party. As a whole, the characters are just kind of mediocre. They’re very basic archetypes. The only character who really moves beyond that is one who seems like a generic bad guy but turns out to be actually doing what he thinks is the will of the people which results in a shift that makes sense.

Art:

On the positive side, the character designs are nicely done. The animation is fairly smooth and the action sequences, though they can be ridiculous, are interesting to watch. On the negative side, a lot of the world objects, especially vehicles, look very low effort. Almost like the artists spent about ten minutes drawing them in a basic paint program and called it acceptable.

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Sound:

the acting is passable. The performances aren’t brilliant. I’ve heard better from Toyonaga Toshiyuki, Mizusawa Fumie, Takahashi Mikako & Nakagawa Rie. That being said, they aren’t bad performances either. They’re functional. I could say the same for the music, actually.

Ho-yay:

There is none. All the entirely pointless one-sided crushes are het.

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s Chocolate Underground, based on the children’s book, Bootleg. All in all, I think it’s a work that small children can enjoy. As for its appeal to older audiences, it’s all right. It’s probably not the type of kid’s show you’d seek out if you weren’t actively trying to entertain a child, but it’s one you could put on without being annoyed or even finding something else to occupy yourself with. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. Next week I’ll take a look at Tsuritama.

Futari wa PreCure: Max Heart Film 2- Yukizora no Tomodachi

I’ve talked about the PreCure franchise quite a bit. Including Futari wa, Max Heart, & the first Max Heart film. Thus far, the weakest thing I’ve seen for the franchise was the mediocre Max Heart. The first film based off of that series managed to avoid a lot of its problems and turned out pretty well. Hopefully, the same will hold true for this week’s fare. Futari wa PreCure: Max Heart Movie 2- Yukizora no Tomodachi.

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Story:

We open with an old man carrying an egg and flying across the sky on the back of a flying squirrel, Muta. Muta warns the old man, Roshi, not to drop the egg. Roshi says he won’t but does and that’s why his grand kids never call or visit. Two ice looking guys sense the situation and move to get to the egg. We cut to the one girl… You know, the boring one who was introduced in Max Heart that I can never remember the name of… I want to say Kanade. She’s working with Akane when she finds the fluffy little bird that hatched from the egg. From there we get to see our heroines, Honoka & Nagisa, as they’re enjoying a ski trip. But what is this mysterious creature and why are Freezen & Frozen after it?

Let’s start with the issues with the film. The biggest one is just that it drags quite a bit. Take the ending. We get our climactic fight and then a good ten minutes of an attempted, but not well executed, secondary climax. We also have some completely pointless scenes of Honoka’s grandmother. I liked her grandmother in the series but there’s no reason for her to be in this film beyond an early phone call where she gives Honoka some advice. Nothing else she does has any impact on anything. The scenes that surround Ellen in general are just a drag. They revolve around her “bonding” with our mysterious friend but its very clumsily done since most of it is her holding the thing while looking dull or watching it also while looking dull. There’s also a part of the film that revolves around Nagisa & Honoka having a fight but the impetus behind it is really weak. Basically, Nagisa overhears some random people who have mistaken Honoka & Fujipi for a couple and she gets upset because that’s her Honoka, dammit. Here’s the thing, though, Nagisa has known since before Max Heart even started that Honoka & Fujipi are old friends and she also knows that there’s nothing more to their relationship than that. There’s absolutely no reason for her to be upset here.

There are also parts to the film I like. In concept, I like the idea of contrasting a pair of true friends who will overcome their difficulties with a pair who will only stay close when things are going their way and I do like a lot of the scenes surrounding that, even if the event that kicks off that plot point is weak. A lot of the Honoka and Nagisa scenes in general are just good. I particularly like the moment where they talk about their hearts burning for one another.

Characters:

The characters are much the same as they are in the series proper. Nagisa and Honoka are still great characters. Ako is still entirely bland. It’s nice to see Shiho and Rina get some nice support scenes. The villains are nothing ground breaking but they’re fine. The same can be said for Muta, Roshi & our little bird. They’re not interesting characters but they work for what the film needs them to do. Pollun is, unfortunately, back to being a major annoyance. He does throw a loud, obnoxious tantrum in this one. Honoka and Nagisa need to start packing heavy duty duct tape.

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Art:

The artwork is nicely done. The action sequences flow well and the backgrounds are well detailed. I particularly like the way the film captures both a very picturesque winter wonderland aesthetic and a very oppressive frozen wasteland at different parts. The magical kingdom isn’t nearly as pretty as the Garden of Hope was in the first Max Heart film but it’s decent enough.

Sound:

I’ll quickly go through the major characters, since I’ve talked about their performances at least twice previously. Honna Youko & Yukana are great. Tanaka Rie is a great actress but her performance in this is flat because Miyuki is a bore. Ikezawa Haruna’s performance is annoying because that’s the aesthetic they decided to go with for her character. Moving on to the film exclusive characters, Nozawa Masako returns. In the last film she was Round & Honoka’s grandmother. In this one she’s Muta & Honoka’s grandmother. Her performance is good. You can’t even tell by ear that Muta and the grandmother have the same voice. Aono Takeshi voices Roshi and he does a fine job. Our villains are voiced by Kusao Takeshi & Hiyama Nobuyuki. Both of whom deliver nice performances. Hinata is voiced by Chijimatsu Sachiko and she’s decent enough. Like with the last film, Futari wa and the main series, we have a Sato Naoki soundtrack which includes Max Heart’s theme tune. Which is basically Futari Wa’s theme tune with minor changes. Still, he is a good composer and it shows here.

Ho-yay:

Honoka and Nagisa definitely have some. And it culminates in the “burning hearts” scene. Because this is PreCure and shoujo ai subtext is what they do. Actually, is it even subtext at this point? They’ve held hands while cuddling up in bed and talking about how close they are and now we get the hearts burning for each other. It might qualify as just text at this point.

Final Thoughts:

This is actually what I expected from a Max Heart film when I reviewed the first one. It has some strong moments, some weak ones and just averages out to be kind of mediocre. If you enjoyed Max Heart or if you were a fan of Futari wa who doesn’t mind putting up with Yayoi and Pollun for some cute Nagisa & Honoka moments you might enjoy watching it. For myself, I give it a 5/10. Next week I’ll look at Chocolate Underground.

Mononoke: Not the Princess

Mononoke is a supernatural, fantasy, historical horror series that came out in 2007. It was brought to us by our old friends at Toei animation. That’s right, the studio behind Kuuchuu Bruranko and a lot of people’s first anime with franchises like Dragonball and Sailor Moon. I’ve been told that this one is really good so let’s have a look and see if that is the case.

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Story:

We follow a “simple” medicine seller as he goes from place to place and hunts down mononoke. Which are a form of ayakashi. The series gives us five short stories, each one lasting two or three episodes, about the medicine seller getting into some strange situation caused by a mononoke and seeking out its shape, truth and reasoning so that he can exorcise it. It’s kind of reminiscent of Mushishi, which isn’t a bad thing.

The only real narrative problem with the series is that it can get repetitive. Not in terms of the set ups or anything like that. Rather, the resolutions are a bit repetitious. Our Medicine Seller finds the mononoke’s shape, truth & reasoning, draws the blade of exorcism and then he briefly talks to the audience. Although, in all fairness, there are exceptions where he ends up not drawing the blade but those stories where he does get kind of reiterative in their resolutions.

Still, that’s a fairly minor complaint given how many things the series does well. It’s really good at setting up interesting scenarios and at developing those scenarios in a way that keeps you interested. The pacing is also really well done. The series takes its time to build things up and really delve into a situation before moving into the action. The whole necessity of getting information about the mononoke really benefits the series in that respect. I also do like the way the series handles the medicine seller directly addressing the audience. They basically present the series as though it’s a play with the way they use transitions and the medicine seller’s final bits of dialogue when closing a story. It’s a decision that could have very easily gone wrong, but the execution here is superb and it really works to its utmost, or close to it.

Characters:

Each story has its own cast with the only reoccurring character being the unnamed medicine seller. This is another aspect that could have very easily not worked. Since the medicine seller is, in many ways, an archetypical trickster character. He doesn’t let anything agitate him and always seems to be in control of a given situation. You never feel like he’s in any real danger. However, what makes the character not just work, but work really superbly, is a combination of the play aesthetic and the fact that he devotes so much time to information gathering without any real concern for protecting the ordinary people who are caught up in the situation. Usually because there’s some karmic element involved. He’ll warn people and give them advice, but he’s more interested in unravelling the facts. I also do appreciate the way that every single side character has some contribution to make to the narrative. The side characters also do have relatable factors surrounding them. A lot of them aren’t good people, but they have enough complexity that you can understand them and why they’ve made the decisions they have.

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Art:

The artwork in this is an interesting case. Toei elected to make the artwork evocative of illustrated manuscripts. They were very meticulous about it with the character designs, backgrounds and even the colour palette. It doesn’t look like many other anime but in a way that’s dynamic and interesting. There is also something vaguely disconcerting about the more intense animation when paired with that art style which, ultimately, pairs well with the writing aesthetic. The imagery can also be pretty disturbing when it needs to be. The transitional artwork is really well handled, tying in with the theatrical feel nicely.

Sound:

There are a lot of really strong performances in this series. Yukana, Tanaka Rie, Wakamoto Norio & Midorikawa Hikaru to name a few. The strongest performance, though, comes from our protagonist voiced by Sakurai Takahiro. That’s right, Cloud Strife, Rockman X, Kururugi Suzaku, Endou Kazuki, Okada Joe, Osomatsu & a whole bunch of other characters. The music was handled by Takanashi Yasuharu. The same composer who worked on Shiki & Gantz. He does a really good job. His music for this really supplements the art and narrative style. Which helps forge a really strong atmosphere.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any in this series.

Final Thoughts:

So, was this series as good as I’d been told? Honestly, I’d say that it is. It has an amazing narrative with intriguing characters, coupled with art and music that complement the narrative style and excellent acting. All in all, I do recommend this one & I have to give it an enthusiastic 9/10. Next week’s review will be for another Toei production, Futari wa Precure: Max Heart Movie 2- Yukizora no Tomodachi.