English: Shadow Star Narutaru
Japanese: なるたる ～骸なる星・珠たる子～
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 7, 2003 to Sep 29, 2003
Duration: 24 min. per episode
Rating: R - 17+ (violence & profanity)L represents licensing company
Score: 6.531 (scored by 3854 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
2 based on the top anime page.
Popular Tagsdrama horror
Nov 24, 2010
"Narutaru" follows the adventure of a happy-go-lucky school girl Shiina as she meets and bonds with a rather dopey looking creature. You would think this would lead to something in a similar vein to Pokemon, but no, soon after the odd encounter in the beginning, "Narutaru" then promptly switches to a kind of pedestrian, slice of life mode. This kind of thing doesn't just happen in the beginning either, as "Narutaru" is a bewildering mixture of many genres - one moment, it can be pretty normal and laid back, but then the next moment everything goes a bit crazy, only to return to the laid back state soon afterwards. If it's possible that an anime can suffer from schizophrenia, then "Narutaru" is surely one such patient.
The style of the artwork in "Narutaru" suits its more laid back moments, but its animation is often flakey. Characters often seem disproportionally drawn and move around as though they are made up of elbows and knees. It works out for the main character since it appears to me that she is meant to be a lanky tomboy as opposed to a more graceful girl, but all the other characters suffer from the awkward movement issues as well. The character designs are also not distinctive enough as it took me a while before I figured out who's who.
The cheesily cheerful opening credits is hugely misleading. It's either not very well thought through, or it's the production team's idea of a very sick joke. Looking at it, you would never guess how horrifyingly dark this series gets later on. In fact, I would say that the main strength of the "Narutaru" stems from the fact that its creepier side is done extraordinarily well. It's incredible at building up suspense and atmosphere. Even when everything looks to be relatively normal, hints dropped by the anime such as the eerie background music and also the creepy looking fonts used for episode titles gives it a sense of almost constant anticipation, as though it's teetering on the edge of darkness. I was not disappointed - in the last few episode it finally falls off as all the tension that had been built up to that point is finally released, and it turns into something akin to a full blown horror. The stark violence is shocking, sickening enough to tie a knot in the pit of your stomach. It makes makes "Elfen Lied" look tame in comparison, despite not being as graphical... and it was absolutely brilliant...
...but at the end of the day, the question still remains - just what are the creators trying to do with the show? It has a barebone premises that seems to miss out more than it reveals (it's basically crying out for a sequel); it's all over the place, trying to be a lot of things (sci-fi/fantasy, horror, slice of life and er, Pokemon) and ends up being neither here or there; it has quirky characters that are mostly undeveloped and even more under-used that their introductions seem bordering on pointless. Basically, this anime is a mess... but it does have its merits. Perhaps the horrifying and monstrous intensity of the last few episodes alone is enough to make watching this worthwhile. It's not a great anime, but it is great in places.
Dec 20, 2008
Now here is an anime, that decieved the masses completely. The opening, and the entire first episode, leads one to believe this is a childish anime. It gives off a little "pokemon" or "hamataro" feel to it, and apears that there is little here that will apeal to older veiwers. BUT, this anime is nothing like that. It turns into the most distrubing, scary, dark, insane, and twisted anime series ever made! This anime should NEVER be watched by children, and only mature veiwers, ready for some freaky stuff should watch it. Don't look for a happy go lucky series, this show is very depressing at times. The anime makes a change at the end of episode 2, and with each episode it gets darker and darker. The final few episodes will make the most insensitive people cringe. Horrible things happen in this anime, and they happen to kids 12, or 13 years old.
This anime is about a girl named Shiina Tamai, and her new-found "friend" Hoshimaru, an odd creature (known as a dragon child). The anime follows Shiina and her eventual encounters with other children who have also befriended these creatures. Some of these children have planned horrible uses for their dragon children.
This is a really great anime, but not without lots of faults. One of the major problems with it, is the plot. There apears to be little direction in this anime. The plot goes all over the place, and opens up multiple plot lines, that by the end of the anime, only one is "solved" or completed. In fact what apears to be the "main" plotline is not even closed. It feels very "thrown together" at times. Perhaps the inexperience of the director is to blame, or the low budget, or both. Perhaps the director was hopeing for a sequel, or thought the manga had too much going on to properly adapt... Whatever the reason the plot has major problems.
However, for what it is it's pretty interesting. The story starts off a little slow and childish, but picks up by the end of the 2nd episode and start of the 3rd. From then on, it's mad decent down the rabbit hole. This entire anime has you questioning "how far will they go", and by the last episode, you finally know the answer, although you might wish you didn't. For what it is, incomplete and badly directed , the plot is decent. It gets you very interested at what's going to happen, and has lots of surprises and plot twists. Sometimes it is a little hard to follow, but by the middle of the anime, it all starts to make some sense. It's still a good story, very brilliant, just the incomplete story and directing really brings it down.
Just like NGE, almost all the characters seem to have something mentaly wrong with them. From sadistic freaks, to suicidal teens, to unfeeling mothers, to Khmer Rouge wannabees. This anime has a characetr for almost every mental disease on the book, and makes them all very interesting. It may seem a bit out of place, unrealstic, and forced, but it does work. Sure some more work may have been needed to develop the characters, but they do their best with the short amount of episodes. I have little if any problems with the characters, besides the fact it feels a little forced to have almost every character sick or crazy in one way or another. Shiina, the main character is remeicent of Shu, from Now and Then, Here and There . Her endless optimism, cheerfulness, in the face of danger, while dealing with horrible things, while not being the brightest lightbulb in the pack, makes me think of Shu all the more. And just like Shu, Shiina will have to grow up real fast, as some horrible things are about to happen to her and her friends. This is not a bad thing however, as she is still very much her own character, she never comes off as a copycat character. If anything she feels like the most "real" character in the anime, and you can't help to feel for her. Her father is another great character, and it's like you can almost touch the love they have for each other, it's just oozeing from them, and it feels so very real. Hoshimaru, the main dragon child, is a cute, yet some-how spooky little creature. The expression on it's face, while first silly, later comes off as more disturbing then anything else. Akira Sakura, a friend of Shiina(from fencing class), is a very timid and shy character. She is two years older then Shiina. The director described her as a very "inward" character and Shiina, as her foil, a very "outward" character(straight from the director's commentary on CPM's dvd box set). Akira has no other real friends besides Shiina, is sick (she passes out and throws up inexplicably), and is very depressed. Hiroko Kaizuka (often called "Hiro") is another of Shiina's friend (from her school, they are in the same class), who is very bright, yet is bullyed in school (unknown to Shiina of course). Her parents only want her to get better grades, no matter what, with her father especially putting a lot of pressure on her. Both of her parents seem unloving, and the only real friend Hiro has is Shiina. There are many other interesting characters in this anime, but I won't go into them all. I will say this though, that you get a really eerie feeling when you notice a character has just SNAPPED, gone out of their minds, and starts doing something insane and disturbing! A factor that probally inspired those who later created When They Cry(something that anime seems to focus more on, it's not however a main focus of Narutaru, althought it is there). In fact there are many things that link this anime to When They Cry...
This anime's biggest problem is it's art. While it shares many things with the much later anime When They Cry, amazing animation and art is not one of them. The art while passible, is just plane bad in this anime.I've seen worse, but even long running series can have better animation then this has. Sure the character designs are "ok" and the dragon-child designs are decent, but everything looks bad together. There are problems they wait all flows together, and it's noticable. I guess this helps with the illusion that this anime is for children in the first episode, but it really weakens the series as a whole. At times the characters legs even seem streched way out of proportion. While this anime screams low budget, I still think they could have done better. The opneing and closing animation look very nice so I will discuss them as well, sense there is not much to say about the animation of the episodes, besides that it is pretty bad. The Opening is very interestingly done, in a "child-like cute" manor, useing paper cut outs of the characters. The Ending is also nicely done, but done in the style of the anime, rather then the opening sequence.
If anything is perfect in this anime it is the music. The music is amazing in setting the mood. From a childish (yet later eerie) opening, to amazingly creepy background music, to a spooky yet some-how settling ending theme. I have not heard any other anime where Susumu Ueda has done the music, but I think he is a master at what he does. I hope that he is in charge of the music in anime in the future, becuase this was just great! Sure not everyone is going to acually like the music, no one ever does, but it sets the mood of the show, and feels a perfect fit to the series. While I don't think people are going to listen to the music from this anime, like they would from FLCL or Cowboy Bebop, the music is still perfect.
As far as the dub goes I didn't include that in with sound. I ranked music a 10/10, the dub would have brought that down a lot, and it's just not fair to include it in this review. I normally include dubs (since I am a dub fan after all), but for this I'll make an exception. The english dub was pretty bad overall, with a few spotty actors, and great actors giving their worst performances of recent memory. Although at times it really does sound good, but sadly not for the majority of the show. So I have to question jut what the hell happened? Shiina is a like it, or hate it kinda voice, althought the acting is decent, it won't win any awards. However I will say this, Kelly Ray (Yuri Otani in "Alien Nine") is perhaps the best person on the planet to play Shiina. So the casting of her had a lot of thought in it. However, half the time she seems like she is giving it her all, and other times it feels like she doesn't know where she is going with it. Shiina's father, played by Josh Mosby, is very well cast, and the actor does a great job when he gets a chance. Overall I find Mosby to give the best performance in this entire anime (which sadly doesn't mean much :( ) . I always felt Flora Stanberg was a little miscast as Hiroko Kanzuki personally. She does do a decent job some of the time, and a terrible job at other times. Which is a real shame as she seems to have a lot of talent, sad it's wasted like this. Renee Gloger however, was a perfect fit for Akira Sakura! Her voice really maches well with that character and I couldn't ever imagine another person playing her. And her acting is alright as well, at times. Other times the quality of her acting slips to pretty bad levles, like most of the actors in this dub. Renee Goldstein is very well cast as Satomi. She fits perfeclty. Her acting is very strong all the way through too. So it's even sadder that she almost is always too far away from the mic when recording her lines!!! And you can even hear background sounds when she speaks sometimes (Like really WTF background noise? I mean I hear her moving around in the booth! Your shouldn't hear such things in a dub!)!! The school bullies (shown in the last acrh) seemed to fit perfectly with the japanese actresses, despite what other critics have said. I found they did more then justice with all the scenes involving them (and they are very important). The side characters are sometimes alright, and other times outright terrible. It's not consinstent at all.
Personally I place the blame on the ADR directors Kip Kaplan (who did the terrible and unintentionally funny dub for "Garzey's Wing", so it's no wonder he is responsible for this train wreck) and Ross Lefko (who luckily enough for us has not directed [and ruined] anything else). I actually think the director wasn't really there for some recordings, as I can almost "hear" the actors directing themselves sometimes...
Another problem with the dub is many of the characters talk (as ANN calls it) in a Shatner-like way. (They...talk like...this...just to match the...lip......flaps...which...makes...me...very mad.) Really what the hell was up with that? Also so many times as I watched this I thought to myself "that line should have been re-recorded" or "That line somes awkward" or " WTF background noise??" or even "GET CLOSER TO THE MIC!!!". While there are moments of greatness, most is not impressive. The dub is really something that gives New York City a bad name for dubs overall.
And before anyone thinks I hate all dubs, I don't. I watch most shows dubbed, I like almost every dub I've ever seen, and I LOVE dubs with fresh voices in them. I am even a huge New York City dub fan, and love when a dub goes to that city, as I feel they really give us something LA and Texas fail to sometimes. Vancouver is also a favorite of mine, but like I said, I like almost ever dub I've ever seen. And I'm very sad to say this is one of the worst ones, on one of the best series too :( . I would have liked to see more work go into this dub, but I can still some-how watch this. As although there are a lot of problems, there are moments of sheer awe, that inspire me, and make me hopeful that this isn't a total bust. I'll watch it dubbed, but I won't like it.
I can't say I "enjoyed" it, in the same way I would enjoy a comedy or action anime. In fact many scenes make me wonder if the creaters should be alowed to roam the streets, rather then rotting in jail! It makes me feel like these people are insane, and could do real harm to others! I mean WHAT in the hell where they thinking?BUT I did LOVE this anime!! I loved it in the same way people like movies like Saw, Schindler's List, or The Silence of the Lambs. I loved this anime, in the way people like When They Cry, Now and Then Here and There, Kite, Ganzt, or Grave of the Fireflies. It's not like I enjoy seeing horrible things happen to people (many of them innocent, and/or children), or that I "enjoy" watching people get hurt, bullyed (well they call it bullying in the anime, I call it something far worse), or die in horrible ways, but I did like this anime. It's stunning, twisted, demented, and disturbing. But it's still amazing! It's also very interesting to note this anime adresses some issues (most involving children) that many people are afraid to address. It gets a little deep, but don't look for the emphases on it, like in NGE or Kino's Journey I won't spoil what exactly they are...
Some major problems with the plot (directing needed major work, many plot holes/plot lines left open, incomplete ending), and the animation is weak, this anime still exells at breaking the norms of anime, and blows you away. This anime pushed what was acceptable to put in an anime at it;s time. The anime is a clear inspiration for the anime/game When they Cry (and sequels), among many other anime. It has some very interesting and messed up characters, and amazing music. It has some real gruesome scenes, and at times will make you very uneasy. Kitoh (the original Mangaka) is know for taking innocent ideas and corrupting them to hell. In this anime he takes the idea of having a pokemon-like pet thing from something innocent and just cool, to something disturbing, terrible, and sickening, and much more realistic. I mean what would really happen if a bunch of children could get powerful creators? Not Pokemon thats for sure, probally something more like this. And after this series, Kitoh went on to write Bokurano, which disects the mecha genre, and corrupts that. I mean it must be really cool to pilot a giant robot and fight bad guys right? I mean that be really fun right? No! Kitoh writes what it would really be like. Just like how William Golding wrote "Lord of the FLies" to write a realistic story about what would really happen if children got stuck on an island in the middle of nowhere, Kitoh writes his mangas to show what would really happen if children got pokemon-like creators, or powerful mechas to pilot. And just like Golding he wrote his stories partly to criticize other works (and as a response to them. And FYI Golding wrote Lord of the Flies as a response to "The Coral Island").
Highly recommended, especially to When They Cry fans (and other fans of the "killer loli" genre ).
May 8, 2011
To begin with, something terrible about the series that becomes apparent right off the bat is the art direction/presentation is total garbage. In terms of art style, it's extremely generic, and not even acceptably so; it's downright amateurish. Something that particularly irked me is it seems like Mohiro Kitoh doesn't know how to draw hair; Sakura's, Shiina's, and several others bangs in particular look so bad it seems like they were drawn by a 9 year old trying to draw anime. Overall everyone is just very poorly drawn.
As for the design of the actual monsters, it's usually hit or miss: Shiina's and Akira's look fairly derpy (though I actually don't mind because I don't think they were meant to look cool anyway), but some of the others look kinda neat. There's a bit more variety with the monsters in this series because not all of them look entirely beastial; one of them looks fairly humanoid, even.
In terms of music, I don't have much to complain about, but also not much to praise. It's not godawfully bad, but entirely forgettable. The OP and ED are alright.
Now, I wouldn't mind the above nearly as much if the series had a solid plot and cast to back it up; Higurashi's art wasn't very spectacular but I loved the show because the plot was very engrossing and the characters were extremely well-defined (though if you ask me, despite the art in both not being THAT great, Higurashi's is noticeably better and entirely acceptable even without comparison; Higurashi's musical score was also VERY memorable and added a lot to the enjoyment factor).
That's where we hit another snag.
A lot of the characters have interesting problems and personality quirks and the premise seems like it would be able to carry the show forward, but that's not quite what happens. Unfortunately, the plot seems to skirt around without a tight focus and the plot gets at its most interesting in only the last two episodes. Until then it seems like we're headed somewhere eventually, but by episode 8 or so the plot they seemed to be building up until then is dropped entirely; all of the villains introduced up to that point completely vanish and cease to be relevant; it seems like they should have just carried on with that instead of going on an entirely different tangent. The anime ends ambiguously with a terrible tragedy, and we're not exactly sure what's in store next.
Obviously a LOT of the problem is, the anime is an incomplete adaptation; six volumes of the manga were left out because they only adapted the first half. This wouldn't have been so bad if the part they chose to adapt could arguably stand on its own (see: Berserk), but a lot of the foreshadowing, minor characters, plot threads, and generally things that added depth and focus to the original story were cut out. As an adaptation of the first six volumes it's relatively faithful, but that part of the manga simply cannot stand on its own as a self-contained story.
That said the anime wasn't entirely bad. For what it's worth, it's a short enough series that at the very least gives a bit of insight into the deconstruction of the mon genre; i just wish they went ahead and adapted the entire story so it could have turned out better.
Dec 4, 2007
Story: Storyarcs. There are a couple of them, all of them about pain and suffering. The first one really doesn't count all too much, but the second is where they show what they want Narutaru to be. However it comes off as immature, they try to create a disturbing aura, an effect that Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni achieves perfectly, and it falls flat on it's face. The problem is that the stories are shallow and don't really shown too much real pain, they explain things too simply, they skip over alot of the details that create that painful emotion and sense of sympathy with the characters.
Art: I did not like the art all too much. It was bland and did absolutely nothing to support the mood of the piece. The character's designs are also deceiving, but definitely not in a good way. They seem like nice and kind, not necessarily innocent-looking, and then they try to change and warp other characters into being in alot of pain, which doesn't work. The worst character design is the dragon creatures. They're just there.....the good thing is that they don't remind me of pokemon or digimon, but they're still....terrible. There are some that are meant to be "evil" but they just look stupid.
Sound: The sound is creepy, the only emotion I felt in this entire anime was due to being manipulated by the music. They definitely did a great job on the music and leading to some tense moments (music-wise).
Character: Boring, Flat, 2-D, Shallow. Those are the best adjectives for the characters of this series. I found myself not caring about them at all, it was always "Wow, this girl hates herself (that's not a spoiler...that's pretty much every character) see how little I care!" Every character was just so incredibly annoying and stereotypical that I wasn't entranced by them at all.
Enjoyment: In case you can't tell already, I didn't enjoy this anime at all. 13 episodes of pain. After watching it and thinking about it for awhile I came to the conclusion that the creators were just too lazy to put a serious amount of work into this anime. I guess that people who enjoy the whole cute girls killing sub-genre might enjoy this.
If you watch this and aren't satisfied, which I wasn't, and totally write off this deeply frightening genre, don't. Watch Higurashi no Naku Koro ni instead. It does a MUCH better job at being supremely frightening and disturbing than this does. Narutaru pulls punchs, softens things down, makes characters shallow, which greatly diminishes the effect of the entire piece. read more
Aug 24, 2008
It's an interesting subversion of the whole Pokémon-esque genre, and one which had the potential to work out really well. However, Narutaru is held back a number of problems, chief of which is that it only adapts the first half of the manga and doesn't compensate for the loss of the other half. Story arcs are set up and then abandoned, characters get involved and then just disappear, and most of the mysteries go unresolved. Because of this, the majority of the characters' motives and personalities are not sufficiently explored, and as such end up being rather shallow and two-dimensional, making it hard to care about what happens to them.
The art is rather poor and in need of work. The dragon designs are not bad and are fairly varied, but that's about the best thing it has going for it. Everything looks rather bland and uninteresting, and times it looks like the artists weren't really putting the effort in at all.
The background music is well done, helping to reinforce the dark, unsettling atmosphere of the series, which juxtaposes neatly with the deliberately ironic theme tune.
Ultimately, Narutaru is a series with great potential that is let down by some shoddy execution. The story arcs are fairly good, but for the most part they don't go anywhere because they don't get a chance to finish. Had the series been expanded into a 26 episode anime, it could perhaps have resolved the lingering plot threads and allowed some time to analyse the characters and their motives. Add in some better art and this series could have been a quite interesting take on the Pokémon-esque genre. But the way it is, Narutaru is average at best. If you're a fan of horror anime it's just about worth checking out, but don't expect anything spectacular. read more
Feb 16, 2010
The above is what's said on the first Narutaru trailer, and it pretty much sums the show up in a nutshell.
Narutaru begins very slowly; so slowly that most assume it's some kind of kid friendly Pokemon show if they go into it blindly and fail to notice the creepy staring of Narutaru's 'mascot' early on. A young girl goes to her grandparents, finds a star-shaped creature and takes it home. So far, so good on the 'safe for children' front. But, after that, other young owners of mysterious creatures enter the picture, and the other children want more than to just own weird pets...
The animation studio behind it rather foolishly made the show appear even more childish by making the opening into a parody of the show itself; full of smiling faces and complete with a song about sunshine. The opening is rather amusing if you look back at it once you've watched the series and can pick-up on certain things, such as a strong hint towards the bullying arc that the series ends with, but it does little good for people not familiar with the source material...
If you get past the opening episode, it quickly becomes apparent that Narutaru isn't aimed at children at all. Or, to be more precise, once one of the characters pulls out a knife and starts talking about 'shaving' the world rather than changing as a person in order to fit in, it becomes crystal clear that Narutaru is about as far away from being 'child friendly' as an anime about a girl finding a seemingly harmless creature can be.
Children play the starring roles in the story and Hoshimaru (the first 'dragon child') may appear cute, but the children are used to paint a grim picture of society and the monsters are tools for killing. Kitoh's work is among the most disturbing out there because he's not afraid to depict awful things - including rape and murder - happening to children, with children often committing the crimes as well as being on the receiving end. Whatever holds most people back doesn't restrain him as he delves into the minds of unstable children and shows the darker side of humanity.
To start with, Narutaru shows little promise. Compared to Bokurano, Kitoh's more recent work, Narutaru is slow and aimless. In the case of Bokurano, no time was wasted in setting up the rest of the story, and that allowed readers to get some sort of indication of where it was going from the get-go. On the other hand, Narutaru gives no indication and it takes forever for the cast to assemble. And since Narutaru gets progressively darker, rather than starting out twisted, there was very little for me to get my teeth into in terms of the characters. In fact, Shiina's (the lead) simple-minded, overly happy personality and Akira's inability to speak pushed me away more than anything else.
Also holding the series back is its lackluster visuals and forgettable soundtrack. While Kitoh's artwork is copied without issue, the dull colours and general lack of animation make the show a hard one to recommend to those moved more by visuals. The fact that certain scenes had to be executed with much left to the imagination because of how gruesome/disturbing those scenes were in the manga also hurts the anime visually. And, honestly, there's no music on the soundtrack worthy of hunting down the soundtrack to listen to.
Depending on if you're a dub fan, the voice acting side isn't any more impressive, either. The Japanese voice acting is pretty good, as it tends to be in general, with the famous Mamiko Noto playing the role of Akira and making the character slightly more bearable. But the English voice actors quite simply read the lines without inserting any personality or emotion. For example, where as I picked up on Shiina's uneasiness in response to something Akira said to her early on through her Japanese voice actress, when listening to the same line in English no uneasiness was conveyed. Maybe I've just been spoiled by Funimation's dub of late but Narutaru's dub struck me as being quite poor, and I quickly decided to read subtitles rather than letting my ears do all the work.
However, it isn't all bad. Far from it. As odd as it is, Narutaru only really gets going in the last three episodes... and then it ends. For the first time focused, hard-hitting character development took center stage, rather than character introductions and monsters killing soldiers. Two cases of near enough unrelated stories of bullying get told in the final three episodes, the end result being the victims flipping and, in the case one of the girls, lots of brutal murder occurring in retaliation for her parents running her life for her and the severe bullying she endured at the hands of other children in silence (being forced to 'drink' worms, being violated with a test tube, etc.) Unlike in the case of a lot of the previous episodes, time flew by and I was actually saddened when I ran out of episodes.
It's a shame the anime ended there because how it ended made a lot of what went before meaningless. What of Sudo's plan to make the world anew with other children possessing 'dragon children'? Why was there even a standalone episode that... sort of explained how dragons are born? Really, aside from the early episodes and the final three, nothing else was needed for an adaptation that ended so abruptly. It makes me wonder what the intention of the animation studio was... Why even bother starting plot threads they had no intention of finishing?...
...In closing, let me add this: it took me three attempts to finish Narutaru. First the pacing made me on-hold it. Then, months later, the pacing made me 'drop' it when I tried again. Only recently, when I managed to buy the DVDs, did I finish it and see why others rate it highly. I'm now very interested in reading the manga further and I STRONGLY recommend that people stick with it until the end before judging it. If you don't give it time, you'll miss the best part of the anime--simple as that.
Rating: 7/10 read more
Feb 2, 2012
Horror is one of those enigmatic genres that seeks to break boundaries. Today’s horror -- gory in the West and romantic in the East -- are vastly different compared to, let’s say, the German Expressionist period, when surreal imagery was enough to call for mommy. I grew up with H.P. Lovecraft and Neon Genesis Evangelion; thus, I am more scared when sane characters turn insane in horrific, unexplained situations. While most people think Puella Magi Madoka Magica is just plain depressing and not spine-chilling, my 17 year old self jittered and wanted my blankie.
Arguably, both horror and comedy are as subjective as you can go. What is frightening or hilarious to you may change in other people’s perspectives.
On the other hand, Shadow Star Narutaru should not be at the very least frightening; instead, it should look pretty silly to the average viewer.
You may have found this work’s premise to be intriguing, exclaiming, “A work that fools people to think this is a children’s show, but instead it is a work of pure horror? Radical, duuuuuuuude~!”
(Or if you’re a Prinny from Disgaea, you will end the exclamation with “radical, doooooooood~!”)
That is indeed true, albeit rather in an unentertaining fashion.
The show starts off first, looking like an innocent anime. Blasting cheery music from the OP to the end, the first episode is FLCL on mood stabilizers. If you have watched Digimon, then the first episode should look remarkably similar. Enter Tamai Shiina: a cheery blue-haired girl. During her summer vacation, she accidentally meets a pet dragon and an actual dragon itself. She decides to keep the pet dragon and hilarity ensues.
Hilarity, of course, refers to the confusion of what is supposed to be scary and the terrible art direction this work has.
One of the biggest questions surrounding this work is simply this: “What am I, the viewer, supposed to be scared of?” In the first season of Higurashi, paranoia and suspicion causes the main character -- and the audience -- to think his friends are out there to kill him. While it may not be scary to some people, this has direction. Contrast that to Narutaru’s astray direction. It has trouble finding which ones to focus as purely frightening: existentialist angst, the fear of the unknown, deconstruction, bullying, and tons more. This is not to say the work must limit itself into one or two; rather, the work dances around these themes so much it becomes confusing. A good horror work should, at the very least, find something to step on and stand proudly towards the audience.
The nature of the presentation may puzzle viewers as well. The first half of the show is fluid, but the second half jumps from arc to arc. One episode suddenly features new characters and themes and acts like a side-story; it’s like reading an omake in the middle of a manga. Recurring characters appear and disappear; Hiroko only appears for one episode in the first half and becomes the main focus at the last few episodes. Everything about the plot structure is messed up.
Characters in horror works either drive the story forward or serve as allegorical symbols for the themes of the work; in this case, Shiina, Hoshimaru, and Sakura are the primary focus.
Shiina’s character is nothing spectacular. The pet dragon, Hoshimaru, is like the Freudian concept of id; it holds Shiina’s repressed and suppressed mental thoughts. After all, the work should be about this character. Instead, the work, as noted from two paragraphs ago, waddle in its presentation. This character is often ignored and used in the most necessary moments; it is a waste for the premise of the work to be unnoticed. Sakura is similar to Ikari Shinji from NGE; a human being valuing herself as nothing more than garbage, she has the tendencies to make hysterical faces -- the double entendre is intended. All of these characters suffer from the misdirection. If they were handled better, they not only feel more realistic, but drive the story forward. Again, I must emphasize the lack of fluidity in the work.
The art direction is one of the most horrendous aspects of the work. This is something truly frightening to behold. Characters feel stiff -- obviously copied and pasted from character model designs and sparing as little cash as possible -- and their motions are mannequin-like. Backgrounds are generic and too bright for a horror work -- we get it; we know it’s meant to be ironic. Some of the animated techniques feel dated and cheap; in a chase scene, Shiina rides a bike and the road spectacularly “moved” by using changing the gradients’ color value. It looks fake. You don’t have to be a genius on Adobe Flash to be able to do that.
Its soundtrack is mystifying. When it’s a cheery scene, it does well; the OP makes a particularly strong case. Everything else is a total mess. Whoever is the pianist for this work deserves a congratulations; he has deceived the studios for making “atmospheric classical music.” All of the piano tracks are just fiddling around the keyboard:
Let’s play a melody, but wait! Suddenly right here, we play a scary half-note! Repeat until it reaches 2 minutes. I’m a genius! Call me Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It’s right there on the resume.
The work drags on like a professor’s lecture without the university credits. I believe it’s the studio’s incompetence is at fault; the mangaka wrote Bokurano, which is one of the best works out there. I have no opinion on the manga of this work, but it should be better than this anime. It’s not that hard to be better, really.
Masochists, beware of getting bored by the time you start episode 4. Other viewers should stay away. Hardcore horror addicts like me may find this disappointing. Granted, there are scenes that may disturb you, but there are better works out there.
If anything else, run away from this work. It will hunt you down and bore you. That, to me, is the most harrowing aspect of this work.
So run. read more
Jul 17, 2012
Opening sequence: 8/10
Ending sequence: 6/10
My Age Rating: 12: While there is no overflowing of blood the show deals with very mature and graphic situations.
The story seems fairly simple, a group of kids possess Pokémon like monsters and learn about the secret world of which these monsters are part of (by secret world I mean metaphorically, there isn’t actually another world involved). The atmosphere is sweet and kind hearted and all is introduced to be your average mon series. But then things start to turn darker, one of the characters attempts to commit suicide with a knife, an enemy gets killed, by one of the cute monsters no less, and the kids who possess some of these monsters are seen getting guns for protection. I think by that point we can clearly assume it is not going to be your average mon series for 6 years old. As the story progress the army also gets involved and you start to realize that the cute monsters are more than just pets for kids to play with, they have the ability to kill and destroy and are targeted by the military.
Off course this series’ main plot isn’t the most important part of the story. It is important to understand that the main plot here only serves to create the situations in which the main characters will be endangered since the story concentrates heavily on the characters and their ordeals. One of the main themes of this series is how isolation and persecution by society can drive some people to suicide and others to madness. Each of the characters has to deal with the harshness of life on their own and it sometimes proves too much for them.
The characters are the most important element of this series and yet they aren’t the most memorable or the most well written you’ll see so how can they be so great? Well it’s simple, each character represents a certain problem people are faced with in society and each of them explores the depths of this specific situation and its hardships. So basically the characters serve as a sort of study of society’s most dire problems on an individual based perspective, if that doesn’t sound appealing to you then I suggest right now that you do not watch this series, since that is the goal of the entire thing and the main plot is superfluous. Without delving too much into this, I’ll introduce the main 3 characters and the themes they deal with:
-Shiina: Shiina is the girl who never gives up, no matter what happens she always sticks up for her friends and tries helping others but as one tragedy unfolds after another before her, her unwavering spirit slowly perishes. Of course this isn’t fully covered in the anime since only half of the manga is covered. When the entirety of her tale is given, it becomes apparent Shiina doesn’t deal with any pain or suffering inflicted on her but rather the loss and pain of others, those she loves keep getting hurt and killed and this continues until she finally breaks.
Of course Shina is also a deconstruction of the basic shonen hero: She is perky, excited (over-excited) and reckless as can be. She always tries to achieve everything on her own and doesn't care of danger and she never gives up. But instead of glorifying such foolish behavior this series demonstrates how nonsensical and reckless it can be, then going as far as giving psychological background as to how such a personality can develop.
-Akira (May contain spoilers): Akira is a girl who was abused by her father, this caused her to isolate herself and her reclusive attitude as well as her unhinged mental state also caused her to be picked on at school by others who see her as different. All of these pushed her to attempt to commit suicide. Akira deals with parental abuse and how when alone, when not even your parents are there for you, you can be pushed to desire an end to your life.
-Hiroko (Major spoilers but it can’t be avoided): Hiro is picked on by a group of girls, they bully her and big time too. They do so because they are jealous of her and when she gets good grades they do all sorts of unseemly things to her as punishment. Her parents care not for her problems and only want for her grades at school to get higher and she only relies on her friend, Shiina, to keep going. Eventually she gets sexually abused by her bullies and her father tells her never to see her friend Shiina again, this causes her to snap and she subsequently kills her father and mother, kills her bullies, by raping to death their leader as retribution, and then tries to kill Shiina’s father in her madness. In the end she is killed by her best and only friend during a fit of insanity. This character deals with bullying and how when one is pushed far enough it can cause an individual to fall into madness.
With this covered I think I can safely say it’s not a cheerful show, it’s actually very hard to watch. The ending appears to hint that a happy resolution to it all is possible but that is only a fleeting illusion that will be shattered upon reading the manga.
The action isn’t great at all here, it’s adequate at best. But as I said this isn’t an action shonen nor a plot driven show, so complaining about that aspect is rather pointless, the show best serves its purpose as a study of the causes of several psychological problems by presenting their effects, how they came to be and their possible consequences. It brings those elements to the extreme to emphasize them and as such this series is also devoided of a happy ending, so as to render the impact of the material they presented more genuine.
In the end it’s a good show to watch if you like psychological series and can stand a dark and depressing mood. Useless to say that if you can’t stand graphic content, depressing series or are seeking a plot driven story you won’t like this series at all. With that said I recommend watching it with caution and so as to not be caught off guard by the blatantly misleading first episode and the opening theme. read more
Feb 2, 2012
Don't be fooled.
Narutaru does to that genre what "Utena" does to the magickal girl show or "Evangelion" does to the super-robot show. It traumatizes it before feeding it face-first to the abyss.
Plotwise, it follows the (mis)adventures of three girls, brash and confident Shiina, deeply troubled Sakura and half-confident/half-troubled Hiroko. Shiina discovers a cartoony starfish...um...familiar...that can shapeshift into useful shapes like backpack, flying surfboard, protective bubble, etc.
At first, this is liberating and fun...and the show pretends to be a "My Neighbor Totoro" set in modern times. But she is not the only one with a "dragonet" familiar...and not all of these creatures are nice; neither are their owners.
Narutaru is not without it's flaws.
And there are two doozies.
Firstly, the artwork is blandly generic, to the point where it becomes all too easy to momentarily confuse two characters.
Second, and more important, this feels like a series that was originally meant to be 26 episodes, and was suddenly truncated at the last second, into 13.
I deducted two points from the score for that. One for the sudden, unsatisfying, inexplicable endings to the main characters story arc. One for how the main conspiracy subplot is left completely unresolved.
That's not to say that the last episode isn't an intensely watchable, nailbiter...but all it does is promise great things it now, suddenly, doesn't have the episode count to deliver. read more
Apr 28, 2012
The Genre Horror listed for this Anime is not justified at all in my opinion.
This Anime has no Horror in it at all. You won't get scared.
And even though they list the Anime as "supernatural and drama" this Anime is more of a psychological seinen and a mystery show more than anything.
The soundtrack is incredibly well fitting so if you search for new OSTs to listen to this Anime might be for you.
Very few action, some naked girls but no tits, a bit of romance and some drama stories surrounding the girls in this Anime. It feels like the Aliens/Monsters/Dragons in this Anime exist for the purpose of giving the Anime some fake soul and make people interested to watch the Anime in order to see the whole story. That's because the story itself doesn't cover any topic about the Dragons and instead just uses them to keep your interest while leaving you with unleft answers about them.
Instead it covers the girls lives and their problems which by itself fits into a Shoujo Manga best.
The art is very old. You shouldn't bother watching this if you can't stand looking at bad animations or old Anime drawing styles.
Visually almost all characters in this Anime look the same. You look at 5 different female girls and they all look like they are the same person just with a different haircut. The same applies to the males of the same age.
The characters development is only on a psychological base and includes many breakdowns of the main chars. The character personalities in this anime are all in some sense mentally disturbed.
Overall: Watch this Anime if you want a dramatic Shoujo, like psychological character development or are looking for some neat soundtracks.
Else this Anime is gonna leave you disappointed and bored since it doesn't execute anything else well enough. read more
Jun 13, 2012
In terms of plot, it has enormous potential, but it never delivers. It meanders into vague and trivial subplots that should contribute to a more in depth view of the story, but again, it never returns to those pieces. The characters are entirely forgettable. You're continually driven on to discover more and more about these "dragons," but again again again, you'll be disappointed. There's no tangible history that you'll discover, nor subtle hints, nor tantalizing detail that will leave you pondering over their mystery. What you'll receive are a lot of loose threads, a confusing ending, and more questions than answers, which in this case is not a good thing, as is the conventional wisdom.
Long story short: I'd avoid this anime, unless you're looking to have one of those horrible-anime-watching parties. Shadow Star Narutaru both promises much and has much promise, if only it were better planned. I reached the end of the series thinking there was a second season, a part two, an OVA that furthered our knowledge or explained something. Sadly and happily, there was none. Narutaru is pretentious enough to suggest that it is philosophical, a potential reasoning for the lack of information, but it cannot escape that all of its characters are foggy, its plot is confusing without any sort of vantage point with which you can gauge yourself (which any good story should have), and its blatant middle finger to the fans in its 'twists' should not be thought of as artistic, clever, or any potential synonym closely resembling anything positive. read more
Dec 20, 2010
So where do I begin with this... I guess the plot is as good a place as any. As many of you will have guessed by reading any other review of the show, Shadow Star starts off very calm and almost cheerfully; seems like another take on Digimon really. But some messed up shit is awaiting you just around the corner, so don't get to lulled in, because it will freak you out. Now the plot has one major flaw... its just too damn diverse. Thats a strange complaint, but the show is fit into 13 episodes, and it trys to fit at least 26 episodes worth of material into it. It introduces about 6 subplots, one about a child army trying to destroy mankind, one about another kid and his friend who looks like a girl, who are possibly good? Another about girls getting beat up at school, something about her mom working for the government etc etc. Theres so much STUFF going on, and all of it just seems so interesting, but none of it goes anywhere. The child army is kinda built up for the first couple episodes, and then completely forgotten in the last half. The entire thing, just reeks of lost potential, great ideas cut back by a limited budget. But the ideas were good enough... that it almost worked. A bit more polish, and couple more episodes, and this coulda been a lot better story.
Now as for characters, again I'm a bit vexed. Each character seems pretty interesting, and you could easily make a story about each and every one of the MAIN main characters psyche... but instead it once again spreads itself too thin. Its like the show has attention deficit disorder... it has to keep switching from one plot to another... from one character to the next. The main character, Shiina, is set up to be a real good person, a elementary school girl robin hood if you will. She helps those in need, and isn't afraid to be made a fool of if its for her friends. But the show starts to look at... Maybe this is a bad personality. Maybe shes hurting her friends more than shes helping... And as it starts to get good... Ohhh-kay, now there's a character named Akira... who has a meek personality. Does she want to change the world by force, or does she want to adapt and become like everyone else? Who knows, because now its a plot about that damn child uprising. There's even some crazy goddess dragon rider girl (who can turn into a dolphin apparently), who gets mentioned like twice... and then never appears again. Like I said... each character is intriguing, and would actually be really great if they were given more time.
So what I'm really just trying to get across here is... the show needs to stick to one story, or get more funding to develop its many stories. But that doesn't really stop the show from being a good watch... it just frustrates you to know that it could've been so much more enjoyable. I personally would've LOVED to seem more info on the dragonets... what they are, how they grow, how they affect the people they are attached too. Its actually looked at a really small amount considering its one of the bigger plot points of the show.
But... with all that being said... maybe I'm being too over criticle. This is supposed to be a psychological horror right? How does it fare when compared to other anime of a similar genre? Well I can't really say... like I started with, Shadow Star Narutaru was my jumping on anime. I can say though... that it has slightly piqued my interest in the genre... maybe enough to actually give something more famous like Elfen Lied or Higurashi a chance... But again I do think it could have been better. Very little of Shiina's psyche was looked into. You got glimpses here and there that behind that smile she may be extremely depressed, but it seems to prefer to look at Akira and Hiroko, which is more a look at bullying I think. I'm not quite sure how I can put a finger on what bothers me with their actions... so let me sum it up like this. In the very last episode (I'll try my best not to spoil anything here) Akira does something that you saw coming waaayyy back, but it isn't explained why she decides then is the time to do it, and it is brushed over extremely quickly. It all ended up leaving me satisfied to an extent... but with a feeling that there must be something more to it.
Hah... well I guess thats more of a rant than a review isn't it? Ahh well, I couldn't really think of any other way to adequately express what shadow star narutaru is like. Its up and down, it really screws you over, but it leaves you wanting more. It doesn't deserve a great score, and if your a really nit picky person, you probably won't like it, but I will heartily recommend it to anyone. read more
Aug 2, 2010
This anime becomes very disturbing very quickly, but is also very disorganized. It's as if the creators said, "ok how can we shock the audience next?!" and completely forgot about any existing plotline. Therefore, there are a loooot of "Uncle Chuck"s in this anime. Which, is really disappointing, because there are so many elements that I would have liked to have seen fleshed out more over the course of the show. Instead, many themes were picked up and dropped almost instantly.
The art really suffers here; Shina sometimes has mile-long legs and a lot of times the art just looks awkward. The designs are simple but effective--the "Angel" dragonette absolutely creeps me out. Sounds are also simple, but effective for setting the mood.
I find I have a general formula for liking something: If I like the characters, no matter how bad the plotline or anything else, I like the game/tv show/movie/ book etc. I really did like the characters in this anime--each character had redeeming qualities that made me want to find out more about them (unfortunately this wasn't done, but that's besides the point).
I did enjoy this anime overall, since it had many moments that had me sitting on the edge of my seat and did make me want to keep watching (finished in the span of an afternoon). The reason it loses points however is because of it's hole-y, disorganized plotline. I would love to see a re-release of this without all the cuts.... read more
May 11, 2013
Apr 19, 2013
PLOT: At 1st glance you would think this is a rather fun kids show about children with brightly coloured creatures in the style of Pokemon or Digimon. But dear god would you be wrong! This series takes all the elements of the typical Mon show and turns it on its head, throwing the young characters into harrowing situations and bringing the darkest elements of the human soul to the forefront. It can be extremely uncomfortable to watch. However I would probably have liked the series if it did this but also had a good action packed plotline – sadly no such luck. Narutaru is S-L-O-W and even though its only 13 episodes long it feels oh so much longer. To add insult to injury all the action seems to happen in the 1st couple of episodes and the last few and nothing is really resolved at the end – I still don’t really know what the Dragonets are, why they were important or what the whole point was………and I hated Shiina! So all that really sticks out in my mind when I think of Narutaru is the slowness, irritating heroine and a few extremely disturbing scenes that I don’t think I’ll ever forget!
ANIMATION: The animation is very simplistic – a little too simplistic for my liking really. Wasn’t overly fussed on the character designs or the Dragonet designs and the backgrounds were mostly dull and recycled quite a bit. Clearly Narutaru didn’t have much of a budget.
MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I remember disliking the OP as its cheery nature was very jarring given the content of the episodes. Can’t remember much of the BGM or ED. Voice acting was OK but nothing remarkable.
All in all a series that I always remember as awful, it's been difficult to review it as I just remember not liking it and forcing myself to finish it! read more