39 of 39 episodes seen
"I love the happiness and the suffering. Because the only emotions I feel... are the ones you grant me."
At first, Hanasakeru Seishounen appears to be a rather typical reverse harem story. Young girl surrounded by several beautiful men, nothing new for the given genre. But don't let this throw you off. Soon enough, our protagonists, along with the three marriage candidates, get involved in a complicated political conspiracy of a small Middle Eastern country. They face great dangers as they travel across the world, learn to trust and support each other, discover new emotions within themselves, and mature in order to survive and reach their goals.
The story was nicely paced and very intriguing, with numerous plot twists -- I could not bring myself to stop watching it or to let any other anime interrupt it. I loved that although the story set off with romance in mind, it was not the main focus. I will even say that if the whole husband-choosing piece was not present, this anime would still be just as good.
At the end of the series, there was a certain sense of completeness, all questions were answered, all characters found their place in the world; it was a perfect spot to drop the curtain. I did feel a little sad, however, that such a great series came to a finale.
Kajika is not your typical damsel in distress constantly being saved by her male harem. She is strong and confident, is able to stand up for herself and to speak her mind when she has to. She is, however, rather slow when it comes to love and realizing her own feelings; but that is also understandable, considering that she grew up away from society and did not get a chance to experience romance until the husband game began. But even despite that, she treats each man with equal respect and consideration, which is very admirable.
To me, however, the most interesting characters are the men surrounding Kajika. Needless to say that they are also not your typical male stereotypes found in a reverse harem. What grabbed me the most is how each one of potential candidates represented a different kind of love. Li Ren's love is strong and deep, to the point of becoming possessive of Kajika, yet his pride as a head of his clan stops him from being honest. Eugene's love is noble and selfless; he is willing to spend an eternity just watching over Kajika, whether she chooses him or not. Lumati, a young heir of Raginei, is blunt and straightforward about his love, but is also ready to admit defeat if his rival is worthy. And lastly, Carl is rather reserved and indecisive, but is equally sincere with his love and respectful toward his rivals. I really loved that these characters are not at each other's throats all the time, despite "fighting" against each other and feeling jealous, and instead act like mature adults and take both Kajika and each other seriously. Li Ren and Eugene may be an exception to that, but I don't believe they were ever serious during their quarrels.
One character whose purpose I am still not sure about is Yui, Kajika's first female friend. She does not seem to do anything aside from exchanging letters with Kajika and fangirling over the male cast. She definitely belongs in a more typical shoujo setting, but thankfully her occurance was not frequent enough to cause a distraction.
Somewhere around episode 10 I found out that starting from episode 24 the series will have a different director. I was not worried about that. In fact, I was sure the series would become even better, considering that the second director is more experienced with shoujo anime and is famous for series like Fushigi Yuugi and Ayashi no Ceres. But unfortunately, as I later discovered, that change was not the best idea. It was obvious how the series became more "shoujo", with more diverse and less realistic facial expressions, and a couple super-deformed scenes here and there. However, Hanasakeru Seishounen is a dramatic story that had no need for comedy elements; if anything, they were a distraction. Kajika, who was now blushing and showing her "girly" side more often, almost started to look like a typical shoujo heroine. Semi-chibi elements seemed completely out of place in such a serious setting. The character designs also went through a slight change, and although it was not major, some general inaccuracies emerged; for example, Kajika described Eugene's eye color as "topaz" in the beginning, but with the direction change, his eyes became a mix of light green and yellow instead of a golden brown from the first twenty-three episodes.
The animation quality itself seemed to have improved in the second half and toward the end, and the opening animation also became more appealing, but I would still prefer that it did not undergo such a drastic change in the middle. Also, all the CG vehicles stood out too much and were a pain to look at; especially considering that cars, planes, and helicopters appeared on the screen very often because the characters moved around a lot between cities and countries.
The background music was pretty good; it did not really grab my attention though, so there isn't much to discuss. I was not too impressed by the opening and ending songs either -- they were too "pop" for my tastes. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
I decided to watch this anime as soon as I saw the news about it. Romance, Victorian-like style, and yes, a cat wearing what looked like butler attire. All those factors and the overall feeling the promotional images and the trailer gave off got me attracted to this charming fairy tale.
My only big disappointment was the ending. The story itself was quite exciting and adventurous, and was building up nicely toward its grand conclusion. Except that conclusion never came. The viewers were left with more questions than answers, and the issue that seemed to be the main focus of the plot, was never resolved. The relationship between Edgar and Lydia also stopped progressing in the second half. Nearly every potentially romantic moment was interrupted either by outside influence or by the characters' indecisiveness. Which is fine once or twice, but it is definitely not the method I would recommend overusing in a romantic storyline.
The story managed to introduce a very large range of characters in such a short time, which was both a success and a downfall. If I was judging solely on the characters' diversity, I would have given it full marks. I don't think there was a single character toward whom I was indifferent, nor were they your usual shoujo stereotypes. However, the development of characters is just as important as making them appeal to the public. Due to such a small number of episodes, the same problem as the one discussed in the previous section occurred. Some characters did not move farther than their point of introduction. And the so-called main villain appeared so close to the end that the audience hardly had a chance to find out anything other than his name.
The artwork is beautiful and suits the given genre very nicely. Pretty girls and handsome boys, flower gardens, starry skies, everything you would expect in a romantic fairy tale. It's quite colorful, but not overly bright, so it doesn't get in the way of enjoyment. I especially loved how the eyes were drawn. The animation quality could use some improvement though, and the characters on the background are not very detailed in comparison to close-ups.
This is the aspect of Hakushaku to Yosei for which I don't have a single complaint. Both the background music and the sound effects were perfectly tied in with all the other elements. The opening and ending songs were also very nice. The ending song, My Fairy by Midorikawa Hikaru (Edgar's seiyuu), was especially charming and captured the overall feel of the story.
Since there was no real ending to the anime and there is no second season in sight, you might have to look for manga and/or light novels to know the complete story. read more
202 of 202 chapters read
After finishing the great anime adaptation, I found myself craving for more mysteries, more of the clever humor, and of course, more Neuro. I hesitated at first because of the artwork. In fact, I spent the first few chapters complaining about it. But before I knew it, I got completely sucked in and ended up reading most of this manga in a marathon.
The manga mostly consists of short cases. And although the criminal is usually made obvious to the reader, the process of deduction and explanation is still exciting. This is the kind of mystery series where the author focuses on the "How" and "Why" parts of the case rather than the "Who". Each story is interesting in its own way, and each criminal has unique reasoning for breaking the law, usually having to do with a psychological condition of some sort. Later on, as the main plot progresses, the readers are exposed to stronger criminals that Neuro has to face, and eventually, a main group of antagonists.
One of my favorite aspects of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro is the humor. The overall story is rather dark and psychologically disturbing, but the author manages to "lighten" the mood with some equally dark comic relief. It may sound contradicting, and perhaps it is. Because Matsui-sensei makes the reader laugh at things that are not funny at all. I am certainly not a fan of violence or cruelty, but I always find it somehow amusing when Neuro tortures his prey and destroys their psyche. Most likely it is because Neuro himself is a contradicting individual, which is where my next favorite aspect comes in.
This has got to be one of the best (if not -the- best) parts of this manga. Let's start with the title character. Neuro is most certainly one of the most unique characters I have ever encountered throughout the many years of being into anime and manga. I may have said this about many others, but I am definitely not exaggerating when I speak about Neuro. What makes him interesting is his ability to capture the reader's heart with his... negative qualities. He is selfish, sadistic, manipulative, hypocritical, and plain psychotic. He takes pleasure in inflicting mental and physical torture upon others, including his partner Yako, and will not miss a chance to belittle human beings. He might as well be the main villain himself. However, Matsui-sensei successfully makes this character lovable to the public. What is Neuro's charm? What makes such a seemingly repulsive individual so attractive? Is it his eccentric appearance, or his childish demeanor, or the overall mystery that surrounds his very existence? There may not be an answer. Neuro is a paradox, a hateful character that cannot be hated.
Our co-main character is Yako, a pretense detective and Neuro's favorite "toy". She may appear as an ordinary girl and quite a pushover, but she actually has a very strong personality and a lot of courage. She is not afraid to speak her mind when confronting the criminals, and is deeply concerned about their motives. Her main purpose is concealing Neuro's true identity, but she is also an important aid in solving the cases, because she is very knowledgeable about human psyche, unlike Neuro who only cares about solving the puzzle. She is very open with Neuro too, even though her life is in danger every time she talks back at him. As the story progresses, Yako also matures and starts living up to her title of a detective.
There are numerous other characters, and I will not go into detail about all of them. I don't think there is a single boring personality in this manga; both the positive and the negative characters are intriguing in their own way. I have noticed that Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro does not have the overused stereotypes that are often present in this kind of setting. There is no invincible hero who does not get hurt and can easily get out of any situation. The legit detectives are not as useless as they usually are in a story where an amateur is involved in an investigation. The group of antagonists are not your typical gang bent on taking over the world; in fact, there is no good versus evil scenario here and no two sides are clearly defined. There are no "flat" characters; all of them grow and change, for the better or worse, which makes the story very exciting and at times unpredictable.
My only concern is that absolutely nothing is known about Neuro himself. Everyone seems to have some kind of back story and motive, but Neuro just exists. He is from Hell and he eats mysteries, that's it. Whether or not the author planned it this way, for the protagonist to be the biggest "enigma" himself, is unknown. In fact, I am not sure whether there is really a need to learn more about him. Even though he is a mystery, his character seems to be complete, and it didn't even strike me until the end. Only after I finished reading the manga, I thought back and realized that I don't really know anything about him. Maybe Matsui-sensei plans to have some sort of revelation in the second series. Or perhaps it is just another paradox.
As I mentioned earlier, I was a little repelled when I just started reading. The proportions don't seem to be realistic and there is some general inconsistency throughout the designs. The main focus goes to the foreground, while the characters on the background are drawn with a lot less detail, to the point that some of them don't have facial features at all. It appears that the author certainly focused on developing the story and the characters a lot more than on making it visually appealing.
Even though the actual panels are nothing extraordinary, the full-page chapter inserts are definitely worth looking at. This is where the artist shows his talent by drawing the characters with a lot of detail and in difficult perspectives. Among them are some very fascinating illustrations that add to the disturbing side of the manga; for example, an image of Yako sitting in someone's eye and looking up from under a contact lens. Also, looking closely at those inserts, we can see how they depict some of the character quirks; for example, an image of Neuro wearing a kimono and black boots inside a Japanese house, which is clearly unacceptable, and thus shows his indifference and disrespect toward the humans and their customs.
Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro is in my Top 5 most favorite manga series, and Neuro is among my Top 5 all-time favorite characters. I highly recommend this to everyone -- it will surely keep you entertained. There is a "to be continued" notion after the cliffhanger ending, and I am definitely looking forward to a second manga series. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Someone told me that Otogizoushi has a very realistic portrayal of onmyoudo which was the main reason for my interest, along with the ancient Japan setting. Certain character designs caught my attention too, especially Mansairaku.
"Some day, I wish to dance only for Hikaru-dono..."
Otogizoushi consists of two story arcs. They are very different, I would even say that in a way they contrast each other. Looking at the two arcs together, I developed some very mixed feelings about the overall anime.
The Heian Arc was amazing. The first few minutes were enough to call it a masterpiece. War, epidemic, people are dying, the world is filled with despair. And among all that chaos, a seemingly strong yet vulnerable Hikaru and a mysterious dancer Mansairaku fall in love with each other. The creators did a wonderful job in showing the two contrasting sides: cruel battlefield and people's misery versus the short peaceful moments that Hikaru and Mansairaku share with each other whenever they chance to meet. The way she plays flute for him while he dances for her, the way they comfort each other and complete each other's existence... that sad but gentle romance touch was truly beautiful and left me speechless. I would have given it a 10 without a second thought.
But the story did not end on episode thirteen and instead moved on to the present time, the Kyoto Arc. The second part by itself was also quite interesting, and I found myself easily engaged in the mysteries surrounding the city. It felt somewhat slow paced at times, but overall it was good. There is one big problem though -- it's a completely different story. If it was an independent anime with unrelated characters, then I would not look at it so critically. But it was still Otogizoushi, yet it strayed too far away from the story that I initially fell in love with. True that eventually it started connecting to the Heian Arc, and by the end it even started looking like a sequel instead of a side story, and I won't deny that I still enjoyed it. But after finishing it, and after looking back at the Heian Arc, I realized how beautiful the original story was all by itself, and that the second story might as well not be there at all. It felt like at the end of episode thirteen the creators suddenly decided to make a sequel for the story that already ended and could not continue.
I found all main characters very lovable; I liked each one of them as soon as (s)he appeared. They had their flaws, and there were times I got rather angry at their decisions, but I developed a great deal of respect for each one of them. They all had their reasons for stepping (or not stepping) into the battlefield and for helping and loving each other. Portrayal of human bonds was probably the strongest point of Otogizoushi, between the main characters as well as between the antagonists. And as much as I wish the Kyoto Arc did not exist, I liked that the bond between the main characters did not change, even thought they were reborn as completely different people.
Also, Otogizoushi showed the most interesting portrayal of Abe no Seimei I have ever seen in fiction; out of all, this character shocked me the most.
I loved the art in Heian Arc. The character designs were beautiful, especially the detail in eyes, and the animation was top quality. I was simply speechless at Mansairaku's dance scenes; the battles were great too. Some of the backgrounds looked like paintings, they were that stunning. There were also times when a certain moment would 'morph' into a still image of a slightly different style, and it was such a nice touch.
I honestly don't know anymore whether I am just biased against the Kyoto Arc, but I felt like after episode thirteen the artwork started lacking, along with animation. Maybe the fact that the characters wore different clothes and had different hairstyles threw me off, but in a way it felt like they became different people. I just wasn't as impressed at the art anymore, and there were a lot less moments that I wanted to screenshot. And lastly, I have to say my little personal rant, what on earth did they do to Mansairaku? =/ I do realize that the idea was to 'modernize' the characters, but they didn't have to completely change his hair color and give him that cliche hairstyle that you see everywhere.
The music in both arcs was great and fitting. Personally, I enjoyed the soundtrack of the Heian Arc a lot more; it was a lot more soothing and atmospheric. But it was something that would feel right only during that arc, and I do realize that the second arc's music had to be stylized completely differently. Also, I absolutely loved the Kyoto Arc's ending song, which is, interestingly enough, the same song (by the same performer) that Haruhi 'sings' in one of Ouran High School Host Club episodes, but with different lyrics.
I will spare you the seiyuu talk because I would end up writing a paragraph about each one, but I will mention one. Miki Shinichirou did an outstanding job in this anime, by playing both Mansairaku and Hikaru's bed-ridden older brother. I was especially impressed by the second role; his acting was so believable, and his slightly shaking voice sounded so natural, that you could really feel that Raikou was ill and that speaking was difficult for him.
As you can see, I have very mixed feelings about this anime and it was difficult putting them in words.
My recommendation would be to watch the Heian Arc and the Kyoto Arc within a few years of each other and judge the second one as a 'what-if' scenario instead of a sequel. But some people might enjoy both arcs equally, so I can't recommend that method to everyone. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
My love for ancient Japan and Japanese mythology got me into yet another great anime. Onmyouji is even in the title; obviously, I couldn't go past it.
"If that is your wish, then I will break my heart for the sake of that wish, and I will lend you my strength. This is why I am by your side."
The story is set in Heian period of ancient Japan. It follows Abe no Masahiro (Abe no Seimei's grandson), a young onmyouji in training. Accompanied by his guardian and partner Guren, a powerful shikigami, Masahiro faces off against different mononoke that disturb the peace of the city. The anime is divided into two main stories, which are the adaptation of the first two arcs of the original light novel. The transition between the arcs, however, is done very smoothly, and there is no obvious 'break' point -- the story flows naturally throughout the entire twenty six episodes.
Though some may see it as a comedy at first glance, Shounen Onmyouji gradually develops into a serious drama with gentle romantic subplot that touches upon some of the very important points -- like understanding and acceptance of others, forgiveness, and the search for one's true place in the world. There is also enough comic relief, provided very cleverly and only at appropriate times, to give the partially light-hearted atmosphere and to help the story stay serious without crossing the line and becoming depressing.
While the anime only covers the first two arcs of the novel and obviously doesn't show the entire story, it definitely does not look cut off or unfinished. There is room for discussion after the final episode, but an overall feeling of completeness is present.
Shounen Onmyouji has a very diverse line-up of unique characters. Each of them has individuality and different ideals, and neither of them are stereotypical or boring. Their interactions with each other, as well as their inner struggles, are interesting to observe. They are all portrayed very realistically in their behavior; it's easy to relate to them and to see that all beings feel sorrow and happiness equally, be they human, youkai, or shikigami.
Most of the story is focused around Masahiro and Guren, as well as their bond with each other. Masahiro is constantly troubled with being compared to his grandfather, and strives to work his hardest to become a better or at least an equal onmyouji, so that people would see him as an individual named Masahiro and not just "Seimei's grandson". I was very impressed with Masahiro and his determination, and how far he was willing to push himself in order to achieve that place where he can belong while being himself.
The second main character is Guren, Masahiro's guardian who accompanies him everywhere. Although he will not easily admit it, Guren is very attached to Masahiro and is grateful for the 'light' that he brought to his heart. While appearing to be carefree in nature and acting rather silly most of the time (even taking on a form of a small white mononoke when his true powers are not needed), Guren is in a constant battle with himself and his tragic past. He is very strict with himself and takes a lot of responsibility for his actions, which makes it difficult for him to forgive himself and move on.
The two of them depend greatly on each other's support and their bond gets deeper as the series progresses. Masahiro helps to set Guren free from the burden of his past, while Guren always supports Masahiro on his way to becoming a successful onmyouji. Their story, their friendship is very heartwarming and touching.
The reason I had to take a point off is that even though there are many interesting characters, some of them remain in the shadows or only show up for a couple minutes in the entire series. I am talking specifically about the twelve shikigami. Some of them were explored in greater detail, but most of them were just 'there' and left me wondering about many things, especially their reasons for serving Seimei and staying loyal to him for so long. I understand that the anime only shows the first bit of the full story, but as a full-fledged complete TV series with no sequel in sight, they should have either given brief background information on each of the shikigami, or not have shown some of them at all. I was especially upset about the two shikigami (I can only logically guess that they were shikigami) appearing in the final episode, whose names were not even mentioned.
The art style is very different from the original novel illustrations, but that does not make it any less beautiful. I loved all the character designs, of both human and non-human characters. The contrast between Guren's mononoke and shikigami form was very distinct: Mokkun is small, cute, and childish, while Touda looks strong and mature, with a god-like aura around him; this portrayed his personality well. I especially liked the clothes designs for the twelve shikigami; it made them stand out among all the other characters. The little youkai that Masahiro kept interacting with were adorable and very expressive.
The opening animation was exceptionally well done, especially the scenes of shikigami introductions, as well as the scene where Masahiro and Guren reach out to take each other's hand during the line "I will not let go of that hand again" -- it was coordinated perfectly with the song. I also liked the idea of using colored illustrations from the novels as the insert images during the half-episode break points. Overall, the art and animation section gets full marks from me, for memorable designs and originality.
The music accompaniment was perfect for this anime. The sad scenes, the happy scenes, the scenes of relief, the feeling and the overall effect were enhanced with background sound. I especially loved the opening song; it went very well with the animation, and the lyrics were suitable for the story. Using Masahiro's character song as the final ending was a nice choice as well.
Shounen Onmyouji is apparently one of those stories that somehow adapt from a shoujo novel/manga into a shounen anime, at least according to some informational sites. I am not familiar with the light novel, but this anime is very difficult to categorize because it has a lot of elements from both shoujo and shounen. read more
1 of 5 episodes seen
After encountering several one-shots created by Studio 4°C, I told myself that I will not be going anywhere near their works again. I am not a fan of theirs, to say the least. But when I stumbled upon the cover image for Kigeki, I couldn't help but get drawn to it. Unable to fight my own curiosity, I decided to give it a try. How much could ten minutes possibly hurt even if I ended up hating it?
During such a short time period, the story, or rather an excerpt from it, was very well thought out and beautifully presented. The war setting, as well as some historical facts mentioned in the anime, provided a realistic feel despite having fantasy elements. It created the atmosphere of a dark fairytale that could have really happened somewhere far away where nobody would witness it.
We face only two characters in this anime -- a skilled swordsman and a little girl. All she wants is to save her village; all he wants is a book of a certain genre. There is very little interaction between the two of them. He reads the book; she watches him silently.
You will not find much character development or additional information, nor should you be looking for it. Kigeki is meant to be very brief and subtle, and the viewer is not provided with facts that would be unnecessary. There is no need for names, no need for words, no need for anything other than a girl and a swordsman. Which is why I thought it was perfect in this category. The two of them and their unspoken relationship was another beautiful component of this masterpiece.
Both art and animation were stunning. It's difficult to describe in words something so visually beautiful. It was like a moving painting. The little girl running through the forest, the swordsman's cape fluttering in the wind as he rushes through the battlefield, the blood-stained white flowers... The overall atmosphere and melancholic mood created through the art and colors were truly amazing.
The two pieces used throughout this anime were Ave Maria and Erlkönig, both by Franz Schubert. The choice in music was perfect; it almost felt like these pieces were composed solely for Kigeki. They shared and enhanced the overall dark and mysterious mood of the story.
I was in awe upon finishing it, because it truly felt like a full-length film. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Heard the title mentioned in one of the clubs, liked what I saw on the cover, liked what I read in the description, checked it out. And what a wonderful thirty minutes it was; even the extremely slow streaming site could not ruin this for me.
First of all, the setting is extremely unique. I love the idea of a city where daylight doesn't exist; it adds a mysterious and somewhat gloomy feel to the overall atmosphere. Nearly everything is covered in darkness, and yet this little boy carries on with his job to deliver 'light' from one person's heart to another. The concept is simple but beautiful. Those who know the feeling of receiving a letter from a special person while having an overall bad day will surely be able to relate to it.
Since this is only a special for the upcoming TV series, obviously it does not show the entire story and does not explore all the characters in detail. In this special we are given a short overview of the world and are introduced to some of the main characters. It also covers one of the story arcs, and I loved every second of it. It was beautiful, touching, bittersweet, and very deep. It has that subtle slice-of-life feel to it that makes it realistic despite the fictional setting, some of the characters' mysterious powers, and mechanical monsters that get in the way of Lag's deliveries.
Once again, since this is only a special, I will judge it accordingly and will not subtract from character development either. In thirty minutes, Letter Bee introduced quite a variety of interesting individuals. Except for Lag, none were explored in detail, but all were very memorable. It left me with a lot of questions and made me wonder about their pasts and relationships with each other: how they became acquainted, who founded the Bee Hive in the first place, who were the previous Letter Bees... I can say this much: the cast was intriguing enough to make me want to watch the upcoming full story and learn more about all of them, and that means that the special did its job.
Both art and animation were simply stunning. I loved absolutely everything about it. The character designs (especially the eyes), the Letter Bee's uniform design, the background shots. The color choice was fantastic; the melancholic atmosphere it created fit in perfectly with all other aspects. It was just beautiful, I don't know what else there is to say.
To complete the perfection of this special, the music was also wonderful. It was at times sad, at times uplifting, and it was ideal for the portrayed situations. I loved the contrast between the rather gloomy opening and a cheerful ending theme after Lag successfully completed his delivery and moved on with his companions. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
I liked the promotional image and been meaning to watch this series for a long time, and was actually looking forward to it. But I was rather disappointed. ^^;
The story is okay but extremely predictable. I did not even have to wonder how everything will turn out, it was that obvious. I did enjoy some of the side stories and flashbacks they managed to cram into an hour long series (each episode is only five minutes). It could have been a better story if it wasn't so short and so cliche. There is also a cliffhanger at the end, hinting that Legend of Duo might continue, but I think they just threw that in to grab the viewer's attention at the last moment; I honestly don't see what is there to continue, nor do I even want to know. ^^;
The characters are unbelievably flat and stereotypical, most of their actions are predictable. Duo is portrayed as a villain for some reason, even though he tried to save humanity. I never did understand why he had to be punished for telling them the "secret". Zeig is a typical good guy who fights for justice; he apparently lacks his own sense of reasoning because he goes to punish Duo, his best friend, on someone's orders (some vampire lord I guess). There are also a couple of side characters whose purpose I'm not sure about, aside from interfering with the two main characters all the time. And lastly, there is next to none character development, except a little insight on how Duo and Zeig's friendship began.
I loved the character designs, which is probably why I was drawn to that promotional image. If there was a Legend of Duo artbook, I would gladly have it. But the fun ends here. The animation is quite hideous to say the least. There are a lot of still frames and flashy gradient backgrounds. The characters hardly move at all, and I noticed that a lot of the same still images were used over and over on different backgrounds. The death scenes (of humans) were done rather nicely in comparison to the rest of the show; at least these had actual animation.
The sound wasn't that bad. I liked the music during the tragic scenes, it was quite fitting. The rest of the show had some weird techno-like tunes playing on the background, and I grew tired of it rather quickly. Overall, the "soundtrack" if I dare to call it that, was on the same level as the rest of this anime.
It had potential, but I guess the production budget was too small.
Since it'd only take an hour of your time to watch it, I don't think it would hurt you. But don't expect anything great out of it. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
The very first time I encountered the world of HaruToki was when I saw the live performance of one of Akuram's character songs (Nisshoku no Kagiana), performed by his seiyuu Okiayu Ryôtarô. I became curious and researched Akuram, but sadly could not find any pictures of him without the mask. After many days of searching, I finally found a scan that showed his face, and was awed to say the least. That eventually led me to become even more interested in the anime, and even though I only heard rather bad things about it, I will never regret that I watched it and I'll make sure to watch it again.
"No matter how beautiful or kind, you must never let a demon into your heart."
This is definitely not the most original plotline. A normal high school girl gets pulled into a different world, and has to fight the evil while being surrounded by a male harem... at first, sounds very familiar to many other plots. The reason is that HaruToki is based on a dating game, and this fact cannot be disregarded when judging the anime. Personally, I don't think I can name more than a couple romantic simulators with a strong plot. In fact, a romantic simulator has no need for a deep plot. Because its true strength lies in a different category -- the characters.
Romantic simulators (and anything based on them) are all about characters; if it doesn't get full marks in this category, it immediately fails in this genre. However, HaruToki does not fail, in fact it passes with flying colors. It is a collection of many unique individuals, each with their own inner troubles, dreams, reasons, and weaknesses. Each of the Hachiyou get an episode or two to themselves, to let the viewer look a little deeper into their past and their hearts, to understand them better. Not only the eight guardians. The Oni leader Akuram with his eternal hatred toward humans, as well as his loyal subordinates; the seemingly strong yet vulnerable princess Fuji; the proud little Tengu of the North Mountains... There is not a single dull personality in this anime; if there is anything I enjoyed the most while watching it, then it definitely is the variety of characters.
The original characters designs are amazing, all of them. You might have expected the creators to focus mostly on the eight guardiands, HaruToki being a dating game for girls and all, but this is not the case. Each design is unique and beautiful, for both main and minor characters. The clothes designs are especially lovely.
The transition into anime was good too, but somehow did not deliver that same feeling of being completely in awe before something truly beautiful. It's understandable that the anime version had to be modified and maybe simplified to an extent, but I still believe that there is room for improvement. However, that does not change the fact that the anime adaptation was nontheless great, and some of the scenes were truly stunning.
My personal opinion is that HaruToki has one of the best soundtracks ever. There is probably not a single scene in this series that is not accompanied by music. Not just any music, but beautiful music that greatly increases the emotional level of the overall situation. Even while listening to the soundtrack separately, it's impossible not to recall the events that went with it.
Aside from the instrumental pieces, there are also many character songs -- songs performed from the characters' point of view by their respective seiyuu. Usually, these are released outside of the anime as separate singles or albums. In the case of HaruToki, however, those songs were a moderate part of the story. They appeared during the most crucial moments of the anime to intensify the atmosphere, and most of them talked about the characters' inner thoughts and feelings that would have been left unspoken otherwise.
This is the kind of anime that you must really judge as something individual. If you plan to compare and contrast HaruToki with other reverse harem series, then I suggest you walk away from it right now -- chances are, you simply won't enjoy it. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
I've been looking forward to this anime ever since I saw one of the promotional images -- Natsume sitting on a tree branch with his foot slightly touching the water underneath, and an unusual looking cat by his side. I fell in love with that image alone and could not stop thinking about it. Needless to say, I watched Natsume Yuujinchou while it was still ongoing and waited eagerly for the subtitles to come out. Now that it's over, I can say for sure -- it was a short but beautiful experience, and became one of my very special personal favorites.
"Thank you... for not growing to hate humans."
Each episode Natsume encounters a different youkai. Sometimes, it's a youkai seeking to get his/her name back; at other times, a youkai wanting some other help from Natsume, which he can never refuse.
As much as those stories revolve around youkai, Natsume Yuujinchou is ultimately about humans. It focuses on the bonds between humans, as well as the bonds between humans and youkai.
Each story is very well thought out and carries a deep message that Natsume derives from his encounters. Reasons why Natsume cannot let go of his bond with youkai, reasons why youkai fall in love with humans; Natsume Yuujinchou is a collection of beautiful bittersweet pieces of a not very ordinary every day life. Each piece left me with a somewhat sad but warm feeling and made me go back to re-watch and think upon it again and again.
Natsume Yuujinchou is full of unique personalities. Natsume does not help youkai just because he has nothing better to do. His bond with the beings of the other world is very deep and is explored in great detail. From a boy who was forced to shut himself off from nearly all humans, Natsume grows to trust humans again and shares his experiences with others. Seemingly eager for nothing more than obtaining the Book of Friends, Madara is also not that simple of a character. With time, he becomes attached to Natsume and, despite his own constant contradictions, appears to worry more about his companion than the actual book.
Youkai are also very interesting. Although most of them appear only in their assigned episode, each one is very memorable, and their personalities and inner troubles are so well thought out that it's hard to believe that they were really present for only twenty minutes.
The artwork is beautiful. It may seem rather simple, but it couldn't be more perfect for this anime. In fact, the simplicity of it is what makes it truly stunning for me. It greatly enhances the story and the atmosphere with its warm colors and memorable designs. Also, every time a scene of Natsume returning youkai's name is shown, I fall in love with this anime all over again; it almost makes me feel his breath as he blows out the letters from the page.
After the very first episode, I fell in love with both opening and ending songs. Like the artwork, the soundtrack is beautiful in its simplicity and fits Natsume Yuujinchou's atmosphere perfectly. It's the kind of music that probably would not feel the same or as special outside of the actual anime, but combined with the rest of the aspects, it becomes a wonderful soundtrack.
What more can I say? I fell completely in love with this anime. If you want something relaxing and heartwarming, Natsume Yuujinchou is for you. read more