Trouble arises in Staccato one day. Demons show up and start to wreak havoc on the townspeople. The entire country seems to be suffering. The source of the problem is that the "barrier" which until now has kept the demons from crossing over to the human world, is weakening. The person who sustains it is losing her strength after holding it up for so many years. That person is Queen Horn of Sforzando. Hell King Bass is trying to break through the barrier and release their "supreme leader," Kestra (Orchestra). One whose power is unparalleled yet is trapped somewhere in the world of the humans.
Violinist of Hameln is a dark medieval-fantasy based drama focused on a pair of adventurers and childhood friends named Flute and Hamel who find themselves chosen to defend humanity from the threat of the demon race, who seek the means to resurrect their sealed ruler Chestra. The series is actually known to be a rather divided one among those fans who have been able to see this obscure and forgotten 1990s anime series for some major reasons related to its presentation and storytelling, that I will touch upon.
First, let me touch upon the biggest criticism of the series and one that would be hard to
dispute in the form of its visuals. The series was animated by Studio Deen who, with a few exceptions, are known to often cut a number of corners with the animation to their titles. Violinist of Hameln is perhaps one of the worst instances of the studio's use of limited animation as there are a great number of still shots shown throughout the series at many points and becomes quite noticeable particularly during the title's action scenes. This is a rather glaring annoyance as the series otherwise sports decent scenery shots and character designs, especially with some of the designs of the demons that Hamel and others battle throughout the span of the series.
Another divided element of the series, and one where your mileage could vary, has to do with its choice of storytelling. From what I gather, the original manga source material for Violinist of Hameln was quite a bit more comical in its storytelling to the point where it was almost like a gag manga series and having a rather light mood throughout its run. But much as what was done for the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist anime, this anime adaptation of Violinist of Hameln is a reimagined take on the series that is more darker and serious in its mood and themes with themes of tragedy, revenge, and deception being found throughout the anime's run. Personally, I loved the reimagined take on the anime's storyline as it dug into the more traditional storytelling tropes of medieval-fantasy titles with the adventures of Hamel and his comrades, and created some pretty engaging and dramatic developments that made the stories of many characters, both human and demon alike, rather sympathetic and relatable thanks to the struggles they face with comprehending the tragic and shocking developments they come to learn of their pasts and even their very comrades. This especially hits Hamel's character hard throughout the span of the series as he struggles with understanding his origins and attempting to come to terms with them as he learns more about himself while on his adventure. The ending that results from the dark path that the series takes is bittersweet, yet very fitting for the tragedies faced by a number of its characters in spite of the much different mood that its source material offered.
Another highlight of Violinist of Hameln came in the form of its soundtrack. Consisting of a mix of classical musical pieces played from some of the magical music used within the series and hauntingly powerful tracks, they are very effective at complementing Hameln's dark storytelling and do their part to make up for the anime's underwhelming animation for me.
Overall, I can understand where Violinist of Hameln would not be for everybody thanks to its subpar animation and much different style of storytelling. Still while the visual quality is defensible to judge, I can't say the same things for its storytelling style as it helps create an engaging tragedy involving those caught up in the conflict between humans and demons throughout Violinist of Hameln's run. If you are able to look past the subpar visuals, you will find yourself quite engaged to this lost gem of 1990s anime since it has never received an American video release nor has it even been picked up on legal streaming sites like Crunchyroll or Hulu.
Hamelin no Violin Hiki isn't something I was really expecting to find in the world of Anime. I should know by now, with my ten plus years surfing the Anime ocean that there are some very unique series in a broad genre such as Shounen, Slice of Life or Comedy. This show definitely being one of them in the Shounen world.
This show begin more than 20 years old certainly shows its age. Most shounen these days don't get as "mythical" if I may as this one. That by itself is not necessarily a bad thing.
The story itself does take a few episodes to pick up
in pace but was not done poorly overall for me. Centered around the mixed race Hamel and his quest, we see quite a bit of trials and tribulations during the journey. This is to be expected from the Shounen genre of course but the ending for me was a little unexpected.
It is actually put together pretty nicely and the touch of classical music added in the way they did it was pretty great in my opinion. How they went about naming all the characters that see more than 2 minutes of screen time around instruments in an orchestra was pretty neat too. There is also quite a bit of emotions going on which I think reflects well on the voice cast. They matched the energy that some of the compositions brought I think.
My biggest complaint about the show is actually the animation. I know the show has aged but seriously, there were plenty of times where you could see some obvious attempts at shrinking budget. Most common would be a still frame picture of the character who is taking on the screen with all their audio running. If it wasnt for that I would have definitely rated this show a little higher.
Hamelin no Violin Hiki is going to appeal to only a select group of people, especially with all the flash and style we see in current shows today. However if you are one who considers yourself adventurous I'd say give this one a go. If you can see passed the animation tragedy you might get to the end of the story and see the real one that was told.
During the entirety of me writing this review its felt a little lackluster. I feel like I could have done better with it and part of me feels like I've managed to mirror what I feel about the animation job done in this show.
Hopefully this one is still an okay enough read and doesnt burn eyes out. Have a good night everyone. =D