Marin is a typical junior high school girl with a sunny disposition and a loving adoptive family. Her life takes a drastic change when a mysterious mirage is seen in the sky above the entire earth. Killer androids called Monomakia descend to earth from the formation in the sky called Brigadoon and begin to hunt down little Marin. She discovers a blue bottle in a shrine as she seeks escape and from the bottle comes a protector, a sword carrying gun slinging alien called Melan Blue, together they must save the earth and deal with family crisis, school prejudice and the police and come to an understanding of Marins past and Melans unexplained mission, as well as learn to trust each other. Set in 1969 Japan with a colorful cast of friends and enemies.
Most anime series can be neatly categorized into some kind of cliche-ridden group or another: magical girls, mecha, sports, slice of life, ecchi. "Magical girl" series, for example, will always have prepubescent girls with colorful wands, long transformation sequences and brains the size of a Chinese dumpling. That, my dear kiddies, is "cliche". It causes cancer.
Brigadoon, I am happy to report, does not suffer the cliches usually associated with certain anime categories or genres. It simply doesn't belong to any. In fact, It will quietly defy all attempts at categorization and will summarily step on your face if you attempt it.
Brigadoon Marin to Melan's story
revolves around Marin Asagi and a giant humanoid monomakia, Melan Blue. Combining fantasy, sci-fi, action, comedy and drama, it's a happy mix of everything every anime genre has to offer, all packed into 26 episodes.
First and foremost, Brigadoon's story is not something you can appreciate by watching the first 5 or 10 episodes and then jumping to the last episode. Despite all the action and the blood and the killing, Brigadoon is, deep down, a love story, brilliant and intricately built over a span of 26 episodes. Marin and Melan's kiss on episode 26 requires the past 25 episodes to explain; save my keyboard the trouble and just watch all of it.
Second, Brigadoon is not for the faint of heart. Most people will be uncomfortable with a romantic pairing between a 13-year old heroine and a much older-looking hero, and may decide not to even give the series a chance. This is a sad mistake. The most intimate thing that ever happened between Marin and Melan in the entire series was a goddamn kiss, and half the time Melan didn't know what a kiss was to begin with. It DOES have fanservice, but the pantyshots were far in-between and mostly for humor. It shouldn't be a hindrance from enjoying an otherwise brilliant series.
Now that we've got that out of the way, on to the review:
STORY: 8/10. Brigadoon's first few episodes makes it look like your run-of-the-mill, monster-of-the-day anime. Thankfully, it changes its mind and the pace picks up after three episodes. When it finally does, Marin's brattiness stops and Melan's slam-bang kick-assery begins.
Melan's "duty" is heavily fueled by events from Brigadoon's past, but the series manages to avoid too much flashbacks by letting Lolo narrate Brigadoon's backstory little by little. However, there are still some confusing points in the series and even as a fan, I found it hard to follow especially at the last few episodes. A more prominent flaw, however, is the deus ex machina ending. I hate this. It's very abrupt, a little too convenient, and leaves so many unanswered questions that I can't help but wonder if the makers originally had a sequel in mind. Explaining the motives of the Hensu-chi alone should take more episodes, considering that this is not the first time Brigadoon and earth almost ended because of the Hensu-chi.
ART: 7/10. The fighting sequels were superb. The action shots are tense and speedy, with no repeated cells to make a one-minute fight last five minutes. The character designs for the monomakias were excellent, notably Melan's and Kushatohn's. However, I've noticed that most people dislike Marin's character design; She's supposed to be 13 but she looks everything under 9. And her feet. I'm pretty sure something's wrong with them...
Anyway, that doesn't bother me. What DOES bother me is how the animation tended to screw up at the worst possible moments. There were a few bad sequences in the Submaton Color episode [which was the best in the series], and it irritates me to no end that Melan's first smile in the entire series was drawn by a retard. I actually have to cover half of the freaking monitor with my hands to make Melan look normal! [Thankfully, Melan smiles radiantly in another scene in the same episode.]
SOUND: 9/10. I found Brigadoon's soundtrack haunting and enjoyable, but I'd admit it's not for everyone. Most tracks were Celtic-themed acapella singing, balanced by bouncy instrumental tracks and a fun closing theme. The acapella rendition of the opening song, "Kaze no Ao, Umi no Midori" is powerful and heart-wrenching. This provides strong contrast to the catchy ending theme, "Nijiiro no Takaramono", sung by the actress who voices Marin herself.
ENGLISH DUBBING: 0/10. Just think of the English dub as parody dub, then forget it exists and watch the subbed version instead. The English dub made several changes in the character's lines, [e.g. Marin never says "Ahaaa~" in the English dub, even though it's her trademark expression in the series] and altered some scenes altogether [Melan and Marin's kiss in Episode 15 seemed to have NEVER happened in the English dub.]
And Marin. Ahh, let me see... it sounds like a fully grown woman trying to sound like a cute 13-year-old, the kind of voice you hear when you dream of little girls asking if you want to play, and when you turn around you see them holding knives dripping with blood, and when they raise it in the air you wake up in the middle of the night screaming. I hate it with all my heart.
Tony Oliver's voice is decent enough, but for a killing machine like Melan its too soft and low, like a whisper that's JUST barely audible. Somewhat like a commentator for a golf show. I don't know, but when Melan gets into a huge catfight involving guns and swords and his voice suddenly reminds me of golf, it kinda ruins the moment.
But more importantly, it's not worth missing out on Melan's Japanese voice. It's emotionless and solid, with a metallic twinge that fits his alien character unquestionably. It constantly reminds you that Melan is a huge bulk of steel and alien flesh you shouldn't mess with. Unless he's talking to Marin, he's ALWAYS unimpressed.I... it's just... perfect. I want to go on, but I can't think of any other words to describe it.
CHARACTER: 9/10. Though it has more than a dozen characters and only 26 episodes, Brigadoon manages to provide enough 'camera time' for most of them. Not enough time for character development per se, but enough for the viewer to grow familiar with and develop empathy towards them. There's Uncle Onando, who never says anything and just keeps throwing peace signs whenever he's onscreen. But I like him, and I don't know why.
ENJOYMENT: 10/10. I've watched the series over three times already, and although I am aware of the series' flaws, it has not stopped me from enjoying it. It's a pretty obscure anime and it's a pity people have not enjoyed it simply because they don't know the series exists. Highly recommended.
As others have reviewed before, this anime is very hard to categorize and it's due to that, which makes this anime shine. It's not simply a clone of another series. It's what every anime should aspire to be.
First of all, it has the human weapon as male (a rather good looking one at that) rather than female as seems to be the standard in anime, seemingly push this from an ecchi shounen aspect to a more shoujo one. Most series if they want to reverse it, either make the human weapon as some ugly robot, as some monster hybrid or some female cute monster. That's
what attracted me to this series in the first place. I was wondering where they would go with this.
After getting hooked to Melan and wanting to see more of him, it's then that the story hits. It really doesn't pigeonhole itself into the "Proxy battle", "Mecha" affair that it seems like it's going to shove itself into. The mystery deepens when we find out that Melan is protecting Marin for a reason. You want to find out why. Toss in a magical transformation device and some romance and you really feel for the characters. It's stops being about a formulaic trope that so many anime base themselves on.
Others have mentioned the ecchi aspect, but really the way it's done in this series more or lets blends it away. Yes you see Marin's panties, but she's underage and they don't really point to it and say "HEY LOOK!" like every other ecchi and non-ecchi anime does and make it the focus of the anime. You find out that the reason you can see them in the first place, is probably because she's poor and doesn't have any money to buy new clothes. Even the scenes of nudity is for a reason and they don't parade it down the street like it's the point of the episode. People are simply nude because they have no clothes, or they can't wear them at the time.
Really over all, the story is VERY original. It doesn't have an aspect you can plop into a category. Similar to DT Eightron in that respect. The ones who came up with the story actually sat down and probably did some world building versus sit down and go "Yeah let's make another anime about a harem... with ecchi. Yeah, like those other five hundred out there." It's really want I want to start seeing in anime. More original stories that don't ruin the experience by having ecchi parts all over the place (Umi Neko and a few other mecha shows), toss in a harem aspect for no good reason (yeah, let's have a bunch of women... for no real reason. If anyone asks... we'll say it's SCIENCE!), or simply be on long string of colosseum battles (YuYu Hakusho, Shaman King, Yu-Gi-Oh, Bleach, the list goes on). It even averts the tried and troped "Let's have a guy... that controls a woman... but she's really a sword/demon/mecha/killing doll/dingo/familiar!" It really doesn't want to make me watch another master-slave relationship being played out on TV where the master is male and the slave is female. I see that in real life too much thanks.
There are anime where the master is female of course, but they add so much ecchi to it that is shoves it back into the shounen, ecchi, boin, harem category. This averts it by making the master female and a child and the slave a good looking bio-mecha type where you don't see the romance coming until the characters start to get closer to each other. It's played more realistically.
Overall this anime is good, because it doesn't try to be like every other anime out there. It makes it's own path in the world and doesn't rely on tropes and cliche out there to get it done.
If you were to ask me to fit Brigadoon: Marin and Melan into one dominant category, I would honestly be at a loss. This is a series that doesn’t tie itself down to any specific genre, Brigadoon instead opts to include a wide variety of elements into its grand stirring pot. You want series mech (or very mech-like) battles? Heartwarming family drama? A world endangering conspiracy? Goofy comedy? Yuri undertones? Dark psychological drama? Brigadoon brings all of these ingredients together. This type of blend will likely prove off putting to those who aren’t a fan of one or more of the aforementioned areas, an will
probably end up too jarring for some folks to get into. Even then there can be little doubt that once the wheels of the plot start spinning, that Brigadoon is at the very least a highly imaginative title.
The storytelling of present here isn’t something that can be judged based off of the first couple of episodes. While the monster of the week format persists throughout the 1st half, there are other serious elements at play here. What sets Brigadoon’s earlier episodes apart from other proxy battle titles are the actual repercussions that come with a child summoning a monster to combat other monsters. Lives are damaged/destroyed, thus people grow fearful and act on their fear. This is where the more tragic elements come in to play as not only does Marin become a pariah in the eyes of her peers, she is also targeted by the police as well for being at the centre of all the madness she never asked for. This is a series that won’t pull it’s punches and knows how to use shock factor as a means of getting points across.
Once the 2nd half hits, Brigadoon plunges head first into its own strange mythos and slowly reveals elements, those that are both entirely new and those foreshadowed earlier on. The story picks up a greater sense of urgency as well, as its plot-twists suggest that there is more at stake than just the lives of Marin and Melan. Although there are many elements at play within the setting of Brigadoon, some of the more vital ones do not receive much attention and feel pulled out of thin air with last minute explanations during the last episode. Another somewhat annoying trait this series adopts is use of cliffhangers sometimes. Very rarely will there be a cliffhanger that isn’t resolved via disappointingly simple means. It’s these somewhat cheap tricks that put a damper on what is otherwise a rewarding experience.
The true heart of Brigadoon lies in the intriguingly handled relationship between Marin and her alien guardian Melan. It develops from protector/protected, to father/daughter, and finally to the kind of relationship that should by all accounts feel wrong. The progression of their love feels gradual and given their extreme reliance on each other, the destination feels justified. The actual ending as a result gave me what as the “feels” even though the path to that ending came about could have gone smoother, as I’ve already mentioned. The wrapping up of their character arcs as a result feels cathartic enough to bring one to tears. Helping Marin get through her hardships is her makeshift extended family. Their personalities often rely on one-note gags, but the levity they offer is welcome in the face of the looming despair hanging over the story.
Brigadoon’s aesthetic, while dated visually, evokes a feeling of uniqueness not unlike the story itself. Although the visuals are by no means amazing, the overall cartoony style gives the show its own look. The series is set in 1969 and it certainly shows since special attention is given to make the locations give off that kind of vibe. Though the fight scenes are fluid enough, still, the OST is much more remarkable. “Kaze no Ao, Umi no Midori” by Ikuko is a damn good opener with an appropriately sorrowful feel to it. The rest of the track is diverse enough to accommodate for the range of tones that series employs. My only gripe lies with the ending theme, which on its own is pretty decent, cutesy stuff. However when an episode ends with a serious cliffhanger, it only serves to damage the mood with its cheery tune. It’s better to just not watch it once the second half hits.
It’s to easy see why Brigadoon: Marin and Melan incapable of achieving any more then cult status. I believe that the quirky look may have given off the wrong message to many anime watchers as to what this series is all about. It’s a “something for everyone” sort of show to the point where it ends up being an acquired taste, if that makes any sense. Perhaps the best recommendation I can make for this series is that you should watch it if you’re the sort of person who can live with having their emotions jerked about. If so then prepare for a game of Genre Roulette the likes of which you may never see replicated to this success.
Very original story. I enjoyed it thouroughly. Thoughout the series I had no idea what was going to happen. No matter what I though the outcome would be or what I expected to happen, the story shattered it to bits. It has to be one of the top 25 animes i've seen. It is proof that not every excellent anime has to have excellent art.