Mysterious disappearances are occurring one after the other in Tatsumi Town. Kiriya has a vision from a mysterious beautiful girl with pointy ears. A book talking for an alternative world is found. And Mao searching for her long lost friend, Zero, comes to our world. But what she didn’t expect is to find Souma and Kureha, and even less, to accidentally take them to her world. Now, Souma and Kureha have to find a way to come back. But other forces are playing their part in the darkness and Souma with Kureha will find that going back is harder than they first anticipated.
Setting the general scene is done well in the first episode, introducing a small amount of the cast during the first half and themes that exist throughout in the second. There is a large cast of characters present within the series, however they do tend to lack any depth to them, feeling flat and plain. An example being during the early parts of the series when both Souma and Kureha are taken to End Earth, we learn about the Soul Blades, which come from the heart of the person at hand. Typically Kureha gives Souma her heart to fight off the enemies at the start
and a few instances a little later, but soon after she becomes a background character not adding much to the storyline throughout the rest of the series. But that doesn’t only apply to her though, as it happens to several other characters who become quite distant and seem to be quite useless without anymore purpose of being in the story. Character personalities are also rather stereotypical, although this isn’t exactly bad it makes future events seem obvious. Souma plays as the main hero in the story who likes to do what is right, trying to protect everyone while he is at it, not wanting any deaths amongst his friends. Kiriya however seems to play as a form of rival between them for a short while in the start of the story. The focus on a majority of characters are lacking except when it comes to Souma, Mao and Zero who get most of the spotlight.
The general flow and progression of the story itself is also rather non-existent as it feels rushed and rather uninspired. There is no sense of form or shape, which feels like a big mess of a plot. There are times when the characters need to be in a certain location due to specific event or plot device, and they seem to get to that one area without any signs of effort. The scenes switch too quickly between them and lack anything to break their time getting there or to show they actually traveled between locations. There’s no sense of time as they are located in one place, then another soon after. The battles also suffer similar issues, which come across as dull and not very entertaining. They are too simply executed, nothing special about them. The Soul Blade concept of the story is definitely an interesting concept at first, but isn’t approached very well. Later in the story it then becomes something less special. A wide variety of different blades take place and only two, other than the designs of them, seem to have distinct differences due to the way they’re showcased to the viewers. The series does start out rather interesting during the first two episodes but that soon dies out and begins to crawl into an average plot development where things get a little too typical, with some nice twists here and there, but nothing remarkably rememberable.
The series keeps a rather bright, colourful and cheery tone to the series where colour matters to it’s location. Fields and sunny landscapes use a lot of light greens and blues, while the dark and gloomy locations tend to use a lot of green tones. However the details within the scenes are existent, but they could have been better. The backgrounds themselve do represent their location well, but sometimes lack those extra details to make them look so much better, such as better lighting. There’s nothing particularly special with the scenery except the colours do fit with the locations at hand, but the lack of detail makes them feel uninspired. Character designs are good for both the humans and beastmen in this series, as well as clothing choices. The animation however isn’t too great, the generic actions are done simply enough but so have the battle sequences. Simple swings of swords, quick fights and still shots of the action are examples of what take place during these scenes that causes the fights to be nothing of special value, especially those later within the story.
Not much to comment here since I didn’t pay too much attention to it, beside the following. The opening theme song is definitely a rememberable track and fits well with the fantasy setting of the series, but when it comes to background music I never noticed anything too special about it. Voices for the character fit well and didn’t seem out of place, but were again stereotypical choices just like the character personalities.
Has a good concept with the Soul Blades but the series doesn’t tend to flow well and lacks a sense of shape to it. Could have been a much better if it didn’t feel rushed and lack development to the characters, but even so it is still rather average with nothing special to pick out.
The story was pretty good, although somewhat predictable. What anime isn't?? Throughout the story, I was annoyed by 2 things the most; one was that zero doesn't really have ANY point in the story except for as a ridiculous background information to how some characters were part of a group.
second, the sword drawing techniques kept changing from standing, bending over backwards, to having ::cough::orgasms::cough::. Which really made me think the author was still indecisive about plot/animation in general.
Characters were pretty good. Some of them could have used more development.
Also, there is not much to say for the sound, near the end the background music was
just noisy and questionable for the scene at the same time.
But it is overall an enjoyable anime to watch when you're bored which I obviously was.
This is one of those animes that I wonder how I managed to watch through.
There is nothing wrong with it in itself, but in every part of it there is something missing in the plot and the whole anime feels rushed. The character development is okay, but there is no feeling put behind the changes that the characters go through and again it feels rushed. In this type of anime one would expect the characters to be a little more reflected in the sense that the viewer is more aware of the changes that the characters undergo, Souma for example has a change
in the middle but as viewers we have no clue as to why. The other characters face similar developments at the end of the plot, but the lack of originality in the plot makes the viewer foresee this and thus ruins a bit of the enjoyment.
The artwork, visuals and sound are not much to complain about. Visually this anime is quite stunning when it comes to the main characters, magical effects and some parts of the scenery, but when it comes to general people, enemies and battlefields a lot more work could have been added. The rushed feeling continues here, where the "beastmen", elves, demons and humans look like something that has been drawn by a grade-schooler, then copied up by the hundreds, the same with the "enemies". As far as scenery is concerned there are wide open fields that are filled with nothing but emptiness, and it cheapens the overall look. During battles (except for magic battles) there is not much action taking place, and the enemies movements are predictable and slow. The music is probably the only thing I have nothing bad to say about, but the voice actors could have been used better and the opening and ending themes were crap.
The "evil forces" are in this anime completely understandable, NOT! What the fudge are they fighting against, it makes absolutely no sense, and it is not explained during the plot.
If anyone were to create a remake of this anime i would firstly suggest making EVERYTHING better drawn, more detail and less "copy-pasting", original designs for the regular inhabitants of Earth End could also be better. Secondly I would suggest better voice acting, and cut the sward-drawing "orgasms", and also change the opening and ending songs into something more epic. Thirdly I recommend giving at least the protagonist some "inside the head thoughts" and explained the character development more thoroughly through thoughts and actions. Finally I would suggest a more hidden plot, more understandable enemies, and instead of a "WTF is going on evil" an evil that CAN be explained.
The best RPGs for the Megadrive were Shining Force and Shining Force II. Some of the best, if not the best Game Gear games were Shining Force titles. After a while, the word “Force” was dropped from the game titles and you got such games as Shining Blade, Shining Wisdom and so on. Either way, the Shining franchise has had a lot of high quality games for multiple platforms. So, why am I bringing this up? Well, the franchise also has an anime adaptation. The weird thing about it is that it's not adapted from one game, but two. Shining Tears and Shining Wind, hence
the title Shining Tears x Wind. The adaptation was handled by Studio Deen, which is no stranger to game adaptations having done Star Ocean EX, Fate/Stay Night and Bomberman Jetters prior to this. They've also earned my adoration for their work on the brilliant Read or Die and my contempt for the idiotic Kore wa Zombie desu ka. So, how will this adaptation compare to their other works?
The tale opens with several student, Kiriya, Souma, Seena, Kureha, and Saionji discussing recent disappearances in the area. When the others leave, a girl named Hiruda brings Saionji a strange book. The two ominously discuss making it work and they disappear shortly afterward. The other four agree to meet at school to figure out what to do, deciding to bring weapons, because that seems like a plan that couldn't possibly go wrong. Souma and Kureha arrive first and talk only to be interrupted by a fight between a wolfman and Mao, a cat-eared girl. Mao starts to tell them about herself, only for a gem she's carrying to be destroyed which causes all of them to be sucked into another world. Souma and Kureha find themselves alone and surrounded by monsters, but they're saved when Souma pulls a sword from Kureha's chest, revealing that he's a soul blader. (I'm not sure whether they're ripping off Utena or the soul blade thing is based off of some legend I'm unfamiliar with.) Now, Souma and Kureha have to find a way to return home, but first they have to help the peoples of this world deal with an imminent crisis.
If it seems like I just glanced over that information, it's only because the anime does too. The pacing in this is ridiculously fast. It doesn't let you acclimate to the real world or main characters before dumping you into the fantasy world. The series basically assumes that you've played the games and will know what's going on so they don't have to take any time whatsoever to explain anything. To make matters worse, scenes only last for around five minutes before rushing to the next. The narrative never takes time to breathe. The worst part is that they have several important plot points that they never introduce until it's time to actually use them, which makes them seem like they come out of nowhere. The ending is especially guilty of this, introducing the plot device that's necessary to end the conflict only after the conflict has started. It doesn't even get mentioned in passing before that.
In all fairness, the story, though hectic, isn't bad. It has quite a few interesting aspects. The political machinations are nice. I also like that every group is doing what they think is for the best in order to save the world and they certainly have some good scenes devoted to that. Unfortunately, those scenes are rushed through in order to cram the entirety of Shining Wind's plot into thirteen episodes. Yes, the story uses Shining Wind's plot but with greater emphasis on the Shining Tears characters than they had in that game.
The characters in this aren't deep or well developed. Since they rush through the narrative so much, they never take time to develop the characters in any significant way. Which may lead you to conclude that the characters are flat if you've never played the games that the anime is based on. Even if you have played through the games, you might find yourself annoyed by the character portrayals. The female characters have it especially bad. They get relegated to the background and spend most of the series just kind of standing there, or having swords drawn from them, rather than doing anything. In theory, this is so that the focus can be on the soul bladers, but it comes across as, at the very least, pretty suspect.
The interactions also suffer from the pacing problem. There are moments when characters almost feel like they're having a normal conversation, but then the scene will end or something will happen because the plot needs it to and the effect will be spoiled. It's like watching an abridged series where someone thought the character moments were less important than the action sequences. The “romantic” sequences are especially bad, frequently feeling like the characters have no chemistry and are just getting together because... someone wanted to throw in gratuitous romance.
The character designs are pretty well done, exempting some of the costumes (especially the fan-service based ones) but I don't blame the anime for that since they are using the established costumes from the games. Although I'm not sure why Hiruda has the tri-force on her costume. The action sequences are, mostly, well handled. The fast pace actually does work for the action sequences, giving them a dynamic feel. The problem is that some of them resort to random still shots in place of actually animating anything. The stills look fine, but they're just lazy.
They got a really good cast for this. It features Ishida Akira, Mizuki Nana, Hoshi Soichirou, Okiayu Ryotaro, and Horie Yui in major roles and that's not even naming all of the highly skilled actors they got for this project. They are all just fantastic, delivering strong performances. The music is really good as well.
This has no signs of yuri, but it has a bit of yaoi. There's a scene where one of the guys lovingly sponges another off and it is extremely homo-erotic, oddly enough this is the best romantic scene in the series. There's also a bit in the end with the previously mentioned plot device that comes out of nowhere but they need to help end the conflict. The ho-yay factor is going to be a 4/10.
Shining Tears X Wind is definitely a series made for fans of the games. If you don't like the games, you aren't going to like it either. If you've never played the games, you'll be hopelessly lost and have no idea what's happening or why. If you're a fan of the games, you'll probably enjoy the anime okay, but there are going to be aspects that you find annoying. As for me, I'm going to give it a 6/10. I do think it's interesting to see the story adapted in anime form and there are some parts of the story I enjoyed, but I hate that the female characters aren't allowed to do anything and the hectic pace harms it quite a bit. Next week, I'll take a look at another video game tie-in. Street Fighter II: the movie.