Kazuna's family has a history of suffering from a disease that creates an uncontrollable vampire-like thirst for blood. Knowing none of this, Kazuna was sent to live with the Eda couple as a child. As the sickness begins to show signs of being present within himself, he comes into contact with his older sister, Chizuna, who has been suffering from it since early childhood. Knowing that the sickness incurs a heavy weight upon those that suffer from it, Chizuna tries to ease her brother's burden, to help him learn to control his urges, but...
Considering that this series obviously had a rather crap budget, I'd say it was done rather well. Not that it doesn't have it's problems, but it's story still manages to be enjoyable, if you can get past it's faults.
A sort-of non-traditional take on vampires. Kazuna and Chizuna are vampires, but vampirism is more of an illness and a hindrance than it is anything else. It's quite a sad story, following how the illness ultimately destroys their lives. The anime's ending differs from the manga, however, as well as leaving out a couple side characters entirely, but as the story (in the anime) is focused
mainly on Kazuna and Chizuna's interaction, it's not a major issue.
- The backgrounds/settings are rather gorgeous. The muted palette overall reflects the melancholy tone of the show, and the style the characters are drawn in make them all the more striking, in my opinion. The eyes, especially, were haunting, and I particularly liked the dark outline for the noses (rather a change from the disappearing noses that are standard anime fare).
- Doing more than an OVA with such a character driven story would have been a mistake, but it wouldn't have hurt to give it a bit more cash for the four episodes. Man did I get sick of Kazuna's "attacks" (they looked like someone splatted some blood patterned brushes on a multiply layer in Photoshop), the wind chime, the moon, and (omg) the RED moon, not to mention the picture of Chizuna as a little girl, and a bunch of other reused shots/frames/misc. The obvious lack of budget inspired a drinking game in which the viewer would pass out from alcohol poisoning within the first episode if they were to actually put it to practice.
I give it a 7 for animation because, despite all the reused visuals, the visuals that were presented were rather pretty. Woulda been nice if things you know... moved more, though.
- The ED is really hauntingly beautiful, and sad. It's actually one of my most played on iTunes. I'm a sucker for sad songs, what can I say? ^.^;;
- Woulda been nice if they had coughed up the cash for an OP, or even just better background music. The only real saving grace is the ED, music wise.
7, if only because I fricking love the ED so much.
Like I said, what this series is entirely about. Very well done, I thought. Chizuna was probably my favorite, but all the characters resonated emotionally, I think.
This series isn't so much about a "story" or "plot-line" as it is about Chizuna and Kazuna, specifically. More of a slice out of their lives, than anything else.
7. It's all coherent, and there are a few decent "twists".
Well, if you can't get over the lack of budget, not much. But if you like a good story, with good characters, and some... a lot... a whole bunch... of angst, then this show is totally for you. If those things aren't your piece of cake well... *shrug* For me, an 8, leaning towards a 9. 10 if I count how fun it is to rewatch and make fun of for it's lack of budget. Or how Kazuna totally wants to do Chizuna.
Hitsuji no Uta is a retelling of the story told in its manga counterpart stuffing 7 volumes of well developed plot and characters into 4 episodes of rushed anime with poor animation. I wont be getting into the plot or characters because if you haven't read the manga or don't intend to; you have no reason to know of the existence of this OVA series. Even as a fan of the manga (which has its flaws) this OVA is completely pointless. The story skips so much that you cant really understand all of whats going on, i mean the
deeper elements that actually require thought process while reading the manga. the animation is also poor; i expect more from madhouse and looking at still images of this anime youd think its got proper animation but it doesent. the framerate is choppy, characters can become disproportionate with large heads at times, they take plenty of shortcuts with animation such as dialogue over still images of characters who are supposedly talking or stock animations of trains. all in all this ova series should have never been made. fans of the manga series will find this painful to watch, anyone else wont enjoy it. the manga is only 7 volumes long so just go read it or look it up to see if youd like it. dont base any of your opinions on the story by what you see with this ova.
I'm going to compare three separate narratives I've recently watched that I enjoyed almost equally, but for different reasons. A couple are from Madhouse, which I think is interesting because they're quite a contrast, separated by five years. Even animation-wise, they are distinct and yet, still, use this technique involving colour - for different reasons, though, it seems. Shiki is by Daume, but since I haven't yet seen anything else by them I can't compare anything more, except for these three as distinct narratives from the same genre and topic.
But, this is mainly about Hitsuji no uta, although I think comparisons would be worth it
since the symbolisms and ramifications of all three have different consequences.
The 'lamb' in the title, I assume, refers to the docile nature of the protagonists, this time. Whereas in both Kurozuka and Shiki (and most other media I presume, stereotypically), vampires are usually striving to survive, not unlike any other living creature, and although they are 'undead', as opposed to 'zombies' with which I assume they share this fictional 'status', vampires are usually conscious and thoughtful, as they are in all of these three titles.
What separates Hitsuji no uta from the others, though, is that it is almost an 'experiment' about going against nature. Unlike the other titles and most others, the couple of protagonists, or one could say, their entire family, struggle to not give in to their urges. Whereas in Kurozuka history is combined with fiction to create a hyper-aggressive narrative against all odds and times, where they strive to survive no matter what, in Shiki there are a few timid vampires, but the majority do not fight their nature. In the former, a sci-fi sort of atmosphere dominates, where Madhouse skilfully uses grays and black-and-whites to convey an alternate reality where the source of vampirism seems to take over, in Hitsuji no uta the changing of colours indicate something slightly different and subtler. On one hand, they do use it to portray the past as much media already does, but it differs in that it uses a similar, but slightly differing scheme to paint a picture of an internal struggle, or even to simply convey hopelessness (with buildings, like with Brutalist architecture, I think it's meant to convey a sense of permanence perhaps, as opposed to the temporal counterparts that creatures alive represent).
All three use colours for their own reasons, though, as I suppose most animation does, except that in this case, as all three can be categorized as 'horror', the colour is used specifically to either intensify such 'pictures' that the animators presumably wanted to convey, or lower the tone, that carry with them feelings of one sort or another. In Kurozuka e.g. red must be the predominant colour, although that might seem obvious in a vampire's narrative, since it's the colour of blood, but that series wants its watchers to know that it's designed to be aggressive, which doesn't necessarily preclude a certain artistic possibility, with its inclusion of traditional Japanese motifs and Kabuki, which further references prior media about the same sort of history, and yet from an entirely different perspective (Kurosawa).
In Hitsuji no uta, though, colours are subdued, very much like the characters themselves and the themes contained within the narrative, not unlike Boogiepop Phantom, which isn't about vampires and yet contains almost identical themes (with the exception of a narrative derived from the 'dementia' genre). This sort of technique in anime in general has a pattern, wherein the more fantastical a narrative, the more colourful. It is, as such, similar with Shiki in the opposite direction of Hitsuji no uta. Whereas with the latter it is mostly two siblings that feature prominently and the narrative revolves about (and due to dark themes, the animation is also dark), in Shiki there aren't really any central characters that feature in every single episode. It is, essentially, about an entire village of both humans and vampires, and as such an ensemble drama that involves a variety of personalities that not only reflect in their wildly differing hair colour, but hair styles, and, ultimately, their intrinsic motives. Both series are about the same topic, and both could be said to be sociological and the implications thereof, but they are approached from distinct angles. Hitsuji no uta is more inter-personal, more confined to a few individuals. Society has an effect on the narrative, similar to the complications that arise in Shiki, but whereas the latter is more about society's moral ambiguities, in Hitsuji no uta society is in the background, and yet still affects the protagonists.
It could be said that, generally, with this genre and topic, it serves to reflect an already existent undercurrent in human societies. Whereas vampires are fictional, and yet historically, as with witches and werewolves, moral panics existed in which people somehow convinced themselves and others that they truly are real, whether intentionally used as an excuse to justify the crushing of opponents, or simply a genuine delusion borne out of times when even biology was little known, ended up destroying non-supernatural lives. Ultimately, it is a psychological manifestation that combines imagination with possibility, and despite these kind of series being entirely fictitious themselves, they could almost be a documentary on the many facets of a psyche.
Hitsuji no Uta is an interesting anime, and if it had more time to develop it would have been really good. The anime as it stands at 4 episodes manages to tell a good story, even though it is short. What I found cool about it was that, instead of the low budget taking away from the enjoyment, it actually added to it. The repeated images and switching between black and white and color make the anime a little more stylized, rather than hindering the interest of the story. The way they show Kazuna's attacks also adds quite a bit of tension to the experience.
art style looks good most of the time, but sometimes ends up looking a bit off from the way you see it normally. This only happens in a few scenes, and it doesn't really disturb the presence of the theme. And like I said before, the low-budgetness of the anime actually stylizes it and makes it unique.
Really, there's not much here. There's about one song plus the ending theme. The one song in the anime actually fits in most of the situations, so even though there's not a large variety, it adds a familiar atmosphere when certain events are happening.
The characters weren't that developed, mostly because there wasn't enough time to get to know them all. But by the end, you have a feel for the personality and ideals of most of the important characters.
Enjoyment & Overall
I enjoyed Hitsuji no Uta quite a bit, and because it's so short, the story doesn't get distorted and twisted around until it's unrecognizable. I would recommend it to anyone; I'm sure anyone could find something to like about it. Even if you don't like it a ton, you're only with it for 2 hours of your life, so you can watch it and add it to your repertoire of anime knowledge without too much effort.