Hatsuki is a highschool student living with her sister, Hatsumi, who she has a huge crush on. On Hatsumi's 16th birthday, she is suddenly surrounded by a green light and disappears in front of Hatsuki. She manages to follow Hatsumi with the help of a being resembling a fat baby chick (literally), ending up in a place called "The Great Library", which is full of different worlds stored in books. Hatsumi wasn't there, though, so the search for Hatsuki's great love begins and involves traveling from book to book.
Story: 6 (Constant alternate universe style)
Art: 7 (It's ecchi-tastic! Everything else is nice too)
Sound: 7 (Lots of girl groaning in this show)
Character: 8 (So... much... fanservice [/drools])
Enjoyment: 9 (I enjoyed the hell out of it)
Overall: 34/50 = 7.4 ~7.0 (It'll play with your emotions)
Ohkay okay, its time for a proper review of this piece. Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito (Yamibou for short) Is a heartwarming coming of age tale about a love between two super cute sisters. Their world gets torn apart when Hatsumi mysteriously disappears into thin air right in front of her sister Hazuki. But as Hazuki is
about to find out, theres more to this adventure than she realizes.
The story itself feels something similar to an excel saga or magic shopping district in terms of overall feel with our main characters jumping into different 'books' and such. Don't worry it'll be explained to you pretty early. Hell in the first 6 minutes of episode one, you find out that theres girl love, incest, and drama. So this show knows that it's series is short and they compensate by trying to let you understand the Yamibou universe in detail. Of course this style of story telling is not immune to plot holes and inconsistencies, but they cover it very well with quite a gratuitous amount of fanservice.
If your a fan of large boobs you'll definitely love this show. If not, just be prepared. There are more than enough fanservice shots in EVERY episode. Even during the heat of battle, one is not immune to losing a top or having entire sets of clothes dissolve in to thin air. It obviously doesn't progress the story whenever things like this happens but it is a good indicator at how well they managed to produce a fairly good quality show ...from an artistic standpoint. Every one of the girls were drawn with sexuality in mind. Head to toe, and from costume to bare skin, its all there obviously to cause quite a stir from the viewing audience.
The characters are mostly made with a moe attitude in mind. You got your clumsy stupid girl, your tsundere, and even a silent type. Nothing is really new in the personality department (with the exception of the girl love), but you'll still feel intrigued as to what will happen next for Hazuki and company. Even the little side characters are cute as well. I laugh every time i hear that chicken :P Mind you, the characters aren't comparable to like a Key character (Kanon, Air, etc) But they are better than average.
Overall it was a good anime viewing experience worth the 3+ hours watching it. Although I was sort of confused as to who this show was being catered towards because the overall story is very girl oriented, but the fanservice is very boy oriented. Either way, if you like the Alice in Wonderland style of story with loads of skin give this a shot. It'll play with your emotions.
Say you're a girl (Hatsuki) who has a crush on your sister (Hatsumi) and one day choose to sneak into her room and just have your way with her as she sleeps.
The next thing you know you're spanning parallel universes comprised of/represented by different storybooks on things like the Trans-Siberian Railroad, primeaval cultures, ninjas, desert islands, and god knows what else while accompanied by a pervy embodiment Lilith, to realize that your beloved is actually Eve, and exists for her own reasons in these parallel worlds and has many forms and loves. Throw in a batshit crazy fairy prince (Gargantua) who is a parody
of every "heroic" bishonen lead and his twisted reality involving a Princess, Mariel, whom he sacrifices only to watch a close friend, Ritsuko take the blame and punishment for him... Also a Kitsune woman with really large tits and her own censorship circle over her naughty bits.
This is a beautiful mess of intertwining characters, random story arcs, all set to Hatsuki's quest trying to find Hatsumi/Eve--both driven by an eternal love and guilt. It's as weird as anime gets, but still manages to make sense while doing it--to some extent. All of the charcters seem real, driven by real emotions, like Eve, whose flippant desire to span the worlds of books leaves broken hearts in her wake and dooms those who have fallen in love with her to search her for eternity. Hatsuki and Gargantua are two such people, each with their own goals and desire for redemption (albeit Gargantua's is superficially absurd, a more touching motive is told through Ritsuko's backstory). Even the pervy Lilith, who despite wanting to molest Eve, doesn't want to be left alone to be the custodian of the library for all eternity while her sister plays with the hearts of others and leaves her to clean up the mess.
It's weird, disjointed, introduces random characters from the parallel story arcs and breaks up the story line--but it all seems to work in spite of it all (with a surprisingly clear premise, motivated characters, and resolution) and makes for an entertaining way to kill an evening.
How should I put this... This whole series was.. in one word : Fanservice
Story: There IS not definite story to this except the fact that Hazuki was searching for Hatsumi. Thus, a word of advice: if you have not played the game version of Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito, then do NOT watch these series. It wil make you go "huh? whats going on?" half the time. The story attempts to tell several stories at once then link them all together later, but for me it seemed just a random bunch of characters which were extras from the begginning and did not play
any important role at all.
Art: I guess the only decent thing about the anime was its animation and sound. The art was decent, not bad, but have seen much better. However, I did feel like something was out of place in the art... maybe it was just me.
Sound: The sound was ok, and set the proper mood that it was supposed to set.
Enjoyment: As I said, If you have NOT played the game, I strongly suggest you not to waste time watching these series, because its just not worth the time, as it seems like it was made for the sole purpose of fanservice for its gamers.
Overall: This anime really did blow me away with its ridicularly nonsensical plot. To tell you the truth, I was speechlessly amused by its lack compared to its popularity.
What happens if love in a divine form enters the world of mortals?
SPOILERS PRESENT, because there is hardly any way to do justice to the show without spoiling stuff. But I will try to keep the amount of spoilers low.
It's advised that you not read this before you have completed the show, unless you don't mind to be spoiled. However, if you do have completed the show and are confused about something, feel free to check this long review.
Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito, YamiBou(or Yamibou, Yamibo) for short, is arguably one of the hardest-to-review anime.
Say, for fluffy slice-of-life shows, the main
factor is enjoyment value, for example how good the jokes are and how heartwarming the show is.
For romance stories, the main factors are the characters and how they undergo character development etc.
For shows which try to deliver serious stuff, the main factors are the symbols, the points the anime delivers, and also the characters etc.
But YamiBou is not any of them, and there is hardly a clear principle on which 'prime factors' to choose. Also, though people may be turned off by the anime for one reason or another, there is one specific part of the anime which is not so easy to understand and requires some 'overinterpretation' skills to fully understand.
So in this case let's analyse the anime first.
The plot of YamiBou starts with two sisters, named Hadzuki(aka Hazuki/Haduki), and Hatsumi. Hadzuki has a crush on Hatsumi, and one night decides to sneak into her bedroom and go yuri-yuri with her. And anyone who have watched Ep01 knows what happens next.
From then on the story then spans alpha, beta, and gamma(just joking) world lines and tells backstories of different people, while the main line of Hadzuki looking for Hatsumi still goes on.
Events in the story become connected by Ep11 or so, and then comes the ending... Uh, forget it.
The plot can be confusing at first as it is not told in a chronological order.
The first problem we find with the anime is that many things are left UNEXPLAINED, some of them are even crucial. For example, we know that Eve always leaves her current world at the age of 16, but is this some rule that can not be changed? The interpretation of this results in different views on Eve. I assume that it indeed is some rule (but why this rule then...)
Had the pacing of the anime been improved, for example had it focused less on Lilith's antics and more on the worldview and backstories, more things would have been explained.
The story is mainly composed of 3 parts(technically not arcs):
>The adventures of Hadzuki
>The backstory of Gargantua and people around him
>The backstory of Hadzuki with Hatsumi
While MAL lists the main characters as Lilith, Hadzuki and Hatsumi, in my opinion the real major characters are actually Hadzuki, Eve and Gargantua.
The adventures of Hadzuki: Nothing special. Supposedly, the original visual novel has a bigger worldview and some of the events in the VN are adapted, but the events Hadzuki encounters are nothing spectacular. These bits and pieces add a bit to the fun factor, but are still distracting.
The backstory of Gargantua: One of the better parts in the anime. This part is about a man who was driven to morbidity by his jealousness, and tells a series of rather depressing stories. It's not a bad choice for some specific aspects in this part be portrayed more lightheartedly, although whenever Lilith appears everything gets too lighthearted and moe.
The backstory of Hadzuki with Hatsumi: The part that starts out quite good, but eventually made people gush loads of blood. But to look at it seriously, is it that bad? And is Eve that bad? (Note: Some people on a certain yuri-dedicated site called Yamibo do think so)
**THERE ARE LIKELY MORE SPOILERS FROM NOW ON**
--ABOUT EVE & THE ENDING--
So what kind of character is Eve?
Opinions differ between 'she is one who brings divine love to mankind' and 'she is just a hypocritic b**** who only wants to seek love interests in the human world'.
Personally speaking, the former interpretation makes much more sense!
And this is nothing hard to understand. Has Eve done anything in the book worlds without a heart of gold? And had Eve really been hypocritic, why in one specific case did she even sacrifice herself to protect someone else?
But this does not mean that Eve hasn't her own faults.
For one thing, although what she does is mostly out of pure virtue, she does not seem to care about what happens in any specific world line. This is imaginable, but if she has the ability to 'repair the damage' done by her in the end, WHY NOT EARLIER? I can't find a possible explanation.
Also, Eve does not seem to fully realise that whenever she leaves a certain world where someone is deeply attached to her, she will hurt those who love her. It's not that she doesn't care about them in the book worlds though. My interpretation: Eve is one who brings love to others, but never gets seriously emotionally attached to anyone else. That is why:
>>Human (mortal) love and divine love don't get to understand each other.
For another, the ending. Oh crap. I'd rather let James Rolfe deal with this part. Simply put, Eve's choice is bad in all interpretations. I'm not going to list all the possible interpretations here (if you want to get spoiled, check the last part), but it appears that Eve only knows about love in a divine form and doesn't understand love in a human way: the bond between Hadzuki and Hatsumi is in a sisterly way, but not in ... OK, I'll stop here or there'll be very detailed spoilers.
(A side note: There does exist one character in the anime who flirts constantly, to the extent of being increasingly annoying.)
Now, more about the ending: It's not just simply anti-climatic.
The ending has made the following achievements:
>BS culmination of the major plotline
>Screwing up the portrayal of 2 of the characters'(namely Eve & Lilith) characteristics, by treating a few scenes lightheartedly in the least appropriate circumstances possible!
Other characters may appear interesting, but most of them are simply not memorable.
The exception being Lilith... whose character is even more screwed. Tell me, what impression have you left on her?
There are hints that she is not as airheaded as she appears, but still she only leaves us an impression as a moe girl who only knows about flirting. The ending makes such impression even worse.
To summarise what I've said:
Story: 4/10 Starts out weak, gets quite good afterwards, and ends in an anti-climatic manner. And it's quite a mess and there are many things hard to understand.
Characters: 5/10 Major characters are quite well-done, while a few side characters are either annoying or not memorable.
Animation & Art: 8.5/10 Very good by 2003 standards. I don't really like Eve's appearance though. Also, one thing that bothers me is the extensive fanservice which I don't really enjoy
Sound: 8/10 Good. I like the OP most, and have even made an 8-bit cover of it.
Enjoyment value: 4.5/10 The extensive fanservice and the ending, enough said.
Overall rating: 4.5/10 (Not an average) 'Mediocre' in my scales.
But we're not done with the review. In fact we're yet to come to the core part.
--WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS STORY?--
The major part of the review, as via overinterpretation skills we can reach several unique conclusions, which, although don't add to the show's score, can be deep enough.
Conflicts are the soul of drama. The ending of the show is indeed anti-climatic, but the conflicts which lead to the ending are unique:
>What happens when divine love, human love, and the settings of the anime clash into each other?
Answer: Divine love and human love can't understand each other, while in the end the settings of the anime win. Even Eve herself claims at several points in the anime, that Hadzuki and Hatsumi could not be with each other.
This question seems confusing? Now, let's change one wording:
>What happens when divine love, human love, and social norms clash into each other?
Answer: The social norms win. (Or at least in this case, as in most cases.)
I speculate that all the weird settings and the gainax ending are all meant to deliver the idea 'we can not be together!' which fits the social norms. This is how social norms screw an otherwise much better anime, in my opinion. (It's not that social norms are simply bad, but that older social norms demand every individual to fit their own 'category's' requirements)
The fact is, YamiBou was made in 2003 and it was not until then did Japanese anime portraying lesbians become more open and less stereotyped. The portrayal in YamiBou is disappointing, but understandable though.
Meanwhile, another question arose when I was watching Ep12 with the floating comments all going 'Damn you Eve! Now you know the consequences of seeking love interests everywhere?'
So the other question:
>What happens when love in a divine form enters the world of mortals?
Answer: To be never understood by this world of sin!
The in-universe answer to this question is how Gargantua becomes morbid. Eve knows how to love all creatures in a divine way, but humans don't, and some of them even consider love something that must be unilateral and possessive. This point has recently(2015) been criticised by a certain yuri anime.
While among anime viewers: In this world full of harem anime, when anime characters show their kindness towards more than one people, such kindness would be interpreted as affection, and such affection as affairs, such affairs as sin. Natural deductions right? NOT!
Even a certain character in Kin'iro Mosaic (an anime so fluffy and innocent) gets panned by some people in this way.
...So you've watched the anime and are confused about some certain parts (including the ending)?
Scroll downwards to see what I think about these parts...
--What's the meaning of Hatsumi's letters to Hadzuki in Ep07?
Some people think that these are indications that Hatsumi has affections towards Hadzuki. But I'm not in favour of this interpretation. Rather, in my opinion, these letters are written in a fictional person's perspective instead of in Hatsumi's perspective, and are meant to tell Hadzuki that (a lover's) love can not always be obtained even if you try hard.
--Why is Eve's choice bad in all interpretations?
Let's make some assumptions. Assume that...
>Hadzuki's future baby would still vanish at the age of 16.
Enough said. This is screwed in itself.
>Hadzuki's future baby would not vanish at the age of 16.
Why would Hatsumi vanish at the age of 16 then? Why couldn't Eve change history so that Hatsumi could be with her even after she turns 16? Seriously, I don't understand.
And besides, there might be other alternative endings for the scriptwriters to choose from, for example Hadzuki staying with Eve in the library etc. Of all the endings they could choose from, the 'future baby' thing was chosen.
(Stats: Suspicious Ups=0, Downs=0 as of 23 Apr 2015. Calculated with statistical hypothesis)