An injured man is found in the woods by a girl named Eruruu, and everything about him is mysterious. Without knowledge of his past nor even his own name, he is welcomed to Eruruu's home and is given the name Hakuoro by her grandmother, and younger sister, Aruruu. While the inhabitants of the village have large ears and tails, Hakuoro's defining physical trait is quite different as he has neither ears nor tail, but only a mask that he cannot remove.
Soon after he becomes a part of the villagers' lives, a revolution against the tyrannical emperor of the land begins, and the conflict finds its way to his new home. Hakuoro must do whatever he can to save the people and the village that he has come to love, all while uncovering the mysteries that shroud his past.
Both Rikiya Koyama (voice of Hakuoro) and Miyuki Sawashiro (voice of Aruruu) of were nominated as Best Leading Actor and Best Supporting Actress in the first ever Seiyu Awards for their roles in Utawarerumono.
Utawarerumono manages to be one of those harem animes that anyone can possibly find enjoyable, even if they don't particularly like the concept of harems. Based on the ero-game with the same title, Utawarerumono focuses on an amnesiac man who is found critically injured in a rural village. With the kindness of the villagers, he recovers and spends his days peacefully with them. However, the peaceful times quickly end with a heart shattering event that throws the man and his fellow villagers into a life of war.
The story in Utawarerumono is somewhat simplistic at first, with a majority of the anime following a simple formula
of battles, battles and even more battles while introducing new characters. One may find that the way the story unfolds in this show is quite repetitive. However, if you're a fan of war stories with occasionally comedic situations and intelligent strategies to undermine the enemy you will most likely overlook the lack of variation. Despite what has been said, Utawarerumono also has a number of twists and turns (especially in the second half of the show) that should keep the viewer glued to their chairs long enough to see the story through.
Animation is both a positive and negative point in Utawarerumono. While the animation actually animates the characters in combat (compared to other anime that may just use still images and lines to indicate action) with a good amount of detail, recycled animation occurs. The reused animation is unfortunately quite noticeable (although not too frequent) and may detract one's enjoyment of the battles. The CG animation present in this show is a mixed bag. Some may like it, some may not. Either way, the CG is only used occasionally so it shouldn't be a huge issue. Character designs are more or less consistent, detailed and interesting, albeit one (or more) episode(s) may have the characters looking slightly more odd then usual due to different animators.
Sound is also quite a mixed bag; you may like it or hate it. The opening song is quite catchy, although there is nothing particularly memorable about it. The ending song also proves to have a unique flair to it, with the overall tone of the music befitting the ambiance of this anime. As Utawarerumono contains a number of battle scenes, the background music does well in giving out the proper mood that is needed to set atmosphere of the show. The voice acting is decent, with no one really standing out but with everyone befitting their character.
Utawarerumono being a harem anime contains the usual female stock characters that you would find from other harems. The serious one, the flirtatious one, the cute one, the shy one and etc. However, due to the majority of the show focusing on war, thankfully most of the female characters are not just part of the harem and play a role in the story. Not every character is developed, most likely due to time constraints (although I'm not sure whether the original game developed the ones missed out in this show). Thankfully the main character and a number of other major characters are given some development and time to flesh out their backgrounds.
As for why I enjoyed Utawarerumono - I have natural bias against anything that would be considered a harem anime, but the nicely animated action scenes and character designs won this series over for me. Storywise I thought most of the show didn't really offer much, but I was quite suprised towards the second half of the show where a number of twists were thrown in, making the overall story of this anime much more interesting. I also found almost all the characters to be likeable, except for the certain few which are obviously meant to be hated by the viewers. I only wish some other characters besides the ones given time were developed more properly.
Overall, Utawarerumono manages to deliver an enjoyable package to the casual anime viewer. One may desire to watch this show more then once due to the presence of foreshadowing and a good amount of the background story told in different episodes. Either way, Utawarerumono has a little bit of everything for everyone. It has fan service-like scenes and characters, a large amount of intense action scenes and an intriguing and somewhat deep plot for those seeking something less mindless and profound. It may not prove to be strong in any given area, but it delivers a show that should leave most anime fans somewhat satisfied with what they've just seen.
For about 4/5 of the series, I really enjoyed myself. I’m not usually into science fiction/supernatural anime series, so I wasn’t looking forward to anything when I started watching Utawarerumono. However, I was proven wrong. Utawarerumono was just so exciting and fun to watch and I really liked it – 4/5 of the 26 episodes. For the last 1/5, I didn’t like it too much. I don’t wanna give out any spoilers, so I’ll just say that the last arc was too weird and it didn’t register.
All the characters were really likable and I felt sorry for them whenever another war or battle emerges. It’s
a good thing they laugh and make me laugh now and then. My favorite was Oboro – I loved watching him fight alongside Dori and Gura, the adorable twins. I love Touka too. I’m still wishing that he’s secretly a guy so my crush on Touka would be justified, but that will never happen. Aruruu was just so adorable and I like her WAY more than her older sister Eruruu. I just find Eruruu a bit weak and bland. I really didn’t like the idea of Hakuoro and Eruru as a couple. It’s just too weird since Aruruu thinks of him as her dad. The villains were also as irritating as the main characters are likable. They really convinced me to hate them.
Animation was above average. Everything was well drawn and surprisingly, I’m OK with the earthy color palette. The CG is something I have to think about. It’s not bad, but it’s not good either. It reminds me of early PlayStation1 video game graphics, similar to Suikoden 2’s graphics. The fight scenes were impressive (and exciting) – I love how the characters move swiftly and smoothly when fighting.
I’m not familiar with most of the voice actors, but they were all very impressive. I have to admit that I was iffy with Hakuoro’s voice at first, since I thought it was too manly and old for him, but in the end it turned out well. Everyone was able to bring out their respective character’s personalities and that is what’s important.
As a stand alone, I probably won’t like the music that much. It’s because the music was really tailored for the series. If I’m gonna enjoy the music, I have to watch Utawarerumono along with it. On that note, I really love the opening theme. Whenever I watch Utawarerumono I just have to sing along with it. The BGM was good too. Most of it sounded tribal, for lack of a better word, which also went well with the theme and feel of the series. I also noticed that the music, although it sounds tribal and almost authentic, it would have sounded better if it was less synthesized.
It almost made my favorites list if it weren’t for the last 4-5 episodes that were too weird for me. Overall I did like it, in fact I like it a lot and it’s one of those series that left a strong impression on me.
What comes to mind when a visual novel gets an anime adaptation? Usually I think average guy, a bunch of overly cute unattainable girls and some kind of story arc surrounding each girl. However Utawarerumono disregards this overused high school romantic formula, with girls that require conquering like a RPG boss and goes for a more fascinating approach.
Utawarerumono is an Action Adventure set in a world of Fantasy. Just think Lord of the Ring, but minus the Ring and Hobbits. Following the disturbing opening scene, we our introduced to our protagonist, a mysterious masked man with no recollection of who he is and why
he has an immovable mask on his face. Now this amnesia plot device is one of the most over used but taking into account that this is based of a visual novel, it’s certainly a good way for the player to start off with a clean slate. Now as for the story, a good amount of time is spent bringing this fantasy world to life, in what looks to be a very mild mannered series. But soon after being lulled into a false sense of security, the story develops into that of a war between nations. So instead of harem filled romance you can expect bloody battle after battle, in an ever developing storyline. Sure it would have been better if more thought was put into how to kick start this warfare plot but as a whole, the series did prove to be very exciting to watch. If only it remained that way throughout however in the last batch of episodes you’ll witness one of the most thoughtless plot developments ever, which did a good enough job in ruining whatever impression I had of the series.
The male protagonist did suffer from this drastic change but before that he was a really interesting and mysterious character. It’s a great thing seeing him develop from a nameless nobody to a charismatic figure and the other characters that gravitate towards him certainly have their own appeal or role in the story. Not to forget the female characters, who are what make it this an obvious adaptation from a visual novel but that isn’t really a bad thing. The only negative aspect is the few really stupid and annoying characters (the Emperors) that stifle the quality of this anime.
The quality of the animation is really good as there’s a fair amount of detail put into the characters and environments with some good water, fire & smoke effects. Yet a lot of corners were cut, like when it came to animating the fight scenes. At times it just looked cheap, with a lot of recycled scenes and who could forget the poorly implemented CGI character models in the armies. At least the music is truly special as it manages to go well with the anime, especially during the battles or when it is building up to something epic and I am particularly fond of the ending theme (R.I.P Eri Kawai).
Overall Utawarerumono turned out to be a great Fantasy, Action, Adventure that pulled off a tale about one man and his journey onto greatness. There is quite a lot going for this show to get anyone into it, like the way the characters interact with one another and how the battles & politics were handled. Personally I was disappointed by the number of flaws that plagued the show, from the corners cut in animation, to the terribly erratic pacing and the few stupid decisions the characters made. But none of that really compares to how appalling the last couple episodes were handled. If you can overlook these then you’ll enjoy it.
This is one of my favorite anime shows I have to say. The thing is, it will touch you in ways your emotions have never been touched before, or ways that will surprise you. Some of you might have heard of this show from the game of the same name released in 2002. The game is listed as an ‘adult tactical role-playing visual novel’ (that’s a mouthful of itself) by a company called Leaf. For those not into gaming lingo, a tactical role-playing game is a type of video game where you have role-playing and strategy into one game. I believe ‘Final Fantasy Tactics’ falls
down that same sort of line if I was to use a more well known title. Visual Novels on the other hand have a game play that is more based on amazing graphics and almost a ‘choose your own adventure’ aspect. And if we are going to break apart the genre even more, Adult really means that there are some rather ‘erotic’ points or that it is full of violence. The reason why I am breaking this down for you is because Utawarerumono was based off this really interesting genre and though I have not played the game, I feel that from what little I have seen, it sticks rather close to the idea of it.
The whole story is based around a man named Hakuoro, or at least that’s the name they call him. He is a man who lost his memory and can’t even remember who he is or why he has a mask on his face that will not come off. I know what you’re thinking, ‘She calls everything a stereotype so she probably will call this a stereotype as well’. The truth is your right. I will call this a stereotype but in this case, I think it actually works rather well to a point. There are major spoilers that will help answer why he lost them and it’s not just a bump on the head, but for the reasons they do give us it just does work for this type of story line. Since it’s based off of a game series, the main character is normally the one we play as. For this, it seems logical to have that character not know anything about his past in order to explain why he would select an answer to a question in the way he does. It also helps you learn more of his past through his eyes. I do understand why people use it, but it is over used.
Going back to Hakuoro, his personality is sort of bland. Sure he acts like a true leader, someone clothed in mystery and experience beyond his years, but sadly that seems to be the only thing that he has. That is sort of the ‘point’ where the stereotype point doesn’t seem to want to work. You can give a person amnesia and have him still have a personality, but here he just seems like a cardboard cut out with how serious he takes things all the time… until a point. You see, this show has a strange way of making everything that happens as a spoiler so it’s hard to talk about. I can say though that at that point you really do see the layers of Hakuoro that are really in depth. Where up until that point, he seems as though he is the perfect person in the world and then it makes you think he might not be that perfect after all.
The next characters are the two sisters that act as his adopted family. It doesn’t seem right introducing them separate as they are so close. We will start with the youngest first I think. Aruru is a rather fun loving girl although we start out with her being rather timid. She has a really shy personality that makes me smile whenever I see her acting so curious. There really isn’t much else about her except that she acts her age. She is a really believable little girl who I think might be around 6 or 7 years old. Eruru on the other hand is a very motherly figure. She cares not only for Aruru but for everyone around her. She is so many things that its surprising such a young girl can do all the things she does. She’s not only a big sister to Aruru but she consoles Haruoro whenever he is torn between his discussions, calms those that need to be calmed, heals those who are sick both inside her group of friends and outside in the town, and somehow is still able to manage herself. I am surprised she doesn’t break, making what she proclaims in the first episode ‘country girls are strong’ make a lot of sense.
Now there are so many characters in this show that it is really hard to talk about every single one of them. Most of them are even spoilers for parts of the show which makes this review a living nightmare to try to do without spoiling anything. So instead of talking about the rest of the characters, I guess I will use this area to talk about the setting of the show. The show is based loosely around an indigenous people from Japan known as the Ainu (Aynu). Think of them as the Native American’s of Japan (in a very very loose based way). They hunted and gathered their food, lived in small communities, and had a culture that was very based on the land. If you look at Haruoro’s name, it actually is an Ainu word that I believe loosely means “White Emperor” (I am not an Ainu nor do I know how to speak Ainu, it’s something I found online). They mixed the Ainu culture with a Feudal Japan culture in order to make a rather interesting war torn country, much like in historic times. The only difference is that in the show, everyone (except for Haruoro it seems) is an anthropomorphic creature. They have the bodies of humans with ears and tails (or wings) of an animal. Many of the strange things seem to point to it being an alternate timeline to our own but every once in a while, they sneak in a bit of technology that doesn’t seem to make any sense. It just adds to the mystery.
This show has a strange way of jumping up and down a lot. As was stated many times before now, this is a show based on the rise and fall of nations doing battle. As such, there are many different battles that are fought through the course of the series. Between each battle however, we are given a couple small breaks between the actions. These can be as boring as political debates on the next course of action to a slice of life following the lovable antics of Aruru and her friends. I think part of this is to show exactly how war is carried out, but also I just think it’s partly for our psychological relief. This show is 26 episodes long; if we had a battle that lasted that whole time, we would be up in arms the whole time wanting our side to win. We wouldn’t have time to get into the characters heads, no time for us to become emotionally connected to them, to hear the story of their past, to understand why they are fighting. These breaks do give us that time to get to know them, and sometimes to introduce new characters.
The animation is so beautiful at times, and then we will get points that just seem rather standard. Backgrounds are always so detailed and colored so amazing that it’s hard to notice the little things that don’t look quite right though. There are small times that the show used CG to show off some of the action scenes but I don’t blame them. The fact that this is a battle heavy anime means that there are a ton of extras that would have to be drawn over and over again. CG helps cut the corners of this and if done right, it looks really good. I could barely see the differences for the most part between the CG and the animation so I think that is a win on their side. The times they didn’t use the CG stuff was actually rather good as well, with characters movements being rather fluid and not many hiccups in design. I love how for most of the comedy, they kept to the same style as the rest of the show instead of trying to go chibi all the time. One of the main things I found so attractive of this show is the colors they work with. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful but they change the brightness to fit the mood. It can be so bright with fun colors and then suddenly have rather dark deep colors to show a very serious mood.
The music has this sort of haunting tone to it that seems to be sad but also a little mysterious. I am not sure if they were trying to match the concept of Hakuoro or just a sort of haunting nature of the people but it worked rather well. Pretty much all of the music besides the opening and the ending song were only instrumental, and captured the mood nicely. I do not know how close it is to Ainu music but it felt like it could be part of it. The English Voice acting I think was right on the mark with a lot of the characters. I sort of fell for Hakuoro’s rather soft and yet forceful voice for some reason. Jogn Gremillian did such a beautiful job making Hakuoro sound like a caring man but also a man who can take charge when it was needed. For what little lines Aruru had, Sasha Paysinger did a very good job with the rather cute voice that actually didn’t get on my nerves at all. For real, it wasn’t a high pitched moe character that normal people do, but a more sweet style that I love. Kira Vincent-Davis did the voice for Eruru, and though it was rather good, I somehow feel a little disappointed in that the character sounds close to others she has done. Also, big props on Vic Mignogna who actually for once in his life played a character that was most of the time serious and didn’t freak out all the time! (Ok, so that might not be exactly true on this being the only character he played like that, but most of his characters do tend to freak out.)
This show had very few flaws to it in my opinion, and had to be one of my favorite shows to jump into. You could feel the great chemistry between the characters, the amazing look of the battles, and the rather calming moments of the breaks.
The anime archer is a rare breed. These are the unsung heroes of the anime world who rely on a rather simple, but effective skill - archery! Most will use a bow and arrow, and a few will utilize a crossbow. Even if they don't always save the day, they'll look cool as hell while trying to.