|Overall||Art||Animation||Character Design||Music||Series Story||Episode Story||Reviewer|
Nabari no Ou
(Watched 1 episode)|
Another cookie-cutter ninja series? Bleh. While it does take place in the modern era, it looked like the series was trying to pull some humor a la Ouran High School Host Club where Miharu was the "straight man" in response to the over-the-top and seemingly angsty ninja encounters like Haruhi was to the bishounen archetypes that the Host Club acted out. But whereas Ouran worked out because Haruhi came across as a likeable character at first glance with her own personal goals and talents, Miharu's too detached from everything around him from his first appearance to get latched onto the guy. And for a series that is supposed to have action scenes with ninja, the animation comes across as rather subpar with shortcuts apparent and the watercolor-like backgrounds not meshing well with the character designs. I guess I'm dropping this show without a final review.
Last updated Sunday, July 24 2011. Created Sunday, July 24 2011.
Nabari no Ou
(Watch+ or Rent-)|
(All episodes watched):
All things considered, I had been kind of disappointed with the average quality of the new Spring 2008 series, and decided to check out some new ones which I had initially planned to pass on. Good thing I did, too, because I'm definitely liking Nabari no Ou. The premise seems unoriginal and not particularly promising; but the way it's handled is surprisingly fun and holds my attention well. The weak, scrawny boy Rokujou is pestered to join a new middle school club, one that will teach the way of the Ninja--an idea which he considers stupid and annoying. The strange thing is that this "Master of Apathy" is the ultimate Ninja (whether he wants to be or not)--he just doesn't know it yet. After a grim and violent first scene, I was pleasantly surprised by the sarcastic wit of this show's characters; these action first, comedy second people are funnier than a number of characters in this season's pure comedy series. Everybody has an interesting personality right from the start. I detect a distinct "coolness" to this show, which allows me to excuse the quite implausible supernatural elements. A skillfully revealed mystery is balanced with humor; combat is animated well in a wild and exciting manner. In short, it looks like fun!
The comedy disappears altogether during episode three, which is fairly grim and violent. Several innocent people are killed outright, and even with the jokes ommitted I can't help feeling that their deaths aren't being taken seriously enough. Some humor returns in episode four, as the team reassesses their goals. Still, I fear I may have been too quick to praise this show as much as I did. But it's definitely not becoming a "more power!" sort of show, where the protagonist just fights an endless stream of increasingly skilled opponents (he has yet to fight anybody). Instead, he has an awesome power which must not be used, which makes him a valuable comodity which lots of people want to get their hands on. Episode six was surprising in that Koite (the guy with the cap), who had seemed a villain up 'til now, displays a three dimensional personality which one can relate to. I'd wondered why he got as much airtime in the OP sequence as Rokujou did, and now I know. In my experience, it's generally a good sign when even the "bad guys" are interesting characters with understandable motivations; it indicates that a good deal more effort was put into the writing than usual. So far, Nabari no Ou seems a fun and intriguing show well worth watching. In some ways it makes fun of the ninja/martial arts genre, while in others it strives to do an unusually good job of making yet another.
One thing which really surprised me was what happened when the principal characters agree to commit an assasination in exchange for a priceless magical artifact. At first I thought that since these are the "good guys" they shouldn't be doing this. Let's just say that things don't turn out the way I'd expected, but they make sense and left me with a seriously altered attitude towards two major characters. Comedy may have had priority early on, but it has all but disappeared and been replaced by intriguing drama. There are at least two plots running side by side, namely the one involving the teenage female samurai Raimei and her missing brother, and the one with Rokujou and Koite. Why Rokujou and Koite's strange goal seems so important to either of them escapes me, but still the story works, and I remain intrigued. The characters definitely are more important than cool Ninja weapons and tactics. All things considered, Nabari no Ou might be the sort of show which viewers who've become entranced by Ninjas could graduate to after watching Naruto.
There was a great scene in episode 14 as out of nowhere we discover an amazing capability which Koichi, the gray-haired boy, has. "Thrilled and frightened amusement" might be the best term to describe my reaction. It's another sign of the care taken to produce this show that characters (or at least what we know about them) change radically as the story procedes. One ongoing question is, who is prepared to kill if need be? The answer is surprising.
I had expected this to be a 13 episode series, and was pleasantly surprised to find it would be a two-season show. Still, with the series continuing this long, I think the viewer should be reminded of just what is at stake and how important it is. I either never completely understood the importance of the "Shinrabanshou" (sp?) or have forgotten it. My interest in this show lagged for awhile, but having finally watched another episode I was quickly brought up to speed on just what's going on.
Actually I'm beginning to think that maybe Nabari no Ou would have worked better if it had been trimmed down to 13 episodes after all. I get tired of the tear jerking attempts to show how Yoite is at death's doorway--yet he seems perfectly well afterwards. Another thing I don't like are the mixed signals I get about just how hostile the two ninja clans are to each other. One minute the bad guys kill (minor characters) en masse, the next they fight with words alone--what's the deal here? Even the bad guy clan claims the defence of helpless people as a goal. It leaves me confused and frustrated.
I notice that I never finished this review... which tells you something about how my interest in the show petered out towards the end.
Ninjas not taken completely seriously--or maybe taken far more seriously than usual.
Catch Raimei's montage at Kendo Girl Scrapbook!
Last updated Monday, February 08 2010. Created Wednesday, April 16 2008.
|Japanese (Language) Series Web Site||http://www.nabari.tv/|