Narutaru ~Mukuro naru hoshi Tama taru ko~

Title:Narutaru ~Mukuro naru hoshi Tama taru ko~
Shadow Star
Shadowstar Narutaru
なるたる ~骸なる星・珠たる子~
Keywords: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Notables: ISHIDA Akira
NOTO Mamiko
Original Concept - KITOH Mohiro
R1 License - Central Park Media(Defunct)
YUKINO Satsuki
While on a summer vacation at her grandparent's island residence, Tamai Shiina discovers a strange creature in the shape of a star. She discovers it is a ↗ryū (a dragon). She names it Hoshimaru and returns home with it. Hoshimaru has many abilities including the power to fly, allowing Shiina-chan to "air surf" from time-to-time. He mimics a backpack so that Shiina can carry him everywhere she goes.

Soon Shiina learns she is not the only one with a dragon. She meets Akira-chan, a suicidal girl who also has a star-shaped dragon. After befriending her, Shiina meets others who also have such "dragonette" creatures, and many of them are not nice. In fact, many of these others are bent on creating a new world by killing most of the current human population. What are these "dragons"? What do they intend? Will Shiina and Hoshimaru be able to save her friends?

[TV series, 2003, 13 episodes, 24 min; based on the manga of the same title. The series only covers ~6 volumes of the 12-volume set. It is much less graphic in content than the manga.]
1:29min Series Opening - YouTube Video
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Rent 8 7 7 8 7 7 Ggultra2764 [series:827#1552]
Narutaru is a bit of a mixed bag in the execution of its premise on the dark side of children's mentality and the use of dragons by said kids to have the power to inflict death and suffering upon those they blame for making their lives miserable. On the plus side, the series deceives you into thinking it's some slice-of-life/ fantasy shoujo title focused on Shiina and her newly discovered dragon, Hoshimaru. The show has a happy and carefree mood for its first two episodes, even with the hinting of Akira's home life not being as pleasant as Shiina's. Then come episode 3, all preconceived notions one had of Narutaru are flung out the window with Komori's appearance. He and the group of teens he interacts with have plans of creating their own "perfect society" using the dragons and smuggled weapons they got from the military. Unfortunately, this story arc ends abruptly without any expansion on the motives of these group of kids, how they got their dragons and what led to their mentality of the world. And from there, the series gets increasingly darker and bleaker.

Perhaps the best arc in the show was Hiro-chan's bullying. The arc shows the best character development as it shows the deterioration of Hiro's mentality as her smarts lead her to be constantly pressured by her father to succeed academically and her jealous classmates bully her to not be at her best. Approaching adolescence, she is hesitant to bother telling anyone (which includes best friend Shiina and her family)about the bullying and tries to endure it. But even she gets to a breaking point when things on both sides go too far thus what leads to the events of the arc's finale.

Besides the events of both arcs, the show dabbles into other touchy themes focused around teens and children such as self-mutilation, teen pregnancy and sexuality, divorce and parental neglect. The show also introduced additional characters and story elements that it never bothered to look into such as why Shiina has no mental link to Hoshimaru, the characters of Norio and Takeo and the personal problems within Akira's family. The anime also lacks a proper ending which isn't as surprising since the series was an adaptation of the first half of an ongoing manga series. And for those who wish to follow the manga, all I'll say is that things get a lot worst for the characters later in the series.

On the artistry side, Narutaru sports decent scenery with a good amount of detail and color added to them. Character designs, on the other hand, looked a bit skinny as I questioned the believability of the proportions of their limbs and bodies. The series soundtrack featured some intense insert music and a dramatic ED that do well at depicting Narutaru's intense moments though the OP will very likely put off many viewers.

Overall, Narutaru is a mixed package with its potential premise on the dark side of children. While showing some signs of good buildup on the problems faced by the characters and having enough intense moments, the show lacks a clear ending and there's just too much the show dabbled into that it lacked the time to explore.

Last updated Saturday, February 13 2010. Created Monday, February 08 2010.
Rent 9 7 8 9 7 9 Devil Doll [series:827#752]
[Score: 81% = Rent+. Recommended Supernatural Conflict animes: Silent Mobius, Kannazuki no Miko]

I usually hate shifting targets and unresolved plot ideas. Yet this exceptionally chilling ride through a number of issues that apparently some kids of these days actually experience at school is so powerful that it almost made me give it a "Buy" rating.

The strongest elements of this series for me are the excellent music (I don't like both the intro and the trailer song or else I'd given it a "10") and the narration style which almost earned Episode Story a top rating. Aside from minor animation issues this anime could have been one of the best I've ever seen - had they decided to focus on one or two important substories and dealt with them consequently. But like in Serial Experiments Lain they decided to do something else and play it very episodic... which caused me to downgrade both Characters and Series Story.

The first episode looks as if this were a kids show but no later than in episode 3 you will be cured from this idea for good. From this point on the audience will be confronted with deadly serious stuff - of which I considered episode 8 the weakest one (uncalled-for mass-murder with the most stupid intention possible: "Hey, let's kill some people today!" It doesn't really help that these poison-gas victims aren't visualized in great detail as it were in Elfen Lied - and no, being poisoned by HCN isn't "peaceful" in the least) but episode 13 the strongest one. If this is the story arc they decided to focus on so be it... I'll look for the manga as to hopefully get more answers (I have read 6 volumes so far which doesn't even completely cover the anime content yet). I rather watch this kind of show than another silly-funny brainless one, although it's a pity that the whole dragonet idea appears to be almost irrelevant in the end.

Three other "gloomy" series about children and violence that I consider related to this one would be Saishu Heiki Kanojo (which doesn't explain a lot as well), Alien Nine (which comes quite close to Narutaru but again you need manga background to understand what's going on) and Ima Soko ni Iru Boku which I'd recommend watching because it tells a story of the same intensity in a way that works much better.

Last updated Friday, June 06 2008. Created Saturday, February 12 2005.
Rent 8 8 8 8 6 9 AstroNerdBoy [series:827#436]

Man, is this title all over the place and most of it are places very jacked up. As such, this title isn't going to be for a lot of folks. However, should you take the plunge, be prepared for a dark, depressing, and chilling ride.

At first, Narutaru appears to be nothing more than the tale of 11-year old Shiina-chan and her star dragon Hoshimaru. As such, the first two episodes aren't dark nor deep. However, that all changes by episode three. With the introduction of middle school girl Akira-chan, the series quickly turns dark as we see a very depressed and suicidal girl who has also bonded with a star dragon. While she and Shiina become friends, the series continues to get darker as they meet other "dragons" and the people they are bonded with.

After dispatching one "evil" dragon, it seems that the series is gearing up to be one where Shiina has a gift to fight evil. Ah, but that's where you'd be wrong. You see, as the writers go down this road, Shiina and Akira witness some terrible things where many people die in front of them. Then suddenly, the kids behind those attacks are dropped save for one last appearance by the leader of the group as he attempts to win over Akira. Did Akira join his group? Did Akira do more, like have sex with him and become pregnant by him? Unknown, yet I got the feeling the answer was yes, especially when one of Akira's classmates confesses his feelings for her. Since she has no friends in her school, her reaction to the boy's confession was not what I expected. His reaction to her reaction I did expect though. Unfortunately, that story thread is dropped as well with no resolution.

Another story plot concerns yet another dragon partner and kids who have problems. This time, we learn that Shiina must be special since the dragon princess has taken an interest in her twice. We see the birth of a new dragon as well. Yet this element is dropped as soon as that arc ended.

After dropping the "protect Japan from evil dragons" plot, the series decides to explore another area of kid's lives. This time, the subject is bullying. If you were bullied to the point where you were physically violated (sexually) by your classmates, what would you do? Would you tell your parents who only care about your being accepted into the best middle school, high school, and then university? Would you tell your best friend? Or would you take your revenge on those who've wronged you by doing unto them what they've done to you after being granted the power to do so? And what would you say to your only friend then when she learns the truth?

Unfortunately, the landscape of this series is littered with story plots that are not resolved and characters who appear, then disappear with no information as to who or what they are. Even Shiina is a mystery and she's the main character. She's witnessed some just awful events and the death of many humans. At that time, she's affected, but then she just moves on as if not effected. Maybe that's why she's so special. While other characters brooded in negativity, Shiina tried to be positive and in the end became a better person.

Bottom line: Most certainly not for many folks, especially for children as themes of depression, suicide, murder, young teen sex and pregnancy, and bullying are explored. While I enjoyed the look at the horrors of modern Japanese school life, I didn't like how some characters and storylines were just dropped and forgotten. Had actual resolutions to these stories been made (whether good or ill), the series would have been better.

Last updated Wednesday, October 04 2006. Created Thursday, August 12 2004.

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