Story: Genji, also known as Between the Sheets, a Japanese legend. The anime follows the legend of Genji, a prince turned commoner. Despite being a commoner, he’s still fabulously wealthy and uses this wealth to buy his lady friends pretty gifts. And he has a lot of lady friends. Including an Oedipal complex that shadows all of Genji’s bedroom encounters. Aside from Genji’s wanderings in the bedroom area, there isn’t much else to the story. Well, except for the random spirit possessions that seems to kill off a number of young women because one of Genji’s lovers happens to be psychotic. There is the parallel story of Murasaki’s upbringing, but it reads like rather horrible fanfiction.
Animation: The animation has a bit of bipolar disorder. It is fluid and elegant one second, and the next it’s jumping from frame to frame with the ghost images lingering for a moment. The characters are designed after the original art, I suppose, which explains the rather blank expression Genji normally wears. Yes, even in bed, he resembles Kristen Stewart’s emotional range. The clothing and setting are beautifully done, however, which raises the animation score because of the detail involved.
Sound: The background music is very traditional, and usually tranquil. There are also the few scenes were one of the characters are playing traditional instruments, which can get repetitive, because they seem to only know one song each. While the end song matches the soundtrack, the opening song belies the rather slow plot. This can be rather jarring if you marathon the anime, as I tend to do.
Characters: Genji, being the main character, steals the show. The women, while lovely and given some depth, seem to only exist to further Genji’s story. Most of the characters are petty and rather unlikable. The few that are empathetic usually die off, move to convents, etc. Still, it plays out like a soap opera, and disliking the characters gives some depth to the plot.
Overall: If you like watching soap operas, you'll like watching Genji. That's all I have to say...
The animated adaptation of Murasaki Shikibu's masterpiece, the 1008 novel "Genjimonogatari" (The tale of Genji), considered to be the first modern novel of history. Having studied this novel at university, I watched and judged this adaptation not only by its own merit but also by comparing it to the original.
Well, it's not like the Genjimonogatari was known for its gripping and unpredictable plot to begin with, being for the most part just the description of Genji's various love adventures, so if said plot is also adapted somehow loosely you can see how this can be a letdown. Sure, it must be taken into consideration that for a Japanese audience knowing the Genjimonogatari is probably like knowing Dante's Divina Commedia for an Italian audience, so this adaptation was made keeping in mind that the public already knew the base material. Still, I always had this fanboyish tendency to not like when an adaptation takes too much liberty on the original. So, while some of the events are really well transposed (like Yuugao's death and Rokujou's jelous spirit) both in form and in emotional impact, most of the others differ too much. I also didn't like the fact that so many of these 11 episodes were dedicated exclusively to the relationship between Genji and Fujitsubo: even if this IS the most important relationship in the novel, it becomes quite tedious when half the time is spent on these two always repeating to themselves how much they love each other but how much their love is forbidden so they must not et cetera, while completely skipping some characters and rushing like hell not only the relationship with my personal favourite, Yuugao, but even those with Rokujou (the possessive mistress whose jelous spirit kills three of Genji's lovers!), Aoi (Genji's first legitimate wife!), and even Murasaki (Genji's second legitimate wife and basically co-protagonist of the second part of the novel!). When the collective story of Heian court ladies becomes basically the story of two people... OK, it's one way you can read the first part of the novel, but it's really tedious.
Another thing that let me down is the fact that almost none of the tanka (Japanese short poetry) that characterised every single page of the Genjimonogatari are included.
The Genjimonogatari is the masterpiece it is first of all for the deep psychology of its characters. So one would expect at least a glimpse of that depth, or at least a charaterisation coherent with the novel, right? Unfortunately, you get none of that. While it is fairly understandable that all the depth a book can contain can't be easily transposed into a very short anime series like this, much less forgivable is the fact that some characters are completely different. Murasaki is the worst offender: in the novel, when she was adopted by Genji it took her some time to grow attached to him, but she only considered him more of a brother-like figure, so when Genji seeks comfort in her (if you know what I mean) after his wife's death and then goes on to make her his wife, her first reaction is of sadness, disillusion and surprise, and the reaction you're supposed to have is "What the hell, Genji?"; here, she gets basically kidnapped, she loves Genji as a man from the very beginning, she's more than happy to become his wife and is so completely devoted to him that most of her depth goes right out the window. But many other characters, expecially Yuugao (who shows no sign of the insecurity and fear she felt in her relationship with Genji) and Oborozukiyo (who becomes for no apparent reason an active seductress instead of someone who just happened to meet Genji one night he was drunk), are terribly flattened.
Even Genji, whom I considered almost inspirationally cool in the book, is here flattened and less likeable. The only one who, in my humble opinion, retains his charm, is Tou no Chuujo.
Quae sunt Caesaris Caesari: the character design and the backgrounds are positevely awesome. During most of the series the art creates an almost fairytale-ish atmosphere with its strong colours and beautiful landscapes. Though, the animation itself at times has drops in quality, recycled scenes and really cheap effects that can really become annoying.
The soundtrack is pretty solid. During the episodes themselves, it does its job decently. It never stands out as particularly good, but the fact that it uses also Heian period Japanese musical instruments makes it feel really fit for the setting and the mood. It loses a lot of points, however, for the at times not-so-smart use of such music, and for the opening and ending song: the OP consists of a really upbeat and happy-sounding pop/punk song, which would feel painfully out of place even if it wasn't as bad as it is; the ED has a better fitting mood, but it's sung so horribly that its commercial slow-pop genericness becomes unbearably annoying.
SAKURAI Takahiro's performance of The Shining Prince is.. .a bit strange. In that, he jumps from hammy, narmy and "meh" moments, to heights of emotional intensity. I will even go on and say that most of the moments I considered to be well made and emotionally involving are so thanks mostly to Sakurai's voice, but at other times he's unintentionally funny.
Similarly, the character of Tou no Chuujo, who has only a tiny fraction of the role he has in the novel, manages to still retain his charm mostly thanks to the fact that he's voiced by the one I consider one of the most versatile, powerful and all-around freakin' awesome voice actors around, SUGITA Tomokazu of The melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya fame.
The rest of the cast do their job decently, but most of them fail to give depth to their characters, and Lady Murasaki knows how much such poorly-adapted characters would have needed the strenght only great voice acting can give...
I would say that this anime is, as an adaptation of the Heian masterpiece, barely decent in some parts, a trainwreck in some others, a pretty good result in yet others. I feel safe to recommend this anime to those who have read or studied the original novel: it will be annoying at times, but when I see an adaptation of a classic literary masterpiece I always find it somehow intellectually satisfying to be able to point out what it's doing wrong, and those nicely pulled off moments can be worth it for someone who likes the original. Similarly, though, I think those who do NOT know the original Tale of Genji, should stay away from this: this anime is made for an audience which is supposed to know the story it's telling, so if you don't you'll probably consider it lamer, more rushed, more stupid and more flat than it actually is.
Genji monogatari sennenki was an immense, complete, gigantic waste of time.
Cancel that. Let me rephrase--Genji monogatari sennenki is possibly one of the worst anime I have watched in a while. Except for Casshern Sins, but that's neither here nor there. Anyway--
She looks damn good. Her animation is both enchanting and ripe with the classic scenery, bright colors, bold patterns and poetic influences one should expect of a series set in its time period. She's pretty, in that before havin' babies, Britany Spears, one eye doesn't look quite right, but what the hell, it's blonde and it has hips kinda way. Genji monogatari sennenki teases you too, with a brief flash of a well rounded thigh of what appears to be great melodrama and a journey along the road toward what it means to love. Genji monogatari sennenki drapes herself in the elaborate frippery of tradition with a touch of history, all to distract you from one glaring, horrendous detail you don't realize it's there until too late.
Genji monogatari sennenki is a cheap two bit hooker. A fake. She is not what she tries to tell you she is.
This anime's handling of the sexes and romances is just so far out of date for me that it literally made me cringe. "One of the Great Romantic blahblahblahs" be damned--this story does not age well animated and I feel, has probably lost literally everything in this visual translation.
She's a hussy. A streetwalker. A lady of the night. She's on the corner looking to do nasty things to you to score that one last hit. She's not even remotely close to the caliber of an escort, which compared to Genji monogatari sennenki's cheapness seems like high-class livin'.
No, for all of Genji monogatari sennenki finery, it's still a story about a dude with about as much charm as an ingrown, fungus covered toenail, running around the country sexing up all the woman and leaving them behind as he goes about looking for the next.
And the women that fall for this ancient popped-collar-you-know-what aren't any better than he. Heavy-sigh-filled, lip quivering, "I am unable to do anything without a man! I cannot pass gas without one! Men complete me! Oh god, if I do not have a man around me 24-7 I shall collapse into a ball of tears. Also: my life is a barren waste land of nothing until my womb is plundered and I can pop out a baby, my ultimate life goal."
And I made myself watch every episode. As a sort-of punishment for falling for Genji monogatari sennenki's air headed seduction. Call it my forty lashes with a spiked, soaked in lemon juice and salt on the cat-o-nine tails lashes, if you will.
Genji monogatari sennenki is empty, horrific, over dramatic to the point of such ridiculousness that I laughed until I nearly cried.
If I were a sheltered, thirteen year old virgin without a single lick of sense in my head I might have actually enjoyed this. Since I am neither of these things and require more than sugar coated unicorn farts infested in chocolate coated kisses to exist; this anime didn't do it for me. At all. And I rather doubt it'll do the same for you if you have a lick of sense, either.
Genji monogatari sennenki isn't even one of those anime I'd rate worth wasting time with while you wait for your other favorite anime episodes to be released on C.D.
For the love of little puppies and your favorite baby deity--drop this one like it's hot or Paris Hilton. Go watch something else.