Utawarerumono

sort
Add review
KiraRin's avatar
Sep 24, 2009

Story

Don’t you just love it when you have completely unreasonable preconceptions about a show that then completely sweeps you off your feet? Utawarerumono (try saying that after 3 large glasses of wine), has the odour of a typical anime series based on an H-game, featuring animal-like females for virgin otaku to drool over; what I got instead was an unexpected bitch-slap from the plotline that completely suprised me a few episodes in. Utawarerumono was ultimately more akin to Berserk than the adorably mindless Magical Meow Meow Taruto.

After a gentle introduction to peasant life in a poor village, the main protagonists are thrown together under unusual circumstances. Continuing in a light-hearted vein, sudden punctuation of violence gives a taste of what is to come. Death is not a taboo subject in what initially feels like a family friendly spectacle, and this is soon cemented by one murder that serves as the catalyst for events throughout the entire twenty-six episodes. Numerous subplots occasionally seem to be forgotten about, but revisiting each fine thread of the story means everything is succinctly explained when the viewer least expects it.

The perfect recommendation for Utawarerumono is Twelve Kingdoms, as both heavily feature politics and the struggle of innocent people. Seeing entire villages razed to the ground and both women and children mercilessly slain by barbaric thugs can make for difficult viewing; but like a car crash, you feel impelled to watch the unfolding action, and take perverse pleasure in seeing the evil adversaries receive their comeuppance. Yes, it does follow the “fight an enemy, fight an even stronger foe” pattern, but deep down it's highly enjoyable and compulsive watching.

Though I was concerned that the writers were going to use the ultimate “Bobby Ewing*” cop-out ending when the penultimate episodes see a complete change of setting, it was to my relief that the storyline bounces back. To explain what I mean would be to spoil the show, so instead I will say that the writers skilfully craft an emotionally moving and fitting climax to an excellent genre spanning show. Although the narrative does meander away from the feel of the rest of the series, I felt it was a satisfying conclusion to a fantastical epic that would have been otherwise difficult to wrap up.


Animation

The majority of the show is beautifully drawn. The diverse races of human-hybrids identifiable by their different ears and tails, and their architecturally stunning cities contrasting against lush verdant scenery. Catgirls, canine-men and winged beauties roam the fantastical lands mostly wearing simplistic peasant or military uniforms. As the exception to this rule, the artists take perverse joy in squeezing Karura’s 38GG breasts into a meagre allowance of fabric.

Much of Utawarerumono is pervaded by computer graphics, especially during military intensive battles where one soldier is replicated many times. Unfortunately, these scenes were easy to pick out for their outstanding ugliness. I understand that war and its numerous participants is artistically and technically demanding, but the use of a few more production hours would have upgraded a weak part of the show from mediocre to remarkable. Luckily, the one-on-one hand-drawn fight scenes deserve commendation for their outstanding fluidity.


Sound

Much of the soundtrack for Utawarerumono is pleasant but forgettable. The opening and ending tracks betray the violent underbelly of the show; upbeat and jaunty, they give the feel of a fantasy adventure. Luckily, using the background music extremely sparingly, the viewer is instead treated to the melodic clang of clashing of steel or the harmonious serenade of the forests’ feathered inhabitants. Complemented perfectly by an orchestral chant, one breathtaking moment of the show is results in the viewer paying closer attention to the impending action.


Characters

Again, I feel the need to draw a parallel with Twelve Kingdoms – an unlikely hero is thrust into the throne to govern people with compassion, much to the discontent of surrounding nations. Placed into a difficult situation, both Hakuoro and Yohko struggle to learn the necessary political intricacies to keep the peace with quarrelsome neighbours. Supported by a strong team, their voyages of discovery attract allies from their magnetic charisma that only grows as the story progresses. Playing both a competent emperor and protective father-figure, Hakuoro is a brave and mysterious character that you can’t help but like.

Surrounded by competent fighters and emotionally supportive figures, both the main female protagonist and secondary cast compliment their masked commander down to a T. From a childishly naive Eruruu who spends most of her screen-time acting like a schoolgirl in love, to the overaggressive womaniser Oboro, each will find a way to woo the viewer. Although the female characters are somewhat stereotypical of an eroge, there is only one member who has a cup-size larger than her personality. And even then, she isn’t the usual vapid bimbo with a pork-sword on her mind. A sharp metal sword, maybe...


Overall

A strong start with an even stronger centre, Utawarerumono is a show that, despite its forgivable flaws, will charm a lot of fantasy-action fans. While unsuitable for children, there is gore and violence in abundance for viewers wanting a step away from the usual humdrum anime that takes no risks. The ending is strangely satisfying, especially considering the confusing departure from the expected storyline. Twists and turns aplenty make this an excellent show that, for anime fanatics who have not yet had the pleasure, should definitely add to their want to watch list.

*The good-guy oil tycoon in the uber-soap opera, Dallas, was run over and killed by a car in 1985, and then walked out of the shower and back from the dead a year later. The show's writers papered over the year that had passed by having his wife realise that the entire preceding season and its attendant plot complications had just been a bad dream.

8/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
StevenSAKUJO's avatar
May 27, 2012

Utawarerumono is not generally the kind of anime that I watch and yet I conceived the plot before it's happening. The characters are clichés, the story is a cliché and there was no aspect of this anime that i've not yet seen before. I knew a few episodes in that nothing in this anime would do would amaze me. However each and every episode was worth watching, it was completely average but apparently that was enough for me. However I cannot give the story more than 5.5, it was like a hidden mirror into a child's imagination, it possessed nothing worth mentioning and the more it progressed the more predictable and foolish it became. I bare warning for you who watch anime in obscurity - to find something great, this is not for you. However if you love anime for anime's sake, this is a product of what you've seen before many times. It is basically Kenshin + Naruto combined, except a lot shorter than both and far less tedious.

Animation: 5.7/10

I didn't mind it, that being said it lacked creativity and at times was very misleading - when the anime started becoming Mecha I didn't know what to expect. Perhaps if they had chosen something more creative instead of something so overused and completely out of place then I would not have been so confused and embarrassed. The characters were stuffed full of clichés - even those with fantasy elements to them. Girls with cute ears and tails, hardened warriors with a scar down their eye and so on. I would have liked to see some creativity, it could have been used to make the world more believable and also be more interesting and unique had they not rushed to use the established norms.

Sound: 6/10

While OP grew tiresome, ED was very nice and I listened to it after almost every episode - a rare occurrence in my experience with anime. The OST was quite alright, in the latter half of the anime it became quite noticeable and added some much needed tension in circumstances which could have been boring without music's aid. The seiryuu were also cliché, the dialogue never surprised me and the delivery of that dialogue was uninteresting. While it cannot be doubted that as usual, the standard was acceptable there comes a time where acceptable is not something to be proud of; when there are so many animes with amazing performances. Special mention to Dii's voice actor who I thought was very good and actually surprised me. 

Characters: 5.5/10

Cliché after cliché, no character really interested me and while some of them became quite likeable for me, they don't deserve a high rating at all. The relationship between Hakuoro and Eruru was thoroughly predictable from beginning to end, while I was happy it gave closure (i hate it when animes don't) it was still tedious to watch. Every characters feelings were very simplistic and uninteresting, I did not appreciate how much I could predict. This is to say that the characters played just as large a part as the story line in the simplicity of the anime. However like in most animes, the characters were very likeable and they will make you laugh along with them. Feel their joy and their sadness but that wasn't enough for me. My ratings are generous and if I were to correctly compare them to the other anime i've watched, I'd give this section a 2-3.

Overall: 5.7/10

I don't regret watching this anime despite knowing that it will fade from memory very quickly. I would watch this over most of the trash I see on TV any day but my standard for what I bother to watch is pretty high although i feel like that's starting to drop. As I said before, this anime is not a failure but it doesn't succeed anywhere. It is utterly ordinary and very shounen. If you enjoyed animes such as Bleach, Naruto, Kenshin and etc, you will probably enjoy this. If you are just looking to waste your life but with a smile on your face, perhaps you will enjoy it too. For me, I believe my time could have been better spent on a different anime but I am not conceited enough to say it was not worth my time. It was relaxing and slightly enjoyable - although the mecha and scientists in a world of swords and arrows was slightly unnerving. 

5.5/10 story
5.7/10 animation
6/10 sound
5.5/10 characters
5.7/10 overall
PhdInCartoons's avatar
Feb 27, 2013

Story

Very good, full of struggles and intrigue. It is definitely not what you would expect given its roots. Some of the twists aren't such much twist as big leaps. If you can forgive this then the storyline is actually quite good 

 

Animation

Nice but it is let down by the large battle sequences. At some stages the CGI used to creat the larger batle sequences is noticably bad, very noticable. It gets a little better but you want them to be over as soon as possible. The normal animation is very well done and feels very slick and it copes with action sequences many times better.   

 

Sound

The music is a nice accompaniment to the story, and is suitably sweeping and grand. The voicing is nothing special

 

Characters

The characters are well formed and very likeable if a little tried-and-tested. The 'character-twists' are very far from it as you see them coming a mile off. They are good but no new ground is broken with anyone.

 

Overall

Worth a watch, good fighting sequences and some good dramatic sections. Enjoyable. 

8/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
0 0 this review is Funny Helpful
Epimondas's avatar
Dec 28, 2015

It may not be apparent at first by *** Potential Spoiler*** but by the time the series ends you might recognize an all too familiar theme but with a few slight twists.  In a nutshell, this is sort of  a cross between "Planet of the Apes" with Charlton Heston and "The Island of Dr. Moureau" with Charles Laughton.  Though in another sense there might also be a slight touch of "The Time Machine" by H.G. Wells.  In each case the basic premise is the same, this is in fact Earth but evolved some thousands or perhaps millions of years later after the humans familiar to us had apparently irradiated the world with a costly nuclear war and had resorted to living underground while working to develop by brutal inhuman experimentation, a new breed of humans that could survive on the surface that had somehow changed.  It does not say that it is still irradiated and given that life and plants can and do exist, that is unlikely what the problem is.  So instead it appears the war changed the atmosphere in such a way that humans could not survive on it the way they were.  This arrogance led them to discover an ancient human, who himself had been a biological scientist of some kind thousands or more years before the post war humans discovered him.  In the distant past, Hakuro was himself a scientist who was betrayed and murdered by a collegue who selfishly wanted to keep a certain discovery secret by any means necessary.  This artifact in a sense comes to life and saves him by somehow giving him its power or merging with him (since it does not say exactly how this was accomplished, I can only speculate several possibilities).  It is the same type of story seen in all three listed above with a few differences here and there.  There are many similarities among all three stories such as: all happen at least in part, some time in the distant future; in all three some sort of global catastrophie like a war befell most of if not all of the world; in all three some sort of change occured to the remaining humans as was necessary or in the case of the Planet of the apes, something they created carried on their legacy but forgot their origin; all three dealt with the extremes humans went to to experiment on life for the 'so-called' sake of human survival and/or evolution; all three let one rational normal man step in and try to act as the voice of reason for all humanity only to be attacked and forced to rebel and or defend the experiments.  I do not know if one or more of the stories were the inspiration but it sure seems highly likely their influence somehow may have gotten included.  There are a few others that have similar themes or stories and those are usually themselves inspired by one or more of the stories listed above.  *** Potential Spoiler***

Most of the characters are if not developed well at least there is some attention into developing them at all while others like Yuzuha has very little to no development.  In Yuzuha's case, it would seem her condition alone is some sort of short cut lethargic pretext to creating sympathy for her and perhaps give them an easy automatic character with whom they would not need to develop at all to create a story dynamic and relationship to other characters.  It does not work. I have seen minor characters in very short stories with far more depth, complexity, and development than what they gave her.   Honestly, other than the prerecruitment arc, Benawi does not have alot of development either but at least you have a fair idea about him.  Dori and Gura maybe the least developed of the all as we learn pretty much nothing about them other than: they follow Oboros; call Oboros lord; are good with bows; are twins; and like Oboros.  Kurou has a bit more going on with him as a great fleshed out character than with Benawi.  Perhaps it is because the story rushes from one war to the next but even with that, I know of stories that still had time to fully fill out characters such as Outlaws of the Marsh, Three Kingdoms, any book by Dupuy, and even Robin Hood by Howard Pyle.

This theme has been tried many times and pretty much each time it worked pretty well.  I have listed at least 3 major stories with very similar situations which may very likely have been at least in part the source of inspiration for this one as the similarities are a bit heavy handed to outright dismiss.  Regardless of the story's origin or inspiration, it was very well done even though there are a few things that could have been addressed such as, was Haruko the same type of humanoid as the dog like people? Bunny People? or bird People? or cat people? It doesn't seem like it yet this never seems to manifest in any significant way that makes any sense.  I do not really care for the ending all that much because it is something I see too often in anime that it is practically a cliche and I prefer a bit more originality.  Plus the ending sort of severely limits what can be done and how it can be done and somewhat can negatively affect the main characters given the kind of relationship had to have existed for that kind of ending to occur.

7.8/10 story
8.3/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
8.8/10 characters
8.3/10 overall
0 0 this review is Funny Helpful
HarioSagara's avatar
Nov 9, 2011

   What the heck is the deal with this dude in a mask!?! That's what you'll be asking yourself throughout the anime. Underneath the storyline of the characters striving to create a new nation free from war is the hidden story of a masked man's forgotten past. Utawarerumono is an entertaining anime that would be enjoyable for a variety of audiences, definetely something worth watching for any anime buff. Including a great cast of interesting characters, epic battle scenes and a good amount of humor this anime gets good marks in almost every area.

   Story Although it has at times a seemingly intricate story, the anime taken as a whole feels like it is intended for a younger audience, under 15 or so, which may turn off older viewers. This anime could be said to have to storylines. One storyline being that of the emerging nation of Tusukuru and the other being the story of Hakuoro, a man suffering from amnesia whose past comes back to haunt him. The story of Tusukuru is interesting, starting from a small tribe that starts a rebellion and becoming a nation that rivals all that surround it. Hakuoro's personal storyline about his missing past does have a mysterious element to it, but at times it really doesn't make sense and how he got to where he was.

   Animation was nothing too spectacular. Some of the fight scenes were pretty cool, but in general the animation seemed geared towards a younger audience. That being said it was still good character designs and good battle scenes.

   Great Sound and a good soundtrack adds an adventurous tone to this anime that makes it that much more exciting.

   The Characters are really what gives this anime it's appeal. From the saki loving, giant blade wielding Karura to the shy, mischeivious little girl Aruru with her giant tiger friend, this anime has a wide variety of likeable characters. Hakuoro pulls together an interesting group of followers, a large amount of them being strong fighters, including his personal guard a strong swordswoman from an honorable clan, Touka.

   An awesome anime with an intricate story, Utawarerumono is an anime worth watching. It also features an awesome cast of characters that do some incredible things. The only downside is the anime feels like it's meant for a young audience, but it's still a great anime.

7.5/10 story
7/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
8/10 characters
7/10 overall
0 0 this review is Funny Helpful