Shoujo-ai with a dollop of confusion and whimsy
Not what I was expecting, but still solid. That's probably the first idea that comes to mind when I think of YamiBou. There was a lot going on here, this review will probably be a bit choppy (and long) but bear with me. So let's start with what I was expecting (and what anybody would've expected after watching the 1st ep)... What I was expecting was a typical one-sided shoujo-ai love story that eventually evolves into a two-sided relationship. But this is not at all the focus of this series. Hatsuki and Hatsumi's actual relationship is only in the forefront for maybe 2 half eps outside of the 1st ep. Obviously this is the sole motivating factor, but the majority of this series consists of Hatsuki's journey to find Hatsumi after she mysteriously vanishes. Basically, I don't mind giving a little bit of backstory here because otherwise it would be impossible to understand the series anyway. Very quickly you find out that Hatsumi is actually Eve, an omnipotent being that goes from universe to universe (leaving on her 16th birthday) making a profound impact on each one she visits; always leaving things better than she found it. That's really vague, but if I went into any more detail I'd probably confuse myself to be honest. The full backstory is a very complex and I think clever play on the story of Adam and Eve and the creation of man. I definitely wish this backstory was more integrated and developed into the series itself. Frankly I think this should've been a 24 ep series anyway which I'll get to more later. So as far as the overarching story of this anime goes, it's not great. Hatsuki and Hatsumi's relationship is certainly compelling, but it's not well-developed. The progression seems rushed since as I've already alluded to this is not the main focus of the series. But to put a positive spin on this, in spite of the fact that it's not in direct focus for the majority of the series, Hatsuki and Hatsumi's relationship is very compelling, absolutely. But now I'd like to take some time and talk about the little subplots that drive the majority of the series. The structure of this series is that of a collection of interrelated (some more directly, some more indirectly) short stories, each of which take place in a different universe. Ordinarily in this scenario I would give a brief outline of each short story, but we're not talking 3 or 4 in this series (more like 1 per ep with exceptions) so I won't go that far, just some highlights. First, the story of little Miruka (eps 6-7). You've seen this story before: little innocent girl, has some sort of disease (not the case here, she just can't age), asks a lot of questions which makes the main character look introspectively on him/herself. Like I said, you've seen it before, but it always works. A really compelling story, also does well to show Hatsuki's soft side, so a good "climax" to the series. I use quotes because it's not a true climax, just a highly enthralling mini-story that happens to occur in the middle of the series. Also, this seemed like a quasi Golden Compass parody (what with the white tiger and all) which was interesting. But the best short story is believe-it-or-not the one that was not in the original eroge (of which the anime is based). **Warning mini-rant** And before you insist that was a sarcastic remark, think again. Some eroge do indeed have very compelling stories (exhibit A, Yume Miru Kusuri). It would be a fool's game to claim this as the majority, but the exceptions cannot be ignored. Eroge is certainly held to a higher standard than hen in my mind. So don't dog it till you've tried it as they say. **End of mini-rant** Now that I've blown off some steam, I can continue. The original-to-the-anime short story is a quasi-parody of the Gundam series (eps 10-11). This subplot takes place on a colonization ship which has been searching for 200 yrs for a habitable planet. Presumably recently, all the adults on the ship became "immobilized." This leads to a very powerful and eerie scene in which Reira (the female centerpiece of this universe) is speaking to her mother and she is completely unaware of the fact that her mother is long dead. Lastly, with regards to the plot, is the ending. After ep 12, I feared that YamiBou would blow the ending. Fortunately, this wasn't really the case. The ending wasn't great, but for the most part it was appropriate. I definitely appreciated that there was some sense of resolution for Hatsuki, the whole play on the Virgin Mary was definitely over my head, and the scene where Lilith (Ririsu in my sub) and Eve are suggestively laying head to crotch with each other just threw me (though this wasn't the only could've-been-hen moment of the series). That concludes the story/plot portion of the review (don't worry the rest is brief). The animation is textbook, and commendable I would think for something that came out in 2003. As far as the sound, the BGM is adequate, the OP I quite like, and the ED is terrible. So now we come to the characters. Hatsuki is far and away the best. She's both badass and has a deep emotional profile. The other character I'd like to note is Ken-chan. This fat little bird provides consistently hilarious comic relief to the series. The last thing I'd like to briefly bring up as I mentioned earlier, is that YamiBou probably should have been a full 24 eps. This series is overshadowed by its backstory. If not for the little paragraph on the backstory provided by most fansubs, anyone would be totally lost watching this series. Let's face it, even with this paragraph I was still lost at times with the story. There's so much more content they could have explored, they could have properly developed Hatsuki and Hatsumi's relationship (which in turn would probably yield a more satisfying ending). And if nothing else, they could have further developed Hatsuki's character since she really had the potential to be phenomenal. But all in all, as it stands, YamiBou is good-not-great series. The unconventional storytelling is clever and handled with grace, but still sparks a good deal of confusion and you shudder to call this a true romance anime. Nonetheless, worth watching for a change of pace, 6.5 out of 10.
I'm not gonna do a super long professional review. Anyways I found this anime interesting. Many people complained about how confusing it is. I really didn't mind the confusions. It kept me entertained thats all there is to it. Although the ending is a bit eh.
- Animation is done by a team of retarded monkeys called studio DEEN. They almost always screw up badly in whatever they produce and this is yet another case.
- Directing is done by Yamaguchi Yuuji, who has produced nothing but bad series and mediocrities. Just to give you an idea of how bad he is, his best work is the adaptation of Fate/Stay Night. Exactly, he is that bad.
- Based on an erotic game by some minor company. Yeah, it’s a story you watch to masturbate.
- There’s this famous series of point & click videogames called Mist. The protagonist enters the worlds in books, where he seeks something.
- There’s this series of manga and anime called Tsubasa Chronicles. The protagonist travels to parallel worlds looking for something.
- There is Revolutionary Girl Utena, an artistic anime full of lesbos looking for something.
* Stir all three in a bowl with lesser production values and duller pacing, and the result is Yami to Bushi to Ho… Man, the title is long. I will just call it Tabibito.
So Tabibito is the adaptation of a lesbo game that created a sensation when it was new because of its weird premise and setting. It is not just about yuri and it is also about an adventure to numerous realities as means to find the girl the heroine loves. Combined with some really weird character designs it just looks too weird to the point it is memorable just for that.
On the other hand it is not exactly what one would call an enjoyable series. Being memorable is one thing, being enjoyable is another. To put it simply, it is like the opposite of your average harem. No, I don’t mean a reverse harem, I mean it is not your typical “watch once, laugh, and forget” show. It is basically a “Wow, what the heck I am watching” type, which in a way it is better than the alternative.
The story is separated into arcs with little to none relation to one another, jumping almost randomly from one time period to another; a thing which can be annoying to people who like on going stories. You do learn a few things around how the world works in each case but in effect you get stand alone missions of… nothingness. And by that I mean there is very little going on in terms of action or plot, and even less in terms of revelations. And speaking of revelations… ok half the time I didn’t even understand the terminology. And when I did, I was more like “So what is the point of all this in a girl’s search to find another girl?” And the answer is simply “Because it looks cool.”
And that is basically the only attraction in the show, the fact that it keeps feeling mysterious around things that in the longrun are useless to the core theme. So there is a library full of worlds and the librarian there is looking for the person that connects them all, and they go all over the place to talk to and antagonize various people. It happens in a very confusing and slow manner to the point that you are no longer watching for the story but for the mood of the story.
The mood can only be backed up by the production values, which in this case are closer to weird than well made. There isn’t super awesome symbolic artwork in it but super weird imagery. Heck, even the characters are drawn with strange proportions and weird clothes. As for the music part, the songs are moody as well but nothing overall impressive, and the voice acting ok for its context; although I never was a fan of chipmunk squeaky voices.
The characters are nothing but basic yuri material thrown in a confusing setting of dimensional jumping. The three main girls are colorized and slightly developed but eventually you will be watching this not for them but for the yuri fan service, and the weird atmosphere. All secondary characters may as well be decorations as they are ephemeral and are never seen past their arc; a thing which eventually makes the main characters’ development go unnoticed next to the yuri/setting.
So is it a good series? If you belong to people who like the premise and the mood of a show more than its pacing or directing, then yes. Otherwise, this will be a wtf watch at best you will forever remember as something different but not good. There is very little chances you will ever rewatch it since it is only meant to confuse you with a weird setting that have very loose plot continuity and a hook of a more than typical yuri subtext.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (bizarre)
Character Figures 2/2 (bizarre)
Backgrounds 1/2 (basic)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (bizarre)
SOUND SECTION: 5/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 1/4 (squeaks are not my thing)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (loose)
Complexity 2/2 (a lot)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 4/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 1/2 (typical)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (none)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch)
Memorability 3/4 (weird enough to remember it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Art 1/1 (looks weird)
Sound 0/2 (sounds meh)
Story 1/3 (interesting ideas but badly presented)
Characters 0/4 (they are stereotypes)