|04-16-2008, 11:32 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Warabi-shi, Saitama-ken, Japan
Synopsis, screenshots, and recommendations ~ Add recommendations
Discuss the completed anime or post full reviews here. Post format and full rules can be found here.
Story and Characters
In the mysterious city of Otomo, bizarre murders have been happening by what the rumors call a skull man. As a result, the city is under strict martial law, and you need permission to enter. In comes Mikogami Hayato, a tabloid reporter based out of Tokyo who is originally from Otomo, who wants to learn about the murders whose latest victim is a famous actress. While on the train, he meets a mysterious girl named Mamiya Kiriko who specializes in photography and helps her illegally enter the city, and he also meets a detective who has other goals in relation to the case. Throughout the first episode, we learn smeo of Hayatoís background such as his adopted fatherís connections to the big names in the city, which gives him special privileges in certain times throughout the show. We also get to learn about some of Hayatoís other friends such as Yoshio, who is now a priest at the church he stayed at prior to being adopted, and some of Hayatoís former colleagues at the orphanage.
During his first night back in his hometown, the rumors of the Skull man finally become true when he sees a man running, become a monster, and is attacked by other monsters who are under the lead of the Skull man. However, the police still write it off as a myth and now a detective is assigned to trail Hayato. As the series progresses, Hayato and Kiriko start to learn more about the past of the town and who could the Skull man be, and also learn about our two co-leads in unveiling the mystery of the Skull man.
Well, this is based on an old manga by the legendary Ishinomori Shotaro, which would later pave way for Kamen Rider. Despite that, it is very much different from that series. The Skull man is a background character shrouded in mystery as well as why people turn into monsters. The anime is very slow if you donít give it much attention, it isnít really action oriented and emphasizes more on cracking the case, and yet defining what true evil is and covers a lot of philosophical and social issues on a local to international level such as corruption in relation to martial law and organized religion. It takes awhile to really develop the characters but the wait is worth it. Because some of the main characters are adults at a certain age, the only thing they have left to develop is a defining moment in their life that will define their respective careers or something like that. But if you give it your full attention, it will be fast and you will be fascinated at the plot twists and resolutions it delivers, and how it loosely connects to another creation of Ishinomori-sensei. Due to the nature of this anime being mystery and suspense, I really donít want to give away much because I believe this is one of those things you really have to watch which I give a 9.25/10.
Art and Animation
What kind of disappointed me about this anime is that very little of the character design is faithful to the style of Ishinomori-sensei like how the recent Cyborg 009 was, but there are some that obviously are faithful at specific times. He had this distinct way of drawing that further helped define what anime and manga is today, and I felt a large portion of that was absent and that a majority of the design didnít really come across as distinguishing. Maybe itís a modern day interpretation to his art style, I donít know, but I felt that Ishinomori-sensei should have been owed that much. However, some of the design of later characters are also very unique and faithful to his art style, but once again, thatíd be a spoiler and I donít want to get into that too much since it relates to that other creation he did.
On the other hand, I loved the monster design and the design of the Skull man himself. You can easily tell that not only just story wise, but in an artistic sense, how this paved way for Kamen Rider such as his fondness of motorcycles, the scarf, and the martial arts action that is present in certain times. The action is exciting and intense and it picks up in the 2nd half of the series. Itís high octane but not excessively over the top or ridiculous, clichť, or cheesy like in tokusatsu. However, it is quite bloody, but not necessarily gory like in the recent Rambo film.
What I also found very unique is that even though some of the vehicles and the architecture are very modern, they still use some old fashioned items such as audio tapes and records to represent some feeling of the old school influence and to probably give the viewer a possible sense in time it could take place in. I also liked when they showed vehicles, it was in the cel-shading style that the recent Initial D seasons and Wangan Midnight uses and it blends very excellently. So personally, I have to give the art and animation an 8.5/10.
Music and Voice Acting
One of the best traits this anime has is its soundtrack. I love the opening theme sung by the band Tokio. It is really intense as well as the scenery in the song. But I felt that because it is nearly 40 years old, I felt that some of the soundtrack could have been a little old school with the use of the instruments. But the music for the most part is very dark and eerie and gives a noir and horror like feel to the show. The ending theme I felt was kind of out place with this anime though it is a nice song. I felt it belonged more in a shoujo anime that a graphic and cerebral one like this. In the same way, I guess you can say it felt out of place like the ending theme in Elfen Lied though they are still good songs.
Hayato, the main character is played by Yasumura Makoto. I really donít know much about him. But I thought he did a great job as a tabloid reporter who knows how to get his scoop. He can be funny, and he can be serious. And Kiriko is played by Kawasumi Ayako, who plays Natsuki in Initial D. Her voice in this role in comparison to Natsuki is more childish and higher pitched. In addition to these two, the cast has some pretty big names. Like Tomokazu Seki, who played a lot of roles such as Miyata from Hajime no Ippo and Kenichi from Historyís Strongest Disicple Kenichi plays the detective assigned to follow Hayato. In comparison to his other roles, he sounds a whole lot more gruffy which I felt was awkward for his high pitched voice, but later got accustomed to it and further expands his talents. And further elaborating who is in this anime and who plays who is another spoiler which I donít want to get into and feel you should watch it and I give the music and voice acting, a 9/10.
Even though this paved way for Kamen Rider, donít expect Kamen Rider. In comparison, this series is much darker, gruesome, and more though provoking, but doesnít really try to mess with your head. I really want to explain the nature of Skull manís character, but itís very difficult for me to say in this review because this is truly an anime I want you to see for yourself, and I hope you watch this with high expectations that this is truly something unique and distinctive. It is very engagingly philosophical with very effective unpredictability, and exciting action. It has many themes that everybody can relate to or reflect upon which is why I give this an overall 9/10.
Be sure to check out: www.youtube.com/hajimenojmo and his top 50 anime at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kngwg5N5APw
Last edited by rockenroll4life; 10-01-2008 at 11:33 PM.