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Shadow Star Narutaru Review

by: sothis
December 31, 2004

story 7.5/10

Shadow Star Narutaru screenshot It should be said that regardless of the description, Narutaru has two very distinct sections to it (that aren't really integrated at all, for that matter). The first 7-8 episodes revolve around Shiina and Akira with their dragonets, and the web of destruction and death they are drawn into because of them. Sound dark? IT IS. What's funny is that the first episode makes you think something totally different. I watched episode 1 and remember coming away from it thinking this would be a light series, perhaps slice of life. In the episode, Shiina finds Hoshimaru on the beach, and that's about it. Unfortunately for her, it just goes downhill from there. This section of the series is incredibly violent and messed up, in more ways than one. We see tons of death (in gruesome ways), but the main thing that makes it disturbing is the contrast of how the characters (and dragonets) look in comparison to how incredibly evil they are. Think Alien Nine -- the monsters looked VERY cute, but also were incredibly destructive and cruel when used for evil purposes. We see a cute flower looking dragonet flying through the air with a cute expression, that then destroys planes, impales people, etc. I really think that's what makes Narutaru so disturbing: you are disarmed by the appearances of the characters.

Anyways, the last few episodes COMPLETELY switch gears (a terrible transition, I might add) and become a schoolkid drama of sorts, except very messed up. It mainly involves one particular girl who is friends with Shiina, a girl who is bullied incredibly for being smart. I will say that episode 12 is easily THE MOST MESSED UP EPISODE I have *ever* seen, out of any series or movie, including real movies. There are actually two really horrible scenes in this episode. Prior to watching this, I remember when episode 12 was viewed by the general public, and everyone kept freaking out about how shocking it was. When I watched it, I saw the first of the two things (which is horrible as it is), and thought "oh wow, that's what they were talking about". Little did I know that there was a second and absolutely horrifying event that had yet to happen! The series ends, well, without an end, and leaves you feeling very unsatisfied. Supposedly it only covers a small bit of the manga.

animation 7.5/10

You know, many people complained about the character designs of Narutaru, but I enjoyed them. Rather than designing way-too-endowed high school (or even grade school) students, who are all beauty queens, Narutaru opted for the more natural look. Lanky kids who don't have huge chests, and in general, are just, normal. They definitely did tend to have a fairly anorexic look, but most kids do tend to be on the thinner side at age 11 or so. Animation-wise, I really enjoyed the colors and imagery used, even in the super violent parts. The dragonets were especially stunning. Bright, vivid colors were used for pretty much everything, which made it interesting to watch visually. The violence scenes were especially.. violent, with many of the excessive scenes being fairly censored or shown at a strange angle, so the full force wasn't viewable. In general, I think the animation of Narutaru was a strong point.

sound 7/10

The intro song, as mentioned before, really does nothing to show you how insanely demented this series is. Most of the rest of the music is very mood-oriented, and fitting. The (few) happy times, upbeat and fun music was played. During the tense/violent scenes, the feel of the music was very eerie and chilling. Definitely stayed in the background, but was still noticable... which is a plus in my book. The voice acting was fine for everyone.

characters 8/10

The two main characters of the series are Shiina and Akira. For both, we see into their pasts and understand why they act the way we do, and thus, there was character development. In addition to them, we are introduced to other more evil characters that truly come across as chilling, to say the least. For the first 7-8 episodes, there are a number of "bad kids" who control the evil dragonets. These kids are KIDS, just like Shiina and Akira, and yet they display such cruelty. There are a number of relationships that are going on, many extremely dysfunctional, and in general the characters are very disarming, just like the animation style. One of the evil characters in particular comes across like ice... he is nice to Akira and Shiina, but we know how devious and downright scary he is. Behind the scenes, he causes a great deal of devastation and loss of human lives.

The relationships in the second part of the series are even more disturbing, because we see a poor young girl who doesn't know what to do. She's chastised by her parents if she doesn't get perfect scores on all her assignments and tests, yet she answers questions wrong on purpose so she isn't beaten up and ridiculed by all of the HORRIBLY cruel kids at school. Two kids in particular, a girl and her brother, are the ringleaders of the abuse, and you definitely end up hating them.

In general, the characters are chilling and disarming, and very well done in my opinion.

overall 7.5/10

This rating was really hard to give. If it wasn't for the fact that this has no ending and resolves nothing (since it, like many others, is the intro to the manga), and/or the really heavy violence/messed up scenes near the end, I would have given this series a very high score. I like things that seem wrong or are "bad". I like crazy amounts of violence with weird monster/robot looking things. I like beautiful animation with bright colors and different character design. But Narutaru is something you probably should only watch once, and then will be too disturbed to watch it again. ;)

It is unfortunate, I think, that things like this make you need to read the manga... because I don't like having to do that (and I don't). For those of you that are manga readers, perhaps you wouldn't mind watching this so much, since you can see where it leaves off.

In general, I think this is a good watch, but ONLY for people who are OK with seeing very disturbing things, like watching dark/really violent/lots of death series, and/or are sick in the head. (I must be the latter ;) )

Check it out, just be forewarned...

Anime Info

While visiting her grandparents on a remote island, Shiina Tamai, our young protagonist, inadvertently finds a strange star shaped creature, which she names Hoshimaru. This creature, while seemingly harmless and unusual, holds many secrets. As Shiina and her new friend Akira soon find out, their creatures are much more than they seem to be...and against their will, they are thrown into a dangerous and hostile situation of trying to save the world from others who would use their dragonets to enslave it.


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About the Author

sothis's avatar

sothis

My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

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comments

Lews avatar Lews
Nov 14, 2011

Great and fair review. I haven't seen the anime, but the manga ranked very high on my "unexectedly awesome" list.  It felt more emotionally engaging and intelligent than other "cute shit with blood"-mangas I've read. It felt real in a way few manga do.

Ohno avatar Ohno
Feb 23, 2011

not bad of a show. but a little much too slow-paced for my taste

Ghosty avatar Ghosty
May 25, 2010

Just watched this and i must say you hyped the anime up a lot. It's not bad as you say, i found it to be not violent at all, just the ending. Also if episode 12 was the most messed up thing you've seen then you haven't seen anything at all :P I agree with you on the most parts of your review though, I really enjoyed this series and I would want more of it :{ Guess i'll continue with this in the manga.

Ghosty avatar Ghosty
Apr 23, 2010

This has got to be the weirdest thing I have ever heard....

TakuraX avatar TakuraX
Feb 10, 2010

It would have been awesome if the anime continued with how far and disturbing the manga gets, but it would have been banned, just like an entire volume of the manga is banned it the US.  In my opinion, the anime is very mild in contrast to how far the manga went. Still a good watch (and a good read if you can find a uncut version of the manga)

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