Yakumo was a series that was fairly okay. It was hardly the most gripping series I've ever watched, and I'll probably look back on my brief escapade with Yakumo and company with a small smile. It was enjoyable, but hardly one of my favourites.
I don't think the writing was particularly good on this show; it certainly was quite inconsistent. Sure, Yakumo was a mysterious character, and the villains (more to come on them later) had a certain je ne sais quoi. (By that, I mean: Que diable!) At least most of the characters got a happy ending though, although the ending really did end in a small sputtering Catherine wheel rather than going out with a bang.
Once the mystery of the antagonists and Yakumo himself was sort of concluded, there was very little reason to continue and getting through each episode became more and more of a slog.
Oh, so that creepy silver-haired guy who always wears sunglasses and a black raincoat is Yakumo's father, and a ghost? Got to admit, he's pretty hilarious. Every time the poor sap raises his arms, lightning seems to strike...
And... ooh, is the woman who's always with him Yakumo's mother? No? Ooh, a red herring! She's actually some girl called Miyuki who murdered her entire family 15 years ago and then pinned it on Yakumo's mother's fiancé at the time? Also, she uses a taser. A lot. (Miyuki used Thundershock! It's super-effective!) And she sings a strange English variation of London Bridge is Falling Down a lot! Maybe she could duet with Sebastian and Drocell from Black Butler?~
Well, that's cool, but after finding out about these characters... there's three more episodes to go, surely there's a little bit more? Do I have to watch three or four more episodes now there's less of the mystery?
Yakumo also didn't really have much in the way of characters. Well, there were quite a few, but they weren't the most complex or impressive of people, nor did they ever stray into doing anything interesting. Haruka was your typical cheery yet reserved girl trying to be friends with Yakumo, who was no Sherlock Holmes, and whose harsh and rude exterior never really merited any sympathy, even when you got to learn about his past. Ishi was quite sweet, Nao was adorable, and Goto thankfully proved to be more than just an angry cop. Makoto and whatever-her-name-was who worked high up in the police department were also compelling characters, despite not showing up that much.
I wasn't a big fan of the villains (characters that I normally love), as must be obvious by now, and found that they inhabited a strange grey area where they were complete monsters yet never really achieved much than being pushed onto the scene at the end of several episodes to cartoonishly laugh at Yakumo's futile attempts and wax lyrical about how they want to ruin his life.
The animation in this show was alright, but that's not saying much. The scenes containing the more fluid animation were average at best, and I counted quite a lot of stills, and scenes in which nothing moved except the characters' lips. The character designs were also quite bland, using a palette of washed-out colours that barely stood out in the daylight scenes and just went to an almost murky grey in the night-time scenes. The animation studio, Bee Train, are known for their mediocrity, having put out 'meh' series such as Spider Riders and Avenger, with okay-ish output such as Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles and the Batman: Gotham Knight OVAs, and I suppose you could put Yakumo in with those two.
Oh, goodness, another point to add: the background music in this show sucks. It really does. The OP is great, I love the tribal-ish instrumentation and Daisuke Ono's lovely singing voice, and Lisa Komine does a good job on the ED. But there is nothing memorable about the background music. =( Which is sad, because music often makes or breaks a series. I'm a nitpicker like that, I suppose.
For having an okay plot, a good opening and ending song, and alright pacing once you got past the fairly boring first few episodes, I give it props. But unfortunately, I'm going to have to subtract points from Yakumo because the characters were quite dull and for an anime made in 2010, the animation and soundtrack just isn't quite up to scratch. I liked Yakumo, but on a more objective scale, I'm not going to give credit where credit isn't due, so it gets 5/10.
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