Every high school has at least one female Goth student, but apparently these girls are not born with the Goth mindset. In fact, Yamato offers a great explanation for the appearance of a Goth persona: all it takes is for a guy to tell a nice girl (who probably happens to like him) that she is ugly, and oh by the way, he wants nothing to do with her. This negative response from the guy will consequently send the girl into a downward spiral of introversion, obsession with mannequins, skulls, horror films, and all things dark.
The above events underscore Sunako’s transformation from a sweet middle school girl into a terrifying high school Goth chick, who emits a strange purplish-black aura and frequently gets mistaken for something inhuman. The four high school boys living with Sunako’s aunt are charged with transforming Sunako into a lady in exchange for free rent; they figure the task will be an easy one, only to find that Sunako is far too scary to deal with, let alone transform into a princess.
Despite the initial setup focusing on the desire to transform Sunako, the series is more about day to day events involving Sunako and the boys, with sporadic attempts to change Sunako, which always, and I stress always, end in failure. So, to put it bluntly, there is not much of a story at all, more of a series of interactions between Sunako, the boys, and their peers. Which begs the question: why bother introducing the prospect of transformation when the series only weakly and inconsistently evokes that plotline? Granted, it provides an opportunity for the frequent “The Path to Becoming a Lady” shorts within the series, but it does not make sense that that the series was set up in one way (for the boys to transform Sunako), while the show played itself out in an entirely different manner.
Could a series be any more chibi? Although I’m sure it could, the amount of chibi in this series tested my patience. Sunako, who is supposed to be a crazy Goth girl, constantly appears chibi-fied; this representation really contradicts the idea that she is perceived by her peers as hideous and terrifying, and it drove me crazy to say the least.
The animation in Yamato is nothing special, and really, it does not need to be since often the characters are chibi or drawn in outline form to depict their surprise, terror, or any other cliché emotion that one could think of. On the plus side, the series contrasts light and dark hues depending on which side of Sunako has graced the scene with her presence.
Forgettable comes to mind when I hear the opening of Yamato. Not that it is bad, but nothing really makes the song stand out. It did not help that the end theme outshined the opening; I prefer a strong opening theme to start the show off on a good note, so to speak.
The voice acting helped keep this series afloat, especially the portrayal of Sunako’s many personas – from brooding to shy, explosive to calmly submissive, Sunako’s voice brings depth to her character, and allowed me to (for the most part) get past the chibi representation.
The best phrase I can think of to describe the characters in Yamato is “all over the place.” I was sorely disappointed by the lack of depth of the main characters of Yamato, especially since I had just finished watching Ouran High School Host Club; Ouran has more main characters than Yamato, but the character development of Yamato pales in comparison. The boys are pretty much typecast into their four personas: the playboy, the smart one, the girly one, and the “dazzling creature” (as Sunako puts it); the series does not provide much extra insight into the boys. Additionally, it seemed as though the writers realized the poor development and overcompensated by cramming in as much information about the major characters in the back third or so of the series.
Surprisingly, the minor characters complemented their major counterparts well. In particular, the antics of Sunako’s aunt were a pleasant addition to the story; her unexpected and often overly dramatic entrances and exits were something I looked forward to during the series. Only one set of minor characters really seemed to detract from the show – the four girls known as the “Goth-Loli” sisters. I enjoy random funny/strange stuff, and some people may view the “Goth-Loli” sisters as just a random sideshow. However, in my mind, I’m not sure what purpose they served since their presence was a poor attempt at comic relief (do you need comic relief in a comedy series?), and they do not provide a stark contrast with the “normal” school girls since Sunako already exemplifies the dark, outcast persona.
I picked up this series after watching Ouran High School Host Club since so many people recommended it; I can only say that while Yamato is not terrible, it leaves something to be desired since I have not laughed nearly as much at Yamato compared with Ouran, and the characters in Yamato are somehow not as loveable as the mischievous host club members. Yamato has many elements that make it appealing; it just does not reach its full potential. Initially, I kept debating whether to drop this series, but stuck with it because each episode would have at least one line or one scene that was pretty decent and led me to believe the series was going to get better. In the end, I’m glad I finished the series, but it would have been much better if the beginning had started on pace with the latter portion of the series.