- Animated by studio Madhouse, the king of anime studios, so it looks nice.
- Directed by Koujina Hiroshi, someone with a most unimpressive roster (Grenadier, Kiba, Nougami Neuro). Ok, his latest work on the remake of Hunter x Hunter is not bad but he surely is not a guy you will look forward to see.
- Based on the story by some nobodies who never had any other of their works adapted.
Rainbow could have been a great social drama if it was serious about what it is about and didn’t aim for cheap plot twists that dumb it down to almost mediocrity. It is still an above average show for its quirky dark atmosphere yet it did the mistake of adding lots of immature elements instead of remaining a serious drama show for the mature audience. Could it be an attempt to sell to a broader audience? Based on the opinions most have about it, it worked for those accustomed to silly shows (the majority) and not for those who are sophisticated snobs (the minority). Most saw something that isn’t about lolis and ecchi and superpowers and cheery colors for a change and immediately liked it for standing out a bit more. So sure, it worked appeal-wise by sacrificing elegance. Though I’m not going easy on it for this.
In a nutshell, Rainbow is about a bunch of Shonen characters thrown in a dark Seinen setting. We have this group of positive-thinking idealistic boys sent to a prison run by sadistic assholes for reasons that sound harsh today but excused in a world were fear and hatred have taken over. From the get-go, the story is trying to lure the audience with a huge contrast; having extreme child innocence pitting with extreme cruel reality. This gimmick works all the time as the majority of fans goggle up anything that has to do with children suffering.
So anyways, the plot is basically about watching how these boys are constantly tormented by their cruel society and how they cope with it by remaining true to their ideals. It is all very good on a superficial level; you see how they stay close to one another for support, share their pain and dreams, form strong bonds and together face off anything the assholes in the prison think of in order to laugh with their misery.
Going deeper unfortunately shows how the whole deal is rather shallow and eventually retarded. We see the ever-present theme of all shonen “love and friendship are the most awesome powers in the universe”. As much as one wants to just be content with that, eventually the most important personal problems in anyone’s life can be and are only solved with mostly personal effort and persistence. Friends are just emotional support and back-up help; the actual resolution is yours alone. The show doesn’t go into that at all; it is “friendship is everything” all the way and that makes it annoying after awhile.
The second thing that looks bad is the actual personalities of the characters. The boys are presented TOO good while the warden and his main prison guard are plain assholes for us to hate them in 5 seconds. That is all too cheap as there isn’t much gray in here. The juvenile heroes end up looking all heroic with their polarized goodness while the adults with any form of authority are sadistic bastards and all that without much to excuse it. They were just born this way; it runs in the genes or something. Again, too simplistic to really care after awhile.
The third thing is their behaviors. THEY MAKE NO SENSE. You will see numerous scenes where the characters will be talking and acting in a completely fake way, as if you are watching Power Rangers. It will be something like this:
Warden: Cry! Suffer! I want to see your pain! Mwahaha! I am so evil!
Hero: No, I will never cry! My friends give me strength and justice will win in the end for a better future! Rainbows and canaries and pretty flowers for everybody!
WTF is that crap? Despite the seemingly dark and serious setting, this ain’t any more mature than Pokemon level. Yet it goes further more into Idiotland with several scenes where the characters deliberately are allowed to be frakked over again and again, when they could simply solve all their problems by being more active. They will let themselves be stabbed without fighting back or take the blame for things they didn’t do and all that for some impossible to understand shallow morality. The show is trying to tell you that taking the blame and suffering of the entire world on your back, even when you don’t deserve it, makes you a good guy. It’s as if you are a good guy for letting yourself being a human punch bag and this way the sadistic assholes won’t go torture some other poor soul. What a crock! How about giving those idiots a lesson and punching them back for a change? What? You will become like them this way? Even if you go after the bad guys? And don’t tell me there are no good or bad people because the show is clearly separating them into such all the time.
But it’s not like I hated everything about the show. In fact, the first half was quite entertaining despite the above mishaps. The production values are very good in animation, artwork and soundtrack while the setting is not about the usual lolis/superpowers. Character figures kinda ruin it as they are all made to look stupid (naive kids and psychotic prison guards) with accompanying fake-sounding voices. The initial episodes were also very good while showing the backdrop of each boy and its general path in life so far.
The second half though was a pain in the butt. After watching the completely retarded way of how one of them got his ass kicked when he could very easily WIN AND BRING JUSTICE AND HAPPINESS TO THE WORLD then the rest of the show is just repeating with far less exciting situations. After the initial shock and exposition are done, you are not left with anything of importance to look at, other than more overblown and improbable drama. It was just unbearable to stand. And surely, using the nurse as a narrator was just stupid. What was such a person doing in that prison anyway? Why is she so kind and stuff? Genes again, right?
Bottom line. Rainbow is NOT a different anime. Its atmosphere just looks uncommon for the time it came out; it otherwise follows a very specific and tested formula. It is also NOT a masterpiece as its drama is completely based on retarded characters who act immaturely or sadistically so lots of emoness can be shoehorned. Despite its dark setting and lack of humor it is overall very superficial and unrealistic, full of shonen ideology that is not appealing to the more demanding audience. I only recommend this anime to people who got fed up with harem shows or fighting shonens. Those who want something mature and serious better keep away.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (looks interesting)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
SOUND SECTION: 8/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 4/4 (memorable opening song and fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 5/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 1/2 (not much)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 5/10
Historical Value 1/3 (still spoken off)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too much overblown drama)
Memorability 3/4 (tragic to the point of comedy and thus easily remembering it)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Art 1/1 (looks nice)
Sound 2/2 (sounds great)
Story 1/3 (good ideas but hardly exploited properly)
Characters 0/4 (they are dumb and unrealistic)