If you have ever read William Golding's Lord of the Flies, then you'll understand very quickly the classic theme this series is tapping into, namely survival of the fittest at the cost of humanity. However, Jyu Oh Sei swaps English schoolboys for convicts, and sticks and stones for beam-knives. As intense as it sounds, the show fails to reach its full potential; instead of capitalising on that brutal exposure of human nature, the ending falls back on an age old sci-fi cliché. The result is certainly surprising, but disappointing nonetheless.
At first it is a fish out of water story, with Thor learning to put aside airy fairy notions for the gritty realities of physical struggle, but then, at the last minute, it changes tack to form an awkward link to the abuses of science. I got the feeling the show had little faith in its own material, dumping the sophisticated stuff in the middle for the typical stuff at the end in an attempt to avoid ‘big', unanswerable questions.
Still, because Jyu Oh Sei is only eleven episodes long, it is ultimately difficult to feel cheated. One key achievement of the series is its ability to jump straight into the plot, introducing tragic elements that make a definite impact from the very first episode. Furthermore, Jyu Oh Sei is the kind of show that doesn't believe central characters have any special rights to survival, with the effect that conflicts instantly have a lot at stake. So, the ending aside, what you get overall are exciting set-pieces, brutal action scenes, and an engaging social experiment, all presented with a decent sense of pacing.
BONES should be congratulated on the fantastic concept for Chimera, and I mean this in all senses of the word. From the first few seconds Rai and Thor spend in the jungle, it is difficult not to be taken in by the detail and inventiveness of the plants. Moreover, Chimera's lush but deadly wildlife is a useful contrast to Juno's sterile, metallic environment, with Chimera washed in refreshing greens whilst Juno is cold silver and blues. As an aside, the character designs reminded me of Escaflowne the Movie, which I take to be a BONES influence.
Jyu Oh Sei has an excellent moody OP and a melodic ED but I'm unsure whether they are worth enjoying as singles in their own right (the rest of the soundtrack is certainly forgettable). Voice acting for almost all characters was suitable, with engaging performances from young Thor, Zagi, and notably Third, whose husky tone really stood out.
The series instantly gives us a good idea of the differences between Rai and Thor through their first stark experiences. Rai is annoying for no good reason, with whiny lines and a whiny voice. As Thor discovers, it is difficult at times to wish him anything but the worst. However, this allows the show to draw instant sympathy towards the tough and efficient Thor in order to make us care quickly about the events that follow. Unfortunately, the bright and colourful child personality is never developed (in fact, a convenient time jump stops us following his growth) so that Thor becomes bland and generic in adulthood.
Later, Rai's annoying traits are easily replaced by Thor's new friend, Tiz, whose constant pleading to be impregnated goes beyond animalistic rationality to just pure stupidity. In fact, not one female character can be said to have any meaningful aims beyond bedding a man. Apparently, when thrown into a state of nature, men want to kill things and women want meaningless romance.
Undoubtedly, my favourite character is Third, first and foremost because of his incredible voice, and secondly, because he is the most complex of a simple bunch. A less swashbuckling version of Allen Schezar (Escaflowne), a rogue seemingly incapable of deep emotion who clearly has ulterior motives, he provides for some of the best conflicts. Sadly, his lacklustre evolution is just one of the many casualties of the ending.
All things considered, each of the characters has simplistic motivations - Thor wants to become the Beast King so he can survive, Tiz wants his babies because she fancies him, etc. - but frankly, their minimal development is appropriate considering Jyu Oh Sei is such a short tale.
Making straightforward recommendations for this series is difficult, which isn't to say Jyu Oh Sei has any ‘new' ideas, but that it has a unique tone. If that's not enough, then its captivating milieu, action-oriented plot developments, and timeless subject matter should make it a worthwhile series for most anime fans.
I had extremely high hopes for Juuousei after the first couple of episodes. The series efficiently sets up its premise, characters and world in an extremely short amount of time, after which the anime rockets off on an extremely promising storyline. Indeed, the first half of the series is excellent.
For one, the characters after episode one are all initially likeable. None of them are particularly deep, but the character designs are excellent and the seiyuu do a good job. More importantly, the pacing of the early episodes is flat out fantastic. Unlike some shows, which half-wittingly bumble through their episodes as they try to introduce everything, Juuousei is extremely good at showing the audience the world while developing the story.
Unfortunately, this efficiency ends up being the series’ downfall; put simply, Juuousei’s collapses under the weight of its own ambition. The overarching storyline is so vast and grand that eleven meager episodes can’t possibly do it justice. From the government conspiracies to the wilderness survival stories to the global politics, there’s just far too much to cover. As a result, the writers need to take massive shortcuts across the entire storyline. There’s a three year time jump. Massive plot twists abound, but are so frequent and unrelenting that the viewer never really gets a chance to digest them. The end, especially, suffers from information overload – a sloppy mess of hurried resolution, clumsy tragedy and borderline melodrama.
What’s worse, the initially likeable set of characters suffers as much as the storyline, if not more. Supporting characters seem almost blurred by how quickly they rush in and out of view; you’d care for them if only you could see them clearly. On the other hand, the protagonist develops so quickly and randomly that even though he’s in every episode, you don’t really feel like you know him by the end. Tiz, the primary love interest, somewhat escapes this, but certain events make her a largely unsatisfying character anyway.
This deficiency is made all the more painful from the fact that this is Juuousei’s only real weakness; everything else in the series is rock solid. Animation is amazingly clean and crisp for what was probably a small budget. As mentioned before the character designs are appealing both before and after the two year time shift, and the action scenes are always serviceable and sometimes even good. Of particular note are the backgrounds of the jungle, which are vibrant and luscious to look at. The sound also compares favorably to shows of its budget. The voice acting is fine with few exceptions, and the background music is competent at setting the mood of the show, albeit somewhat forgettable. Of particular note is the OP, which, using blaring trombones and catchy Engrish, absolutely rocks.
Still, an ambitious anime that needed to be longer is certainly better than a safe one that should have been shorter. As so many series pad their running time with meaningless side-stories and tedious flashbacks, Juuousei is notable for being fresh and new the entire way through, even as the pangs of disappointment start to kick in. Even though there have been plenty of other “survival” anime made already, Juuousei never feels trite or clichéd. Overall, Juuousei doesn’t approach some of the other titles released this year, but should provide a satisfying time to those looking for a relatively short shounen flick.
Planet of the Beast King could have made a great sci-fi / action / mystery / survival anime but because of bad storytelling it ends up being nothing but a superficial shojo romance for fangirls. Do not make the mistake of expecting action or adventure while starting this anime. The story begins with a pair of twins living in a high-tech colony, having their parents murdered and themselves thrown on a savage planet where they must survive on their own. This is an instant hook with most viewers who would of course expect an epic adventure. The setting may support the genres but, guess what, they are used at minimum. Most of it is tragic romance and overblown drama around pretty lads and pretty gals, thrown amidst a poorly constructed mystery / sci-fi setting.
- Animated by studio BONES, so of course that means good production values and absolutely no attempt to have a decent plot.
- Directed by Nishikiori Hiroshi, who has a surprisingly variable roster that covers most genres (Angelic Layer, Azumanga Daioh, The Melody of Oblivion, Ghost Slayers Ayashi, Toaru Majitsu no Index). None of them are particularly good but at leas the guy tries something slightly different each time.
SCRIPT & CAST
The story had enough material to be a full season or more yet it was all ruined by having to be shoved inside a tiny 11 episode format, where most of its elements are left out or done in a rushed way.
- The most obvious example of which is a time skip that happens midway and practically throws out the window all the adventure and the possible action the setting could have. One moment you have a wimp weak boy starting its adventure in a savage world. The scene changes and you are told years passed and it is now a macho man who surpassed all challenges, conquered all the savage tribes, and became the master of the world. WELL THANKS FOR NOTHING! All the fun is watching HOW he did all that and not IF he succeeded in the end.
- The second problem with this anime is the rushed and unnatural relationships and behaviors of the cast. Romances bloom out of nowhere, and characters behave way too exaggerated before they become completely different people out of screen. You are simply not made to believe all their overblown drama is interesting since it is completely artificial and forced. You don’t care about them either because all that happens too fast to find the time to even get used to this artificial feeling.
- The third problem is the plot twists that are completely ridiculous to the point you think they were written by a 5 year old. Or in this case, the BONES staff, which is the same thing. The finale reveals the reason for all the mess in the story and it is plain ridiculous. It’s again trying to shock you with a major plot twist that happens ten minutes before the series ends and with no investment to it, you are just facepalming and wondering WHY DID I WASTE MY TIME WATCHING THIS? It came out of nowhere, without foreshadow or even further elaboration, as again nothing but an amateurish method of using SHOCK EFFECT to make you go WOW with things that were unexpected because there simply was NO WAY to figure it out yourself.
Yet I understand that the target audience for such works LOVES this overblown drama, as long as it is around tragic romances concerning pretty and very stupid people. You know what I mean; feminine boys and bimbo girls that are in desperate need to be saved by handsome men… because they are girls. So yeah, in theory it is very successful for the same reasons the Twilight movies were. Still, nothing lasts long enough for even the fujoshis to care and all you are left with is a messy plot that changes abruptly every 20 minutes just because THEY ARE RUNNING OUT OF EPISODES. All the potential the rich setting and the character interaction had was wasted right there. Plain horrible!
The best part in the whole anime is the artwork, which is very good in terms of colors and drawings. A minus is the DAMN huge eyes the characters have, just because this is a shojo story. Very hard to accept it in a series that takes place on a savage planet full of testosterone filled barbarians. And as I said, don’t expect any action because it sucks.
Music on the other hand is plain mediocre. The songs are full of silly Engrish and a tone that feels irrelevant with the setting. This anime is called “Bestial” and we get LULLABIES??? So we can what, fall asleep while watching the man-eating plants ripping apart their victims or the barbarian tribes gutting each other in raids? This is all out of place! And so are the voice actors; most sound like gays and bimbos despite being on a planet oozing with hormones. I guess those sentient plants are full of TENTACLES that ass-rape them twice a day in order to achieve that. Pf, the anime better fits to be called Planet of the Drag Queen.
This anime fails in practically all sections. Maybe it wouldn’t if a different studio had animated it. I recommend Towards the Terra as a much better variant, plus to make sure you throw this series to the ass-raping plants where it belongs.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 7/10
General Artwork 1/2 (nice setting)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic)
Backgrounds 2/2 (very fantasy-like)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 1/2 (basic)
SOUND SECTION: 4/10
Voice Acting 1/3 (out of sync with the setting)
Music Themes 1/4 (average and out of sync with the setting)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (terribly messy and rushed)
Complexity 1/2 (rich context but barely looked into)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (bullshit plot twist)
CHARACTER SECTION: 5/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (ridiculously rushed)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
VALUE SECTION: 2/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too much rushed plot)
Memorability 1/4 (the setting is the only thing worthy to remember it for)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 2/10
Art 1/1 (looks so fantasy-like)
Sound 0/2 (sounds gay)
Story 1/3 (good ideas handled by BONES)
Characters 0/4 (stock material with rushed developments)
At first I thought that this wouldn't be too good of an anime since it isn't very popular but after watching the whole series I was shocked. Despite it only being 11 episodes long, it has a lot of character depth and has a plot, that we've all heard of in one form or another, in an amazing way. Each episode had me constantly wondering about what was going to happen and on many occasions I found myself screaming at the characters to do what I wanted them do (which never works but don't kill me for trying). It isn't the type of anime that ends with a million questions or you wanting there to be a second season because a lot of loose ends are tied up and even though I did ask myself some questions at the end, the manga answers them as well (read it!). Lastly, watch the anime and tell others to as well if you like it because more people need to know about the wonderful anime that is Jyu Oh Sei!
This one was a surprise enjoyment. The Summery of it makes it seem rather dull. But the character development and interaction with one another was pretty darn good. It even managed to surprise me a little as well. Which is a HUGE accomplishment because I almost always "see it coming" None of the characters really annoyed me so that was another accomplishment for this anime as well. Tiz was a little annoying but I could see why she was being whiny so it wasn't all that bad.
I found it a little weird that it only had 11 episodes so I though that the end was going to be rushed or just not really end. Nothing about this was rushed which made me feel good at the end. I still have to think a little more about the ending but it was what I expected and very fitting. I even went back and watched the last few minutes of the last episode to make my thoughts more complete about it and I'm satisfied.
I really like killer plants! ....Sorry the RE fan in me came out a little there.... :P
I didn't find the music all that great but here's a neet little fact I found out. The voice actor for Thor was the same person singing the opening theme "how deep is your heart" Kōichi Dōmoto.... Wish I could say I liked the song but I didn't.
This is a must watch for people who love sci-fi shows.