Kazuna is a young man with a fairly normal life. He attends high school, lives with his surrogate family, and models for his somber love-interest Yaegashi's paintings. But recently, he has suffered several crippling attacks at the sight of blood -- attacks which leave him incapacitated and out of control. Kazuna must now reunite with his sister who he has not seen in years, and discover the truth behind his family name and vampiric genes, before his bloodthirsty desires destroy himself, or others close to him.
StoryOn the surface, Hitsuji no Uta might appear to be just another vampire series, but deep down, it goes into fairly dark territory involving family histories and gruesome secrets galore. Young Kazuna has found his life turned upside down when the cravings begin -- and things go downhill from there. When meeting up with his long lost sister, Chizuna, he realizes that he is not alone in his family's curse, and she may be the only one who can save him... I think the thing I liked the most about Hitsuji no Uta is that it was a fairly unique vampire series; that is, unique as far as what other vampire anime is out there. It fit more with series in the vein of Tsukihime than things like Vampire Hunter D, going with a more mellow and moody feel as opposed to action and flashy graphics. There isn't really a solid plot, it's mostly Kazuna finding out he has the "illness" (very early on in the OVA), and then him and his sister trying to cope with their family's history. There is a good amount of character development, at least in the sense that you find out a great deal about Kazuna's family's history, what happened to his parents, etc. This makes for a very dark and creepy series, to say the least. Although the score is high, I will say that the only problem with Hitsuji no Uta's story is its pacing. Quite a bit of the story is "flashbacks" (as in, the main character hearing voices of what people in the past said), and thus, the story really could have been condensed in a shorter period of time. This made it feel a bit drawn out, but at only four episodes, that's OK I think. AnimationHitsuji no Uta had a very unusual animation style which worked very well for the tone and feel. Dark gritty lines made up the characters and backgrounds, giving it a harsh tone. Very, very little color was used except for the bright red blood and occasional clothing colors. A very large percentage of the scenes were either in black and white, or dark browns and light brownish yellows. The color scheme reminded me a lot of Boogiepop Phantom, but not as dark. Even though the animation style fit, it still had some major flaws to it. First of all, it was a bit too simplistic sometimes. Often, the backgrounds were extremely simple (too simple), or totally void of any colors or lines. The major problem, though, was the recycling of animation. I'd say probably at least 1/4th of the series was recycled, if not more. Not to mention there was absolutely horrible CG effects used for car scenes, which were also recycled. It's pretty obvious the kind of budget this OVA had, so you can't entirely blame them, but it still was fairly terrible, hence the lower score. SoundThe audio category is something else that I'd like to rate highly, but can't for a few reasons. The few tracks were well done and fit the mood of the series: one was orchestral in nature and sounded very gothic and dark, and the other was an electronic beat. Unfortunately, this was the only music that was played throughout the series, and it got a bit repetetive. The rest of the OVA had almost no sounds let alone various sound effects, which wasn't bad. Voice acting was fine for all involved, and all the actors did a good job at making their characters seem mellow and depressed in some fashion. CharactersThe character development (including characters that aren't even in the series itself) was a focal point to the series, and was established throughout the episodes. Because of the nature of the show, we are shown the characters' pasts in a very cryptic and mysterious way, which unravels itself through a series of flashbacks and discussions. By the end, twists are revealed about the relationships between the characters, which help to make the series more dark than it already is. There are several important relationships going on, though. Kazuna and Chizuna is the most important, as they are related by blood and must share the secret of the family amongst themselves. They have a very interesting relationship, to say the least. Next, Kazuna and his pseudo girlfriend, who have many bumps in the road of their budding relationship. Finally, Kazuna and his adoptive parents, which will make you sad as well. With great development and a varied cast, the characters in Hitsuji no Uta were definitely a strong point. OverallHitsuji no Uta succeeded in being a unique and interesting look at vampires, in a different way than all the other vampire series out there. If you need something high paced, this isn't for you. Patience is a virtue with Hitsuji no Uta, but I feel the slow pacing is worth the wait. Bear in mind, this is not a happy show, but with the subject at hand, who would expect anything less? I found this to be a fine watch, and I think you might too.
StoryThey've done a good job with this series. It did feel a bit uncoordinated at times, but this is a four episode OAV and it's often very hard to avoid such things happening; there is simply not enough time. Hitsuji No Uta is a series that I've anticipated for awhile and it was great to be able to sit down and watch all four episodes in a row. The topic is drama, horror and vampires. While it didn't feel very "horror like", there certainly were strong vampire and dramatic elements to it. It succeeds in the angst department, and together with the animation it presents a very dark (feeling) environment filled with suffering and revelations. This is also about brother meets sister, and their way of coping with this disease. There is nothing happy going on in this series, it's dark and angsty; If you like that then you will probably not have a problem with this one. AnimationDon't get me wrong, it does have some very interesting character designs and they do a good job with how the environments are drawn. However, the reason I only gave it a 6 out of 10 for the visuals is simply because they reuse a lot of animation, use a lot of stills and the CG animation was quite mediocre. If we are to focus solely on the "design" aspect I would've given it 7.5/10 - 8/10. The character designs are a bit unusual; they look a bit gloomy by default, but that might be becuase the whole setting is a bit gloomy -- not many happy moments happen during the show, after all. SoundI would give the ending theme 8/10 because it's very good in my honest opinion. It's lengthy, has a nice duet with two competent singers, incorporates some nice passages, uses classical instruments, etc., and there is also a very enjoyable interlude. But, the essential stuff lies in the series, and they reuse the same tracks many times. At first I liked these tracks, but after awhile I almost grew tired of them. I would give the music in itself 7.5/10 because it was fitting for the theme, but all that reuse drags down the score. The show is only released in Japanese language. The VAs (Voice Actors) did quite a good job, but in this case I think they made a mistake when they put Megumi Hayashibara as the VA for the main character's sister (Chizuna); she sounded too childish for her physical appearance. Regardless, she did a good job as always though. Though, I would've preferred a VA which sounded similar to Shiki's sister in Tsukihime -- a bit darker and smoother in the voice. CharactersThe problem, as often with short OAVs, is that the characters are not given the proper time to develop; there wasn't much development. On the other hand, looking at their personallities one might say that they did develop quite naturally. The majority of the characters appear to be very introverted, meaning that they aren't very socially outgoing (simplisticly speaking). This puts a damper on the whole concept of development in a way. I think something was missing in this department all in all. I would've liked to get to known the characters more, but alas, there was no time. OverallIt's a hard one. I'd either give this a 7.5 or an 8. It's one of the more dark series I've seen in a while, it does well in setting the right mood (as I've said several times already) and does have an interresting story. While vampire stories are quite clichÃ© by now, HnU actually does a good job in presenting something different. Despite the simple animation with re-used frames, stills etc. I felt that they came naturally. The stills did not feel forced. At first I was a bit perplexed when the characters talked yet there were no lip movements. I then noticed that they used an animation technique which didn't make it feel awkward, rather it helped the mood at times. I recommend the manga "Lament of the Lamb" which this OAV was built upon. The manga, licensed by TokyoPop, will spawn over 7 volumes (that's how many they've got lined up on their homepage right now at least). The first OAV episode followed the manga and basically ended where the first manga volume ended, but seeing as they've got 7 volumes they either have to include lots of 'in between' stuff or develop the story and characters further than they did in the anime, which I think will be the case. As far as rewatchability, sure thing. This is a 4 episode OAV (roughly 1 hour and 45 mins of screen material) and it does not take much time to rewatch it. HnU does a good job in setting the correct mood and I find the animation design visually interesting aswell.
Sometimes, an anime doesn’t need anything except for pure style. Hellsing had its bloodshot skies, Noir had its pounding, pulsating soundtrack, Big O had the comic book world and SoulTaker had absolutely mindbending visuals. As well as the ones I’ve mentioned, countless other animes are entertaining not for a particularly coherent storyline or characters that we can actually empathize with, but for a distinct and very appealing “feel” to the show. In the same vein, Hitsuji no Uta is pretty much nothing but style… but what an amazing style it has. Every single aspect of the anime seems engineered to create a specific mood. The animation remains at all times muted and dark, and there is very little color throughout the show (with the noticeable exception of red). The sound, with its alternation of frantic drumbeats and slow violin pieces, further complements this feeling. The story is thoroughly melodramatic and just about devoid of any hope whatsoever, and the characters move past dysfunctional to sheer insanity. As a result of these combined elements, Hitsuji no Uta’s morbid style is so distinct and memorable that this is really all it needs to be watchable. Of course, style is really all this anime has. Technically, the anime is definitely lackluster. While initially impressive, both the animation and sound suffer from shameless repetition. Over the course of the series, only about 2 or 3 songs are played, and they are played almost constantly. Animation-wise, along with several recap scenes, various segments are just flat out reused as if they are new material. Considering the anime’s relatively short length, this is pretty much unacceptable. Additionally, the characters and plot are definitely on the thin side. While not quite one-dimensional, the two protagonists definitely lack depth, and they certainly aren’t likeable. Rather than developing its characters, Hitsuji no Uta instead chooses to jerk them around in a storyline that is often illogical and rather contrived. With vampires, school romance, a sickly, beautiful women, and incest (which I seem to be immune to now that I’ve seen Koi Kaze), there are few plot clichés that the anime doesn’t use. I traditionally have no problem with tragic melodrama (check my positive opinions on Ima Sokoni Iru Boku, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, or Hotaru no Haku), but even I felt the anime to be a little heavy-handed. Still, despite all of the OVA’s weaknesses, I feel compelled to (lightly) recommend it anyway. Hitsuji no Uta is slick, daring and provocative, and the fact that there isn’t any substance underneath the whipped cream doesn’t seem to make the show any less tasty.
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