Laughing Under the Clouds

Alt title: Donten ni Warau

TV (12 eps)
Fall 2014
3.721 out of 5 from 3,808 votes
Rank #3,026
Laughing Under the Clouds

When swords were outlawed in the eleventh year of the Meiji era, the mighty samurai population began to dwindle. Those who rejected the ban on blades rebelled, causing violent unrest to erupt throughout the countryside. To combat the rise in criminal activity, an inescapable lake prison was constructed. Three young men, born of the Kumo line, were given the duty of delivering criminals to their place of confinement – but could there be more to their mission than meets the eye?

Source: Funimation

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With a title like Laughing Under the Clouds I can't exactly tell you what I was expecting while starting this anime, but whatever it was I can't say I'm disappointed.  Story:     The setting of 11th century Japan, in the midsts of internalizing western dress, customs, and technology, allows for a range of plot lines. While mainly following the lives of a family of three brothers, the Bushido tradition of family service, expressions of loyalty to the country, government, and personal ideals, self discovery and a healthy serving of ninjas all find a way in. Sometimes this is confusing or sappy but I personaly found it tear jerking at best and bearable at its worst. Animation:     The art style is pretty average-- nothing to write home about, but good enough to keep watching. The character designs were a bit unnerving at first but I became desensitized to it over time. The color pallets for some characters still make me go "WHY!?" but it was explained in the plot so I guess it's bearable. Sound:     A few character voices are unpleasant or annoying, and a few scenes are over the top, but all in all it's not bad. Some battle scenes have dubstep, which sort of ruins the whole "industrializing Japan" vibe, but it's 2014 so I understand. The opening and ending themes are surprisingly unmemorable. Characters:     The first few episodes left me with the impression that the cast was still trying to "find themselves;" lots of random outbursts, contradictory behaviour, etc. About halfway in they felt a little more secure in their roles and they managed to carry the plot along. Honestly the character development is probably the weakest part of this anime, but thankfully there's enough other things to keep watching for. Not gonna lie: there were absolutely a few tearjerking moments in this anime, and I don't plan on dropping it in spite of its flaws. 


Laughing Under the Clouds is a watchable anime with a coherent enough plot, some character development, an ending, as well as average animation and sound. It just fails to be memorable in any way.  The story is set in the Meiji era Japan, so at the beginning of the westernazion and modernization of the country, and it centres around three orphaned brothers who are responsible for delivering criminals by boat to the prison built in the middle of Lake Biwa. There's an evil dragon monster, the Orochi, which incarnates itself every couple of hundred years in a human being and the brothers' family through the centuries has been traditionally involved in the task of fighting and eliminating it. This is, very generally speaking and avoiding spoilers, the plot. As for the characters, the main trait of the three brothers is the deep bond that unites them; especially the younger two, orphaned at a young age, look up to their older brother as a father figure. So there's this very strong affection between them which is portrayed well enough. I guess one of the main themes of this anime is the strength of family ties; all things considered, basically everything that happens does so because of one of the brothers' will to protect his siblings. The bad guys are guided by simple enough motivations. There are quite a few secondary characters which fail to be remarkable in any way. I guess the character you end up remembering best is Tenka, the older brother, who is depicted as cool per se and extremely caring for his little brothers; the other two are just basically whiny, willful brats.  Overall, it isn't bad but really nothing to get excited about.

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