Perhaps it was the name, but for some reason I had relatively high expectations for Shinigami no Ballad - something along the lines of Kino no Tabi lite, if you will. I ended up slightly disappointed to discover this not the case, as in reality it's not tapered to an older audience. The series is comprised of six independent stories, all of which address potential problems young children might face. Unlike what you might expect, the emotional undertones of the series aren't all that extravagant, and I found myself downright bored during a couple of the episodes.
The synopsis actually makes Shinigami no Ballad sound a bit different from how it pans out. Each of the episodes generally involves a kid suffering from problems related to the death of someone he/she knew (sometimes a family member, sometimes a friend), upon which Momo shows up and helps them cope with their regrets. In most of the episodes this also finds itself accompanied by an introduction of a very brief romance of sorts between that child and a friend of the opposite gender, after which the story ends happily. Slightly heartwarming I guess, but it's very obvious in each so there really aren't any surprises or expectations from one episode to the next.
Still, compared to all the trash series out there, this is a more than tolerable anime. Sure it's aimed entirely at children, but it's mature enough to not push away an older audience at first glance. Though I didn't find it all that entertaining, it has elements I'm sure others would find appealing, especially those of the female gender - it seems to have a number of maternal-oriented situations in many of the episodes. To be perfectly honest I have absolutely no idea what that means, but something just tells me if you're female you have a better chance of enjoying it.
For a 2006 production there's really very little to talk about. Shinigami no Ballad was quite obviously a very low budget production, and it shows with the general blandness of the animation. Momo has a little bit of enthusiasm put into her design, but that's probably only due to the fact that she glows a pale white, making her stand out amidst the shoddy backgrounds. Still, despite this, the simplicity doesn't really do anything to harm the series, as its mediocre at best already.
The opening and ending themes were pleasant enough, but other than that the music either didn't catch my attention or just plain sucked. I did like Momo's seiyuu for some odd reason, though. Overall, I've heard worse, and at least most of the music was tolerable even if of low quality.
The characters were all pretty much dead weight, though I think they would appeal to the demographic Shinigami no Ballad was targeted at. The majority of the characters are either of late elementary/early middle school age and tend to deal with typical problems children of that age might face, such as a death in the family, problems with friends at school, etc. As such, they have little to no depth and tend to be rather generic, perhaps making them easier for younger children to empathize with. Personally, I didn't find myself all that impressed, though if you're a sympathetic person take my words with a grain of salt, as you very well might find them very appealing.
Chances are, unless you're looking for a bit of nostalgia, Shinigami no Ballad won't catch your interest, and even then it would be a stretch. I must admit, though, it proved mildly entertaining during some parts and didn't require the use of my fast-forward button to get through. At roughly two hours total runtime it's a quick, OVA-length watch, and will either entertain you for a bit or put you to sleep. I would probably have preferred the latter, but I made sure to watch it right after I woke up to avoid this happening; just don't expect much going in and you'll be fine.
First let me say, this is actually rather good for younger audiences, but from an adult's perspective it is only mediocre. If we make the assumption all viewers on this site are at the very least 13 or so then I believe the lower rating stands, but if you are a child reading this then I think it safe to say you can add one or two points to each category --- the same can be said of particularly bleeding heart types.
I think the Shinigami Momo at the end of the first episode said it best in description of this anime actually -- it is a "sad and gentle story".
A Shinigami named Momo and her pet cat (or demon cat I guess?) are the essential characters. Momo is a bleeding heart that cries at every sad moment she sees, and while the synopsis is a bit misleading in saying she aids the dying with their last regret, it’s not wrong to say so. The real "moral" behind this act is; however, more focused on the effect this has on those that continue living.
The episodes are 6 individual stories, unrelated, much as BoogiePop Phantom first seemed like it would be, and frankly, it’s a good thing it was only 6 episodes. Everything was predictable and overtly following the normal moral ideals for children. That doesn't necessarily make it bad, but it does follow that "gentle sadness" I mentioned earlier, and to someone who's looking for anything resembling drama or action, it's just going to be boring.
Since many of the other characters are children, the innocent romance of children was added and, honestly, I found it to be some of the better written stuff of the nature I've seen in anime recently.
For ladies (or guys like me :P) I would say this would be great to watch on a rainy day for a light cry, or if you're lucky and both you and your significant other are bleeding hearts, then it could be fairly romantic to watch together. However, it is fairly limited to these two applications in adults, as it really does seem to be aimed at children.
It certainly isn't bad, but it certainly isn't memorable either. Everything is very simple and plain. They drew just enough to depict the scenery, and opted for fairly matte colours, mostly lifeless pastels. This is likely a budget thing, and it does show.
The only bit of artwork of any real interest was the Shinigami herself, but again it kind of makes sense. This series is supposed to depict a -normal- world, and as she is the only character not of the normal world, it was she they embellished a little.
That said, it suited the gentleness of the show quite nicely, and mirrored the quaint appeal of the anime. However, this is likely an opinion fairly specific to me, much as the general appeal of this anime is very specific to certain groups, and I can't in good conscience rate it well. So, for bland but not bad, and just slightly better than mediocre if you think it’s suited for the anime. . .I think a mediocre score suits it nicely.
I actually liked the opening and ending themes. . . I really need a new word for "gentle" at this point, but "tender" just doesn't seem to fit and I'm tapped out otherwise. So, the music is "gentle" and soft, and quite appealing I thought. What was actually in the episodes could get very bland, but it was never bad, and the voice acting was surprisingly good considering the nature of this anime.
I wasn't really interested in them enough to feel like writing a lot here, but I wasn't really disinterested either. ... It felt like the story would have worked just as well with any two characters thrown in together, but at the same time what little time they could devote to showing the characters in depth did make them surprisingly endearing for the nature of the anime, and for the amount of screen time they got.
Here there's nothing spectacular, or even particularly good, but there's absolutely nothing bad, so it gets mediocre as well.
The scores were all very close together, and in this respect I would like to point out that this anime is very balanced. It seems they knew exactly what they wanted to make, and they matched everything together quite well. It's a nice change from things that does fantastic in one or two categories and then totally ignore the others . . . and that alone is enough to push it just above each individual part.
It’s one thing for a show to be the sum of its parts, and even more common for it to fall short of its individual parts, but this quaint little journey I can't help but feel managed to transcend its weaknesses through a careful balance that should make it worth at least watching the first episode for anyone with any mind for small moral things in anime at all.
While some have said it didn't live up to its name, I honestly think "Ballad" is the best way to describe the little piece, and nicely mirrors the weaknesses and strengths of its intent.
Story: This was a great story love how it had in every Episode different characters and themes in it and how they did the art/animation it was a good change of pace
Animation: I like the Animation alot realy had fun with the show love the different camra angles and it was so smooth to
Sound: had no problem with the sound
What I Liked: Cute character designs for Momo and Daniel. Beyond the Light was an interesting episode, and so was Journey of the Heart (even if it was a collection of cliches).
What I Didn't: Sound design is lacking or weirdly inappropriate at times. "Shinigoumi", amoung other pronounciation gaffs (it was funny the first few times though!). Some bits of dialogue sound stilted or unnatural, especially in episode 5. Average, ameteuristic animation that's simple but terribly flat. Characters are mostly uninteresting and are linked together by rather plain and lacklustre storylines.
Final Verdict: What is touted as a "sad and gentle" series turns out to be an amateuristic and dull attempt at exploring loss (and sometimes love) through the eyes of children. Hindered by low-budget animation and an English dub that leaves a lot to be desired, Momo: The Girl God of Death was more a short story compilation for a young demographic than a heartwarming and thought-provoking experience for all.
Oohh when I first saw the title I was expecting something like Soul Eater, something both cheerful and gloomy all mixed up for a weird yet pleasant result.
I couldn't be more wrong. This whole anime will provide quite a good source of delicate sadness, with a glimpse of relief every now and then.
Story - 6
Momo, a gentle Shinigami, reveals itself to some humans (whose age spans from elementary school up to high school) in order to help the souls of the dead that she collects to find peace from the regrets that still bind those souls to the living world and allow them a peaceful trip to the after-life.
Six nearly independent stories (one episode each) in which the only recurring characters are the Shinigami Momo, and her companion damon-cat Daniel (I guess it's a demon, judging from the little wings...). So it is actually hard to find a real plot to judge...
Along all the various sub-stories, different aspects of dying are taken into exam, aspects for both those who left with some regrets and those who still lives with the memories if their dears.
Being each episode self-conclusive, each sub-plot could not drift in additional secondary (probably useless) stuffs, but had to go straight for the meaning that was meant to be passed to the viewer.
Animation - 6
Certainly not high quality graphic...
In fact quite simple, but like for the story, maybe this simplicity did only good. No high tech techniques or stuffs like that, the animation was just what it was supposed to be, without adding nothing more of what was really needed.
Main objective was to pass along the feeling of the characters, and a very good job has been done in this sense with the dialogues, so there was really no need to get redundant with oppressive animations. And they didn't. Good choice.
Sound - 7
Sincerely, I did not pay that much attention to the opening/ending songs...
The voices were mostly well chosen, suited to the character and the role it paid into the respective plot.
I do not know what else to add... Neither praises nor complains...
Characters - 7.5
Apart from Momo and Daniel, every character only appears in one episode (well, there is an exception, however the two stories of the two episodes where this character appears are uncorrelated just the same as the others). And by considering this a great work has been done to give to each character its own personality.
The short time span of each story did not allow to fully reveal each single aspect of the characters, so a selection of what was really needed was done. And this led to a simple and clean result, with no useless stuffs bolstering the story.
Just mind that by "useless" I do not mean "bad"... I just mean that having them added was not relevant for the objective of the anime... They could have been added without hurting the final result, just like they could have screwed it up for good...
Overall - 7
In the end a good anime. Surely it wont reach my top lists, but thats just a matter of tastes.
Still, I liked the way this anime could pull a couple of tears out of my eyes despite the fact that there isn't even time to allow the viewer to grow fond of a character or another.
Finally it's quite interesting how this anime actually pulls together in the same character the figure of a Shinigami and a Tenshi... A God of Death and an Angel of Relief all packed un in a single tiny cute white dressed and white haired girl with a big black-and-gray schyte.