Because Shakespeare's most famous work has undergone infinite versions, retellings, and adaptations, one could do almost anything with it and succeed. (Heck, I even imagined an underwater Romeo and Juliet in which Romeo is a shark and Juliet is a dolphin. I should work for Disney.) Studio Gonzo has an extremely unsavory track record - with only one truly respectable anime under their belt - but this is Romeo and Juliet. You cannot mess this up.... unless your name is Baz Luhrmann. Alack, but in true Gonzo fashion.......
a potential masterpiece manages to fall under mere mediocrity. It doesn't start that way. To be sure, the first eight episodes are superb. For starters, the innocence of Romeo and Juliet manages to be charming and endearing, rather than cheesy and embarrassing. The liberties taken, such as telling the story mainly through the eyes of Juliet and adding a certain pizzazz to the conflict between their families, adds flavor to the original tale. Even the "Red Whirlwind" business and certain character swaps failed to put a sour taste in my mouth. The interesting new elements, however, were quickly drowned by slow pacing, inadequate characterization, and the series' ultimate undoing that makes its sudden introduction in the ninth episode.
I've once said that only one thing could truly ruin this series, but I was wrong. Quite a few things can. The crux of Romeo and Juliet is not just convincing that the two characters love each other, but convincing the viewers of their tragedy. In the former, the series succeeds. Plenty of blushes, "I love you's," kisses, and other such scenes with Romeo and Juliet suffice. The series fails, however, in portraying why viewers should care. Too often episodes do little to propel the story forward (for example, there is a late episode in which certain characters act in a play). This is unfortunate because the two lovers spend an important amount of time separated. The crisis begins, however, when science-fiction rears its ugly head and almost turns the show into something unintentionally humorous. Not only was it dreadfully out of place, but it was unnecessary; all the crap dealing with the Tree of Escalus and Ophelia could have been left out and we would have a much better show.
Considering Gonzo's love of obnoxious and flashy animation, I was surprised by Romeo x Juliet's rather subdued animation. The character designs are pleasing to the eye and the two leads are cleverly color coded. Juliet is associated with dark reds and Romeo with bluish greens. Fight scenes are well animated and the animation for the ending theme is gorgeous. There is some very bad Cgi used later in the series.
The opening theme is a fantastic mellow song that complements the mood for the series. The first ending theme, however, is quite retarded. A hard rock song for Romeo and Juliet? Get a clue. Voice acting gets the job done. Kudos to the seiyuu for Romeo.
Had the characters been more sympathetic, perhaps the glaring flaws in the story could have been ignored. As it is, though, the two main characters are nothing more than vaguely likable. Furthermore, certain side characters behave completely out of character; Lady Hermione, in particular, behaves so erratically that I am convinced Gonzo just didn't know what to do with her. All in all, the characters are neither terrible nor exceptional, just disappointing.
....and in the end, so is the series. As for its standing with other Gonzo shows, well, it stands next to Last Exile, meaning that it was an extremely disappointing experience, yet it manages to be better than their other works. Reluctantly recommended.
“Falling in love is finding something worth risking your life for”
Romeo X Juliet is a romantic fantasy anime based upon the play written by William Shakespeare. But do not be fooled, it isn’t the same plot you might expect. The houses of Montague and Capulet are not on equal footing. There’s a character based on Shakespeare himself, Juliet is disguised as a man, there are flying horses and there are other discrepancies. Initial impressions are that this is a lot like a western animated movie, like something done by Disney. Having studied the original play in English literature in back in my last days of school, I know quite a bit about the original. One thing that I remember well was that I first learnt of foreshadowing during my studies. Such a plot mechanic happens to be one of my favourites when used well, so I have high expectations for the quality of the plot of this anime. Does it live up to those expectations?
The animation quality is okay for a 2007 anime. I watched it in 480p, though I do not know if it is available in HD quality. There is quite a bit of action, though surprisingly there is not much in the way of blood and gore. To be expected, but there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of characters getting wounded. As for the style, it’s a typical medieval animation, the setting looks beautiful but the characters look somewhat generic. A bit disappointing in that respect. Being an anime taking romance seriously as one of the main themes, there is no fan-service or ecchi. Thank goodness. And if there is any love-making, I guess it would be done in a sensible manner, to appropriately suit the gentle atmosphere of this anime.
I was very surprised by the soundtrack of this anime. It’s much like a movie and… that epic rock tune in the outro introduced me to a new band 12012 (yes that’s their name). I do plan on getting the band's albums, but I won’t bother with the soundtrack, which is still pretty good. There’s a lot of music in the way of orchestra, strings and other gentle tunes. Often, it sounds very old timey and medieval, with the right quirks in the background music to make it so. Appropriate music for such an anime. Of course, like any anime with good sound design, the background is quiet when appropriate.
This anime is available in both English and Japanese and they did go to quite the effort for the dub. Some parts sound much like the play and the lines are spoken with wording like old English. As nice as this is, this doesn’t occur for most of the anime, especially as the plot is significantly different to the play. There’s also a lot of Italian in writing in this anime, which makes sense since the story of Romeo and Juliet takes place in the Italian town of Verona and this one still takes place in the similarly named town of Neo Verona.
There are a few well known voice actors (for the dub version) in this anime. Juliet’s voice actor Brina Palencia has voiced the likes of the Kinoshita twins from Baka to Test, Priscilla from Claymore, Yin from Darker than Black, Rei from the Evangelion remake, Nina Tucker from FMA and Holo from Spice and Wolf. Colleen Clinkenbeard who voices Cordelia has also voiced Riza Hawkeye from FMA, Mitsuki from Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Yuuko from Tsubasa Chronicle/XXXHOLiC and Reina Souho from Witchblade. J. Michael Tatum does the voice of William de Farnese, also did the voice of Scar from FMA: Brotherhood, Lin Koujo from Ghost Hunt, Ikki Takeda from History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi, Kraft Lawrence from Spice and Wolf, Seishorou from Tsubasa Chronicle and Doumeki from XXXHOLiC.
Romeo Candore van de Montague is the 16 year old son of Prince Montague. Raised in the palace, living the easy life of a noble, he is unaware of the struggles of the people and the truth, though to no fault of his own. He is a strong believer in justice and wishes to ease the suffering of residents of Neo Verona when he one day inherits the throne. He is a kind person and prefers to avoid conflict, treating all with respect. Unfortunately, this is not in line with the wishes of his Cielo is the only one who he felt comfortable around after his mother’s leaving and does well in both protecting him and helping him get closer to Juliet. Romeo’s other friend is Benvolio and he is engaged to a noble girl Hermione, chosen by his father. So in short, a noble boy who is kept from freedom and his own beliefs by his tyrant father.
Juliet Fiammatta Arst de Capulet is the last remaining Capulet and is kept hidden by the remnants of those loyal to Capulet blood including her strict guardian Conrad. Her parents were killed by Montague when she was a mere child and her best friend (though she feels more of a sisterly bond) Cordelia helped her to escape. Growing up, she was forced to disguise herself as a boy to avoid being found by Montague. She uses this to her advantage as she fights the guards of the city ‘Robin Hood’-style as the masked vigilante the Red Whirlwind. As such, she is well skilled with a sword and is a formidable force in combat. However, she does not take lives or spill blood and cannot bring herself to kill a human being. She is often rash and impatient, tending to rush things than to think them through. Due to her disguise as a boy, she has had little opportunity to develop skills appropriate for maidens, like embroidery and cooking. Despite that, she tries her best. She also seems sensitive to the pains of a mysterious tree… what could it mean? Before long she is forced to lead a rebellion against the oppression of the Montagues and return the throne to Capulet hands. But is she capable of doing so?
Romeo’s father evil, dictator of a father, Prince Leontes Van De Montague, is paranoid of the return of the Capulets and wishes to snuff them out of existence, sympathisers, children and all. However, he wasn’t born so malicious and his past will reveal his hatred for the Capulets. He often visits a tree by the name of Escalus and it seems he has a reason for his villainy. On occasions when Romeo acts against his father’s wishes, he gets reprimanded, with a slap for example. When he was younger his mother, Portia Clemenza di Ebe, left the palace as she did not agree with his father’s ways and wished not to take part in such tyranny. She gifted him with his best friend, the dragon-steed Cielo.
Of the various other characters, one most notable is William de Farnese AKA the Shakespeare character. He’s actually a comic relief character, one who writes plays and often blathers on about creativity and philosophy. In the original play, the friar was the one assisting the lovers in their passion. In this anime, William plays this role, though only for Juliet as his home and theatre is where Juliet and the remaining Capulet loyalists reside. He is able to get away with this as he is the son of the noble Farnese family, one who even prince Capulet respects and dares not to crush in his desire to maintain his power. He is often found associated with the actor Emilia, a vain woman who seeks fame and the admiration of noblemen.
More among Juliet’s friends, her best-friend, personal maid and a person who she regards as an elder sister Cordelia. Despite her looks, Cordelia is only a teenager, a few years older than Juliet, though having more ladylike behaviour as she doesn’t need to disguise herself as boy. Antonio is a playful child who looks up to Juliet. Curio and Francisco are effectively Juliet’s guards, they seem to also harbour admiration of sorts towards the girl. Curio is the trope easy-to-annoy badass character and has a scar across his face and wields a large halberd in battle. Francisco has long blonde hair, is the trope womanising pretty-guy and excels with the bow, to the point where he might as well be this anime’s Legolas. Hey… these two could be compared to Gimli and Legolas haha! Conrad is the oldest of the Capulet loyalists and is Antonio’s grandfather. He saves Juliet at the start and is often the voice of reason and logic, spurring Juliet to take action and avenge the death of her family. Lancelot is a married father of three doctor, another Capulet loyalist who treats their wounds when injured. He wants his family to live in peace and happiness and is prepared to do anything for it. Tybalt is the trope mysterious, angry, OP badass and boy is his story interesting. He harbours a deep hatred for Montague for some reason…
Anyhow, back on Romeo’s side, Romeo’s buddy Benvolio di Frescobaldi is the noble son of the mayor of Neo Verona and a year older than Romeo. He is quite clumsy and fairly useless as he has had a privileged life being the son of the mayor. But he is a good friend to Romeo and later seems to get along rather well with a certain maid. Mercutio de Marchege is the son of a Montague loyalist, the noble Titus de Marchege who is a lazy drunkard. Mercutio, much unlike his father is cunning and manipulative and looks up to Prince Montague. He seems to assist Hermione with her troubles and spurs certain characters on. Hermione de Borromeo is the noble girl engaged to Romeo of a similar age and she obviously loves the guy. Seemingly just a pretty noble girl, one wonders how she’d react to Romeo’s relationship with Juliet…
The last and most mysterious character of them all is a strange immortal robed woman called Ophelia who speaks in riddles. She is associated with a very large and just as mysterious tree called Escalus, whom is often visited by Prince Montague.
The plot is greatly different to the original play, which is only really an inspiration. At the start, the Capulets are mercilessly slaughtered by Leontes Van De Montague and the only Capulet who survives with the help of Cordelia and Conrad. Several years later, under the rule of Montague, the city of Neo Verona is suffering injustice as the common folk have difficulty getting by while the nobles relax and enjoy their wealth. It is ruled by sheer fear and oppression, by the hand of Leontes Montague. During one of the Red Whirlwind’s escapades, Juliet and Cordelia are cornered. Who should come to their rescue but Romeo and his pal Benvolio.
The overall plot surrounds the desires of the remaining Capulet loyalists and the people wanting peace and freedom and their quest to take back Neo Verona from the corrupt noble rule. In between this all, Romeo the son of Montague has fallen in love with Juliet, the last remaining Capulet and sworn enemy of his father. Every episode ends with Juliet asking what can become of such forbidden love. If you’ve watched any of the legit Romeo & Juliet movies or read the play, the only bit of the plot that remains the same and therefore is a bit predictable are the main ideas. As such, don’t feel surprised about how the overall anime goes. At times it does feel a bit far-fetched as some very unlikely and fortunate events coalesce to form the final story. I guess it would be silly if Romeo was killed by a rock falling on his head or if Juliet was killed by a mistake while swordfighting.
In the first episode, Juliet asks Shakespeare what falling love is like. Shakespeare replies with the sentence with which I started this review with: “Falling in love is finding something worth risking your life for.” Now, I am a cynical person and I don’t believe that romantic love exists in reality. But in fiction it does and this statement holds true for that. Similarly Romeo asks Benvolio, to which he replies “It’s finding the one you wish to die with, a passionate connection meant to last a lifetime.” I also think he’s onto something here.
Anyhow, this being a romance anime based on the most famous romance story in the world, one would expect for it to have a reasonable depiction of love, right? A shame then, when Romeo and Juliet seem to immediately fall in love for no reason at all. Just by looking at each other. Now I’m no expert in the fictional concept that is love, but that is pretty shoddy to me. All the good romantic plots, including the few decent romance anime, have the characters developing feelings for each other over time. Heck, even the movie Gnomeo and Juliet did this better as the two initially hated each other and then fell in love after spending time together. It doesn’t do that and instead the depiction of falling in love here is much like the false concept as in reality. Love is more than just looks. All they had to do for the story to fall apart was to have a girl more attractive than Juliet at the ball in episode 1. Since then apparently Romeo would have fallen in love with that person instead. This convenient and non-existent trigger for the relationship between the two, is the worst part of the plot and possibly the whole anime in my opinion. Especially as it really breaks the whole idea of Romeo and Juliet.
Wow that was a large rant. Anyhow, the rest of the romance really works out, though at times I felt the two were cold towards each other. They were willingly away from each other and towards the end, there was even a bit of a lovers quarrel. You can guess how that ended. One thing that surprised me was the exchanging of vows privately in a church, similar to a marriage. Yet the couple are never referred to as being officially wed, which was a bit weird to me. I will also add, being a romance anime, there isn’t much love being made despite the opportunities that arise. Slightly disappointing since Romeo & Juliet movies often tie that knot. And a bit strange as there are mature themes implied, I felt like they were being a bit too cowardly and safe with this anime. Heck, if this was an ecchi anime, I wouldn’t complain since the context of romance would exist to justify it. There are also some alternate romances, I will not mention who they are. I guess just pin your hopes on them instead, since well… you know this is Romeo and Juliet.
Overall, a bit disappointing since there are quite a few missed opportunities and if you've experienced the generic Romeo & Juliet plot, then only the setting and context will be the unique feature of this anime. Not to mention that the two fall in love suddenly for no reason. Maybe I just don't know anything about how love works. It is a fictional concept after all. But it's not a terrible plot and tries to do its own thing. I guess that must be commended.
So, is this anime worth watching? If you are a fan of Shakespeare, romance or are susceptible at having anime tug at your heartstrings then give it a go. Despite this being based upon Romeo & Juliet, there are much better and much more fulfilling romance animes. It doesn’t offer anything different other than Romeo & Juliet in a fantasy setting where Montague is a tyrant and the Capulets don’t really exist. This anime also plays things a bit too safe, given the nature of this media they could have gotten away with quite a lot here without making things terrible. I did feel a slight lump in my throat towards the end, but I knew what would happen (it does have similarities to the play) and that reduced my enjoyment of it. Not a terrible anime despite its many flaws, yet not an amazing anime either. Watch it, enjoy it and think what you will of it.
Family-friendliness Rating: 2/5 Mature themes (lower is better)
Overall Rating: 7/10 (higher is better)
I will start this off by saying I am a fan of Shakespeare and adaptations of his plays in various media. For example, I love The Lion King, which is based off of Hamlet(It is! Look it up...) and Kiss Me, Kate, based on The Taming of the Shrew. Unfortunately, when it comes to Romeo and Juliet, certain versions of it in modern times have left me in tears, while I prefer to stay away from others. When I watched this anime, I hoped it wasn't going to be a cheesy romance story, and to my happiness, it was not. It was a great fantasy series and a fantastic adaptation of Shakespeare's masterpiece.
Usually, when I watch anime, I don't expect much out of the story. There have been very few that I would consider amazing and unpredictable. Unfortunately, I did find some things slightly predictable, as well as some episodes, while others were less predictible. It also seemed to repeat the 'just saved in the nick of time' scenario a bit. Also, the ending is probably what you would expect it to be.
The premise is unique and entertaining, and very different from the play. Wheras in the original Shakespearean work Romeo and Juliet the Montagues and the Capulets were feuding families in Verona, while in Romeo x Juliet the duke Montague murdered the Capulets in order to take over Neo Verona, leaving Juliet as the only survivor. I enjoyed the differences between the original play and the anime, as it made it feel more like an adaptation then a copy of the play itself, and it did have quotes and places where the story was similar. The series also did a good job of connecting certain events back to the play itself, like with Romeo and Juliet in the balcony beside the convent.
In a way, it felt like a more fanciful adaptation of the original, with pegasi and floating citites.
The romance in the series between Romeo and Juliet is innocent and adorable, which happens to be the type of romance I like most. While some people might prefer more intimate moments between the two romantic leads, but I liked it the way it was. It's still enough to make a fangirl squeal.
The animation in this series has it's good points and it's bad points. So I'll start by listing some bad things I noticed/didn't enjoy.
Now that I've pointed out some things that I did enjoy in the series.
Usually, when I'm watching an anime I watch it in Japanese and not English. This is one of those select few that I would probably watch in English. While the voice actors are fitting in both languages, the English cast not only did a very good job, but they highlight more quotes and references then the Japenese version does. I would recomend watching the English version to people who would like to watch the anime because they enjoy Shakespeare and would love to hear most of these references, while people who usually prefer to watch it in Japanese should watch it in Japanese.
In the music section, I realized some songs were taken from other places. For example, when the opening happens, the song is a version of "You Raise Me Up" is sung in Japanese. I know that song wasn't written by the creators/musical staff. Another song that I recognized was "Lascia ch'io Pianga", a classical Italian aria, played during the scene in the church. Both pieces fit nicely, though it was rather weird to hear the two of them(especially the second one!) playing in the background of an anime. The only other problem I had with the music was the original ending. It was a rock piece that didn't fit well with the mood of the anime. I did, however like the second opening, which was more melodic and fit nicely.
I'll start with the major characters. I prefered Romeo to Juliet, and I think they were both flawed perfectly, making them good characters. However, Juliet's personality did bother me occasionally. The two of them are both given a good amount of development. However, the interesting secondary/minor characters really made the show.
There were some secondary characters/minor characters made the show more interesting. I loved many of them, so I'll point out a few. Antonio was adorable, and served as a good 'little brother' figure for Juliet, while Tybalt was hot and served as a great 'big brother' figure for Juliet. I loved how Fransisco lightened the show's mood by being a flirt, and I just love characters like him for whatever reason. He and Willy lightened up the show in certain areas, which was nice when it was grim and tragic. Speaking of Willy... He's hilarious, and I like how they incorperated him as an 'author'. Obviously he was placed there as a character to be like Shakespeare himself, as you will find out later in the series. I wish that the secondary characters had more time in the 'spotlight', so they could be given more backstory and depth, because they were very likeable.
Enough of the good characters, however. I disliked a few of them. I really didn't like Hermione or Emilia, mainly because of their personalities.
Romeo x Juliet is a great anime that I would highly recomend to a romance lover or a fantasy lover. Shakespeare fans who like modern adaptations of his work would also enjoy this.
Sorry for any errors: It's my first time writing a review.
- Animation is done by a bunch of assholes called studio GONZO. God, I hate them so much, they suck hard in most of what they made.
- Directed by some nobody called Oizaki Fumitoshi. This guy is not even a director; he is mostly working as an animator and decides to direct only when nobody else is willing to take the job in some shitty show they know it’s going to flop before they even begin to make it. That is why his only jobs is this one, and two crappy lolicon shows titled Ontama and Astarotte no Omocha.
- Based on Romeo and Juliet, one of the most famous theatre plays of all times, written by William Shakespear, one of the most famous writers in human history, who eats for breakfast almost every other poet and author of modern times. Who can forget his famous story which had flying horses, a female masked avenger, and a magical tree that is about to destroy flying continents? … What, you don’t remember all that in the theatre play? Neither do I.
Sadly this most amazing love story fell into the wretched hands of those assholes at GONZO and turned it into a fantasy/action mediocrity that has little to no connections to the original story. So let me make it clear that this is not an adaptation of the original story but some piss poor story filled with names from Shakespearian plays as a cheap method to sell to the ignorant who would expect something amazing. Don’t anyone assume this turd of a show is even close to dear old William’s brilliance. It’s a retarded shounen adventure that rips-off names from a much better material and does nothing to improve its immature formula.
So in the so-called scenario there is this girl who survives the slaughter of her family and turns Zorro against the nobles responsible for that. And she so happens to fall in love with the son of the leader of the rivalling family. Sounds legit. And if you expect to hear sappy dialogues of eternal love, poetry and romance in its purest form, give up because Romeo in this goddamn show is an indecisive lead and Juliet borders a tsundere. Meaning, there are no memorable characters or situations; it all plays out as a typical adventure with typical anime characters.
The story takes part on a setting filled with flying stuff like islands, horses, dragons, and gives a fairy tale flavour to everything. The production values are not bad as far as backgrounds go but surely lack when the characters deform in many scenes. Voice acting and songs are ok but nothing amazing or memorable.
The pacing is a mess; it starts nicely in a sappy way and the more it progresses the more things make no sense. Many conflicts are resolved in a very simple way and have no relation to the main story or even to one another. The ending specifically is shit, as it came out of nowhere and ended in a rushed and unexciting way.
In all it is a passable adventure that shamelessly uses the title of something it is not worthy of even licking its feet. Not recommended.
I love this anime. It is beautifully drawn, and has a wonderful soundtrack.
There are two things stopping me from giving it a 10. First, the way the Escalus ending seems to be just thrown in. It felt as if the writers made it to the end of the series and realized that Juliet and Romeo were still alive and having a happy ending. I know there were hints of Escalus throughout, but they were not focused on until the last 2-3 eps of the series as a main plot point. Second, I felt the character of Romeo was too whiney and not masculine enough. That's just personal preference on my part.
Other than that, I believe this is an amazing version of a timeless story and everyone should watch it... it has action AND romance, so it should satisify everyone.