At the end of the 20th century a fierce war raged between the Monsters and the humans. The outcome was devastating for humanity -- as the Monsters had won -- and thus a new era of Monster-ruling began. These Monsters feed on children and can turn any human who sees them into either a puppet or stone -- except for the Melos Warriors who are the only ones able to fight them. Meet Bokka, a young aspiring Melos Warrior whose only goal is quite simple: to save the Melody of Oblivion and vanquish the Monster King, once and for all!
The Beginning of a Long Journey After School
Cape of the Midnight Sun
The Voice That Will Reach You
Valley of the Pyramid Scheme
The Distant Road of Destiny
Bay of the Ape Man
The Song That You Still Don't Know
The Labyrinth Island
StoryIt's the 21st century and Monsters who looks like humans rule human society. They seemingly provide special services for so called Monster Union Agents, granting them wishes. But they don't come cheap, for the monsters feed on children and every once in a while a life-sacrifice has to be presented, or else the monster gets quite moody. The only ones who are able to battle against these creatures without either turning into a puppet or a stone figure are Melos Warriors, humans with special abilities. They all use a bow as their main weapon and they can do anything from shooting normal arrows to producing a tone which the monsters hate. They also have a special Melos Warrior mark: a tattoo from which they can create a Melos Arrow. It’s basically a high-energy arrow that has the ability to kill a Monster. Bokka is a young high school student that carries this mark but his Melos powers haven't been awakened; that is, until he sees a monster for himself for the first time. In this situation he also (although only for a short time) comes into contact with another Melos Warrior who fights to rid the world of these Monsters. From that moment on Bokka decides that he to will become a Warrior and so his training begins. He also gets a hold of an "Aiba Machine" -- a bike with its own life basically -- and it comes loaded with nice handy features that a Melos Warrior might find handy. Bokka also comes across a girl, Sayoko, who is an ordinary girl with quite a talent for pickpocketing. She also has a little bit of history with the Warrior that Bokka met. As they both want to meet him again, they decide to team up. This is basically an arc based adventure story. One arc usually spans around 4-5 episodes and these make up the entire show. So, it's basically the monster of the month type. In each are, they arrive at a place that isn't quite normal and from there on they investigate these strange occurrences. Bokka is a Melos Warrior so his goal is, except for finding the other Warrior, to kill off Monsters and get rid of Monster Union agents -- humans that are loyal to Monsters. The show starts off well with these arcs that I found to be quite interesting. During these arcs we learn more about Monsters and the Monster Union, as well as the people and societies who don’t appreciate Melos Warriors at all. Bokka also meets other people along the way and some return later into the show. The story is presented in an easy to comprehend way, and every now and then we get hints about there being a lot of things going on behind the scenes. The show, however, loses itself towards the last 1/3rd of the episodes. Things start to become a bit repetitive and it seems like the plot takes off in all sorts of directions, which lead to a lot of things left hanging in the air. And that is the largest problem: it never really focuses on anything. There is also a bit of love involved in this show -- or at least an attempt on setting the mood -- especially towards the last half of the show. The pacing becomes uneven and the relationship feels a bit rushed so the dramatic mood fails. It's also quite hard to get a hang of the timeframe in which this show runs. Only later into the series they mention how long it's been since Bokka and Sayoko had met. There is a lot of ecchi in this show, so much that I found it annoying after a while. In the beginning it was only some nice views of Sayoko who is quite lightly clad. Then we have the Melos Warriors with their Melos tattoos. Somehow the female Melos Warrior ends up having a tattoo on inside of her thigh, for instance. In the later half it feels like the ecchiness increases even more and there are scenes and actions thrown in just for the sake of fan service. The ending felt quite rushed and ended up feeling mediocre. It felt like they didn't know what they were supposed to do. The ending is acceptable, but nothing more than that. AnimationThe visuals were quite simple and generic. The female cast was designed to provide some fan service. The well equipped, lightly clad Sayoko, a high-school girl in her seifuku and another one which will make all sugar-lovers cry in joy. The Monsters, while looking human had some interesting designs going on. When the Monsters went into "wicked evil mode" they have quite a crazed haywire look in their eyes and a mean, evil grin. The animation itself is simple and flat. The hair is bulky and nothing advanced, the shading in the show is flat and it was easy to spot the parts where they had used CG. It was especially easy to spot during the parts where the wind blew through the hair of the character. It was a repetitive line of animation which was repeated over and over -- it felt very stiff and static. That brings me to the recycling of the animation. There is a lot of recycled animation and after awhile you become tired of seeing the same sequence of when Bokka, or another Melos Warrior, prepares the Melos Arrow. They showed that same sequence at least 5 times during each episode, and when you've seen it for the 60th time or so, it gets quite repetitive. Some of the scenes were quite interesting, however. At times the backgrounds switched to a surrealistic style. In a dark room, for example, the shadows became blood red and all of a sudden there were frames hanging on the wall displaying all sorts of things. It's easy to see that Gainax has had a hand in making this show. They way the scenery got surrealistic was the only thing I liked about the style used. SoundThe opening theme felt like a very generic J-pop tune and didn't stand out in any way. The ending song was of a slower type that didn't make any particularly good impression either. The background music wasn't very good either. Most of it was synthesizer based simple stuff with a drum line playing and some simple synth-strings. At times there were some classical songs played. I found the majority of what they played to be of a mediocre quality and didn't add much to the scenes. The VAs did a good job, as expected. CharactersThroughout the show we are introduced to new characters, though some are bound to appear more often than others. The problem is that basically none of the characters has any depth to them. This is mainly caused by them not being introduced properly. We don't know anything about the characters’ pasts, for example. Bokka, for instance, just runs away from home when he decides to become a Melos Warrior, and that is that. Sayoko’s character is the one that is explained the most, as we get to know some of her history. Overall the lack of character backgrounds prevented me from feeling empathic at all. This also led to the show suffering a lot once the love theme was introduced. The problem is also that some characters seem to have a history with each other, but we never get to know why or in which way.OverallI enjoyed the first 2/3rd of the show. During this time characters were still introduced, elements regarding the Monster King were hinted at and the relationship between Bokka and Sayoko was being explored. The problem is that the show stays that way; it’s the monster of the month, a new character that we never get to know well gets introduced and the plot never feels very tight. If you enjoy adventure shows and aren’t very interested in drama or character depth, or don’t mind a lot of cheap ecchiness and recycled animation then I recommend you check this one out.
This is one of those animes that tries to cater both sides of the spectrum. You know, there are the A types and the B types, one wants a good story and an interesting cast, the other wants action and boobs, and when they meet they usually mock each other’s tastes because they know better...Anyway, this series tries to have both. Both spectacular action and fan service that would thrill mr.B and nauseate mr.A and still throw in a good story and developed characters that would interest mr.A and make mr.B stare at the ceiling.Did the mix work? Yes and no. It did make the series to be more than just brainless action and bare legs, yet it never took itself too seriously to actually present fully the whole deal, thus it ended in a very open way and turned off most who watched it. It had the potential for greatness but failed to implement it (wow, same story for most anime). So, the animation is half decent as it has some really WTF backgrounds for a great amount of time and still uses the tired but always successful ecchiness we all hate to love... Or is it the other way around?... Anyway, I was personally pleased with most of it as the color palette was nice, the weapons and equipment the fighters were using rocked, and the sceneries were interesting in themes and allusions. What I didn’t really like were the dumb looks the characters had. I mean, they seemed so spaced-out and it felt like a cheap amateurish production. Which is as I said all part of the problem that plagues most anime; good ideas but bad implementation. But as long as you don’t mind the stupid looks of the main cast, the rest is nice to look in overall. Just don’t go in with the mindset of expecting Mushishi or Mononoke level of atmosphere. It is essentially a series for teenagers who like superpowers and is simply heavy on the LSD moments. Neither the action, not the visual effects are really anything spectacular and this is true for practically any anime made by J.C. Staff. That studio cares more about making you stare at simplistically drawn boobs than actually trying to make a serious and well made show. They did it here as well and it surely damages the overall.The acoustic part was an interesting surprise. I must say, the music is overall the best part of the series and even worths getting a copy of the soundtracks. I must have listened to the opening theme at least 200 times (without looking at the screen, because as I said the characters have lame looks) and the BGM is generally contributing a lot to the otherwise half-baked attempt at a good story or ecchi comedy or whatever… Stupid anime plague; one moment the talk about the meaning of life and the next they do sex jokes… Overall an ok work. The story was better on paper than in actual presentation. Directed by Nishikiori Hiroshi, a guy who has taken over some very famous shows (Azumanga Daio, Planet of the Beast King, Toaru Majutsu no Index) but in all cases he just never manages to create a great storyboard. He just doesn’t have the talent to make proper use of any premise, of which in this case looks at first to be like a case of typical rebellious teenagers with superpowers versus generic ruthless status quo monstersTM. But it soon escalates to something far more than just that and I must say I f-ing loved it! For example, the leads never actually fight the main baddies themselves. They are too damn imba to do so! They only take on their lackeys, which are basically human collaborators with circus cloths and cool mecha. The villains themselves turn out not to be the usual “evil without a cause” bunch. Heck, their leader is even more than just the epitome of evilness. Shoot, his flying talking parrot is far more than just a token character. Hehe, damn aruhoto-naruhoto birdy; you got me by surprise there! Even the protagoninists and secondary allies begin as archetypes (the meak, kind-hearted boy, the oversexualised girls, the emo lone wolf and so on) yet as the episodes go on you get to see far more to their personalities than just that. Imba villains, cool weaponry and colorful protagonists, yeah, good sh*t to watch. So far so good; but unfortunately the story still suffers from some basic ever-present shounen BS and self contained stories that leave the whole deal in a mess. For starters, the series is separated into almost stand alone story arcs, featuring its own special monster of the week baddie in it… No, wait, make that Monster Union Member of the week because as I said the main baddies are simply untouchable for the most part (and following the cheesiness of the trope, their official name is Monsters… duh). So we get this crazy person going Viva Monster Union and taking the leads before the next pops up and repeats the process. Been there, done that. But at least each arc leaves small bits of information regarding the state of the world and the upcoming events so it is not really totally disjoined and skippable. And each arc really brings more light to the characters and the world around them. Tiny bits as I say as most of the time it flows in quite the typically expected formula of random beams blowing sh*t up during the action and sexual frustration in the later half.As for the ending, it is far too open to please most as it is only the end of a strong baddie who wasn’t even close to the level of the Monsters. Duh! It feels complete in its initial goal but hell, it had enough material to make two more seasons. But you know what? The last episodes are really a drug party as they were such a mess of allusions and crazed up sh*t that I almost though I was watching the final episodes of the NGE series. It was such a trip! … And yet such a letdown as apparently they never bothered making a sequel and wrap the damn thin. In all, it was an interesting experience. Not really just a generic teenagers with superpowers anime and yet not close to a masterpiece of cinematics and atmosphere. I blame J.C. Staff for that. It is by far not a must see anime but it still worths the watch as long as you have seen a bit of both sides of the A – B spectrum and don’t want a thrilling viewing experience. I personally kept it around and plan to watch it again; that means something for someone who got fed up with the usual stuff.
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