It is the year 2025, five years since devastating terrorist attacks put an end to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. An international school run by the United Nations now stands in the former Olympic site on the edge of Tokyo Bay. Hana Togetsu is sent to that school as a part of the special unit run by the UN and her mission is to retrieve a student Shunichi Nanase. As she is about to complete her mission, American military arrives in search for a different man but that disrupts Hana's mission and the situation soon turns bloody and violent.
I'm NOT a fan of spoilers, so none will be contained within this write up. This is also the first review I've ever written, so apologies for its random nature. I was one of the early backers of the UTD project that kicked off on Kickstarter 2 years ago. It's been long, anxious wait to see the final project. While I enjoyed this stand alone (28min) episode, I highly recommend curious viewers read up on the backstory before watching. Due to the lenght of the episode, any explaination of the overall environment would take away precious time from those 28min. If you were to watch the episode without the context of the backstory, you might be a tad confused trying to figure out what is going on. **************** Backstory (via www.under-the-dog.com): The year is 2025. Five years have passed since the Tokyo Olympic Games were called off after deadly terrorist attacks. An international school run by the United Nations now stands in the former Olympic site on the edge of Tokyo Bay. Seven teenagers with special abilities, known as “Flowers,” are among the students. Their student identities are only a cover for their real identities as members of an intelligence organization run by the UN. Their objective is to assassinate other teenagers who have the same abilities. The Flowers have no choice but to complete their missions without fail. Their organization has taken their family members hostage to ensure this. For the Flowers, failure would mean death not only for themselves but also for their loved ones. This is the story of their struggle against cruel fate, and of how it is human nature to find hope, however bleak the outlook. ***************** Things I loved: • emotional connection with Hana, the aparant lead character in this particular story• you get a morsel of what a fantastic long-terms story this could play out to be• voice acting (Japanese) was beliveable and highly polished (from a non-native speaker's perspective)• sound design was dynamic throughout the episode and helped to draw me into the story• great action sequences• beautifully done animation• IT LEAVES YOU WANTING MORE. This "pilot episode" offers a glimpse into what could turn into a great universe with rich details and global involvement. Things I didn't love (its always easier to see the negative): • Anthea was billed as the primary protaganist in almost all information available from the project's inception. In execution, she really serves a deus ex machina role in this particular story and shows up near the tail end. She reached mascot status with countless illustrations in every UTD email correspondance and promotional glimpse. I was expecting to see a lot more screentime with her than you do in this episode. I wanted more Anthea. Much more. Via Anime-Planet (and many other sources): "Anthea Kallenberg, a girl of Swedish descent is a member of this elite group who has honed her combat abilities and has become a deadly assassin, but must come to terms as to who she really is." This never materialises. You don't learn much about Anthea beyond her reputation as a feared weapon. Again, based on the available backstory information, there is a huge story to tell here. I wish the team had either focused on Anthea, OR focused their promotional efforts more on Hana's character to help increase the viewers' emotional investment with that character and increase the viewers' share the danger she finds herself in. • Voice acting (English-speakers) felt unpolished, however this from a native English-speaker's perspective. I was frankly surprised there was as much English in the episode as there was.• MORE! We want more!• Unanswered questions / unexplained plot points: "white" and "black" - terms used in the episode to describe different characters' conditions - is never explained and is loosely. Why should the characters risk it all to find those of specific conditions. Should you watch it? Yes. Its a ground breaking funding model, presumably freeing up the creative visions of the creators. I only wish it could continue into a full blow series, or at least find life as a stand alone movie. More time is needed to tell the story and flesh out the details. I want more, and I doubt we're going to get it.
After seeing the first/last episode; since there is only one, I'm going to give my best review without spoilers. I honestly have no clue what the fuck I just watched. Characters are introduced, a "story" is introduced but just as quickly cut off. A very weird and backwards way of looking at the future is protrayed for whatever the play was going to be. Almost nothing important is explained other then some proper nouns and random names being thrown around, with one MAJOR 'whisper' scene that will never be explained. Now I don't know if this is based off something that I need to read, play, or have watched before, but this gives the ILLUSION that there might be a good anime here, or at least something else to go on, but nothing at all since it's just one episode. The animation is really good, and the voice acting; other than the American voice actors, are really decent and make the anime good. But the lack of plot or explanations make me want to get my 30 minutes back that I spent watcing this instead of doing anything else. If this is based off of something, or is a teaser of a series to come, than this review will be changed in the future, but as of right now, go look up a forum and spend 2-5 minutes reading about this instead of; and I literally mean it, wasting 30 minutes to watch.
What is there to say about this anime - a story that was meshed into one thirty-minute OVA... It left a lot of questions unanswered. The entire plot was slightly confusing. There was very little explanation for why these assassin groups were doing what they were doing... and yet... I liked it. I liked it a lot, actually. I can't explain why. I don't even know if I could sum up the plotline for you in a cohesive way, but I'm going to try: Basically, Under the Dog follows the tale (and I'm using follow here loosely because there actually was an issue with the narration) of a girl named Hana as she tries to save a target that has been deemed "White." (It is never explained what the difference is between those deemed "White" and those deemed "Black," but one can infer it a little bit from the ending.) While trying to save this target, her mission goes awry and she finds herself in a battle of life-and-death. The animation was pretty superb, I can't deny. I was a big fan of how they decided to animate the monster - called "Padora" - and I also liked all of the action sequences and felt they were well done and clean cut without being too CGI. The sound was another aspect that I loved. I was especially a fan of hearing Japanese and English in one anime. That was pretty cool. They hired American voice actors to play certain roles and it really surprised me. There were a few sequences that had some great background music to them, too. The characters... oh, the characters. Here's where it starts to become difficult for me. Hana, the intended main character of this tale, is probably the character that will tug at the viewer's heart strings the most. I do have to say that even though these creators only had thirty minutes to put this all together, I felt for Hana and had to hold back tears at one point. Shuichi was another character that I felt for towards the end, too. The biggest issues with the characters is that of Anthea. Her monologue at the end...is probably something that confused me the most. And while AP seems to have her as the main character in this, she is most definitely not. Overall...I'm literally shocked by how much I liked this. You might be asking, "But, Julia, if you liked it so much, why only a 6/10?" And that's a good question. The reason I feel like I can't justify rating this higher is simply because there were too many questions left unanswered, as I mentioned previously. This, to me, has seriously potential and I would absolutely love to see it turn into a series or maybe even be published and released as a webcomic. The world that was created held my interest the entire time and I just want more answers. Kudos to the makers (I heard this was a Kickstarter) for creating something truly fascinating. I hope one day they can do more with it. *I watched this with the Daily Anime Marathon Club. Check it out!*
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