A man awakens in an unfamiliar room, with no recollection of who he is or where he came from. His wounds have been bandaged, and his face is covered with a mask that he cannot remove. With nowhere to go, he decides to stay with his rescuers and help them when needed, waiting for his memory to return. Though his courage, skill, and wisdom quickly gain him the villagers’ respect, the same traits soon land him in hot water with the local feudal lord. Not one to back away from injustice, the path he must follow will lead him to confront his enemies, and his hidden past.
StoryDon’t you just love it when you have completely unreasonable preconceptions about a show that then completely sweeps you off your feet? Utawarerumono (try saying that after 3 large glasses of wine), has the odour of a typical anime series based on an H-game, featuring animal-like females for virgin otaku to drool over; what I got instead was an unexpected bitch-slap from the plotline that completely suprised me a few episodes in. Utawarerumono was ultimately more akin to Berserk than the adorably mindless Magical Meow Meow Taruto. After a gentle introduction to peasant life in a poor village, the main protagonists are thrown together under unusual circumstances. Continuing in a light-hearted vein, sudden punctuation of violence gives a taste of what is to come. Death is not a taboo subject in what initially feels like a family friendly spectacle, and this is soon cemented by one murder that serves as the catalyst for events throughout the entire twenty-six episodes. Numerous subplots occasionally seem to be forgotten about, but revisiting each fine thread of the story means everything is succinctly explained when the viewer least expects it. The perfect recommendation for Utawarerumono is Twelve Kingdoms, as both heavily feature politics and the struggle of innocent people. Seeing entire villages razed to the ground and both women and children mercilessly slain by barbaric thugs can make for difficult viewing; but like a car crash, you feel impelled to watch the unfolding action, and take perverse pleasure in seeing the evil adversaries receive their comeuppance. Yes, it does follow the “fight an enemy, fight an even stronger foe” pattern, but deep down it's highly enjoyable and compulsive watching. Though I was concerned that the writers were going to use the ultimate “Bobby Ewing*” cop-out ending when the penultimate episodes see a complete change of setting, it was to my relief that the storyline bounces back. To explain what I mean would be to spoil the show, so instead I will say that the writers skilfully craft an emotionally moving and fitting climax to an excellent genre spanning show. Although the narrative does meander away from the feel of the rest of the series, I felt it was a satisfying conclusion to a fantastical epic that would have been otherwise difficult to wrap up.AnimationThe majority of the show is beautifully drawn. The diverse races of human-hybrids identifiable by their different ears and tails, and their architecturally stunning cities contrasting against lush verdant scenery. Catgirls, canine-men and winged beauties roam the fantastical lands mostly wearing simplistic peasant or military uniforms. As the exception to this rule, the artists take perverse joy in squeezing Karura’s 38GG breasts into a meagre allowance of fabric. Much of Utawarerumono is pervaded by computer graphics, especially during military intensive battles where one soldier is replicated many times. Unfortunately, these scenes were easy to pick out for their outstanding ugliness. I understand that war and its numerous participants is artistically and technically demanding, but the use of a few more production hours would have upgraded a weak part of the show from mediocre to remarkable. Luckily, the one-on-one hand-drawn fight scenes deserve commendation for their outstanding fluidity.SoundMuch of the soundtrack for Utawarerumono is pleasant but forgettable. The opening and ending tracks betray the violent underbelly of the show; upbeat and jaunty, they give the feel of a fantasy adventure. Luckily, using the background music extremely sparingly, the viewer is instead treated to the melodic clang of clashing of steel or the harmonious serenade of the forests’ feathered inhabitants. Complemented perfectly by an orchestral chant, one breathtaking moment of the show is results in the viewer paying closer attention to the impending action.CharactersAgain, I feel the need to draw a parallel with Twelve Kingdoms – an unlikely hero is thrust into the throne to govern people with compassion, much to the discontent of surrounding nations. Placed into a difficult situation, both Hakuoro and Yohko struggle to learn the necessary political intricacies to keep the peace with quarrelsome neighbours. Supported by a strong team, their voyages of discovery attract allies from their magnetic charisma that only grows as the story progresses. Playing both a competent emperor and protective father-figure, Hakuoro is a brave and mysterious character that you can’t help but like. Surrounded by competent fighters and emotionally supportive figures, both the main female protagonist and secondary cast compliment their masked commander down to a T. From a childishly naive Eruruu who spends most of her screen-time acting like a schoolgirl in love, to the overaggressive womaniser Oboro, each will find a way to woo the viewer. Although the female characters are somewhat stereotypical of an eroge, there is only one member who has a cup-size larger than her personality. And even then, she isn’t the usual vapid bimbo with a pork-sword on her mind. A sharp metal sword, maybe...OverallA strong start with an even stronger centre, Utawarerumono is a show that, despite its forgivable flaws, will charm a lot of fantasy-action fans. While unsuitable for children, there is gore and violence in abundance for viewers wanting a step away from the usual humdrum anime that takes no risks. The ending is strangely satisfying, especially considering the confusing departure from the expected storyline. Twists and turns aplenty make this an excellent show that, for anime fanatics who have not yet had the pleasure, should definitely add to their want to watch list. *The good-guy oil tycoon in the uber-soap opera, Dallas, was run over and killed by a car in 1985, and then walked out of the shower and back from the dead a year later. The show's writers papered over the year that had passed by having his wife realise that the entire preceding season and its attendant plot complications had just been a bad dream.
Utawarerumono is not generally the kind of anime that I watch and yet I conceived the plot before it's happening. The characters are clichés, the story is a cliché and there was no aspect of this anime that i've not yet seen before. I knew a few episodes in that nothing in this anime would do would amaze me. However each and every episode was worth watching, it was completely average but apparently that was enough for me. However I cannot give the story more than 5.5, it was like a hidden mirror into a child's imagination, it possessed nothing worth mentioning and the more it progressed the more predictable and foolish it became. I bare warning for you who watch anime in obscurity - to find something great, this is not for you. However if you love anime for anime's sake, this is a product of what you've seen before many times. It is basically Kenshin + Naruto combined, except a lot shorter than both and far less tedious. Animation: 5.7/10 I didn't mind it, that being said it lacked creativity and at times was very misleading - when the anime started becoming Mecha I didn't know what to expect. Perhaps if they had chosen something more creative instead of something so overused and completely out of place then I would not have been so confused and embarrassed. The characters were stuffed full of clichés - even those with fantasy elements to them. Girls with cute ears and tails, hardened warriors with a scar down their eye and so on. I would have liked to see some creativity, it could have been used to make the world more believable and also be more interesting and unique had they not rushed to use the established norms. Sound: 6/10 While OP grew tiresome, ED was very nice and I listened to it after almost every episode - a rare occurrence in my experience with anime. The OST was quite alright, in the latter half of the anime it became quite noticeable and added some much needed tension in circumstances which could have been boring without music's aid. The seiryuu were also cliché, the dialogue never surprised me and the delivery of that dialogue was uninteresting. While it cannot be doubted that as usual, the standard was acceptable there comes a time where acceptable is not something to be proud of; when there are so many animes with amazing performances. Special mention to Dii's voice actor who I thought was very good and actually surprised me. Characters: 5.5/10 Cliché after cliché, no character really interested me and while some of them became quite likeable for me, they don't deserve a high rating at all. The relationship between Hakuoro and Eruru was thoroughly predictable from beginning to end, while I was happy it gave closure (i hate it when animes don't) it was still tedious to watch. Every characters feelings were very simplistic and uninteresting, I did not appreciate how much I could predict. This is to say that the characters played just as large a part as the story line in the simplicity of the anime. However like in most animes, the characters were very likeable and they will make you laugh along with them. Feel their joy and their sadness but that wasn't enough for me. My ratings are generous and if I were to correctly compare them to the other anime i've watched, I'd give this section a 2-3. Overall: 5.7/10 I don't regret watching this anime despite knowing that it will fade from memory very quickly. I would watch this over most of the trash I see on TV any day but my standard for what I bother to watch is pretty high although i feel like that's starting to drop. As I said before, this anime is not a failure but it doesn't succeed anywhere. It is utterly ordinary and very shounen. If you enjoyed animes such as Bleach, Naruto, Kenshin and etc, you will probably enjoy this. If you are just looking to waste your life but with a smile on your face, perhaps you will enjoy it too. For me, I believe my time could have been better spent on a different anime but I am not conceited enough to say it was not worth my time. It was relaxing and slightly enjoyable - although the mecha and scientists in a world of swords and arrows was slightly unnerving.
Story Very good, full of struggles and intrigue. It is definitely not what you would expect given its roots. Some of the twists aren't such much twist as big leaps. If you can forgive this then the storyline is actually quite good Animation Nice but it is let down by the large battle sequences. At some stages the CGI used to creat the larger batle sequences is noticably bad, very noticable. It gets a little better but you want them to be over as soon as possible. The normal animation is very well done and feels very slick and it copes with action sequences many times better. Sound The music is a nice accompaniment to the story, and is suitably sweeping and grand. The voicing is nothing special Characters The characters are well formed and very likeable if a little tried-and-tested. The 'character-twists' are very far from it as you see them coming a mile off. They are good but no new ground is broken with anyone. Overall Worth a watch, good fighting sequences and some good dramatic sections. Enjoyable.
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