Hakuouki Hekketsuroku [Anime]: A good ending to the Hakuouki series

Following up last week’s post, Hakuouki Hekketsuroku (Demon of the Fleeting Blossom: The Record of the Jade Blood) (2010), is the ten-episode sequel that follows Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan. (This review will contain spoilers for the first series).

(Again, game art)

(Again, game art)

What’s it about?

After their defeat in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi, Chizuru and the Shinsengumi have left for Edo, aware that if they are to survive, they have to embrace the new ways and technology. Changing up their traditional garments for Western clothing, the Shinsengumi now have to navigate the strife between the new government soldiers and the remaining supporters of the fallen Tokugawa Shogunate. The stress placed on the Shinsengumi will eventually lead to its collapse, so what fate awaits the surviving members?

The Positives

The art remains as good as it was in the first series, with the emphasis remaining on pretty backgrounds and the main characters. I really liked the new Western styled clothes, and character styling remains a strong point. The music of the second series is even less memorable, but is still incorporated into scenes well. Just like the first series, you still have the fusion of history and the supernatural. I really liked how the second series looked at the different reactions to incorporating Western themes and cultural aspects into the Japanese way of life, from clothes to shaking hands. The violence and fighting is much more prolific in the second series.

New series = new wardrobe!

New series = new wardrobe!

Although there is nowhere near enough character exploration going on, you do get to learn a little bit more about the male characters in the stories. The second series is very good at highlighting the common beliefs that are shared by the men, but also what lines they differ upon. The final appearance for each character does a great job of characterising who they are and what the stand for as an individual, making the characters much more memorable than what they would otherwise be. Sadly, though, Chizuru remains the same bland character that she was in the first series.

Finally, I thought that the ending was quite a satisfying closure to the series. Although not every characters’ future is explicitly shown, a lot is implied, and overall, Hakuouki Hekketsuroku is rather bitter-sweet. If you know the fate of the actual men the characters are based on, you’d already have an idea of what sort of ending we’re looking at. I thought it was handled sweetly and touchingly, and brings about a nice conclusion.

A bitter-sweet ending is the order of the day!

A bitter-sweet ending is the order of the day!

The Negatives

I found that the plot of Hakuouki Hekketsuroku was a little more in disarray compared to the first series. This is mainly a result of the pace. Whilst the characters who leave the Shinsengumi get their stories wrapped up quickly (in some cases, way too quickly, as the plot moves like lightening to get through it), Chizuru and Hijikata’s story feels like it drags on forever. And they somehow manage to accomplish this without as many ‘staring thoughtfully into the sky’ scenes as there are in the first series. I understand that the writers only had ten episodes to work with, but I am sure this could have been handled better.

Some characters' final episode wrapped up far too quickly...

Some characters’ final episode wrapped up far too quickly…

Finally, the love-story between Chizuru and Hijikata really seems to fail. Not only does it take the ENTIRE TWO SERIES to start to get anywhere, it feels like too little, too late. I know it goes against Hijikata’s character to you know, actually have emotions and be human, but it wouldn’t hurt if there was some meaning behind Chizuru’s extreme patience in waiting for him to acknowledge her.

Conclusion

Art:  8.5/10: The art remains very similar to the first series; pretty backgrounds and even prettier characters.

Story: 7/10: Whilst the plot gets upset by the pacing of the anime, it does provide good closure to the series, and ties up all loose ends.

Characters: 7/10: You get a little more character exploration in the second series, helping to cement each male character. However, big points are lost thanks to Chizuru remaining bland.

Whilst this series may not have the happy ending you’re looking for, its bitter-sweet ending is handled really well, and the characterisation of the male characters makes them hard to forget. If you liked the first series enough to even think about watching the second, go right ahead and do it. It is a good closure for the series, although not without its faults. Overall, I give it a 7/10, same as the first series.

-S

Here, have another picture of Saitou looking pretty...

Here, have another picture of Saitou looking pretty…

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Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan [Anime]: History, myth, and samurai bishies

I have to say I am a little ashamed to admit I really liked this series. Why? The series mainly focuses on good-looking samurai bishies. But I assure you that there is a lot more to this series than the aesthetics. Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan (surprisingly, the English title “Demon of the Fleeting Blossom: The Mysterious Tale of the Shinsengumi” is longer) (2010) is a 12-episode anime adaptation of a historical drama otome game of the same name. There is also a prequel and sequel series that I will be reviewing at a later date. 

(Actually game art)

(Actually game art)

What’s it about?

Chizuru Yukimaru’s father has been missing for some time when she finally decides to go out looking for him. She quickly finds herself in danger when she is confronted by two demon-like, blood-thirsty creatures. Fortunately she is saved by Hajime Saitou and Souji Okita, two members of the infamous Shinsengumi. However, she’s seen their secret experimentations with the mysterious “Water of Life”, and the leaders of the Shinsengumi, including Toshizou Hijikata, Keisuke Sannan and Isami Kondou (amongst others, there’s so many male characters) decide that it’s best that she’s kept as a prisoner.  She soon learns that her father was involved in the Shinsengumi’s experiments, and eventually comes to help the group look for him. Can they survive the social and political upheaval occurring in Japan, and keep their secret experiments under control and hidden?

The Positives

The art in this anime is pretty amazing! That is, if you’re a main character. Overall, character designs are very pretty, if it not historically accurate. The background characters, who receive less attention, making them all look the same, display the correct outfits and hairstyles. There is surprisingly little fan-service, given that this anime is targeted to females. The males are varied enough, both in looks and personality, to keep them interesting. Overall, the background art is very pretty and beautifully done, and movement and action scenes are done well.

This anime is so pretty!

This anime is so pretty!

The music is very pretty in this anime. It may not be particularly memorable, but certainly ties in well with the scenes; sweet melodies in the touching scenes, energetic music in the fighting scenes, etc. I really liked the first opening theme, “Izayoi Namida” by Yoshioka Aika.

What I really liked about this anime is the fusion of historical events, supernatural occurrences, as well as action, emotion and comedy. The whole series is set in the context of Japan’s Bakumatsu Period (1853-1867), the historical period in which the Shinsengumi existed. During this time, Japan was in the middle of social and political upheaval due to several events, and this series does a good job of painting the turbulent atmosphere at the time, with loyalties to different Clans and violent outburst. I liked the fact that this anime didn’t back away from the fighting scenes; there was surprisingly a fair bit of blood and violence. This would be a fairly accurate depiction of the Bakumatsu Period, if it wasn’t for the fusion with the supernatural in the form of immortality/the Philosopher’s Stone and demons. Overall, the fusion between the fiction and non-fiction is handled pretty well, and makes for a compelling story. There is also plenty of action and comedy thrown in, and some more emotionally touching and sad scenes towards the end (the last scene had me in tears!).

Not afraid to back away from the fighting and bloody scenes...

Not afraid to back away from the fighting and bloody scenes…

The Negatives

Despite all of the action and political tension going on in the background of the plot, the focus on Chizuru’s story is actually a little slow. The time jumps between different episodes reinforce this. Although it doesn’t make the story disjointed or impact it in any real negative way, it does make you wonder just what are Chizuru and the Shinsengumi doing in the months that pass? Considering how urgently everyone tries to find Chizuru’s father, they sure as hell take their time doing it.

The second negative, which seemingly comes hand-in-hand with shoujo and otome game adaptations, involves character problems. None of the characters get fully developed, due to limited meaningful interaction on-screen. Don’t get me wrong, the male characters are dynamic and different enough to be likeable- you just don’t know a lot about them, and they’re not developed. Chizuru fills the role of being the sickly-sweet, hard-working, always-needs-saving female lead, leaving her annoyingly bland, but still as likeable as shoujo female leads go.

Despite repeatedly drawing her wakizashi, Chizuru has so far failed to accomplice anything

Despite repeatedly drawing her short sword, Chizuru has so far failed to accomplish anything.

Anything else I should consider?

There is a 6 episode OVA called “Hakuouki Sekkaroku” (Demon of the Fleeting Blossom: A Memory of Snow Flowers) that occurs between episodes 8 and 9 of the first series. Whilst it’s not vital to the plot, it’s worth checking out if you like the series. It focuses more on Chizuru going on an undercover mission as a geiko, but also features sweet scenes between her and the various male characters. I think it’s a reference to the various endings of the game, in which Chizuru could have ended up with any of the male characters.

Conclusion

Art:  8.5/10: The backgrounds are beautiful and the character designs of the main characters are really nice, but minor characters have little attention paid to them.

Story: 7.5/10: The story is an interesting blend of history and myth, with plenty of action and sweet moments between characters. However, it tends to be slow.

Characters: 6.5/10: There is little-to-no character development and the main character is bland. However, most of the characters are likeable, and are different enough to be interesting.

Whilst I think the odd mixture in this anime, and the fact that it doesn’t back down from fighting and showing the turbulent atmosphere of the Bakumatsu Period is designed to appeal to a broader audience than females, I still think this anime is largely female-oriented. Don’t get me wrong- if you’re male and like the sound of it, there is hardly any fan-service and a compelling enough mixture to make this enjoyable, but I’m still not convinced it’s that appealing to males. Unfortunately, all viewers will have to have to put up with the slow pace and bland female main typical of the shoujo genre, as well as little character development. Overall, I give it a fairly-solid 7/10.

-S

My favourite of the Shinsengumi, left-handed Hajime Saitou (isn't he pretty?!)

My favourite of the Shinsengumi, left-handed Hajime Saitou (isn’t he pretty?!)

Book Girl [Anime]: A charming series

Book Girl (Bungaku Shoujo) (2010) initially caught my attention because the premise I read (describing the character Touko Amano) was a little odd and I wanted to see what it was all about. After watching the two sets of OVAs (one set of 3 and one additional one) and the movie, I am so glad I decided to check it out. This anime is an adaptation of light novels written by Mizuki Nomura and illustrated by Miho Takeoka. The majority of this review is geared towards the movie, as that’s where most of the plot occurs.

Book Girl

What’s it about?

One day, Konoha Inoue sees an older student at his school, Touko Amano, eating paper. When she notices him, she demands that he joins the Literature Club, making him the second member after her. Why? Because Touko can’t eat food, and works of literature are her only source of nourishment. Apart from this odd occurrence, though, Konoha is a seemingly ordinary student. But the truth is he has a tragic past that he is trying to keep hidden. Can he keep up the façade when the Literature Club starts receiving strange notes?

The Positives

What I really liked about this anime is that it’s a little bit different. The series is an odd mixture of drama, romance, idealism and quirkiness, which gives it an overall unique charm. Not a lot happens plot-wise until the latter half (movie), but that’s okay, because the focus is on the characters. Whilst Konoha is a little on the dull side, he’s a nice enough main. Touko is a pretty interesting character, pulling off ditzy and wise successfully in different moments. Despite being the title character, she is more of an audience to the conflict between Konoha and the ‘antagonist’ Miu Asakura. Although her ability (?) of eating literature seems a little unnecessary, I think it gives her a brand new take on emotion, something which is put to good use throughout the movie. On the other hand, Miu is a psychological mess, selfish and possessive. I think her character was put together really well, and it a great contrast to Touko. She’s also voiced by Aya Hirano, which is awesome.

Miu was by far my  most favourite character

Miu was by far my most favourite character

The music in the series is nice and fitting, but not particularly memorable. Likewise, there are gorgeous backgrounds but character art is overly simple.

Finally, there is a lot of reference to a number of great literature works, in particular Kenji Miyazawa’s Night on the Galactic Railroad, a classic Japanese novel. These references ground the anime and add a lot of credibility to Touko’s character. There’s also pretty interesting and, based on Tokou’s description of them, I’ve since looked them up with the intention to read them.

The Negatives

Although I don’t think there are any major flaws in this anime, I can understand two major things that others may have an issue with. Firstly, a lot of the themes and aspect of the anime, especially Touko’s character, are more understated than what you normally see. While this means that the drama isn’t irritatingly over-the-top, it does mean that a lot of events/actions/speeches have very subtle connotations, and the viewer is left to figure it out themselves.

Secondly, although I personally liked the conclusion of the movie, believing it tied in well with Touko’s mysticism, it is very convenient… and… well… corny, to be perfectly honest. So if high-tensioned, dramatic climaxes are your cup of tea, prepare to be disappointed.

Definitely a low-key ending...

Definitely a low-key ending…

Anything else I should consider?

As I mentioned earlier, this ‘series’ is actually composed of three OVAs ‘Book Girl: Memoire’, the movie ‘Book Girl’, and a stand-alone OVA ‘Book Girl Today’s Snack: First Love’. Memoire was broadcasted before the movie, and is a prequel. I strongly recommend watching Memoire first; although you already know the secret of Konoha’s past, Miu’s character is a lot more sympathetic in the movie. If you don’t watch the OVAs first, I think you will find the movie disjointed and Touko’s character out-of-place. Be sure to also check out the stand-alone OVA as well. I thought it was a really cool look at Touko’s experience of literature. I watched it after the movie, but it would fit in well either before or after the movie.

Conclusion

Art:  6.5/10: Backgrounds are quite pretty and colour palette is beautiful, but character art is simple.

Story: 6.5/10: Although the plot isn’t overly complex, the overall story that it tells is quirky and interesting.

Characters: 7.5/10: The characters are the focus of the story, and the two mains, Touko and Miu really shine in different ways.

I really loved this anime’s charm, and the overall ‘bookish’ feel to it. Not a complicated story, but the characters are really well done, and the overall atmosphere is pretty unique. I found it very enjoyable, and if it seems like your thing, check it out… it’s better than expected. Overall, I give it a 7/10.

-S

Touko's love of literature is infectious!

Touko’s love of literature is infectious!

Angel Beats! [Anime]: An enjoyable, short anime, but don’t get too caught up in the plot

Moving right along to a fairly recent series; Angel Beats! (2010). This is a 13 episode (1 OVA) comedy/drama  anime. 

Angel Beats!

What’s it about?

When Otonashi wakes up, he doesn’t know who he is, where he is, or what’s going on. Before him is Yuri Nakamura, a high-school girl aiming a sniper rifle at another student. She explains to him briefly that he is dead and in the afterlife, before trying to recruit him into the Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS), a battlefront she has set up to overthrow God and take over the afterlife. The SSS fight a battle against Angel, a mysterious girl and the Student President, who they take as an agent of God. Otonashi is taken aback by this introduction, but after Angel stabs him through the heart to prove that he is dead, he decides to join Yuri and the SSS until he gets his memories back.

The Positives

Angel Beats! is fairly well-known for its music and visuals. It’s opening and ending themes are nice and the music of the in-show band is decent. The soundtrack is also good. I liked the bright colours and the majority of the character styling, and movement was animated really well. The backgrounds were nice too. However, I did find that the faces were a little odd-looking at times.

Angel Beats! has a large host of characters. The majority of the characters are quite likeable and the cast works well together on screen to produce the humour.

A colourful cast!

A colourful cast!

Finally, this anime has a little bit for everyone in it. There are a lot of actions scenes, with all types of weapons involved, that are exciting to watch. There are plenty of laughs along the way and a lot of fun episodes. However, there are also a LOT of sad, touching episodes, as you’d expect with an anime that deals with dead teenagers. These are mainly in the form of the characters’ back-stories, and they feel quite sincere and not overly dramatic.

The Negatives

One of the things I noticed very early on in the anime was that there are a whole bunch of characters, and not enough screen time to share among them. As a result, the majority of them are under-developed and are usually only included to make up the numbers or for comic relief. For the majority of them, the way Yuri introduces them and their first actions at the start is how you know them; the painfully ordinary one, the one with the halberd, the one that dances, etc. As for the others who do get fleshed out a bit more, I wish the writers didn’t rely on ‘sudden focus on character x’, ‘character x tells  sad back-story’, ‘character x disappears’. Luckily, the three mains; Otonashi, Yuri and Angel, get more attention, but still feel more generic than what they should.

The second major negative was the plot that wasn’t up to scratch. Although the pacing was good, the consistency was off, with characters facing an obstacle once, which was then never mentioned again (with a few minor exceptions). The writers should have focused more on the regrets-after-death theme, and explored that a lot further. Furthermore, I found the whole computer game undertone odd; with Angel adjusting her weapons using computer software, and even the other students who were not humans being referred to as ‘non-player characters’. Finally, the jarring plot-hole at the end of the series; in an attempt to get a meaningful relationship for Otonashi, the plot compromised the timeline it set-up from the start of the series. I didn’t react to that scene with ‘Oh, how sweet, it’s meant to be’, but ‘What the hell? How is that possible?’.

Really? We're expected to believe THAT?!

Really? We’re expected to believe THAT?!

Anything else I should consider?

There are actually two endings to this anime, with minor differences focusing on Otonashi’s fate. I wasn’t interested that much to go looking for the other ending, but apparently the bonus on the DVD release was sadder than the original ending.

Conclusion

Art:  7/10: The majority of it is quite pretty, but some character styling is off and sometimes the faces look odd.

Story: 6/10: Actions, laughs, and feels are aplenty, but overall the plot wasn’t consistent and the plot-hole at the end was irritating.

Characters: 6/10: The majority of the characters are likeable, but there’s too many of them, and the majority are underdeveloped.

There’s a lot to like about Angel Beats!; it’s fun, yet sad, the characters are likeable, and the music and art is good. However, it does suffer from a poor plot and underdeveloped characters. Overall, it’s not bad for its length and certainly enjoyable, but jump on board for the fun more than the plot. Overall, I give it a 7/10.

-S

Ookami Kakushi- Masque of the Wolf [Anime]: You can make better use of your time

It’s been a while since I last posted, sorry! Here’s something I watched recently; Ookami Kakushi- Masque of the Wolf (2010), a 12 episode (attempt at a) horror/mystery anime. 

Ookami

What’s it about?

Hiroshi Kuzumi, his younger sister Mana, and their occult-writer father Masaaki have recently moved to the small mountain town of Jouga. The town has some unusual ancient customs that are still practised, and is supposedly home to a species of giant wolves. Hiroshi soon settles in, and is surprised by his popularity at his new school, with his classmates overzealous in befriending him. However, something seems to be amiss, with one girl, Nemuru Kushinada, acting cold towards him and seeming to be feared by the other students. It’s later revealed that the town itself is hiding some dark secret when a girl with a scythe murders one of Hiroshi’s classmates.

The Positives

There are only a couple of things I liked in this anime… the first is the ceremonial outfit that is worn by the girl who does the killings. Her scythe is also pretty cool with the bells on it and the crescent moon. The only other thing I particularly liked about this anime is the Jouga Counting Rhyme, which you hear a part of at the end of every episode.

I loved this costume!

I loved this costume!

There were a couple of other positives which I’ll mention briefly; the soundtrack of this anime included some pretty music, but was not particularly memorable, and the overall idea of the anime was pretty interesting, which is what drew me to it in the first place.

The Negatives

Let’s start with the visuals. I really did not like the art in this anime. Whilst some of the still shots and backgrounds were nice, the art for the characters was poor. The faces were disproportional (more so than most anime); the mouth and nose looked squashed with the eyes and forehead taking up the most space. There wasn’t really much attention paid to the movement of the characters either, which really showed in the action scenes.

Art

Ugh… really didn’t like the faces in this anime…

Moving onto characters; I honestly did not care much for the mains. In fact, the only character I felt any sympathy for was Sakaki, the antagonist.

Finally, the plot. It was quite slow, dragging throughout all the episodes, even during the climax. The explanation for the killings in the town was predictable, which made me quickly lose interest. Although I understood the role of the Hunter and the different ‘races’ in the town, the importance of Kaori and her relationship to the Goddess Kannon seemed to come out of nowhere and was not well explained. Overall, it was just too dull.

Conclusion

Art:  5/10: Whilst some of the backgrounds were really nice, I couldn’t get past the poor art of the characters.

Story: 3/10: Although it had potential to be quite interesting, the execution of the plot was dull and slow.

Characters: 2/10: Characters were boring and I did not care for them at all.

Ookami Kakushi was a pretty disappointing anime; poor art, a slow plot, and characters that weren’t particularly appealing. Overall, I give it a 2/10, and a strong recommendation to spend your time elsewhere. If you liked the idea of the series, I’m sure you can find it better executed in a different anime…

-S

Darker Than Black: Gaiden [Anime]: If only the second series got as much attention as these OVA episodes

Despite my disappointment with the second series of Darker Than Black, I still went on to watch the OVA Darker Than Black: Gaiden (2010). Now, I wouldn’t normally review the OVAs in a series, but I will make an exception here because it plays an important role in filling the gap between the first Darker Than Black series and the second (but was released last). The OVA only consists of four episodes.

Gaiden

What’s it about?

After the Tokyo explosion, Hei and Yin are on the run from the Syndicate, trying to get out of Japan. Working hard to keep one step ahead of their pursuers, things start to go astray when Hei notices that Yin starts acting erratically, seeming to ‘evolve’ from what she has been ‘programmed’ to do. Because of her ‘evolution’, she’s suddenly wanted by several different organisations. These OVA mark the beginning of Izanami’s possession of Yin.

The Positives

The quality of the art and music are still as good as the two series of Darker Than Black. Character styling is better in the OVA than it is in Gemini of the Meteor, and action scenes are still done very well. What’s really nice about these episodes is that they have the atmosphere of the first Darker Than Black series, but still manage to focus on themes of romance. Instead of feeling like a bizarre attempt at a shoujo, the four episodes have a sad, sweet, dark atmosphere.

It’s nice to finally get some explanations about the series, even if it’s only enough to get the second series to make a lot more sense.

However, the biggest strength of these episodes is the characterisation of Hei and Yin. Yin’s transformation is interesting to watch, especially when it becomes apparent that it is not a simple evolution but a possession, meaning that there is something else taking over her body. I really liked the way they portrayed Hei’s reaction to this change in Yin. At first he seems angry and frustrated with her, but it’s clearly obvious that he is concerned, even scared, about the changes, and that he cares for her deeply. There are also a number of cute, sweet moments between the two.

Hei x Yin

The Negatives

The first episode and last episodes are really good, but the middle ones feel like they are dragging in places. However, given that there are only four episodes, it isn’t a major concern.

One of the main negatives of the OVA is that there are still too many questions unanswered. When I first heard about these episodes I was looking forward to having some satisfactory answers… but it didn’t happen.

Anything else I should consider?

I watched these episodes after watching the second series, but I would advise you to consider watching them beforehand. They will fill in a lot of the gaps in the second series, and will allow the series to run a lot more smoothly.

Conclusion

Art:  8/10: The great quality art is maintained in the OVA, with character styling and action scenes particularly well done.

Story: 6.5/10: While not a lot happens, the OVA answers questions about the second series and also explores Yin and Hei’s relationship well.

Characters: 7/10: There are some interesting side-characters, particularly the Contractor Claude, but the main focus is on Hei and Yin.

I think that Darker Than Black: Gaiden achieves what it sets out to do in filling the gap between the two series. It’s handled very well with good art and music, and a lot of attention to Hei and Yin’s relationship. Although there isn’t as much action, the opening scene in the first episode and the closing scenes in the last episodes are memorable. However, you’re still left wanting explanations that you’re not going to get. Overall, I give it a 7/10. Watch it if you really like the Darker Than Black series, but if you’re looking for explanations beyond what happens between the two series, this isn’t going to help you.

-S

I thought that Claude, who only appears in the OVAs, has the best Contractor abilities.

I thought that Claude, who only appears in the OVAs, has the best Contractor abilities.

Psychic Detective Yakumo [Anime]: Average, but still enjoyable

Okay, so here’s the second post of the week! I went with Psychic Detective Yakumo (Shinrei Tantei Yakumo) (2010). It’s a 13-episode long mystery detective anime.

yakumoshinreitantei

What’s it about?

Haruka Ozawa, worried that her friend Miki is possessed by a ghost, seeks the help of Yakumo Saitou, your typical moody, handsome anime college student. Haruka learns that Yakumo was born with a red eye that allows him to see, and communicate with, the spirits of the dead. Unusually for Yakumo, Haruka is not terrified of his eye, but instead intrigued by it. However, once Miki recovers, it seems that the two have no need to meet again, but the meddling of a mysterious man may bring them closer than they could ever imagine…

The Positives

The plot of this series is exceptionally good for a short anime. Although the first half consists mainly of individual cases, the second half does a great job of developing an overall plot. The mystery in each individual case is resolved well, if not rather quickly, and manages to parade enough variability in villains to keep the viewer interested. Furthermore, the anime also does a good job of weaving together Yakumo and Haruka’s stories in the final half of the anime, and presenting a conclusion to the anime that is coherent, interesting, and bitter-sweet; a rare find when an anime is this short. Sprinkled throughout the whole series are plenty of light-hearted and funny moments, serious and meaningful moments, and some moments that make you want to cry and cry.

Whilst the soundtrack of this anime is not particularly strong, I really enjoyed the opening and ending themes. The opening theme is actually three different variations of the song “Key” sung by Ono Daisuke (Yakumo’s voice artist). As the story continues, the songs go from a very dark, almost mechanical sound, to a lighter, clearer sound. Sounds like it could be symbolic for a character’s transformation in the plot, right? The ending song is “Missing You” by Risa Komine.

Although not strongly a ‘horror’ anime, Psychic Detective Yakumo does have a number of horror-like moments that were executed well. It also had some moments that made me feel, not necessarily scared, but tense about what was going to happen next. The anime does a pretty good job at building up suspense and tension, making the viewer nervous about what was to come. There’s also a creepy rendition of “London Bridge” that’s sung by one of the villains, which will most likely give you chills whenever you hear it.

Not the scariest anime, but it does have its moments.

Not the scariest anime, but it does have its moments.

Finally, it’s nice to have an anime where the main characters are college-aged or older… who actually act their age. This brings some realism and maturity to the anime, which is a nice change of pace from the majority of other anime that I’ve watched.

The Negatives

The main negative of this anime concerns the characters- they’re all pretty standard and lacking imagination, although a couple are a little better than others. For example, I like Yakumo’s back story and the relationship between Detective Gotou and Yuutarou Ishii, but Haruka is a typical boring anime female. She constantly gets herself into situations where she has to be saved by other characters, she follows others around like a lost puppy, and on the rare occasions that she does act of her own accord, she manages to stuff it all up. As typical for this kind of character, her only redeeming feature is her super-sweet personality… ugh. Although I am exaggerating a bit, if you’ve seen enough anime, you know the kind of character I’m talking about.

Lucky you're here to save me, Yakumo, I can't think for myself!

“Lucky you’re here to save me, Yakumo, I can’t think for myself!”

Conclusion

Art:  6/10: Nothing spectacular, but nothing terrible.

Story: 7/10: Although it’s not an incredible plot, it’s straightforward and simple, with a solid ending.

Characters: 6/10: Standard characters, but there are still some that are very likeable (and some that are not so likeable).

Although this isn’t one of the best anime, it is far from being one of the worst. Despite the average characters, I quite enjoyed it. If you are looking for a mystery anime with some intelligent cases, this is a good choice. On the other hand, if you’ve watched Ghost Hunt, and would like to see some of the same ideas done a little different, and with older characters, you’ll also probably like this. Overall, I give it a solid 6/10.

-S

Aww, embarrassing baby photos!

Aww, embarrassing baby photos!