Tag Archives: Filler

Show will contain a good number of episodes with no purpose other than to pad length with rubbish that was not in the original Manga.

Rurouni Kenshin – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan

 

Related: Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal (prequel – watch after main series)

Samurai X: Reflection (sequel)

Samurai X: The Motion Picture (side story)

Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc (alternative version)

Similar: Trigun

Gintama

Samurai Champloo

InuYasha

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Samurai Action Adventure Comedy Romance

Length: 94 episodes + 1 OVA

 

Positives:

  • Enjoyable with some good humour.

Negatives:

  • Takes a season to reach the main plot.
  • Neutered from the manga.
  • Poor understanding of physics, even with suspension of disbelief.
  • Go-nowhere romance.
  • Kenshin’s voice.

Rurouni Kenshin (or Samurai X in some places) was the first mange I ever read. I was visiting some friends in France and they had the full collection. I am ashamed to admit that I read too much Kenshin instead of spending time with my friends – Nicolas, Simon, je vous en prie de me pardoner. Needless to say, I found the manga a great read. I thought nothing of the sort with the anime.

Kenshin is a wandering samurai trying to distance himself from the world, but he can never escape his past as the Hitokiri Battousai, for someone in every town either wants to hire him or wants to kill him for the massacres he committed in the previous era. He goes largely unnoticed because of his unassuming nature and he carries a reverse-bladed sword. After an initial moment of disbelief that he is the legendary manslayer, dojo owner Kaoru takes him in, charmed by his goofiness and aid he leant her against a Battousai imposter. She has a ‘in love, but I will deny it at every turn’ relationship with him.

The first few episodes serve to introduce the main gang of Kenshin, Kaoru, and later, Sanosuke, a street fighter who lost his honour, and Yahiko, a street rat in need of disciple, which Kaoru provides. The subsequent episodes focus on minor conflicts – bandits, thugs, people after Kenshin, etc. You wouldn’t know that the main plot involves a presumed-dead warrior, successor to the Hitokiri Battousai name, Shishio. Surviving live immolation, he wears bandages at all times and must regularly cool himself, as his skin doesn’t ventilate anymore. You wouldn’t know of this main plot because it takes a season of meandering to reach him. It’s not as though he is some surprise revelation or the first season was about building him up. No, beyond the character introductions, the first season has no effect on the second – the third is non-canon filler.

This would be okay, if season one was good in its own right, but it’s too light hearted, feels too tailored for children, and void of meaningful tension. At one point, a group of villains run at a Gatling gun one at a time, only to die – too stupid to garner emotional investment. The season gives bits and pieces of relevance among filler plot of the week. The manga didn’t have half this nonsense, was darker, and faster reading washed weaker segments away. The writers also separated the manga’s best story and created Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal out of it (the quality is better in that segment, so I am actually thankful).

The action translated poorly from the manga as well. The special techniques already required suspension of disbelief, but to accept them in the anime approaches ignorance. Better animation to illustrate them would have helped. The one aspect that did translate was the reverse blade plot device; they make far too big a deal out of it here and on paper. Kenshin refuses to kill anymore and wields a katana with the blade on the inside to avoid killing in combat. Er…yeah…even the blunt side of a sword would kill with his speed and strength. He even makes a huge fuss over using a normal katana, at one point, as though he couldn’t simply turn it around – again, with his skill, that would impair him little.

Look, Kenshin is still a decent anime, above average – good humour – but with the source material they had to work with, this should have been much better.

Art – Low

Did they have one animator chained to desk animating three seasons with the time and budget for a single season? Stiff animation, lots of stuttering. Next time, take the money you wasted on season three and use it to animate the episodes that mattered. The sequel, prequel, and OVAs look far better, a high quality.

Sound – Medium

Voice work is equally average in either language, except Kenshin. You have a choice of poison: you can take his annoying Japanese voice or take his stupid speech mannerism in English. (“It is beautiful, that it is.” “You should not fight, that you should not.” “Please, cut my tongue out, would you, please.” [Alright, that last one is fake.]) Acting is better in the sequel, prequel, and OVAs as well.

Story – Medium

A manslayer wanders around to escape his past, until he meets a woman. Bits of story with lots of filler, then story, then filler.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: I rarely advocate for reading manga instead of watching the anime, but this is one instance where I insist. If you do want to watch, prepare to skip some episodes – the ones with pirates are useless – and don’t bother with season three.

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Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative: 

DissapointingPoor Pacing

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Naruto – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Naruto

 

Related: Naruto Shippuden (sequel)

Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow (side story)

Naruto the Movie 2: Legend of the Stone of Gelel (side story)

Naruto the Movie 3: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom (side story)

Similar: One Piece

Hunter x Hunter

Basilisk

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Super Power Action Adventure

Length: 220 episodes (~80 filler episodes)

 

Positives:

  • Many awesome fights.
  • Creative abilities and powers.
  • Lasting consequences.
  • Great villains.
  • Episode 101.

Negatives:

  • Takes a few episodes.
  • Naruto isn’t the most interesting protagonist.
  • Explaining the obvious at times.
  • Flashbacks and filler, though most filler comes after the canon episodes.
  • Relies on the inferior sequel, Shippuden, to complete a few arcs.

Audiences have a love-hate relationship with long running battle shounen. The gargantuan episode count can be reason enough not to give them a shot. In my experience, fans of long running anime often got into the series from the ground level when the episodes were still in double digits and not nearing a millennial celebration. Unfortunately, being there year-one and having a series be a part of your life for a decade or more does lead to a skewed perception of the show’s quality. So, when tackling Naruto classic, my year-one battle shounen, I kept in mind the best anime I have seen since – having not seen Naruto in seven years also helped gain distance.

Naruto centres on young ninja Naruto and his quest to become Hokage, the highest rank in ninjadom. Naruto has a demon fox trapped within, desperate to break free and destroy everything, as it did to the village years ago. He is a pariah in society and uses humour for defence. As part of a three-man squad with Sasuke, the last of an elite clan, and Sakura, whose large forehead is her tragic backstory [sarcasm], they carry out dangerous missions under the guidance of Kakashi, their teacher who has no cares to give.

My first issue is the protagonist himself, Naruto, a problem that applies to most shounen protagonists. I hate how the protagonist is always happy-go-lucky, the “goodest” of the good guys, and thus an uninteresting protagonist. Shounen writers choose these protagonists because they are the least likely to alienate a young audience. Imagine if the protagonist were Gaara instead, a Sand ninja with a similar backstory, who turned out a remorseless killer instead of a prankster – many kids would be terrified and leave before they get to see his full arc. That’s not to say a happy protagonist can’t be challenged through conflict, but in Naruto’s case, his conflict is weak and the pariah status lasts a few episodes at most.

This leads onto my next point – backstory. The writer dumps a hero’s entire backstory into our laps at the first possible instant (usually their first major fight). Just one big dollop mid-fight. A writer should hold back details until the audience is at breaking point, and then reveal something amazing. Naruto’s heroes have little such mystery. Even Sasuke, whose backstory is the most interesting among heroes, is more about his brother, a villain.

Look to the villains and we find the opposite. Their backstory is held in reserve until it can no longer be hidden, making us acutely interested in them as characters. Orochimaru, for example, the main villain and major reason to watch this, doesn’t have his life story narrated to us the first time he fights, as seen with most of the young ninja. His power-hungry past builds him up to be a phenomenal villain, one piece at a time. When you think he can’t be anymore evil, another piece is unveiled to make him even more nefarious, and another, and another.

All shounens have a huge cast, often of filler characters; thankfully, however, a memorable support crew supplements Naruto’s weak protagonist. Many seemingly irrelevant side characters have great story arcs. There are too many to detail, so I will focus on the best and my favourite among them, Rock Lee, the mop-topped and bushy-browed ninja in the springtime of youth. He is a ninja without powers; he can’t use any ‘spells,’ so to speak, relying on hand-to-hand combat. Lee should have been the protagonist. He still fits the criteria for a shounen protagonist: A go-getter, hardworking underdog, and with a quirky, fun slant to him. He succeeds where Naruto fails because the writer went all-out with Lee. His hard work is genuine, while the demon fox does most of the work for Naruto. Lee’s underdog status will never vanish because of his no-spells weakness, whereas Naruto is no longer an underdog after a single arc, even if the writers try to say otherwise – again, the demon fox. When battles matter above all, having the weakness be a combat one is the most interesting. Lastly, Lee’s humour is far better; Naruto is simply juvenile, a brat most of the time, but Lee’s quirks come from his passion, his innate mannerisms, which never feels forced.

Lee’s fights are excellent, some of the best in anime. Naruto in general has great fights, varied too (strategic, all in the mind, brute strength, or trump card types), but Lee takes it to a whole new level. Abilities in Naruto have a lot of thought put into them, each character bringing some cool power, but there is something about Lee’s style, distilled down to its essence, matched to his personality, that makes him so engaging. His conflict, his challenges aren’t only more significant, but also more relatable. They made a big mistake not choosing Lee instead of Naruto.

Like all battle anime, Naruto has its share of padding and filler. Naruto’s go to driving sock is the flashback. A handful of flashbacks, most from season one, are repeated, I swear, at least ten times throughout the series. We have a recap in episode 14; they couldn’t even wait a season. Sometimes we flashback to last episode…twice…in one episode. Desk, meet Face. They like to state the obvious when explaining abilities at times as well – do shounen writers think their viewers are retards?

Naruto doesn’t have it as bad as the likes of Bleach and co. Naruto’s filler is mercifully back-loaded after the canon, with only a half-dozen filler episodes during canon, most of them actually good. One must wait until Naruto Shippuden to have one’s mind drilled through their eyeballs in pain, which leads me to my final negative. A few story arcs conclude in the sequel, a shounen padded and dragged out as bad as any other.

We know filler is born from a need to have an episode everyday while giving the manga time to get ahead, but when releasing on disc later, they should trim all the TV fat. Get rid of these flashbacks, burn the filler, and stop opening with the final scene from last episode. A master edit for Naruto would be fantastic.

Naruto is, ultimately, a good anime weighed down by the trapping that burden the battle genre. If Naruto were never intended for morning TV, it could have had a faster pace, a more engaging protagonist, and more respect for the audience. However, as is, Naruto is still worth watching if you want a good battle anime and are willing to skip the padding yourself.

Art – Medium

Good visual design for the most part, particularly in abilities; however, the animation is inconsistent. In Lee’s fights, the animation is excellent, fast, fluid, precise, but where Naruto is involved, expect plenty of static. Naruto’s signature move being a hundred clones means the time and budget for a 1v1 fight is now spread for a 100v1 fight. Most clones are frozen in the background and those that do move, slide rather than run. Also, bright orange for a ninja?

Sound – High

Naruto’s soundtrack goes far beyond the morning cartoon. The hype tracks truly build hype, the perfect instrumental piece accompanies tragedy, and the villains walk to their own sinister church organs. Voice acting in Japanese is another standout. The dub, however…yeah…Naruto’s voice, he sounds like a chain smoker and that “Believe it!” rubbish (they cut it after season one – what mercy!). The dub is hit and miss for such a large cast. Some, like Orochimaru (Steve Blum), the performance I would have guessed as most difficult to match, are perfect.

Story – Medium

Teen ninjas fight for their village. Cool powers, great supporting cast, Lee, nefarious villains, and engaging battles, all bogged down by shounen padding.

Overall Quality – High

Recommendation: Good shounen to start with. The overall high quality is predicated on you skipping the filler (for a simple guide, stop at episode 140). It is a medium quality otherwise.

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Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Great MusicHoly S***Phenomenal VillainRiveting ActionStrong Support Characters

Negative:

Terrible Start

Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Kidou Senshi Gundam SEED Destiny

 

Related: Gundam SEED (prequel)

Mobile Suit Gundam Seed C.E.73: Stargazer (side story)

Similar: Gundam 00

Aldnoah.Zero

Code Geass

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Mecha Science Fiction Action Adventure Drama

Length: 50 episodes

 

Positives:

  • The return of SEED characters.
  • More of SEED’s great music.

Negatives:

  • The narrative parallels SEED too closely.
  • Most new characters are dull, or worse, irritating.
  • More Cagalli than before.
  • Overuse of flashbacks and two recap episodes, even with the HD remaster.
  • Many repeated animations.

If you read my Gundam SEED review, you know that I have a fondness for that series. However, it’s with a heavy heart that I must convey how disappointed I am with Gundam SEED Destiny. My greatest issue is with how unnecessary this sequel feels, as I shall illustrate.

We start with a tenuous diplomatic mission, where Cagalli, now head representative of Orb, takes umbrage with the idea of ZAFT having a military, even for defence. (Whose bloody idea was it to keep her around? She presents the best case never to have a monarch in power.) Mid-diplomacy talks, Earth Federation agents infiltrate the ZAFT compound and steal three new Gundam units, destroying much in the process. (Wait a minute…) Cagalli and her bodyguard Athrun must flee aboard Minerva, the latest ZAFT vessel on her maiden voyage, where he is forced to pilot a Gundam as the only veteran aboard. (This sounds oddly familiar…) The three infiltrators are “extended” humans, always squabbling with each other. Stop, stop… Am I watching SEED again? All of this is the same, save for a few faction swaps and minor details. I could understand if they wanted to start this way (as in each Harry Potter book), pay tribute to the prequel or draw a parallel, but here, the similarities ring true throughout the plot.

Forced descent through Earth’s atmosphere with a Gundam trapped outside? Yes. Nukes launched against the Coordinator space colonies? Of course. Effeminate villain in the shadows that loathes Coordinators? Naturally. Weird, out-of-body, space floaty-thingy, experience after the loss of a lover that broke a main character? Why even ask? Destiny is the definition of a Hollywood sequel. Most of the new characters, and Athrun in parts, go through the same events as Kira and crew the first time around.

Destiny is at its best with the new events for returning characters. Lacus and Kira run an orphanage in the countryside, but their peace and quiet cannot last, especially with the advent Cagalli forced into a political marriage. Of interest to me, was Lacus’s plotline and how the new ZAFT chairman, Durandal (most interesting new character), handles the aftermath of her actions from SEED. Kira, though he remains important, serves as a weapon, more than anything else, for Lacus. The Archangel’s plot line is interesting, even with less screen time than the new ships.

Seeing the old crew is a pleasure – except Cagalli. (Die already!) How the hell she is the leader of a nation, I will never know. It’s not just that she makes bad decisions; she makes no decisions. A deer in the headlights is more decisive than her. For the majority of the series, she spends her time crying. What a pathetic leader. I knew she should have died episode one last season.

Oh, I haven’t even mentioned the protagonist – that should indicate how weak a character he is. Shinn, an Orb war refugee turned ZAFT soldier, pilots Minerva’s strongest Gundam, Impulse. Which reminds me… The launch sequences, bloody hell, what a chore. What feels like every second episode, we have to watch Impulse and its individual parts load into the launcher and then take off one by one (why not go pre-assembled?) before they fuse Megazord-style – twice per episode if he swaps loadout mid-battle. Just wait until Impulse launches with several other mechs. The repeated combat animations aren’t as bad this time around, but these launch sequences certainly pick up that hot poker and start stabbing you to make sure you never forget the pain. This is a case where they jumped the Rule of Cool.

Anyway, back to Shinn (do I have to?) and his incessant whining. He’s the kid who would have the snot beaten out of him every time he speaks – yes, he is that annoying, and even worse with the Japanese voice. He’s lucky Cagalli is there to nab the spotlight. And yet, Shinn’s greatest issue isn’t even his personality, but his purpose here. I cannot comprehend why they chose him, of all characters, to be protagonist. Yes, I understand that the loss of his family in SEED’s Orb battle ties him to the conflict; however, you could say that about anyone. Everyone has lost something in war. The writers didn’t do anything with Shinn, which is a strange statement to make, as he partakes in most fights. Seriously, why him? Shinn has no impact on the grander plot, unlike Athrun, Lacus, or Durandal.

Gundam SEED Destiny is by no means a bad anime. Not by a long shot. If Gundam SEED hadn’t come first to tell all these familiar plot points already, Destiny would have left a better impression. As is, however, the similarities are too obvious. And more Cagalli? Really? Why?!

Art – Medium

Slightly better quality than SEED’s HD remaster, as the art style was already in place. The remaster removed an episode’s worth of recap and added a few new scenes to go with the HD resolution and widescreen. Repeated animations, launch sequences in particular, are still a plague.

Sound – High

The English track is better, Ocean Studios returning with another great dub, and Shinn’s Japanese nasal makes me want to go deaf. Like SEED, the electronic and techno music is great.

Story – Medium

I know that war never changes, but plots do change. Destiny sticks too close to original.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: Only for fans of Gundam SEED who want to see more of Kira and crew. Regardless of whether you watch Gundam SEED Destiny, you should watch Gundam Seed C.E.73: Stargazer, the side story. It shows the war from civilian perspectives, taking an approach more for adult audiences, and the only context you need is that the space battle impacted a country on Earth.

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Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Great MusicPositive Recommended English Voice Track

Negative:

DissapointingNo Development

Hitsuji no Uta – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Hitsuji no Uta

 

Similar: Angel Sanctuary

Le Portrait de Petit Cossette

 

Watched in: Japanese

Genre: Vampire Drama

Length: 4 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Dark tone.

Negatives:

  • Everything is vague coupled with a snail-like pace.
  • Repetitive use of animation sequences.
  • Poor animation overall.
  • Proportions and anatomy are wonky at times.
  • Has no sense of purpose in the relationships.
  • Simple solutions to the conflicts go ignored.
  • Lifeless voice work despite the top-level talent.

Vague, that is how I would describe Hitsuji no Uta. It opens with vague talk about Kazuna’s father, then talks about art with some vague meaning, until it moves onto his sister, Chizuna, who want to help control his urges. The first episode ends without anything of worth occurring.

Kazuna suffers from a thirst for blood, his family disease, and starts seeing blood dripping off people. However, the next episode, repeats the sequence (literally) in a vat of ambiguous dialogue. In fact, you could cut the first two episodes (that’s half the series), as the blood thirst sequences repeat, yet again, in the third episode where the vague purpose of the narrative finally enters the picture.

For a series only four episodes long, you wouldn’t think it possible to have such a slow pace and filler throughout. I am not exaggerating about the blood thirst scenes; they take up what feels like half the airtime. If they were going to give nothing of substance in any department, then why bother? Didn’t anyone look at the script and ask, “What’s the purpose?”

The conflict is worthless. Why is he afraid of drinking blood? When he does feed eventually, there are no consequences – feeding doesn’t kill. It feels like the writer just wasted our time. Then there are the relationships. Kazuna’s friend from the art club, Yaegashi, has a crush on him. Does it matter? No, because it goes nowhere, especially once the incest starts with his sister. Oh yes, I should have mentioned the incest, which is what this anime feels like a smokescreen for. The incest brings the least drama to the narrative, if you can believe it.

And bloody hell, the art. Hideous. The characters’ faces are lopsided in half the cells, and the eyes. The eyes! They are drawn concave from the side and actually bend inwards when the characters blink.

Hitsuji no Uta’s characters aren’t strong enough for a character piece such as this – I couldn’t even tell you their personalities. If you want an anime to fall asleep to, this is it; however, those eyes may give you nightmares.

Art – Very Low

Those lopsided eyes, fluctuating proportions and repeating sequences are painful to watch. They couldn’t be bothered to animate the mouths half the time (the characters just stare blankly), and the backgrounds are as dead as a mouse caught in a mousetrap, under an anvil, in an exploding volcano.

Sound – Low

Much of the voice work sounds dead inside (not in the right sort of way) even with great actors like Tomokazu Seki (Sagara in Full Metal Panic) and Megumi Hayashibara (Rei in Evangelion) known for emotionally subdued characters. It’s likely to be the fault of the voice direction, as everyone sounds like that.

Story – Low

A student struggling with his thirst for blood isn’t a compelling tale when blood is readily offered from a sustainable source. It doesn’t help that the characters have no soul to them.

Overall Quality – Low

Recommendation: Not worth your time unless looking for a sleep aid. Hitsuji no Uta is an anime I can’t understand why they bothered making. It would have been evident in pre-production that the art and sound were poor, coupled with an empty story, so why green light the project?

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive: None

Negative: 

Ear Grating Voice WorkHollow World BuildingLacks ConflictPoor PacingRubbish Major CharactersUgly Artistic Design

Wolf’s Rain – Review

Japanese Title: Wolf’s Rain

 

Similar: Ergo Proxy

Darker than Black

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Action Adventure Drama

Length: 30 episodes (26 in season one, 4 OVA to conclude)

 

Positives:

  • An extensive and varied soundtrack from multiple countries.
  • Great visual quality expected from studio Bones.
  • Solid Japanese voice work alongside the likes of Crispin Freeman and Steve Blum in an equally good English track.

Negatives:

  • Serious pacing issues.
  • The main drive of the plot, the search for paradise, doesn’t have any urgency due to vague objectives and potential consequences early in the series.
  • Four recap episodes in the middle.

I first started watching Wolf’s Rain in 2003 shortly after its initial airing. It took until yesterday, eleven years later to finish watching the anime – I never felt that ‘just one more episode’ drive. Poor pacing issues, vague storytelling, and filler episodes make Wolf’s Rain a difficult anime to invest in.

Wolf shapeshifters were thought extinct for 200 years; however, a few survived and blended into the populace as humans. A white wolf named Kiba follows the scent of Lunar Flowers to Cheza the flower maiden, key to opening the door to paradise. Unfortunately, the villain Darcia, who seeks to open paradise to remove his family’s curse, kidnaps Cheza. Kiba along with three other wolves, Tsume, Hige, and Toboe, give chase to rescue her. Meanwhile, a hunter and his dog Blue track down the pack of wolves, intent on wiping them out.

Wolf’s Rain’s narrative setup is a good one brought down by ambiguity. I understand (and recommend) that a writer shouldn’t lay out all the cards on the table within the first chapter; however, you must at least tell the audience which game you are playing. The narrative structure in Wolf’s Rain is akin to playing poker, only to have someone declare ‘Gin!’ and win the game, which is when you realise you weren’t playing the right game. Wolf’s Rain doesn’t establish the importance of paradise or the relevance of the villain (outside of kidnapping because the plot needed conflict) until late in the series. Furthermore, it isn’t some grand twist. The world is ending and paradise must be opened in order to save it. Only the blood of a wolf and the lunar maiden can accomplish this task. That’s all they needed to state clearly within a few episodes. It seems as though the writers assumed that the audience already knew all of this somehow.

Wolf’s Rain main storytelling device is allegory. Everything represents something. The focus here is on religious pilgrimage and social constructs. The wolves’ search for paradise is their journey to enlightenment, while the government’s extinction of wolves is the suppression of freedom. Looking at the device on a macro level, it is well executed, as the wolves face a dozen trials from betrayal to self-doubt to false hope as their varied personalities clash with one another. That said, it fails on a micro level, the scene-to-scene narrative. Writers can’t just throw something at the audience a claim quality because it’s ‘symbolic.’ Even if something is symbolic, it still needs structure and quality. When using symbolism, ask this: if the audience doesn’t catch the symbolism, will they still understand what is going on? If a character hulking out and turning evil is symbolic of inner struggle, there still needs to be a plausible reason for hulking out into evil. One can’t suddenly make him evil and declare symbolism!

The pacing doesn’t help either. Where some episodes have action, drama, and tension throughout, other episodes consist of nothing more than slow pans across silent scenes where little happens. Yes, moments of silence and introspection can enhance the narrative tension, but here the silence builds to nothing. To compound further, episodes 15 to 18 are recaps of the story thus far from the perspectives of different characters – the same recap four times! One would assume these recaps at least garner extra backstory or maybe revelations about a character’s motives. Alas, no, just filler. Imagine if you had to pay for this back when it was four episodes a DVD.

Where Wolf’s Rain does shine is with its music. Composer Yoko Kanno is to be commended for her excellent work with the soundtrack. She recorded music from around the world to craft an extensive and varied soundtrack. The opening theme sounds like something from Sting, the closing is by Maaya Sakamoto in English, there is European chant, Indian Raga, violin for moments of sorrow, and so much more. Truly great music.

It is a true shame the storytelling in Wolf’s Rain is so vague. As things are, I found the plodding story moments a hindrance to reach the tension. The soundtrack is worth a listen on its own, at the least.

Art – High

Great work as always by studio Bones with attention to detail like persistent battle damage. In human form, the artists managed to convey wolfish characteristics without resorting to clichéd ‘dog-ears-and-be-done-with-it’ design.

Sound – Very High

A phenomenal soundtrack from around the world along with great voice work in both languages. Gravel brothers Steve Blum and Crispin Freeman bring the appropriate levels of growl to the villain and Tsume, respectively.

Story – Medium

An over reliance on symbolisms leaves the plot vague for too long. Also suffers from pacing issues and four episodes of recap in the middle.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: Unless you can stand a vague narrative and slow pace, you won’t enjoy Wolf’s Rain. I do really love that music.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

Great Music

Negative:

Poor Pacing