February 16, 2011

Utewarerumono

Funimation has re-released Utewarerumono in a Super Amazing Value Edition. As a result I now own this unpronounceable title, and a few weeks ago I watched it.

*****
A man awakens in a hut, in what appears to be a medieval village, wearing a mask he cannot remove, with no memory of his past, and finds himself being tended to by an old woman and her two granddaughters, who, to his astonishment, are equipped with dog ears and tails.
 
And there are new rules to learn!

The story progresses very fast but logically, and our masked hero ( who the women name Hakuoro) and his growing band of allies encounter and must overcome a steady stream of increasingly difficult challenges, all the while trying to find out who he is (and why he is tailless).

This show is remarkable in a number of respects. First, this show is a fantasy adventure done straight.  Utewarerumono has above average production values and very engaging characters. In contrast to the fantastic elements such as magical beasts and exotic races, the  relationships, motivations and even the tactics are realistic. The world is very well realized.

Perhaps most remarkable of all, Hakuoro is a very likable, ethical, AND SMART person. This rare combination of traits is found in most of the shows other protagonists as well.  The men in the cast are generally strong, ethical adults and as such are the antithesis of the nebbish whiny brats or hotheaded punks that seem to be the norm of late (well, there is a hotheaded teen punk, but he's a foil and he advances the plot). This is not to say that the leading women are overshadowed by the guys...they more than hold their own.

To wit...

Do NOT make fun of the trenchcoat

It's just refreshing to see a show where the men are men and not jackwagons or wimps.

The show is exceedingly well paced and has a very humanistic streak. It doesn't pull its punches (characters die) but it is at times a downright inspiring show.

Utewarerumono  contains 19 episodes of the some of the most satisfying adventure anime I have ever seen.

Unfortunately it is a 26 episode series.

This is just episode 20 child. There is more fail coming than your young mind can possibly imagine.

GAINAX call your office...Mary Sue broke in and stole one of your endings.

The last 7 episodes of this show form a bone crushingly painful cascade of stupidity wrapped in schizophrenia and bound together with a truly impressive level of contempt for the audience.

I cannot type enough swear words do justice to the ending of this show. Frankly about the time the mechs show up (yes...the mechs) I had real difficulty following it. The story got disjointed nonsensical and downright hateful.

...but wait there is more...

 It tried to weave together 2 separate, out of order, quite dystopic flashbacks into the story.

Here is a semi-coherent overview of the flashbacks which I knicked from the Wikipedia entry.

If you did not read that , you are likely still sane.

Note that that only covers the flashback portions of the plot...the "present" plot has the previously wise cast becoming mind numbingly stupid...before the whole insipid mess just collapses under its own incoherence.

I know these writers can write...they wrote the first 19 episodes, so unless they switched writing teams 3/4s of the way through
this isn't likely incompetence.  I think it could be sadism.

Or perhaps this was made for the American market and this is one of those cruel jokes they play on foreigners...like natto.

Which, come to think of it, brings us back to sadism.

ahem...
 
I'm going to refrain from recommending this series...but if anyone's interested I have a complete set right here.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 06:13 AM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
Post contains 632 words, total size 11 kb.

1 It's amazing how many shows start well and end badly, isn't it? (I'm thinking of Venus versus Virus, as another example.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Wed Feb 16 11:15:17 2011 (+rSRq)

2 I don't know, I liked the ending about as much as I liked the show.  Not in love with it, but it worked, and given how little I paid for the SAVE edition, was well worth the price.  A little A God Am I, but whatever.  Reminded me of the manga version of Nausicaa a bit.  The sketchy CGI shortcuts in the mass battle scenes irritated me more than the ending.  Cheap CGI doesn't work for medieval battle scenes - it gets very uncanny valley.

And no, this wasn't ginned up for the American market, it's based on a Sakura Wars-esque wargame-cum-eroge.  Which is apparently divergent enough that there are some spoilers out there about the trap nature of a couple of the secondary characters which are *incorrect* because they got retconned into women for the anime.

Of course, keep in mind that I'm apparently one of the few viewers who honestly doesn't get what's so horrible about the Mahoromatic second season ending.

Posted by: Mitch H. at Wed Feb 16 11:23:20 2011 (jwKxK)

3 It's funny how I found Utawarerumono unpronounceable before, but it made complete sense when we studied the passive form. Now it's one of my examples.
 Uta (song)
 Utau (sing(s))
 Utawanai (neg with wa)
 Utawareru (is sung, passive)
 Utawareru Mono (thing that is sung)

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Wed Feb 16 15:37:06 2011 (9KseV)

4 Pete passes the teacher exam.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Wed Feb 16 22:43:58 2011 (EJaOX)

5 Mitch H. wrote:

...And no, this wasn't ginned up for the American market, it's based on a Sakura Wars-esque wargame-cum-eroge.

Thanks, I did NOT realize it was an eroge.

(I was just joking about the natto BTW)

In looking up stuff for the post, I'd had gotten that it was based on a game, but I was wondering if the anime was aimed at overseas sales. The ending was so incongruous and felt so tacked on that I thought they might have changed it to go for the VIOLENCE! audience . Certainly the attention to logistics, tactics and strategy make sense if it was a tactics game.

 I certainly did NOT realize it was an tactics/eroge, but that actually makes sense in hindsight. The women in this show are all very impressive in various ways, but towards the end most start acting dumb and almost co-dependant. The hero, presumably the player, is just living  a power fantasy... which even being royalty doesn't satisfy. And then at the end

Thazz juss wrawng...

The scene where Karura the gladiator offers herself up to Hakuro was a bit surprising in the anime, and actually reflected well on both of them. But...I can certainly see how that was likely just another encounter in the game.

My main problem was that the show that it started out so good, with the Heros using  wits and common sense,and being very decent people as opposed to being cynical jerks using super powers or the sort of  pathetic cyphers one often finds in a harem show. Hell, by about the midpoint they had this almost Arthurian thing going on and then...ghaa!

Your comments on the CGI effects are well taken, they didn't bother me too much but they were quite obvious.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Wed Feb 16 23:22:42 2011 (EJaOX)

6 I never actually watched the last disc of this. Probably better off, no? ;p

Played the game some. Not superb but not too bad; suffers from being a lot older than most of the similar games that I could be playing. The ero aspect was... not terribly well-realized, to be honest. Frankly, I enjoyed the anime Hakuoro considerably more. (Look, okay, Karura and Eruru are fine and I'll give an exception for busty lolis. But Aruru is just out of bounds!)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Sat Feb 19 23:51:00 2011 (pWQz4)

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