Posted by psgels on 7 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews

Here’s a new TV-special that aired recently: Kawa no Hikari, or the light of the river. It’s not your average anime, because it tells the story about a bunch of rats who have to leave their old home because it’s destroyed by construction workers. With series as this, a major pitfall is to become all preachy and simply let it boil down to “save these poor rats from evil humans”, but thankfully this anime manages to avoid it. Instead, it’s here to bring awareness and break stereotypes. It’s still a shallow series, but it could have become much worse.

This definitely is a series for kids. If you show this to some young children of around six years old, they’re going to love it; it makes them aware of the environment without becoming all preachy, and also teaches them to think before placing judgement on someone. That part is very nicely done, but in the end it still just provides an overly simplistic view of the matter; the series is simply too short for any real depth and the themes just aren’t fleshed out well enough. The result is that another way this show can be interpreted as the following: all sewer rats are evil. Except for one perhaps who happens to be nice. All cats are evil. Oh, but there happens to be one who doesn’t like to eat mice and therefore treats the characters nicely. Oh, and all field rats are bastards too, but the lead characters happen to be nice ones. Feels kind-of elitist, don’t you think?

Aside from the environmentalist parts, Kawa no Hikari is also an adventure story. This part of the series is flawed, but engaging. The way the creators keep toying with these fragile lives of the three lead characters as they battle sewers, floods, angry sewer rats, cars and a lot more is bound to catch your attention. Despite this TV-special’s flaws, the lead characters are engaging and sympathetic, and they make you want to see the endings. Unfortunately, some of the action scenes are completely unnecessary: they’re just there for the sake of including some excitement. Near the ending the action also gets harder and harder to buy (especially that bus scene) and the ending itself really feels like a total cop-out and in no way satisfying. Overall though, this TV-special is nothing to write home about, but still nice enough if you need something simple and innocent.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 8/10
Setting: 7/10

5 Responses

  1. Avatar Kim says:

    It sounds like a similar concept to the novel Watership Down (although that is about rabbits). It’s actually a really great book.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Kim: indeed, but compared to series as watership down, Kawa no Hikari is a pretty light and simple story. There are no complex rat politics or religions going on, it’s simply three rats trying to find a new home.

  3. Avatar Taxy says:

    First I thought of Mrs. Brisby when reading the plot. :)

    psgels, can you please confirm, that this is only a standalone special, because you sometimes said in your Review, that it is an “series”.

    Could you please also add the information, what length this special has? Thanks a lot!

  4. psgels psgels says:

    Taxy: ack. That “series” was just the power of habit that kept kicking in as I was writing this review (I write too much about series). As for the length, it’s about one hour and fifteen minutes long.

  5. Avatar Kim says:

    Yeah from reading your review I figured it wasn’t as complex as Watership Down. But that was just the first thing that popped into my head from reading your synopsis of this anime.

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