Posted by psgels on 25 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Strange Dawn



There are some anime out there awesome… and then there are the series that go one step beyond. These are the series that just somehow go against all boundaries and expectations I could have had for it, and have something nearly impossible to describe. When I take a look at the series that I managed to rate at 95/100 and 94/100 through the nearly four years that I’ve been blogging, I keep getting surprised at how little of them look like the masterpieces that they are from the outside. I guess that such a list of personal favourites is incredibly personal, and different for everyone, but every time one of these appears, they truly remind me why I’m still blogging.

As for Strange Dawn, it too doesn’t look like anything special from the outside, however, I was completely proven wrong when I started watching it, about two years ago. Unfortunately, it was nearly unfindable for neither subs nor raws, but I finally managed to find a bunch of French subs for the entire series. It completely blew me away; Junichi Sato (who directed also Kaleido Star, Aria, Magic Users Club and Umi Monogatari) has done an absolutely fantastic job on this series.

Anyway, about Strange Dawn. Its basic premise has been done many times before: high-schoolers end up in some kind of parallel dimension and have some adventures. What sets itself apart from the others is a terrific execution. For starters, it breaks tons of stereotypes that these series have. Usually when a lead character crosses into a new world, he turns out to conveniently acquire some new superpower or something: either he becomes incredibly good at swordfighting, or has the magical Deus ex Machina beam, turns out to be royalty or gets saved by some sort of royalty. Yuko and Eri instead stay exactly the same. Instead, their importance to the story comes from the fact that they ended up in a country full of midgets, hence their natural strength when compared to all of these small people, and that becomes the major driving force of the story.

And there are more of these things: the creators take nothing for granted here, they explain the problems the two girls face when they have to deal with the strange world they ended up in; from eating and taking care of their clothes to sleeping and going to the bathroom (especially the latter is a running plot thread). In fact, the entire series has an incredible sense of detail: during the quiet parts in the series, whenever characters aren’t fighting or in the midst of dramatic climaxes, you can see them taking care of their own food, sharpening their weapons, caring for their horses (okay, flying snails), and doing all sorts of things that most anime nowadays take for granted or only show one or two scenes of.

The same amount of detail you can see in the animation: characters move realistically and relatively few corners are cut in comparison to your average anime. When characters move, they hardly ever look out of place and they’re always doing something meaningful that might not impact the story, but brings SO MUCH life to the setting and the world that the story plays in. For the past few years I’ve been a real advocate of series that manage to make the setting that they’re played in come alive, and this series really is the school example of how to do this right.

And as for the plot, we’ve got ourselves another case of wrong advertising here. The promo art might make you suspect that this is a fun and light-hearted fantasy adventure, mainly aimed at kids. It is not. In fact, don’t even dare to try and watch this series for the lighter parts, because Strange Dawn is dark. It’s not just dark in its atmosphere, but also in its themes. When people get cut up, blood appears without any hints of censorship; themes of war and death play a HUGE role in this series and heck, a certain episode even what can be qualified as an attempted rape in it. The amount of drama throughout the entire series is immense, but at the same time it consistently stays away from emo and melodrama, and stays genuine and never drags on.

Then there is the amazing voice acting cast. Especially the two lead characters are magnificently voiced, but the rest of the cast also shines throughout the series. They perfectly manage to capture the emotions of their characters, making the entire series an emotional roller-coaster along the way. And speaking of the audio, I also have to mention the amazing soundtrack that was compiled for this series. The tracks fit the atmosphere perfectly, and are a joy to listen to throughout the series.

Overall, there wasn’t one episode that didn’t have me clutched to the screen in near-tears, but the thing that blew me away the most was the ending. For the sake of spoilers I won’t say anything more, but the final episode was the single most emotional episode I have watched this year. Do not get fooled by the childish exterior, because inside Strange Dawn is a mature and intense roller-coaster ride. There are probably a lot of people who disagree with me on this, considering the abysmally low ratings on sites as Anidb, but I loved every minute of it.

Storytelling: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

52 Responses

  1. Dave Baranyi says:

    Folks – as an alternative view – let’s just say that there are very good reasons why the ratings for “Strange Yawn” are low. I watched it when it was first broadcast in Japan years ago, and it isn’t the sort of anime to improve with age. Beware, unless you have a very high tolerance for melodrama, plot holes and overacting.

  2. ancalyme says:

    I was searching for this about half a year ago, but I only ever found the first three episodes (subbed OR raw). Wow, your google-fu must be amazing :0

  3. Tracer says:

    Psgels, how is the Japanese in this anime like? Is it mostly simple phrases and words or does it have slightly more complicated phrases?

    For example, something like Aoi Hana or Darker than Black?

  4. Howling-kun says:

    So I guess you’re enjoying a lot Junichi Sato’s works…

    Watch Aria. Under your standards I’d rate it 100/100, the final season at least, that got me in tears and is my favorite anime ever (as of this post, having watched about 200 titles).

    I’m quite interested in watching this RAW or in french (that I know as much as of japanese lol), so I second Tracer’s question.

    • cobra34 says:

      >Under your standards I’d rate it 100/100

      Under his standards, 100/100 is absolute perfection so it doesn’t exist in this world, nor it ever will.
      I REALLY hate this rating system since you are practically rating series against a highly idealistic abstract concept that doesn’t exist, which makes the whole thing worthless. How do you know what’s bad if you don’t know what’s good?

  5. Senna says:

    Interesting. Apparently there was a U.S. release by Urban Vision, but I can’t find records of whether or not it was released in full (only the first two DVDs show up in my searches). Actually, my college library had the first DVD of this series in their collection, but I never bothered to watch it since it looked like a kiddie show. But, now you have me curious.

  6. DmonHiro says:

    Dude, I’m sorry, but it’s your own fault for reading ratings on AniDB. That rating system is about as accurate as an AK-47 used for sniping.

  7. senerikfred says:

    DAMMIT

    I LOVE JUNICHI SATO

    I’VE BEEN TRYING TO FIND THIS SINCE FOREVER

    WHY COULDN’T THERE AT LEAST BE A SPANISH VERSION?

    In other news, go watch Princess Tutu already. I doubt it’ll be nearly as dark/detailed as Strange Dawn, but it’s no kiddy series and happens to be my favorite anime, ever.

  8. Kim says:

    I second the Princess Tutu recommendation. It’s an amazing series.

  9. c160 says:

    There should be an English ver somewhere cause I clearly remember this being one of my first anime ever(after Dragonball and Doraemon) along with AlHazard,Gatekeepers and Niea7(all shown on AXN channel when they still have anime).But damn,I can’t remember the ending!What happened in the end,psgels?

  10. Machi says:

    Princess Tutu :wub: I think the biggest shock of Princess Tutu was the villain. Seriously I don’t think ANYONE would ever think of a certain character as the villain, which did bump the show up for me for creativity. While I don’t think it would be a masterpiece it definitely ranks high as one of the better series I’ve watched, thanks mostly to its originality.

  11. psgels psgels says:

    For those who are interested in the subs I found:

    http://www.power-anime.fr/download/fiche/2092-strange_dawn_vf_vostfr.html

    There is a lot of dialogue, but I guess that it’s of the same level as Aoi Hana.

  12. Machi says:

    I watched this when I was a kid… To be exact a few months or so after it was finished I think, not sure, the anime station of my country showed this. I would take a daresay here but there is a chance that those that watched this show as well were kids as well that time, after all back then there wasn’t much places to watch anime and this one is definitely an oddity. So my guess for the low ratings on ANN could be due to vague recollections of old viewers, I recall not being all too impressed watching this as a kid but from the looks of it this does deserve a second look with age now. Seeing you do some of the so called retro stuff of the 1997’s and above makes me feel old XD I can’t believe how long it has been.

    • cobra34 says:

      No, it just that ANN is complete and utter garbage. Seriously, the reviewers and regular users of that site are worst than 4chan.

  13. Solaris says:

    This anime is licensed in Italy.
    It may look cartoonish with those toyish weird characters, but it’s not a kid’s anime at all. The story is a kind of dark fantasy.
    So maybe it’s why who watched it as a kid wasn’t that impressed at that time.

    • cobra34 says:

      This series IT’S A KIDS ANIME. It was made, aired and promoted as such. The thing is that what’s considered for children in Japan is completely different than the rest of the world. As simple as that.

  14. Autonomous Monster says:

    Dammit, psgels. My worst subject in school was French. >:|

  15. Solaris says:

    And what about Italian? :P

  16. specracer says:

    I hope I can engrish my way through the show =\

  17. Gustavo says:

    Machi, you son of a bi***!!! WTH putting those fuc**** spoilers without even warning, you piece of sh***!!!!

  18. Patrick says:

    I found the episodes subbed on emule about 1 year ago (with 2 or 3 seeds). They were in french too. Good series but I didn’t find it nearly as amazing as psgels.

  19. Wyrdwad says:

    Another one I’m really glad to see you review! I’ve only seen the first half of this series, since that’s all that was ever released on DVD in the U.S. (Senna: I can confirm there were only ever two volumes, after which point Urban Vision dropped it), and have been looking for the latter half for quite a while now. As I recall, it was actually broadcast on TV in England, in full, but the English dub is *awful*. Still makes me wonder if there might be a PAL DVD version of it floating about somewhere, though…

    Anyway, I really, really loved this show when I first saw it, and got totally obsessed with it for a while. It’s intense, well-written, and just shockingly high-quality, with a lot more depth than you almost ever see from something like this. Gonna have to track down the end sometime, if it’s as good as you say.

    -Tom

  20. AKI says:

    Oh! I’m glad to see you enjoyed this one. I watched this show English dubbed way back 2001 (cable: AXN). It may turn off conventional anime watchers due to the cartoonish and kiddielike art but the story itself was dark and thought provoking. It was shown alongside with Now and Then, Here and There, thus it was thoroughly overshadowed by the former.

  21. Taxy says:

    psgels, isn’t that link only to subs/dubs in french? Since it looks like the series was licenced in US, but never was completely released there, is there a way to watch this series without french or japanese language skills?

    You made me very curious about this series, but I can give up looking for subs or something anymore, if it had to be french or japanese…

  22. Machi says:

    @Gustavo: I’d appreciate you to think before you type. What spoilers did I give away I’m pretty sure I worded it so vaguely that you wouldn’t be able to guess it lest you already know it before hand. And in this case I don’t think the wording unexpected villain spoils anything, because the key word is UNEXPECTED (so unless you’re some type of genius or have spoiled yourself) I doubt you’d figure it out.

    So I call you out right now in HOW in the world can you figure out a key event with the post

    Princess Tutu :wub: I think the biggest shock of Princess Tutu was the villain. Seriously I don’t think ANYONE would ever think of a certain character as the villain, which did bump the show up for me for creativity.

  23. dm says:

    I offer another echo on the Princess Tutu recommendations.

    I saw the early episodes of Strange Dawn when it was released here. It was, indeed, a wonderful series. I believe the entire series may have been released, with the second volume titled Strange … something other than dawn, but I never tracked it down.

    Many in the Touka Gettan thread are recommending that series’ soundtrack, Strange Dawn is another series with a very nice soundtrack.

  24. TAKO says:

    I found the raw, but there’s no subs to it..
    which is a bit of disappointing.
    However, see to it as the raw is ridiculously hard to find, I guess this is an accomplishment! :D
    Is there anyone who’s willing to sub it??
    xoxo

  25. Firechick says:

    I might plan on watching this in the future based on your review, but I have other anime I need to finish up before school starts.

    By the way, I also found another case of false advertising. There’s an old anime movie from the 70’s called Ringing Bell (aka Chirin no Suzu) which starts off lightly, but gets extremely dark after the first 10-15 minutes. There is a Japanese version, but it’s EXTREMELY hard to find (I managed to get myself a bootleg DVD with a Japanese option! Yes!), but the English dub is available on YouTube. I personally recommend it.

  26. webphi says:

    *Might be spoiler*

    Ok I just watched this anime after reading the review (I am French so could find subs). I understand the theme of the anime, speaking of war, religion, stupidity of men and all that but…. I am not sure I really understood the end.
    Is it only a depressing “we give up without even trying and to hell with everybody” or I missed something? They came without wanting it, and left without doing anything (not that there is any hope for 2 young girls to change anything in a fucked up setting like that even if they were willing:p)?
    Why were they summoned to begin with, and what were these “ghosts”? their unconscious?
    If someone more analytic than me could give some answers… =)

  27. Firechick says:

    Yeah, psgels! I also echo the Princess Tutu recommendation! I’m on episode 17 (that princeling narcissist guy in that episode annoys the spit out of me!…along with pint-sized Edel) so far! I love it to bits! It’s beautiful! I commandeth you to watch it…if the upcoming summer season isn’t exactly good. Hehehehe!

  28. Onibaba says:

    Appreciate the links, but password doesn’t work. Help please?

  29. psgels psgels says:

    Argh, dammit. How about these? You’ll need to register to their forum first, though.

    http://forum.downparadise.ws/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=92692

  30. hejay says:

    The password works for the megaupload files. You just have to change the quotation marks to the default straight quotes. So copy and paste this: “Hideki-is-Strange”

  31. hejay says:

    Er, I guess there some kind of parsing thing going on. Just change the quotes manually.

  32. darkerthanblackswordsman says:

    Please, lovers of anime, help me! GotWoot might be interested in translating STRANGE DAWN into English, but for that they need the raws. If anyone knows where to find them, tell me, or better still, tell them:
    http://www.gotwoot.net/2010/09/24/some-updates/#comments

    Come on now, someone MUST have them. Otherwise, how did the French translations come into being…

  33. Maceart says:

    Don’t worry, Doremi-fansubs picked up Strange Dawn. Expect all 13 episodes to be subbed within the next couple months.

  34. Ladholyman says:

    More like in one month.

  35. Ladholyman says:

    More like in one month.

  36. Mappy says:

    Always confounded me why this series was ignored by english subbers for so long. Glad to see Doremi working on it. A lot.

  37. Maceart says:

    And that’s it! Strange Dawn completed by Doremi-fansubs.

    The conclusion was kind of a let down though… was expecting something more solid. All in all, a decent hero’s journey/advenbure anime.

  38. blah says:

    Finally finished the series and I have to say it was really good.

    I thought the ending was great, the rock scene specifically. How often in anime do you get a scene where all your characters develop at one time and it’s earned! I loved Beret.

    On a side note, I HATED NATSUNO’S VOICE ACTOR….so much. I don’t think i’ve ever been annoyed by a character’s voice as much as with hers. Did nobody else have a problem with it?

  39. zork says:

    Saw the first episode quite many years ago and it left quite impression then and I ave always wanted to seethe entire series. Now when Doremi finally did the subbing I had the chance to see all of it at last. But it was somewhat disappointment. Like there wasn’t any plot at all. Just couple girls in parallel universe, some power struggle between local which I quite didn’t get, some emotions/drama between Shall and Reka and then the girls left. And I was left wondering, what the series was all about…

  40. PlywoodStick says:

    I enjoyed watching this one the whole way through! The ending was so abrupt, though… I left feeling like I didn’t fully understand the clashing cultures. Perhaps the viewer is supposed to feel that way… a sense of emptiness, as the two visitors also exhibited.

  41. Taxy says:

    Thanks to this review, there’s a german fansub available from today on! Thanks, psgels, for this great recommendation! :)

    Go to http://www.subs4u.de for more details about the german fansub. ^^

  42. [Currently thedoctorismysanta @ tumblr]

    just started watching this… For some reason this reminds me of Munto [Both the anime/movies/ovas] just more bloodier.

    • cobra34 says:

      The only thing this and Munto have in common is the parallel world thingy. NOTHING else is similar, for Goddamned sake.

  43. Perrin4869 says:

    Just finished watching this, and I got the same impression as webphi. I must add that I watched it raw, and so I missed most of the dynamics between the different factions here, I’d need a second watch to get that… But really, what was so moving about the ending? The whole meaning of the Majin and the two ghosts wasn’t explained… I ended up feeling quite empty… And it was headed in a very good direction to…
    If someone can shed light upon this, I’d be grateful!

  44. David says:

    hmm too high i would say , it’s only rated 6/10 …

  45. VyseLegendaire says:

    I finally got around to watching this show, and I thought it was pretty good, but could have been better. The show felt abruptly started and finished, many background details about world are glossed over or barely explained, the lives of the main characters at home skipped over, and I was at a loss about what the ‘theme’ might have been intended as. I feel like this series could have been an epic 100 ep Legend of Galactic Heroes type epic, considering how interesting the characters and plot really were. I guess everybody did sort of evolve a bit at the ending, however I couldn’t help but feel that much of the plot was contrived if the ending was just going to be so inconclusive.

  46. cobra34 says:

    >The promo art might make you suspect that this is a fun and light-hearted fantasy adventure, mainly aimed at kids.

    This anime is indeed AIMED at KIDS in Japan. It’s called cultural differences. Didn’t you bother to research even a little before making such ignorant statements?

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Rey
    (Friday, May 6. 2016 02:56 AM)
    Can someone send a request shiz to make a movie about the Sonata of Darkness of Melody? It would be pretty interesting…
  • k-off
    (Friday, May 6. 2016 01:49 AM)
    Langrisser certainly makes me appreciate Fates a little bit more, this is the video game equivalent of The Asylum’s rip-off movies.
  • Bam
    (Friday, May 6. 2016 01:23 AM)
    @Hellfire: lol I do too. This had good lyrics as well, but the line in Hellfire which says “he made the devil so much stronger than a man!” hits really hard.
  • SuperMario
    (Friday, May 6. 2016 01:12 AM)
    @Bam: yes, This performance was a gem, but truthfully any version would be more faithful than the Disney one. I still prefer Hellfire though :)
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 10:26 AM)
    What do you think?
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 10:25 AM)
    I met a French art student in a bar tonight, and after getting into Hugo and Notre-Dame de Paris, he suggested a more faithful French theater production of it. He believed that this is a much better portrayal of the conflicted priestly character of Frollo, and specifically offered this Hellfire-esque song sang by the talented Daniel Lavoie as evidence:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5St9zF849o
  • SuperMario
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 08:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: haha. If this film indeed was made I’ll be the first one on the line to watch it.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:32 AM)
    @Mario: This made me laugh far more than it should have: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kno3xDw27bY
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:30 AM)
    Anybody else seen Jungle Book yet?
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:25 AM)
    @Kaiser: I see. Look retro, so I might actually enjoy.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Bungou Stray Dogs – 05

Bungou Stray Dogs once again goes sidetrack this week, which means that this episode is a filler one and doesn’t advance the plot at all. The main rivalry between the Armed Detective Agency and Port Mafia; which I originally thought to be 4, 5-episodes arc, seems to stretch out until the end of this season, […]

Joker Game – 05

One of the things I wished for joker game to show me was that the spies of D-agency were not superhuman demi-gods who can handle anything. This episode nearly accomplishes that as one of the spies of D-agency is found out and captured. However it falters in that the spy was purposefully sold out and […]

Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World – 05

So Subaru has started his first repeat of this arc and at least this time he’s quick to come to terms with it. Though it is nice to see that he hasn’t shrugged off the progress he made getting wiped out without warning. But this time at least he’s at least making a plan and […]

Kiznaiver – 04

There are certain advantages to keeping your plot in the dark when storytelling. In the beginning stages when your audience is most attentive, if you manage to present questions they are interested in seeing answered then it provides a reason for the viewer to keep watching. However this tactic only continues to work as long […]

Flying witch – 04

Flying witch again delivers strong material this week and I actually think this is their best episode so far. Mostly because the 2 parts are well connected this week, and our new character Inuka is so natural and fit in like a glove, in addition they have an absurd and whimsical story to boost. I […]

Mayoiga – 05

We now back to the status quo on Mayoiga this week, as the group who left the village decided to come back, and the cliffhanger happened last week was never explained probably. I will say this upfront: this is not a good episode. We don’t learn much after it ends. We have even longer conversations […]

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – 03

                There are no brakes on the Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress train even when it goes for a pit stop to pick up some water and say a prayer for the dead. While my fellow writers firmly believe that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri will disintegrate into a trainwreck […]

Bungou Stray Dogs – 04

Bungou Stray Dogs sure never get tired to showcase more new characters every week, and judging from the OP I’m certain that there are more to come. This week there are 3 more new faces and each of them is over the top in their own ways, but that turns out to be for good […]

Joker Game – 04

I am starting to get a little worried about Joker Game. After a very strong start it’s gone down in quality once it revealed it’s episodic format. This episode marks the lowest point of the series so far though I still don’t think of it as bad. Rather than focus on a member of the […]

Latest Reviews

Schwarzesmarken – 65/100

Schwarzesmarken is a strange title in that it has a setting with fantastic potential yet the story is dampened by a rushed pacing and Missing characterisation. Despite this there are signs of a greater story under the hood and at times that story can shine despite haphazard adaption. The Stasi make for a great villain […]

Boku dake ga Inai Machi – 85/100

In the large reservoir of anime it is surprising just how few titles focus on the concept of time travel. There are of course titles which feature time travel but few that make it the core focus. So here we have Boku Machi or ERASED, a tale about a mangaka time traveling to his childhood […]

Gangsta. – 58/100

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 80/100

Gakkou is one with a good facade as promotional material would have you believe it was some dime a dozen moe slice of life. I was one who wasn’t fooled by the cute cuddly exterior but I was truly surprised with just how good this anime ended up being. Gakkou is one of those rare […]

Little Witch Academia The Enchanted Parade – 81/100

I wonder when it was that a film being childish became a flaw. As a medium grows it takes steps to aim to mature itself and seek a more intellectual level of presenting entertainment. Animation did it as Anime aimed to explore terrontry that cartoons refuse to explore and video games only recently broke away […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]