Posted by psgels on 28 June 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Senkou no Night Raid




The fact that a series is slowly subbed doesn’t mean that it can’t be excellent. Really, with Yojou-han immediately subbed, this was by far the hardest one to translate by fansubbers, and therefore it didn’t get the coverage and attention that it should have gotten. Night Raid is a special series, and much more series should share the utter guts that it displayed. Be sure to support it when it eventually does come out in English!

But first and foremost, let me respond to the naysayers out there: no, Night Raid does not rape history. As a series about a group of Japanese people in China, in the 1930s. This could have been the most historically insensitive series out there. The problem is that, if I understood things correctly, there is this habit of the Japanese to really ignore anything they did around the second world war, and instead of accepting that they did a lot of things wrong and move on, there seems to be this air of not wanting to talk about it and learn from it at all.

This series, it seems to me, wanted to be a response to statements like this. While we follow a group of Japanese spies in the middle of China, it makes sure to cause no misunderstanding: the Japanese did some horrible things, and they consciously chose to do these things. In fact, a huge part of this series is about them, making these decisions, considering the alternatives, and act based on what they believe is right. Self-righteousness is a huge theme in this series, and the way this series explores them makes it a very thought-provoking series. Sure, some of the tropes it uses have been used a number of times before, but never in this context.

Now, as for the actual execution, this one could have been a bit more solid at times. The result is a number of plot-holes that are there to just keep the plot from going further. With thirteen episodes, it also doesn’t exactly have the time to give the characters a lot of background, though it definitely does try.

The acting department is a bit of a mixed bag. Some characters put down very convincing performances, like Yukina and Airi. Others, like Aoi, sound a bit too immature and unrefined. Especially in the first few episodes does this get tedious to watch.

Which is especially annoying because the first half really exist to just set everything right. It’s episodic in the way that it introduces all of the concepts, and fleshes out the setting. I think the most notable here is the infamous fourth episode, which is only dedicated to fleshing out the characters and nothing else.

If you’re interested in this series however, I do urge you to watch until episode seven before passing judgment, because it’s there where the series shows its true feathers. The thing with Night Raid is that on the small picture, it is indeed a bit inferior to its predecessor Sora no Oto. In the big picture however, I really believe that it surpasses it.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Knows its priorities, knows how to build up and most importantly: knows how to be subtle with its drama.
Characters: 8/10 – Good depth for the short length of only 13 episodes, some are well acted, others could have been done better.
Production-Values: 8/10 – A-1’s best artists were at Ookiku Furikabutte this season, but nevertheless solid enough, plus a very good soundtrack also helps.
Setting: 9/10 – The guts it has with its subject material as a medium of anime surpasses even Zipang. Very daring and thought-provoking.

(On a side-note: I really wish that I could rate this one higher, but unfortunately I can’t find an excuse for it. It unfortunately had a few too many faults, but the advantages really made up for it for me.)
Suggestions:
Zipang
The Cockpit
Mobile Suit Gundam – War in the Pocket

8 Responses

  1. karry says:

    “82,5/100″
    Yep, same as always.

  2. Bruce says:

    It’s unfortunate that while Sora no Woto was very popular, this was largely ignored by everybody. I’m glad you blogged this until the end. Without subs I wouldn’t have known what became of this series.

  3. AuroraFlame says:

    5 was the episode that sold it for me. For a standalone ep, it showed an unusual amount of maturity and managed to tell a subtle backstory without the need for melodramatic flashbacks (Angel Beats/Rainbow, I’m looking at you).

  4. mds says:

    this is the season of strong setting in your book,really…every shows that you’re reviewed this season has the minimal setting score of 8/10,and three of them got 9/10….

    but still….in the end,all of them got scores around 82.5-85 ….

  5. psgels psgels says:

    mds: yeah, that’s the thing with this season: there are a ton of strong and well developed settings, that’s really what makes this season stand out. But the individual execution of most of them was just something that left a lot to be desired. A huge problem was of course that there were just too many series that were too hsort, but even with this series that had no pacing issues, the acting could have been better, and despite the maturity there also were a few moments in which charactrs made strange decisions.

  6. reverse says:

    Yojou-han immediately subbed, this was by far the hardest one to translate by fansubbers

    fansubbers using funimation rip for it, hence it fast

  7. MsteaK says:

    Dispite being dependent on fansubs, Senkou no Night Raid is a classic example of a story that needs and deserves more time to fully lay its groundwork and rise to a satisfying climax. Shows with ambition shouldn’t be restrained by a system that stipulates a very resticted number of episodes.

    If the writer and director need 16 episodes to tell their story, then that’s all the the series should have in order to conclude. Adding 10 more episodes is a waste of space and time, and could potentially drag the quality down by a large margin. The same applies for a show that needs more than 26 episodes to fully develop its narrative. There’s no need to cut away important content or cram it in sloppily as a last-ditch effort.

    Anime used to do that, but now the model has changed for the worse. People are always bitching about ”Moe and harem anime being the cancer that is killing anime,” and while I can easily understand their opinion and viewpoint on the matter, for me the thing that is truly cancerous to this medium is exactly this issue of strict template. BURN IT WITH FIRE!

  8. chounokoe says:

    @MsteaK:
    The model for anime broadcasting was never really different, the only thing that changed is that during the 90’s the year was divided into 4×13 week runs, while originally it was 2×26 week runs. Which meant that series were almost always longer.
    What was produced more were OVA, which was a lot easier when the industry wasn’t as dependent on direct income as they are now.

    It’s not like it’s a thing the studios choose to do. The problem is that there is a system where you buy a slot in a season from a broadcaster…every week you don’t use is a week you paid for but get nothing back, meaning anyone could fill it with anything with you and especially your sponsors paying for it.

    I think it’s no different with the US, only that series are produced much much closer to the actuall airing and may get cancelled while airing. The difference is that most of the time those series are produced and financed by the broadcasting stations themselves, meaning they can decide which other series to replace it with…in the end they get the income.

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  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 25. 2015 03:28 AM)
    @Bam: In any case Richard Kelly shows himself to be both a left wing and very clever filmaker =)
    I loved it =)
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 25. 2015 02:58 AM)
    @Bam:It was creative and twisty and had a bit of everything and I liked that about its plot. But I haven’t decided whether its better than Donnie darko or not. Interesting to see Sarah Michelle Gellar in role that isn’t buffy.
    Haven’t seen Box yet, but should do so.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 25. 2015 02:57 AM)
    @Bam: I just completed watching southland tales in full. Another used on here had mentioned this to me ages ago, but you talking about it got me off the fence to finally get round to it. Though I felt it perhaps excessively long, a bit padded in places, this was a very underrated film with a biting satire, great ideas and a good, very funny at times dark sense of humour.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Apr 25. 2015 02:52 AM)
    @Bam: I think the only thing arslan’s manga had going for it was some alright fight scenes here and there.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Apr 25. 2015 12:13 AM)
    Ep03 of Arslan was weak. The only reason I’m still excited for the next episode is Narsus. Hopefully Arakawa’s portrayal is as cynically delightful as Tanaka’s.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Apr 25. 2015 12:10 AM)
    @Emma: yeah I liked that. Uses the same digital rotoscoping that was used in A Scanner Darkly. I enjoyed reading ASD more than the movie. Philip K. Dick has a literary style that really doesn’t lend itself to the screen. Interestingly enough Southlake Tales is also heavily inspired by Dick’s novels.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Apr 24. 2015 11:35 PM)
    @Bam: I’ve only partially seen it but seems like theres noticeable dark humour there.
    I saw a trippy movie about lucid dreams lately called waking life.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Apr 24. 2015 07:31 PM)
    Love it or hate it, everyone agreed that it’s certainly an interesting watch and a tantalizing and magnetic film that even if you despise it you would still badly want to watch it to the end. Dwayne Johnson, Justin Timberlake, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sean William Scott are just the tip of the iceberg in this weird list of celebrities who all play a strange and out-of-character role in Southlake Tales. The movie was ambitious if nothing else.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Apr 24. 2015 07:23 PM)
    I just recently watched Southland Tales for the first time: I gotta say I enjoyed it. This was Richard Kelly’s next big project after Donnie Darko. Not considering The Box this is pretty much the only thing he’s done since and it’s extremely polarizing with the audience; although most people hated it. It’s a satirical dystopian apocalypse story and might be one of the weirder films that strangely never became a cult classic.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Apr 24. 2015 07:18 PM)
    @Emma: Vinland is one of those that stresses me every time I hear its name since I badly need to catch up with it. I also watch Vikings, pretty solid show. It premiered on the History Channel of all channels, mostly known now for the entertaining but laughable Ancient Aliens. I think I might’ve seen Angel a while ago, and Holy Motors just sounds so strange; so I might give it a go actually.

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