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.)
– The Cockpit
– Mobile Suit Gundam – War in the Pocket