In the nineties, there was some kind of war going on between Nippon animation and Fuji TV, regarding the broadcast of the World Masterpiece Theatre. This seemed to have started with Little Prince Cedie, and while I’m not sure what exactly happened, the amount of episodes for each series shrunk with every year. Imagine the following: Romeo’s Blue Skies is only has 33 episodes, and yet it aired over a full year. It’s hard to imagine how often this series went on a hiatus sometimes even for an entire month.
In any case the World Masterpiece Theatre was in trouble, Nippon Animation could also get less and less funding for each series, until things eventually imploded with Ie Naki Ko Remi. The interesting thing was that Nippon Animation was really trying out new things in order to revitalize the genre, like adapting a fantasy novel (Peter Pan), revisiting popular installments (Little Women’s sequel), the only anime ever to have been set in Africa (Bush Baby), or Ie Naki Ko Remi’s huge focus on songs and music. The most interesting for me was Romeo’s Blue Skies though, in which the creators tried to be far more action-packed than probably any other installment of the WMT that preceded or followed it.
And really, that resulted in quite an interesting series. Romeo’s Blue Skies is probably the most accessible out of all the World Masterpiece Theatre series, in the way that it tries to have a pacing fitting of your average adventure series, while still grounded in realism, like you’d expect from the WMT franchise. While most World Masterpiece Theatre series are mostly slow-paced (especially in their beginnings), Romeo’s Blue Skies is also very attractive and recommended for the fans of adventure series.
It’s a story that really has this great balance between realism, character development and children’s adventures: all three of those areas receive enough attention in the spotlights. The story is really impressive here, and the creators managed to create an engaging story that keeps changing and evolving, and never tries to focus too much on either the action or building up in order to keep its audience’s attention. The characters are all wonderful, and there hardly is any recurring character who doesn’t develop in some way or another, in true WMT fashion. Romeo himself is a great main character, and he especially works well in combination with every character around him, especially Angeletta and Alfredo.
The themes in this series vary from child abuse to friendship, street gangs, with the most important one being split up from your family: just about every arc in this series involves that in some way or another. And it’s this what really sets Romeo’s Blue Skies apart from most other children’s adventures: instead of creating some sort of epic scenario that tries way too hard, or is way too unbelievable, the action in Romeo tries to stay as grounded and realistic as possible, while it still tries to pack a punch as much as possible. Or at least, this happens much more than with most other adventure series.
I have a lot of praises for this series, but at the same time I also want to stress that Romeo’s Blue Skies is nowhere near the best of the World Masterpiece Theatre: it does not hold a candle to masterpieces such as Anne of Green Gables, Perrine Monogatari or Les Miserables, and that mostly lies with its premise. While it has some points in which this series is definitely realistic, it did need to make a lot of sacrifices here in order to keep its plot action packed.
The most notable is that there are times in which adults become a tad too stupid, weak or short-sighted, but also the important characters are much simpler than you usually expect from the World Masterpiece Theatre, and they’re far less believable and fleshed out than the above-mentioned series. For any other franchise, this would classify as nit-picking, but the standards for this franchise are really high. The World Masterpiece Theatre has produced a number of fantastic, brilliantly written and fleshed out characters, but none of Romeo’s Blue Skies characters stand amongst those. It’s simply a really engaging series, but not more.
But engaging it is! Romeo’s Blue Skies has a wonderful story with an especially great ending. It’s true that the WMT-series of the nineties were less refined than their predecessors (or at least, from what I’ve seen and read about them), but Romeo’s Blue Skies still ends up as a very charming series.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Well balanced, and really tries to give every character and theme the airtime it deserves. Excellent ending, a bit childish at times but makes for a very enjoyable watch.|
|Characters:||9/10 – Excellent character-development. The characters aren’t as good as some of the other WMT-series, but they’re still very engaging to watch.|
|Production-Values:||8/10 – Fluid and simple, but works quite well.|
|Setting:||8/10 – There are some believability issues, but even then the setting around is very lively and realistic for an adventure series.|