Posted by psgels on 6 January 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




The more I watch from Sunrise, the more I’m impressed at their pre-Mai Otome and Gundam Seed Destiny works. Seriously, Witch Hunter Robin shows that even without mecha, they just kept going for mature and imaginative premises with a surprisingly good amount of characterization.

Witch Hunter Robin is for the people who like the maturely told anime: aside from Robin herself, every character in this show is an adult, and even Robin herself feels unlike your average squeaky teenager due to her professionalism. The characters in this series all have jobs, and this actually feels like it, rather than focusing on a group of people that just lives for the plot. It’s very down to earth and the acting is subtle and restrained. There are some problems with a lack of characterization on some of the bad guys, but overall this show has a very good cast here.

The series follows the “first half random episodes, second half plot”-format, and it’s pretty good at both. The random episodes are especially recommended if you like morals in your anime: the cases that Robin and the other lead characters run into continually question what’s right and wrong. Characters keep hopping back and forth over the moral scale and it really tries to be thought-provoking. The second half meanwhile successfully creates a multi layered plot. The focus on morals gets a bit simplified, but the way in which the plot grows definitely makes up for it: the series just changes constantly with a very interesting intrigue plot.

Now, the biggest fault with this show is that it probably could have used more variety. It’s a consistently bleak show, and the slow pacing at times will take some time to get used to if you don’t like the characters. The ending is also neither particularly disappointing, but neither very interesting or well done either (again: bad guy, plus a number of strange plotholes in an otherwise quite solid series).

Witch Hunter Robin has character designs in a style that was unfortunately abandoned in the past six years, in favour of the moe and bishies of today. It’s a shame though, because they look gorgeous and unique, putting aesthetics before pandering. The animation itself ranges from unrefined to decent, but this show was always great to look at.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Mature and very nicely atmospheric. A bit one-sided at times, though.
Characters: 9/10 – Great and solid characterization. Characters are mature yet likable.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Certainly not the best that Sunrise has done, but still it’s a great series to look at with very nice music.
Setting: 9/10 – Thrives on being thought-provoking, and puts a lot of symbolism in its back-story, remaining morally vague on purpose.

Suggestions:
Argento Soma
Himitsu – The Revelation
Ergo Proxy

14 Responses

  1. gandalf8 says:

    Whoa! Another of my favourite series that you reviewed in the past few days after Cowboy Bebop.

    I first watched Witch Hunter Robin after I had passed the shonen phase in my anime life, and was starting to look for more mature and complex series. What attracted it to me was the supernatural setting, and the bleak and rather mournful atmosphere of the series.

    The first half, which concentrated mostly on individual cases, served to flesh out Robin and the other members in STN-J; whilst the second half focused on the main plot. The cases that the STN-J faced were a mixed bag to me; some were interesting, while others were rather dull.

    The characters were diverse and all had their own personalities, with their own strengths and weaknesses. My favourite character is Michael, the super hacker of STN-J. At first he acts rather cold at Robin, but soon warms up to her, and even helps her dig some information secretly.

    And while the animation is one of its biggest flaws, yet the character designs and setting are really good, and totally fit the tone of the series. The soundtrack is also amazing, with the opening and ending songs really conveying the bleak and depressing mood.

    All in, this is one series you should watch if your into supernatural and mystery series, with great characterization and setting. In the first half the pacing may feel excruciatingly slow at first, but if you have the patience and perservere, you’ll get to experience a very good mystery series.

  2. sadakups says:

    If you doing a old Sunrise streak, go for Outlaw Star.

    When it comes to Robin, I haven’t seen this show in a long time, but I remember dozing off at the first few episodes before I got interested.

  3. omo says:

    Witch Hunter Robin was kind of a mixed situation. It did pretty well overseas but it was not as popular in Japan. The creator of Robin went on and made Ergo Proxy, which didn’t do well at all. That was basically the end of this kind of stuff.

    I say it’s a mixed situation also because the production was uneven. It’s overall pretty good but it was a show with a lot of visual details and strong character designs, and I wasn’t sure if that got handled correctly in the first half of the series. A lot of the character animation wasn’t necessarily poorer than average, but when it was just a little off model it stuck out like a sore thumb because the whole thing had a very strong stylistic element to it. Even if it looked kind of mundane overall.

  4. c160 says:

    This is one of the more popular shows during my middle school years actually. Lots of people,even usually non anime fans were passing around the VCDs some people bought. It was a quite the hit,but I think we were just a very very isolated case XD

    But yeah,I prefer this style over the moe/bishies style any day! And the opening and ending songs are some of the best op/ed ever too. The ending with the visuals is especially one of the darkest anime ED ever.

  5. Watcherzero says:

    Sadly a decade ago I fell in love with Robin…. Shes just my perfect girl.

  6. Potato says:

    Wow, this brings back memories. I remember staying late at night just to watch WHR, but then YTV suddenly stopped streaming it (like Ghost in the Shell)

    The plot is interesting in many level (maybe because I don’t know much about witches and witchcraft)

    Its style is kinda different to the common anime style, somehow. However, I can hardly said it is unique. I do like this style better than nowadays anime though.

  7. Meep says:

    I couldn’t really get into this one, but it was a decent watch~

  8. Alec says:

    I used to watch this in YTV . brings back the old times.

  9. RedMaigo says:

    I watched this years ago. The character designs, the music,and the overall mood of this show is what attracted me to it. Robin’s character design was unique. To this day, I will still see a someone cosplaying Robin at a convention. I still have both the DVDs and OSTs and still watch and listen to from time to time.

  10. Snowolf says:

    Oh, first Cowboy Bebop and now this! I’m really liking this streak, psgels.

    But yeah, I have to agree with you; Witch Hunter Robin is definitely one of the stronger animes in terms of characterization, but there were times where it just felt like it was dragging on. I really liked the relationships and the subtle symbolism that all was around it. I feel like WHR was more of a show that was suited toward people who like to think more and react less. It had a lot of underlying themes and feelings behind the scenes. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I liked the dub, so thanks again for reviewing!

  11. sywen says:

    another great show i’m happy you did review. to bad you didnt say anyhting about the op/ed ;)
    Shell and Half pain from Bana is one of my favourites. specially Shell fits the anime perfectly with its mood.

    i also consider Sunrise as the better producers of anime, atleast the older shows like seikai no senki, Mugen no Ryvius, cowboy bebop, planetes, with hunter robin all ends up in my personal top 20 ;) )

  12. Danger Mouse says:

    Agreed Snowolf, especially the first half and the last third were great while the it languished a bit for a little while after the mid-point otherwise it was really great most of the way through and would have been even better if it hadn’t lost steam for a bit but I’m glad I stuck with it for the last arc that finished it off quite well again. Even after seeing it I think I still watched it every time it aired on AS too as I loved the dub, probably another reason it felt like it did pretty good on AS too.

    The art style and tone of this show was fantastic too along with the characters and I think this was one of the first shows that brought the awesome Taku Iwasaki (music) to my attention :)

    It was good to remember this show :) Still got my dvd boxset too :)

    Personally I’d really like to see the director get to do more shows even if it’s for quality reasons and not super-sales like moe stuff (heck use a moe show some previous season to fund it if they have to lol) since they added great really unique type of show (and art style) to the anime we were getting as I really liked both this and Ergo Proxy.

  13. Max says:

    I really loved this show!!! I am going to re-watch it right now! I heard they were going to do a live action of this show on syfy or something like that! WE SHOULD TOTALLY BRING THAT UP AGAIN! This show was seriously awesome and I think they can definitely add to it by making it a live action.

  14. Jenny says:

    I just finished this show and I must say I enjoyed it immensely. It was such a breath of fresh air after all the shrill and melodramatic shonen shows and the try-hard shallow bishie shows – it is indeed as you say, mature and sutble. Although I must say that although overall it is bleak, the occasional moments of humour really hit the spot and got a few chuckles out of me. The characterization is one of its strong points as well – Robin, Amon and the team, everyone was pretty nicely fleshed out; however I do agree with comment about the villains not being as well developed.

    There are negatives though, like how it was never elaborated what Toukou and Amon’s relationship was – there were hints but perhaps I was just not perceptive or I somehow need it to be spelled out for me. Also the ending was not particularly satisfying; I read in reviews beforehand that many fans were extremely disappointed with the ending so I was expecting something very bad so my expectations were pretty low – that is probably the only reason why the ending didn’t irk me. It did conclude the story – but only in very broad strokes and I can’t help hoping for a season 2 although its already 11 years since its original airing.

    All in all, this was a fantastic series, definitely worth watching. I am glad I read your review psgels!

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