Posted by psgels on 30 November 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews




Most studios tend to favor a particular type of series. Sunrise loves mecha, JC Staff often goes with young moe girls, Bee-Train is crazy about series that involve partnerships, Studio Deen has its bishies, Madhouse is there for the dark avant-garde type shows and Hal Film Maker is often into slice of life. Bones though… their shows all are completely different from each other. The only common thread that I can find is that their shows often have action, but that can be said about 50% of all the other studios as well. It’s really one of their strengths, on top of how much effort they nearly always put in their execution. And with this, I bring you Kurau Phantom Memories, a show that is among their top 5 best attempts.

Kurau Phantom Memories follows people with superpowers, but instead of trying to be the epic of the year, it is very much character oriented. It’s as much about the use of superpowers in a corporate society as it is about womanhood. Perhaps the latter is an even bigger theme. And as a result, the creators absolutely nailed the characterization of the lead female character. She’s incredibly well developed, and even though this show can get pretty dark at times, she’s portrayed with an incredible amount of warmth. This show is especially brilliant at balancing its heart-warming and cold-hearted nature with each other, with some magnificent results.

The rest of the cast is also very well written. Characters all act naturally and the main side characters all are significantly developed into interesting characters throughout the series. The side characters that only appear on one or two episodes before leaving meanwhile do a very good job on fleshing out the world of the series, and even they are multi-dimensional as soon as their airtime ends.

The production values play an interesting role here. The animation is perticularly well directed, and even though this show doesn’t have the budget to keep its art consistent, it does know when and where to put effort into its fluidity, leading to some truly excellent and dynamic scenes, on places where it counts. The soundtrack is also just fantastic. It’s not large, but nearly every track that’s there is a feast for the ears and does a brilliant job at enhancing the atmosphere.

The acting does border cheese at times though. The dialogue often is very inspired, but at other times the characters don’t get further beyond uttering each other’s names a number of times. Despite these issues though, ti’s got a strong plot with some real moral dilemmas and situations that really aim to get the best out of the characters.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Really well paced, combines animation, characters and setting seamlessly.
Characters: 9/10 – Kurau is a fantastic main character. In fact, if it wasn’t for the sometimes cheesy acting, this rating would have gotten a 10.
Production-Values: 9/10 – The animation isn’t complicated, but it is very detailed and fluid when it needs to The soundtrack is also brilliant.
Setting: 9/10 – Great concepts behind this world, even though it might not appear so at first. Multiple timeskips also work really well here.

Suggestions:
Witch Hunter Robin
Ultraviolet: Code 044
The Third

10 Responses

  1. DangerMouse says:

    Ooh, awesome, another great older series getting a look. I loved this show.

  2. Nando says:

    One of my favourites. The first episodes remains one of the most haunting openers of any series, even if it does give off a GITS vibe that is slightly misleading. Great series. And great music too, especially Akino Arai’s OP…

  3. Cholisose says:

    I remember trying this show one or two years back. I recall it coming off as *really* cheesy, rather than just cheesy, and that the younger girl’s name was Christmas. I think I saw the English dub of this, which may have been cheesier than the original.
    Perhaps one day I’ll give it another try.

  4. Guest says:

    Wow, this has been in my queue since forever, seeing you will check it out if it gets a 90 from you.

  5. Alec says:

    one of my personal favorites. Heck, I even rewatched this 3-4 months ago. And I also listen to its op and ed songs in a weekly basis

  6. Alec says:

    this review just made me remember what I was planning to do since a long time ago: create a guitar cover of the ED song “Moonlight”

  7. Guest says:

    Whelp, I had time to check out a couple episodes last night.

    I can see why this is difficult for people. The actual story moves at a solid pace, but the individual scenes have that “slow”, “outdated” feel to them. So the pace feels a lot slower than it really is, and that plus the general cheesiness could be offputting (though it’s more old-fashioned earnestness, I think).

    That said even though at one level the stuff in the first few episodes isn’t all that original, there’s something really interesting about the details. Thanks for the tip, looking forward to eventually finishing this one up.

  8. crussader says:

    hey it’s a great blog, btw please let me share a link ^_^ http://www.j-fleece.com/fleecious/galihpradnya thanks

  9. Linda says:

    I watched this after reading your review, and I loved it. So refreshing in this time of moe and pantyflashes. I really appreciate that you take your time reviewing older series like this. I’ve found quite a lot of hidden gems since I started reading this blog. :)

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  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 01:14 PM)
    Additionally Hammill’s joker got both sides of the character down perfectly.
    My favourite depiction of the joker though is definately in Grant Morrison’s arkham asylum graphic novel.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:56 PM)
    @bam, Ledger was the best possible live action joker. But Hamell is the real joker to me. When you read jokers lines in the comics, you hear Hammill. Still that fellow in batman arkham origins didn’t do too bad a job.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:19 PM)
    @Bam: I remember loving the hell out of that old animated Batman movie from the 90s, mask of Phantasm, that mystery of Batwoman one was worthwhile also.
    Here is the new Jared Leto joker: http://static1.squarespace.com/static/51b3dc8ee4b051b96ceb10de/t/54870f57e4b074be5ade38ad/1418137431644/jared-leto-as-the-joker-in-suicide-squad-fan-art
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:06 PM)
    Also it was neat for FF9 to include summons as a plot element. They always existed outside of the story, as most of that series’ battle mechanics seem to happen in a bubble separate from the actual stories.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:03 PM)
    *@Emma lol
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:03 PM)
    @Joker: he definitely had the quintessential Joker laugh. Ledger was good, but also a lot grirrier due to the film’s tone. That whole animated series is one of main reasons why Batman is still so popular even with the 90s kids who cared very little about comics at that point.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 11:02 AM)
    @Bam: I feel the same way about Mark Hammill voicing the joker.
    As for FF9, I really liked that games take on the Alexander summon.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 09:45 AM)
    @K-off: That’s pretty cool. Conroy is easily the best portrayal of the Dark Knight- as somebody who got the Batman/Bruce Wayne dichotomy down like no other. The trick to get their attention is to be real with them, since they’ve heard every possibly fan praise a million times. I still remember how Maynard’s eyes lit up when my friend screamed “Hey Maynard! You’re a Tool!” at a Napa wine-tasting function he was hosting. You can always bank on weird.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 07:17 AM)
    Very exciting, got to chat with Kevin Conroy in Vegas. I dropped 40$ to get a signature, but I met him afterwards outside the convention hall and talked some generic “fan-to-celebrity” talk, telling him how much I respected his work. I ain’t complaining though.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 5. 2015 12:43 AM)
    I enjoyed Vivi’s storyline tho. I think even tho he was bland and quiet he still had the most emotional developments as a character, which tied in to identity and what it means to be alive. I also liked the “I want to be your Canary” play within the game, it was like a fleshed-out version of the Opera House scene from FF6.

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