Posted on 25 July 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Strange Dawn



There are some anime out there awesome… and then there are the series that go one step beyond. These are the series that just somehow go against all boundaries and expectations I could have had for it, and have something nearly impossible to describe. When I take a look at the series that I managed to rate at 95/100 and 94/100 through the nearly four years that I’ve been blogging, I keep getting surprised at how little of them look like the masterpieces that they are from the outside. I guess that such a list of personal favourites is incredibly personal, and different for everyone, but every time one of these appears, they truly remind me why I’m still blogging.

As for Strange Dawn, it too doesn’t look like anything special from the outside, however, I was completely proven wrong when I started watching it, about two years ago. Unfortunately, it was nearly unfindable for neither subs nor raws, but I finally managed to find a bunch of French subs for the entire series. It completely blew me away; Junichi Sato (who directed also Kaleido Star, Aria, Magic Users Club and Umi Monogatari) has done an absolutely fantastic job on this series.

Anyway, about Strange Dawn. Its basic premise has been done many times before: high-schoolers end up in some kind of parallel dimension and have some adventures. What sets itself apart from the others is a terrific execution. For starters, it breaks tons of stereotypes that these series have. Usually when a lead character crosses into a new world, he turns out to conveniently acquire some new superpower or something: either he becomes incredibly good at swordfighting, or has the magical Deus ex Machina beam, turns out to be royalty or gets saved by some sort of royalty. Yuko and Eri instead stay exactly the same. Instead, their importance to the story comes from the fact that they ended up in a country full of midgets, hence their natural strength when compared to all of these small people, and that becomes the major driving force of the story.

And there are more of these things: the creators take nothing for granted here, they explain the problems the two girls face when they have to deal with the strange world they ended up in; from eating and taking care of their clothes to sleeping and going to the bathroom (especially the latter is a running plot thread). In fact, the entire series has an incredible sense of detail: during the quiet parts in the series, whenever characters aren’t fighting or in the midst of dramatic climaxes, you can see them taking care of their own food, sharpening their weapons, caring for their horses (okay, flying snails), and doing all sorts of things that most anime nowadays take for granted or only show one or two scenes of.

The same amount of detail you can see in the animation: characters move realistically and relatively few corners are cut in comparison to your average anime. When characters move, they hardly ever look out of place and they’re always doing something meaningful that might not impact the story, but brings SO MUCH life to the setting and the world that the story plays in. For the past few years I’ve been a real advocate of series that manage to make the setting that they’re played in come alive, and this series really is the school example of how to do this right.

And as for the plot, we’ve got ourselves another case of wrong advertising here. The promo art might make you suspect that this is a fun and light-hearted fantasy adventure, mainly aimed at kids. It is not. In fact, don’t even dare to try and watch this series for the lighter parts, because Strange Dawn is dark. It’s not just dark in its atmosphere, but also in its themes. When people get cut up, blood appears without any hints of censorship; themes of war and death play a HUGE role in this series and heck, a certain episode even what can be qualified as an attempted rape in it. The amount of drama throughout the entire series is immense, but at the same time it consistently stays away from emo and melodrama, and stays genuine and never drags on.

Then there is the amazing voice acting cast. Especially the two lead characters are magnificently voiced, but the rest of the cast also shines throughout the series. They perfectly manage to capture the emotions of their characters, making the entire series an emotional roller-coaster along the way. And speaking of the audio, I also have to mention the amazing soundtrack that was compiled for this series. The tracks fit the atmosphere perfectly, and are a joy to listen to throughout the series.

Overall, there wasn’t one episode that didn’t have me clutched to the screen in near-tears, but the thing that blew me away the most was the ending. For the sake of spoilers I won’t say anything more, but the final episode was the single most emotional episode I have watched this year. Do not get fooled by the childish exterior, because inside Strange Dawn is a mature and intense roller-coaster ride. There are probably a lot of people who disagree with me on this, considering the abysmally low ratings on sites as Anidb, but I loved every minute of it.

Storytelling: 10/10
Characters: 10/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10
Posted on 4 March 2007 with categories: Strange Dawn

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.us
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.us

Short Synopsis: Now that the enemy has fled, Darl tries to make the villagers get rid of Shall. Especially now that the two great protectors have announced to leave. He still believes in them, though.
Good: How! Incredibly! Refreshing!!!
Bad: It’s annoying! This series is sparking so much thoughts into me, but I just can’t get them into words.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8.5/10

Oh my god. I’ve fallen in love with another anime. I don’t care if this anime turns out to be disappointing for the rest of its episodes. The past two episodes were SO worth watching, as they easily breached more than a dozen clichés. I can’t believe how realistic this anime portrays the actions of our heroes, and I can’t believe how incredibly NEGLECTED this anime has become!

Like I mentioned above, this episode felt SO refreshing, I want to say so much about it, but I feel that I just can’t put all of my feelings to words and do this series justice. I’ll try, though. For starters, usually in battle, when people die you see a few shots of them in the midst of dying, usually with lots of blood, and that’s the rest you’ll see of them. In Strange Dawn, however, this guy really mattered in the aftermath. His death was seen as a real loss, and we even see his family in pain, even though that’s the first time we see him. If an anime really wants to try, it gives a bit of background about the guy before he dies, but never have I seen that background is given after the guy died, like in Strange Dawn. This emphasizes the fact that he’s just a random victim even more. His son, coming to Eri, asking her to bring his father back was heart-wrenching.

Also, how many times have we seen characters who get thrown into unexpected situations, and suddenly know exactly how to behave? Or they take one episode, in which they yell at the one responsible about how they never asked about their “duties”, and then suddenly everything’s fine and they’re ready to save the world? Probably too many to count. The combination of Eri and Yuki greatly breaks this stereotype. Eri likes to dream and keep everyone pleased. She’s afraid to go against people, and she likes the idea of keeping everyone happy. Because of that, she tries a few things here and there, but you can see that she doesn’t even try.

Yuki, meanwhile, cares far less about what other people think of her. She hates being in the centre of attention, and with people referring to her as the “great protector”, just because she’s large greatly annoys her. All she cares about is getting home. To make things even better, we don’t have that melodramatic crap where a character like that sees the light in the end, and cooperates with the main character like nothing happened. She indeed helped during the last episode, but that was probably more out of a reflex than wanting to help out at all costs.

I also love the village chief. He’s the perfect example of how easily people are influenced. Also, notice the vultures which have been circling around the town. Eri also was cute when she tried to find a toilet. It’s definitely something you’d expect of her. She just keeps worrying too much over things, and while Yuki started the toilet-thing, the probably forgot it not long after she said it.

When I first saw Shall, I feared that he’d be your standard strong hero. Even with that, I’m proven wrong. He isn’t impulsive at all, heck, he has lots of doubts about himself. For some reason, though, he keeps clinging to the thought that Eri and Yuki are the great protectors. It seems that he went to “the city” for a while, which seems to suggest that he went to the main capital, and that the village is just an outpost. Something probably happened during his stay in the city, which influenced him greatly.

I probably missed a lot of things in this short review, but there’s one final thing I’d like to say, if you skimmed through this article: do NOT get fooled by the character designs! The story in fact is quite dark and serious!

Posted on 6 February 2007 with categories: Strange Dawn

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.us
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by ImageShack.us

Short Synopsis: Two normal schoolgirls find themselves in a strange fantasy world. The twist: they don’t get any new powers to fight with.
Good: Extremely likable characters; A great twist to a concept which has been used in many, many anime.
Bad: Even though it’s not a real bad point, the chibi-characters may be a turn-off for most people.
Overall Enjoyment Value: 8/10

Okay, I’ve fallen in love with another concept. Now that Ayatsuri Sakon’s novelty is wearing off, and the subs for Popolocrois have been stalled for ages I’ve been looking for another old anime to blog about. I’m really hoping that the subbers continue releasing this project till the end, as I’ve been searching for this series for ages, and it deserves to be watched. That’s another reason I decided to blog this: the hope that more people will try to give this wonderful concept a chance.

The concept behind this anime is simple, but brilliant. Two schoolgirls are transported to another world for reason X. In normal situations, they’d meet up, act a bit bewildered, get in danger, and get ahold of some strange amounts of powers with which they save the world. Not this time, though. They ended up in a world full of small people, who are just as scared of them, as they are scared. Finally, two people are labelled as the “great protectors” for a good reason. After all, if you’d saw two giants in the middle of a war, you’d see them as special, wouldn’t you? ^^

The two main characters are also extremely interesting. One of them is just lazy and easily annoyed. The other is a goodie-two-shoe. She always abides by the rules, tries to please everyone, but in the end, she’s extremely annoying. Together, they form a great team. Eri obviously wants to help, since she doesn’t understand anything, though Yuki has no intention to help. This holds Eri back as well, as she doesn’t want to upset Yuki. When the enemy-soldiers attack in the end, however, and the two princesses of the tribe which took them in are in danger, Eri manages to scare them away by yelling, screaming and running to their place, Yuki follows her in this. I loved how Eri laughed when everything was over. You don’t expect that from a shy and reserved person at all.

Despite the chibi-characters, this is one serious show. It’s got comedy, but that takes a step back for what’s really important in this anime: the tribe’s struggles with their enemies, and the relationship with Eri and Yuki. The fights actually involve strategy, and this isn’t such a kiddie-show in which nobody gets hurt either. In fact, Yuki already got hit by an arrow in the first episode. She managed to use the element of surprise this time to scare the enemy away, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the enemy coming up with strategies to defeat the two of them. It shouldn’t be too hard, as they can be easily defeated if you send enough men at them, and keep hitting them. I wonder what the two of them will do against it.

For more information about this series and its subbers, you can go here (it also offers direct downloads, if you can’t use bittorrent for some reason):

http://z10.invisionfree.com/Church_of_Berserk/index.php?showforum=49

One final note: the background music has a great feel to this. It makes use of highly atmospheric tunes, which fit the style and story perfectly.

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Dec 23. 2014 12:34 AM)
    Also Ninjarealist had an idea he wanted to cover chaika, log horizon and wixoss but because psgels didn’t follow them he felt it inconsistent. I reckon that the writers should do some more full reviews though.
  • Cyril
    (Tuesday, Dec 23. 2014 12:17 AM)
    Oh, cool.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Dec 22. 2014 11:12 PM)
    K-off was also finding it somewhat hard to write about certain shows when not in batch Review format.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Dec 22. 2014 11:05 PM)
    Aidan dropped writing about Grisaia out of sheer disappointment at its adaptation.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Dec 22. 2014 11:01 PM)
    @Cyril: K-off is busy at work and his political activism, Ninjarealist has said his real life has gotten busy, but I know he dropped akatsuki no yona out of boredom. I don’t know whats going on with lighteningbolt.
  • Cyril
    (Monday, Dec 22. 2014 10:43 PM)
    Ignoring the troll for a second, what DID happen to the other writers? I’m guessing they dropped the serieses they were reviewing because they were bad?
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Dec 22. 2014 10:16 PM)
    @Zo, we love you too.
  • Friend
    (Monday, Dec 22. 2014 07:48 PM)
    Is anyone going to review the YuruYuri OVA?
  • Zo
    (Monday, Dec 22. 2014 07:40 PM)
    Man all your writers are lazy as horseshit. This blog sucks.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Dec 22. 2014 03:44 PM)
    @Emma, Can’t. Ninja said he wanted to review it.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 11

Well here’s something you don’t see often in shounen series. Consequences. It’s another quiet episode and due to Shirou pulling that magic trick last episode he is now suffering from after effects. Having what looks to be a painful night and going through the day with the left side of his body numb. Though it […]

Recommendation corner 02 – Light novels #1

Its very easy to disregard the light novel genre completely as it is responsible for the creation of quite a number of unoriginal, bad and shameless pandering anime in recent years. However there still are worthwhile stories within the genre. They are just a little less known.   Mushoku Tensei Description: A 34-year-old NEET otaku […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 10

Very nice start to the beginning of the episode with the Unlimited Bladeworks chant. Sure, it has been parodied to kingdom come but I still love it and all it’s broken engrish glory. But now I can say it with certainty. This series is not suitable for being watched weekly. In watching this episode I […]

Nanatsu no Taizai – 10

Fights blew past fast this episode. We had four fights in one episode so my previous fears of this getting dragged look to be untrue.  Notables being the fight between a mystery girl and a holy knight whose head is so disproportionate from his body that you could swear someone took the head of a […]

Gugure! Kokkuri-San- 06-10

So I’ve been gone for a while partially because of work, school, and my political activities, but also because I wanted to try approaching how I review in a (hopefully) interesting way. I’d be interested in hearing your feedback on this, as I am trying to inject more of my own personality into the way […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 09

The pattern continues with another building up episode. Admittedly I find this somewhat disappointing. I feel that this show would be better marathoned than watched weekly as the wait for what is a essentially a build up to the next episode can hamper the experience a bit. As I said before, this show would work […]

Nanatsu no Taizai – 09

The fight between explosives girl and the sins was ended quicker than I thought. When King entered the fight it was settled almost immediately.  King made short work of her as Elaine provided some supposedly badass exposition saying how King is originally known as the king of the fairies, harlequin. I say supposedly because it […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks – 08

Another episode has come and gone. This episode marking the first casualty of the holy grail war. Looks like Rider is out of the running. It is a bit sad to see her go so unceremoniously and even defeated off screen. Well, we shall see you again in the upcoming heavens feel movie, where you […]

Nanatsu no Taizai – 08

There was a few questionable things here this episode. The episode starts with the new villain quite literally killing herself to enter the kingdom of the dead. Which is a big risk considering it was based on one sentence from a child she was threatening. True being a shounen show there’s likely some magical biology […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]