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
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 03:28 PM)
    *released
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 03:28 PM)
    Jak, and anyone else who read it and was annoyed that the scans stopped coming out, I’m glad to report 3-gatsu no lion if being translated again. A new chapter was release yesterday!
  • kero
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 03:17 PM)
    dear gods Usagi’s voice in Sailor Moon Crystal is so annoying!
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 01:06 PM)
    You know, we need a new banner. One that says “WE DON’T F*CKING KNOW IF HE’S DEAD OR NOT” to stop these people coming in trying to reanimate his corpse by shouting “Hey are you dead. Maybe If I start poking and kicking you might come back alive. HEY! FEED ME!”
  • hjakz
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 12:42 PM)
    Is Psgels dead?
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 06:02 AM)
    @Emma @K-Off Ty.
  • Emma
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:45 AM)
    I will ask my brother about this also who is into drawing.
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:45 AM)
    @K-Off I’ve discussed this ad nauseum with my friends and professors during art school, so It’d be great to get opinions from the other side of the world.
  • K-Off
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:43 AM)
    @Friend Let me discuss that with some of the artists I know IRL, I want to get their opinions of that. Maybe in a few days.
  • Friend
    (Wednesday, Jul 23. 2014 05:40 AM)
    I’m not saying art HAS to give a solution, I just think that a solution is something art needs to give in this particular art period.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Clipboard03

Mushishi – 07

Now this was such a beautiful episode. We often see Mushi portrayed as parasites. In fact, they are pretty much based on the insects and viruses of their world. There probably are enough real viruses and insects living in the Mushishi world, but they just aren’t the focus of the series. Anyway, what they did […]

Clipboard04

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders – 06 & 07

This is where this arc gets weird. We’re still in adventure modus, however in these two episodes Jotaro not only meets some of the most bizarre Stand users, it’s also done in the most camp way possible. You can see a clear difference with the first two seasons of Jojo: there it was all about […]

Clipboard01

Ping Pong – 05 & 06

Episodes 05 and 06 are dedicated to character-development. It’s here where Ping Pong shows that it also knows its stuff in terms of storytelling; the develoment doesn’t start too early or too late, and these two episodes really added depth to all of the different characters, despite that there were no big matches. I’m currently […]

Clipboard01

Mushishi – 03 – 06

I have not forgotten about this show. Not at all. I just finished marathoning these four episodes, and holy cheeseballs on a stick! this is the best anime in years! This was everything I could have hoped for and blows just about everything else out of the water. Talk about raw, powerful storytelling. I now […]

Clipboard03

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – 03 – 05

Jojo really is not kind to its females. Every time a hint is even dropped to a girl kicking ass here, it comes with this weird plot-twist that undermines any fighting potential of them. In this arc, it’s the rule that says that your stand will kill you if youaren’t strong enough. And so, Joseph’s […]

Clipboard01

Ping Pong – 03 & 04

The opening of Ping Pong wasn’t done in time, so the first two episodes showed a sortof montage as a placeholder. Now we know why, with episode 03 and 04. The creators actually got the single best animator currently in the business to oversee it: Shinya Ohira. This guy understands animation like no other. The […]

Clipboard07

Ping Pong – 02

Yes, I know that more people here were involved in making this series beyond Masaaki Yuasa. It’s written by the creator of Tekkon Kinkreet, Taiyo Mashimoto. That guy is awesome. And the combination between those two makes this series even better. Because here’s the thing: anime is significantly different from manga or light novels. Beyond […]

Clipboard02

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders – 02

We can never quite get rid of magic fights at a school, now can we, Jojo. Ah well, I forgive it this time, just due to how hilarious it looks seeing these ridiculously bulky men walk around pretending to be high school students. It’s just so over the top, and yet Jojo sets itself apart […]

Clipboard01

Mushishi Season 2 – 02

Oh yes. This is it. This is what storytelling should be about: telling real stories about real people, all with their own problems that need to be overcome. And this show does that time and time again in just one episode. I still can’t believe how authentic this series is. The thing is, when I […]

Latest Reviews

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 […]

Clipboard01

Yahari Ore no Seishun no Love Come wa Machigatteiru Review – 82,5/100

I like surprises, like when a series comes that just turns out to be good against my expectations. Yahari Blahblah from the outside had all the signs to turn into yet another one of those high school comedies: snarky male lead, pointlessly long title that fails at being witty, various other cliched side-characters. And they […]