Posted on 27 March 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews, Genji Monogatari Sennenki



One of the more unique series that started airing in the past winter season (not that that says much since more than half of them were sequels, but okay) was Genji Monogatari: an adaptation of a novel that’s about 1000 years old by now. While that sounds a bit strange at first, the unique flavour comes from the director Osamu Dezaki, who managed to turn this series into a feast for the senses, although it’s obviously not for everyone.

Genji Monogatari is romance. It’s about a prince called Genji who ends up screwing countless of women, call him the Japanese version of Don Juan if you want. This anime stands out because of its specific style of storytelling: the pacing is kept tight, with a lot of focus on emotions and bringing these out of the viewer and the characters. The animation is full of visual effects, and overly present filters and sparkling overlays, sound effects are either overly present or kept completely quiet, depending on the situation. And in the end, it works: although only 11 episodes, Genji Monogatari is a consistent emotional ride from start to finish.

But yeah, the style of this series is a double edged sword, because as easy as it is for some to like it, it’s also a style that’s very easy to dislike. The character-designs are nothing like your average bishie or moe cute girl, so if you absolutely need those in your anime, you’re going to find a hard time liking this series. The visual effects can also very easily become grating if you’re used to quiet and simply drawn series.

Still, I personally liked this series a lot, even though I’m not easily impressed by romance shows. A glorified harem show it may be, but the visuals, fast pacing and the fact that in eleven episodes, many years pass that allow us a great look at a period of Genji’s life set this series apart from all the others. If you’re looking for something different (and know Japanese or Chinese, since it’s probably going to take a while for this show to get subbed) then this here is a pretty good recommendation.

Storytelling: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10
Posted on with categories: Genji Monogatari Sennenki



Short Synopsis: Genji and Murasaki finally hook up together.
Episode Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)
And so another series has finished. While a straightforward ending (it basically involves Genji being down because of the sin he committed, him being attacked by a bunch of bandits and finally his realization that Murasaki is ‘more’ than a younger sister to him), it was a very effective one, and just like any other episode of this series an emotional ride.

It’s a shame that this one never got subbed, but then again that was to be expected considering how little attention Osamu Dezaki’s previous work (Ultraviolet) received. It’s a real shame, because this guy really knows how to make optimal use of visuals and sound to tell a story. And I really have to say that each episode of this series was effective, and set out exactly what it wanted to do.

In any case, I’m looking forward to the next instalment of Noitamina. I have absolutely no idea what it’s going to be, since I’ve been avoiding all spring previews in order to not get too hyped about it, but it’s probably going to be something completely different again. In any case, thanks for all the tips and corrections from those who read the original novel.

Posted on 20 March 2009 with categories: Genji Monogatari Sennenki



Short Synopsis: Genji gets involved in a pretty nasty scandal.
Episode Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)
Another difficult to understand chapter, so it took me a while to understand what’s going on, but nevertheless it was another excellent one. Genji continues his string of seductions, but this time he gets caught by his latest victim: Roku no Kimi, who seems to be one of the new emperor’s concubines. At the moment, I know nothing of how the family ties worked back then, but does Roku no Kimi have the same last name as Genji, meaning that she’s some sort of family of his?

In any case, he gets found out and this creates a very big scandal, and especially Roku no Kimi is very upset because of it basically putting him under house arrest by the new emperor (apparently, I was wrong when I claimed Genji’s son to be the future emperor, since the Emperor already had a crown prince selected, it seems).

So at this point there’s just one episode left. It obviously doesn’t look like the series will reach the end of the novels, but I can’t think of any logical situation in which this series could lead to a disappointing ending. If the creators just animate the next chapter, I’ll be happy enough, because unlike shows as Tytania, this isn’t really a story that needs a conclusion. This series is more like, we’re given a glimpse at Genji’s life, and at some point it stops, and it’s not like most series out there, which are really building up to their climaxes.

Posted on 13 March 2009 with categories: Genji Monogatari Sennenki



Short Synopsis: The series skips ahead to the death of the emperor.
Episode Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)
I’ve received some comments about how my summaries of this series (and others as well) are always rather ‘inaccurate’ and sometimes even don’t make any sense. I appreciate these comments, because there are enough times when I get a bit too lazy in trying to understand raws. It’s especially bad with this series, since there are no subs whatsoever and more people than usual are going to use these summaries of mine to find out what happened. This series also doesn’t make the job of understanding it any easier due to the large amount of feudal Japanese inserted, not to mention the large amounts of unintroduced flashbacks, dreams and time skips, but I’m going to try to deliver summaries that are at least a bit more accurate than what they used to be.

In any case, the main event in this episode was the death of the emperor, which leaves Lady Fujitsubou and many others as a widow. This means that a lot of things are going to change now. Genji’s kid is probably going to have to take up the throne as soon ass he grows up, and the incident also allowed Genji and Fujitsubou to talk to each other again for a bit (even if it was just during the funeral, and they indeed continue to avoid each other for many years afterwards).

But yeah, especially Fujitsubou has it tough. I really don’t know about the royal system at that time, so this paragraph consists just out of a bunch of guesses that seem the most likely to me (please DO correct me if this is wrong), but it seems that she is mostly caught up with what to do with her son: if she stays quiet, she’s going to be the king’s mother, keep her influence and status, but she will be putting a fake emperor on the throne (which must have been a huge shame at the time). If she does confess, then she’ll immediately lose her status and her child will probably have a really hard time growing up in the least.

In the end of the episode, we see how she cuts off all her hair, and becomes a female monk after saying her goodbye to Genji. In this way, she possibly creates a scandal on herself, but her son will be allowed to stay out of everything and just continue his lifestyle while she can repent for the sin she committed.

With two episodes left, Murasaki now really has to come to the foreground, and she will probably be the one that Genji turns to within his sorrow. I really wonder what kind of climax the creators have prepared for this series. How far are we into the original novels anyway? Has it been consistently one volume per episode, or has the pacing increased over the past few episodes?

Posted on 7 March 2009 with categories: Genji Monogatari Sennenki



Short Synopsis: After a six-month period of mourning, Genji returns to the palace for a visit.
Episode Rating: 7,5/10 (Good)
Okay, so while lots of stuff happened, this mostly was a building up episode. First we get Aoi’s funeral, in which Genji, his father and step-brother say goodbye to her. He gets visited by her in her dreams, and in the meantime we see that Lady Rokujou has found out that she’s been unconsciously killing the women Genji slept with, though it seems that she’s not willing to accept the fact that she created the murderous ghost. Six months after Aoi’s death, Genji returns to the main palace in order to spend some time with the emperor and that’s where he sees Murasaki back, who seems to have grown up from when we last saw her. It really makes it difficult to keep track of all of the different characters when they change faces like that! When I watched this episode for the first time I thought that the little girl that appeared later in this episode was still Murasaki.

But instead it seems that that little girl is a new character that Genji is asked to take care of. If I understood correctly, she seems to be of noble blood, though her mother has died, and Lady Fujitsubo’s brother seems to be her father. Later we see Genji and Murasaki talk for a bit, where it’s interesting to note that Murasaki and the narrator seem to be sharing the same voice actress. Since the original novel was also written by a Murasaki, this seems to be the way of the creators of the anime to give a small tribute to her. The episode ends with Genji making love with Lady Rokujo. I didn’t quite catch the reason why and its implications, but the next episode should shed more light into that.

And since I’ve praised the graphics of this show often enough, I’m going for something different now: the music! It turns out that they also did the soundtrack for xxxHolic, and it’s indeed the same subtle combination between folky songs and modern synthesizers, though the soundtrack of Genji Monogatari is much more dreamy than the one from xxxHolic. Still, it’s a really varied soundtrack: there are so many different songs in here, and yet none of them feels out of place.

Posted on 27 February 2009 with categories: Genji Monogatari Sennenki



Short Synopsis: Genji’s second child is about to be born.
Episode Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)
I think that one of the hardest parts in trying to understand this series is keeping track of all the different characters, combined with how all the characters like to talk in old Japanese, though this surprisingly isn’t the most difficult series to understand in the end (out of the currently airing series, that honor goes to Munto). while watching, there were a lot of question marks that popped up, and scenes, I couldn’t quite grasp, but at the end of the episode everything came together wonderfully and suddenly made sense.

So in this episode, Genji’s wife gets pregnant, and it takes place during the nine months of her pregnancy. This rumour reaches the ghost woman, who becomes even more struck with grief, and so she attempts to kill Genji’s wife as well. After the second attempt (after the baby is already born), she succeeds. With four episodes left, I believe that the creators are saving her as the main villain of the series, but the little girl still has yet to be important, even though she’s supposed to have a huge role in Genji’s life.

And I also loved how this episode had more visual effects than ever, and as usual, they looked GREAT. Especially during the climaxes, the creators were throwing these effects and filters everywhere.

And here’s something interesting: Genji has currently gotten two women pregnant, and has been flirting with quite a few more. Now compare this to Touya from White Album, who also is surrounded by a lot of females, though less extreme. I’m still surprised at how much hate Touya gets for being unrealistic and a bastard to women, and how Genji doesn’t get any hate at all, while his actions have been much worse. Sure, it’s probably due to the lack of subs for this series, but it’s interesting to see that some series are easier to hate than others.

Posted on 20 February 2009 with categories: Genji Monogatari Sennenki



Short Synopsis: Another one of the emperor’s wives falls in love with Genji.
Episode Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)
Yeah, now I’m sure: aside from Birdy 2, Genji Monogatari is my favourite show of the series that premiered in the winter-season so far. The Don Juan of anime; it sounded like a pretty strange formula, but it worked out really well. This really has been a consistently excellent series so far, with hardly any moments or signs of weakness. It’s a shame that the subs have been virtually non-existent, but then again that was to be expected.

In this episode, Genji performs a piece of a Noh Theatre play (at least, that’s what it looked like), and there he gets noticed by what looks like one of the lower wives of the emperor. The two of them start flirting and before you know it they end up together in bed, even though for a woman of her position, it would probably be very bad if she were found out.

And yet again, Osamu Dezaki worked his visual magic again: some of the visual effects in this episode looked really nice. It’s always great to see someone with the attitude of “screw conventions, I’m going with my own style!”, because it’s here where the most interesting art in anime comes from. I’m a huge sucker for anime whose art style doesn’t try to want to be like other anime, but instead tries to go with its own.

Posted on 13 February 2009 with categories: Genji Monogatari Sennenki



Short Synopsis: Genji has done it now: he’s gotten the princess pregnant.
Episode Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)
Now THIS is Noitamina! This show has really been consistently excellent so far, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get worse any time soon. The only part that’s still left for it to screw up is the ending, which has a lot of potential to end up rushed or unfinished. But until then, I’m really going to enjoy the rest of this series.

And so, it had to happen some time: Genji has gotten someone pregnant. To be precise, he has given birth to the future king, it seems. Because Lady Fujitsubo refused to make public that the two of them had sex, she decided to pretend that the baby came from Mikado, the king, even if Genji was the real father.

I still can’t quite get inside Genji’s head, though. On one hand, the guy seems so genuine, he seems to care so much about the women he sleeps with, and yet at the same time he seemed so upset when he learned that Fujitsubo had a baby from someone other than himself.

Posted on 6 February 2009 with categories: Genji Monogatari Sennenki



Short Synopsis: Genji gets a chance to see the princess (the one he kissed in the first episode) again.
Episode Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)
So yeah, you can pretty much consider me a fan of Osamu Dezaki right now. First he did a great job on Ultraviolet, and now he promises to do an even better job with Genji Monogatari. These episodes really keep getting better and better. It’s interesting, though, because based on the stories I’ve read about his other works, his series and movies are either incredibly good or incredibly bad. It seems that in the seventies and eighties, he established himself as an incredibly strong director. Then in the nineties, something went terribly wrong and he produced one terrible anime after the others, but with the new millennium he has managed to pick up himself really nicely, with the Air and Clannad Movie, the Snow Queen and Ultraviolet. It’s always interesting to see what happens when an already established director learns from his mistakes.

Anyway, in this episode, Genji feels pretty much down from what happened in the previous episode, when the ghost of the hatred of one of his neglected loves ends up killing his current love. He however, becomes his old self again when he meets the one he kissed as a fourteen year-old (I believe her name was Lady Fujitsubo). It seems that both of them are still heavily affected by that moment.

There’s also a young girl he meets (she probably will play a bigger part later in this series, but it’s quite disturbing that age really seems to not matter for Genji…), but the biggest event of this episode was of course when Genji forced himself upon the Fujitsubo, even though he probably wasn’t allowed to come near her at all (especially since she’s married to his father).

Posted on 30 January 2009 with categories: Genji Monogatari Sennenki



Short Synopsis: Something goes wrong as Genji yet again switches over to a new woman.
Episode Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)
I’m amazed at how much this series has already done within only three episodes. Most series really need a bit of time to get fully steamed up, but with this series, every episode has delivered so far, and has been increasingly better. It would be awesome if this trend would continue throughout the rest of the series. My only gripe with this series is that at times, it’s rather hard to keep track of who is who. The extreme example is of course Genji in his younger days, but because of the series’ pacing it doesn’t have the time to properly introduce its characters.

Still, this definitely is one of the more unique harems I’ve seen, even though the story is 1000 years old by now. With Genji, you can see that the guy is a player, rather than a clueless harem lead. In the Tale of Genji, girls don’t flock to Genji, but Genji flocks to the girls, seduces them and then moves on again. This episode also showed that he really isn’t aware of the pain he brings to all of his victims. This whole love-thing is simply a game for him, and while he genuinely cares about the women he meets, he doesn’t try to take their own feelings into account at all. I think that that’s because he was raised as a prince and all. Japan’s emperors in ancient times have always had a reputation of being rather screwed in the head.

I’m not exactly sure what happened at the end of this episode. Was that ghost a vision that Genji had, causing him to cut up his newest love in confusion, or are there certain supernatural traits to this story, and was the ghost caused by the woman (I really have trouble remembering all of their names) of the last episode, who longs back to seeing Genji again?

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