Posted on 27 December 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo




Bee-Train’s installment for 2010 is called Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, a 13 episode series about a psychic detective who can see ghosts. Lacking their usual director, Koichi Mashimo, the characterization is not as good as we’ve come to expect from them, but there still is a lot to like about this series.

Let me first put a few disclaimers here though, because this isn’t the most accessible series. First of all, despite the “Tantei”-part of the title (tantei = detective), don’t expect this to be a murder mystery: it isn’t. The culprits are often immediately revealed without really giving the audience the time to speculate wht happened. The mystery of this series instead mostly lies in its overall story.

Second of all, adapations whose stories don’t exactly fit within either 13 or 26 episodes nowadays often have slow paced beginnings and rushed endings. Yakumo is completely the opposite: it rushes through its first chapters, just so that it can take its time with the final two arcs of the story in which everything comes together.

So the first half of this series basically consists out of random stories for every episode. The pacing is really fast and some things are rather rushed in order to get everything to actually fit within twenty minutes, but overall these stories work surprisingly well. They’re especially good a using their own build-up and almost all of them end with a neat and interesting conclusion.

The main story that pops up in the second half is actually very interesting. The show boasts a number of very interesting characters (another plus point is that this is one of the very few series of the past season that isn’t about teenagers and actually make suse of it), with some badass characters that are very likable to watch. The show can also boast a neat cast of major villains here, who really are built up as a menacing bunch with a very interesting backstory. The voice actors meanwhile are good, yet composed, so there is none of the usual annoying overacting. There however are a few characters that can get on people’s nerves. Most notably Haruka, the romantic interest, but she’s far from the worst of her kind.

With 13 episodes, the characters aren’t as deep as your usual Bee-Train series, but they are great nonetheless. I especially loved the way in which the second half interweaves all of their stories together, and there is quite a bit of good development in this series, both for the main characters and the side characters.

The music this time is compoed by the relatively unknown RON, who deliver a great little soundtrack that is surprisingly varied. There are a ton of great tracks that the creators use really well, and this show just continues to introduce new ones. The character designs are simple, but the inbetween animation is quite good.

Overall, Yakumo is another series that went a bit under the radar this season (despite the HUGE hype leading up to it) but this is quite a good series to watch, even for some people who usually don’t like Bee-Train’s really slow sense of storytelling, because the pacing of this series is much faster than their usual series. Just be aware of some sloppy and rushed storytelling here and there.

Storytelling: 9/10 – A bit rushed and lacks attention to detail in the beginning, but makes up for it in the way that it manages to weave its different stories together and how well it uses its own build-up.
Characters: 9/10 – Great and diverse cast of well developed characters, there are plenty of strong and likable characters around. And a few that are hard to like, though.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Great soundtrack, decent animation, unremarkable art.
Setting: 8/10 – Seeing spirits is nothing new, but this series does give a fresh spin to it.

Suggestions:
Madlax
Soultaker
Matantei Loki Ragnarok

Posted on with categories: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo



That turned out to be a very nice little ending. It’s far less exciting than I expected, but it formed a very good conclusion to the series. Unlike the rest of this series, nothing was rushed about this episode at all.

So the plot of the bad guys was indeed to try and get the ghost of Yakumo’s father a real body. For that, they needed him in despair and that’s why all of his family members were killed. Miyuki Nanase indeed shot Gotou, as the final straw. The way in which things eventually got solved is a bit weird, yet interesting. It’s not like some deus ex machina suddenly makes the villains incompetent or stupid: their plan just failed. The reasons why exactly are a bit vague, but Yakumo simply refused to give into his despair.

In the end, the villains probably waited for too long to inhabit Yakumo’s body: it would have been much easier to drive him to despair while he was still a teenager (but then again, I think that Yakumo’s father was too much focused on acquiring an actually good vessel, and not a teen-aged one which I can somewhat understand). They tried to make him into a broken character, but in the end Gotou, Isshin and Haruka pulled him out of it. It’s cheesy, but this is one story where the power of friendship is actually quite acceptable to be the final twist. It could have been better, but it also definitely could have been worse.

I also really like that the creators really took their time for the epilogue. I’m not sure how Gotou wasn’t hit at a vital spot, but at least he does spend quite a bit of time at a hospital. Isshin however… actually died. It’s a great idea to base the epilogue of this series around his funeral, it’s a perfect way to close off the series.

Overall, Bee-Train’s series usually last for two seasons: that really gave them the opportunity to come with some really great plots and characters. With just 13 episodes however, Yakumo actually gave a very good attempt. It’s nowhere near Bee-Train’s best, I really noticed that while watching Madlax, but it’s still very good. I’m really thrilled for 2011: not only will Koichi Mashimo return, but he’s actually going to do a series of 39 episodes. I’m really glad that after 2010 that had so few series that dared to be long, 2011 finally is showing series again that go beyond 26 episodes.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 20 December 2010 with categories: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo



It’s the penultimate episode, and a series that once was so incredibly fast paced here really takes its time to deliver its story properly. The result is one of the quietest episodes of the entire series. It’s going to depend entirely on the final episode whether its time was well spent. The main event of this episode was that indeed it wasn’t Yakumo’s father who stabbed Ishii, but instead it was the father of that little girl he talked to. This guy really is quite the interesting villain, doing everything while dead and only able to talk and influence people. In terms of the side-characters, I especially liked Gotou. Throughout the entire series, his dialogue and voice acting has been consistently snarky and amusing.

Unfortunately, this episode ended with the infamous “let’s nearly kill someone right before the final episode”-cliffhanger. That’s a bit of a bad sign as most of the series that pull that twist only use it as a cheap gimmick instead of making it really part of the ending. Again, it’s all going to depend on that final episode and whether they can portray it well. The problem is that Nanase Miyuki has been built up as pretty much the strongest and most professional character of the entire series. If she manages to miss Haruka (or whoever she intended to shoot), it’s going to ruin her character.

In any case, Bee-Train have usually worked with famous composers, such as Yuki Kajiura, the ALI Project and Kou Outani. I really like that this time, they went with the relatively unknown RON, and pretty much allowed them to put all kinds of creativity in the soundtrack. This episode premiered a ton of new tracks, all of which worked wonderfully well. The only soundtrack they did previously was the Kurenai ED, which was generic J-Pop, so I’m really impressed by what they ended up delivering when they moved out of that genre.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 13 December 2010 with categories: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo



In a season in which so many adaptations are heading towards an incomplete ending, Yakumo feels incredibly refreshing. This is EXACTLY what I mean by proper build-up!

These are the kinds of stories that make perfect use of their build-up, rather than either doing the same thing over and over again, or just failing to do anything with it. Koichi Mashimo has always been terrific at this, but with this series, it’s awesome to see that more and more people are walking around in bee-Train who know the ins and outs of Bee-Train. That’s pretty much the thing that made me a Bee-Train fan, and why I don’t mind their slow pacing at all. Their music is of course amazing, but what really sold me on them is how well they manage to lay out their series in terms of the big picture. There are exceptions, of course, like Blade of the Immortal (way too short!) and .Hack//Roots (tried way too much and shot itself in the foot by that), but the vast majority of their series come together wonderfully in the end. While not a Bee-Train series, the anime that really showed me that was the Irresponsible Captain Tylor that I watched a week ago. With Yakumo too: instead of focusing for too long on the boring stuff of the manga, they really wanted to rush through that in order to do the great parts of the manga justice and that’s working wonderfully so far.

The “death right before the finale”-trope has been used often enough before, but I really like the effect that this had on both the characters and the plot. At first I thought that Yakumo’s uncle’s message that he’s going to die of cancer was just there to instill some sympathy. Instead, it caused him to just throw away his life in an attempt to try and talk to Yakumo’s father (who is turning into a more and more interesting villain, by the way). The result is that he’s now in a coma of which we won’t know whether he’ll wake up or not.

A lot of time really went into the repercussions of this, and especially the two people on which his coma made the biggest impact: Yakumo and Noa. Especially Noa was just amazing to watch, having her father in a coma at such a young age, and I loved how everyone tried to help her here. Yakumo meanwhile just sat at the same place. He’s no child anymore, but at the same time this is the second time at which he’s about to lose the most important person in his life.

At the same time, the plot also really moved forward here, with Nanase Miyuki suddenly getting attacked by Yakumo’s father, and more and more people finding out that he’s actually a ghost. This episode really showed many different scenes of different people together, and that gave it a very interesting dynamic here. There are two episodes left, and I can’t wait for this one to end.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 6 December 2010 with categories: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo



A lot of series will be ending at the end of december. The ending I’m looking forward to the most however is Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, closely followed by Shiki. The current (and probably final) arc has only just started and already it has delivered some amazing twists. Just think of how everything is going to come together in the end. I’m also the least worried of a rushed and incomplete ending, exactly because how the past episodes made it clear that they rushed the first half, exactly in order to avoid this problem.

The previous arc really cemented Miyuki Nanase as a bad-ass, and yet here this episode comes and also labels her as flawed when she completely unexpectedly gets caught. Not through some overblown car chase by one of the lead characters, but instead she gets cornered by regular patrol cars. Finally another series comes along that completely busts the “police are useless”-trope. To make things even more interesting, it’s heavily implied here that the main villain… is already dead. Again: why does this guy have such a grudge that even in the grave, his soul still continues to haunt Yakumo. On top of that, this makes Miyuki Nanase even more awesome, considering how just about everything in the previous arc was her work.

meanwhile, it’s good to see that finally there is another man who is about to die from a terminal illness, breaking the “women get sick really easy”-trope, and yet this isn’t a simple reversal in the way that the creators introduced that little girl whose future is also looking pretty bleak, balancing things out. In any case, the creators gave Yakumo’s uncle a very good portrayal. He was bleak, yet things didn’t get too sappy. Same with Yakumo’s baby pictures (nice touch to his character, by the way) that finally showed Yakumo some of the good sides of his mother again.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 29 November 2010 with categories: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo



Again: I’m baffled here. We all know that the first episodes had problems due to being rushed and all. And so here this episode comes with the main plot of this show and it suddenly becomes incredibly solid. Seriously, this episode was amazing in both its plot and atmosphere, and showed more than ever that Koichi Mashimo isn’t the only big talent that’s walking around in Bee-Train.

I’m really impressed by the plot here, and especially how it focused on just about everyone here: both the main characters and the villains. I just love how this episode tied everything together, the plot is both disturbing, imaginative and deep. And I really have to admit here: the bad guys in this series kick ass. They don’t just look evil, their actions really pack a punch here, from the trauma they inflicted on Yakumo’s mother by first raping her, murdering her boyfriend and then getting her to kill her own son, to recruiting little girls by having them kill off their own family. I also love the subtlety with which Yakumo now remembers his past. He’s obviously silent and introvert, but it’s not like he’s angsting over it either. I also really liked how he as a kid didn’t really like Takeda Shunsuke, and only much later found out that he was dating his mother.

Now, the one point at which I have criticisms of this episode was the way in which Gotou suddenly arrived at exactly the right time behind Miyuki Nanase, but I’ve seen far worse coincidences: Takeda Shunsuke made sure to tell everyone the location of Yakumo, with Gotou using a car with a bit of a delay, he could catch up to Haruka who took the train.

Speaking of which, Haruka again just ran into a situation unprotected, even though Takeda Shunsuke advised her to stay, but for once her actions make sense here: she was being targeted by Miyuki Nanase, and hiding would have actually worked against her favour: Miyuki would have easily captured her, just going to Yakumo would have saved Miyuki the trouble of dragging her over to Nagano, which is why she was left untouched. The way Miyuki was defeated may perhaps been a bit of a cop-out, but really: it was the only way. It’s already been established at this point that she’s completely badass, and that there’s no way that she would have lost in a real fight.

Also, what the hell was up with the animation in this episode? I mean, that’s not Bee-Train. I mean, smooth frame-rates are one thing, but there were tons of shots in this episode which had completely fluent movement, with more frame-rates than I’ve probably ever seen in a Bee-Train series. That scene in which Nanase told about how she murdered her parents was also just amazing: there was a TON of style within just those thirty seconds.

I now understand what this series is doing, and why the first few chapters were so incredibly rushed: they were simply trying to go through those chapters as fast as possible, so that they could put more emphasis on these final few episodes. You know how a lot of series waste too much time on their introductions, so that their endings get rushed? Denyuuden is a good example of that at the moment: it’s currently amazing, but it did take sixteen episodes with a lot of boring build-up to get there. That’s what the creators most likely wanted to avoid here, so for that they had to sacrifice some first impressions due to these rushed chapters.

The current Autumn Season wasn’t the best one for the reputation of series that feature adults as main characters, with Iron Man, Togainu no Chi and Hakuouki with their cheesy stories and characters and in a bit less of a way Panty and Stocking and Arakawa who have their minds in the gutter and riverbed respectively, but at the same time I really appreciate how there still are series like Otome Youkai Zakuro, Kuragehime and Shinrei Tantei Yakumo that try to come with mature storylines that aren’t chockful of teenaged antics. They may have a few cliches, they may be a bit rushed, but they really are the proof that anime hasn’t entirely been taken over by whimsical teenagers.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 22 November 2010 with categories: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo



A building up episode, but nevertheless a really solid one. It’s here where we finally get to see the “mystery”-part of this series, because the entire episode was full of twists and revelations to spice up this arc. It’s a bit weird at times, but that also gave this show a bit of a charm. Yakumo’s past suddenly got a lot more intriguing here, and I’m beginning to see what the creators were building up for here.

It’s also an episode who completely removes some of the key lead characters: Yakumo only appears in one shot, while Gotou is nowhere to be found at all. I like these kinds of episodes, as they really give the side-cast their time to shine, and in this episode they really show that they’re more than a useless bunch. Especially that wimpy detective gets some background and development and also Haruka was very different from back when she still got kidnapped every other episode.

I do have to wonder which police office keeps secret files hidden behind a toilet, of all things. This episode also returned to the quick-fire pacing of this series which feels like the creators tried to stuff a ton of material into just twenty episodes. Again though: it works. You can say a lot about this series, but it definitely doesn’t drag on.

The fact that Yakumo is the child born off a rape victim makes a lot of sense in the story, and only ends up making that bad guy even more of an asshole, establishing him now as an uncaught rapist. It’s still a complete mystery about what he’s planning to do with him though, but it probably involves the spirit seeing powers that he has. The bond between his mother and Haruka’s mother is a bit coincidental, but on the other hand, it’s entirely possible for Haruka’s mother to send Haruka towards Yakumo. I doubt she knew about the extent of the practices that Yakumo was involved in, and instead probably tried to prevent Yakumo from really losing his way.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 15 November 2010 with categories: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo



Holy crap, that was awesome! What the hell happened here? This show suddenly starts building up its main story, and then it delivers by far the bets episode it ever had. I wasn’t really expecting much from this series other than its great music, style and atmosphere, but damn: this episode pushed a ton of right buttons. Not to mention that the soundtrack surpassed itself. Yet again.

The biggest part of why this episode was so awesome was because it introduced us to the two most bad-ass women of the entire season. I mean, I was aware that Bee-Train had something for strong female characters and all, but even for those standards, Nanase Miyuki and Miya both were awesome in this episode in completely different ways, though their similarity is their professionalism. Miya is just… I love her voice actress: the way that she’s just so serious, and yet she doesn’t try to add in anything more. Nanase Miyuki meanwhile was who most of this episode focused on. We had never really seen that much about her: she just kept standing next to Yakumo’s father, but that’s all she did. In this episode she finally comes into action, and she’s just crazy, yet hardly wastes any movement in order to get what she wants. (Also, take that, Sailor Moon! Even I didn’t recognize her in that disguise and yet Gotou nearly noticed it).

And oh, the character-development. In particular Yakumo and Yuutarou got hit hard: the phone call Yakumo made to Haruka was definitely not one he would have made a few episodes back. Yuutarou meanwhile also was a bit of a klutz, but the creators used that one surprisingly well near the end, when he really got pounded by Miya for not doing anything while Gotou got captured.

Now, it IS going to be really hard for this show to keep this momentum, I realize that very well: this episode ended with all of the main characters kidnapped all in different ways. It’s the reason Miyuki was so awesome, but how the heck are the creators going to write themselves out of that? There really has to be something within Yakumo’s father’s plans that specifically includes not to kill them, otherwise things could get a bit nasty with Deus ex Machina…

Oh, and the music. Dear god, the music! at first I wasn’t the most impressed it (having heard far better from Bee-Train in the past), but seriously, when it just keeps introducing new tracks that just get better and better then I’m really anticipating the tracks that they’re still saving for the last parts…
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 7 November 2010 with categories: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo



Quite an unusual episode for Yakumo: in most of its episodes it tries to stuff in as much as possible. The story in this episode however was really small. It was so simple that it probably would have fit into half an episode. So instead the creators stuff in a lot of scenes to flesh out the different characters. It works well.

And seriously, the drama in this episode was simple, yet very effective. The ghost in this episode was not angry because of some romance, but instead this episode featured a shy and secluded girl who once made a picture of herself wearing a pretty dress. It’s a simple yet very effective twist here.

Karuka, she has her issues, but in the end I do consider her to be a good female sidekick. She’s got plenty of weaknesses, but she also is pretty useful in getting Yakumo to crawl out of his shell. She’s certainly no moron and is really trying to understand him and the various ghosts she runs into, without becoming overly pushy or obnoxious. I like that. Speaking of morons… To think that “the klutz” in this series would be played by a guy. This guy… has no backbone. And yet I like his purpose in the series, having to work together with that woman that he’d once seen possessed.

This episode featured quite a few of those small scenes of characters who had nothing to do with the plot of this episode, but I like those kinds of scenes for some reasons. Heh, and yet this was the first episode in which we didn’t get to see Yakumo’s father. This really was meant to be some sort of quiet before the storm.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 31 October 2010 with categories: Shinrei Tantei Yakumo



It’s rushed, it’s full of coincidences, I know that. But damn, this episode was surprisingly good here. I really want to praise the creators here, that even though they had to cut god knows how much from the manga in order to make this fit into just one episode, they still managed to make it work. This show is indeed visibly flawed, but it also avoids the single biggest pitfall for any rushed anime: the fact that the plot doesn’t come together.

This episode just kept building up its tension, right from the start, and within these 20 minutes, they really did lot here: they gave the doctor a good backstory, it fleshed the rest of the cast, especially Gotou tried to squeeze a bit of personality as much as he could without getting in the way of the story or the rest of the characters, we know a bit more about the new intern (who despite his whining is surprisingly useful), and most importantly: we now know who Yakumo’s father is. That certainly added a neat twist to this series.

The atmosphere was particularly wonderful in this episode. That’s where it really helps to be a Bee-Train series, because that soundtrack definitely kept me to the edge of my seat, and it worked great with the storytelling and the pacing of the series. This balance is probably the thing that makes this show works so well: the characters and story are very well balanced in each episode, and the creators make sure to give all of them equal time to show themselves off. Its definitely not the most solid series, but to me it does feel like everything comes together like it should.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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  • Raggers
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 12:33 PM)
    Oh, and just to say:
    There’s only one thing better than an awesome show, and that’s an awesome show with equally awesome OP and EDs to frame each episode.
  • Raggers
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 12:19 PM)
    @Nyangoro: wow, never thought of it like that but that is right on the money.
    Is Isshuukan Friends reminding people of Natsuyuki Rendezvous? The colour pallete, music and style of storytelling make them feel very similar.
  • Juno
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 08:28 AM)
    I just decided to watch through all the Kagerou Project videos again. I’ve yet to get to the anime. Has anyone here watched the first two episodes? What did they think so far?
  • Nyangoro
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 08:25 AM)
    Isshuukan Friends 3: I love Shogo so fucking much. He really balances out the cast.
  • ninjarealist
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 07:23 AM)
    about both artists*
  • ninjarealist
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 07:23 AM)
    I guess for one I just don’t find the subject matter that interesting. Most of their stuff centers around white males doing typically white male things without much in the way of sub-text or social commentary that I really find engaging. I could say that about artists. I respect them for their craft but I don’t enjoy their work.
  • ninjarealist
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 07:21 AM)
    I’m just not a fan of Chuck Palahniuk’s writing. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it’s just not for me. Fincher is a pretty good director but I mostly feel the same way about his movies.
  • Deadlight
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 06:20 AM)
    Night y’all
  • Deadlight
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 06:20 AM)
    @Emma: Thanks for sharing, haha. Yeah, best if you see the Fargo series first. Who knows, you might find some of the liberties they took to be engaging. Anyway, I’m really dozing off here. Worked too hard all day and barely got any sleep XD
  • Emma
    (Monday, Apr 21. 2014 06:10 AM)
    From dusk till dawn I noticed also got a tv show as a remake.

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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 […]