Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Anime Review: Tokyo Babylon OVAs

While I was watching X TV it occurred to me that I should check these two little OVAs out since, as I'm not reading the Tokyo Babylon scans since it is licensed in the US (Dark Horse, are these omnibus editions coming out anytime soon?) and I've started following a few people on tumblr who lately have been talking about the series an awful lot. I'm a little curious about the live action movie made based off of TB (which I only found out even existed this past summer, I've almost never seen people talk about it) but for the moment my curiosity has been satiated.

Tokyo Babylon

Summary: Subaru Sumeragi is an omyonji in Tokyo who spends his days dealing with spirits and other magical things as well as spending time with the only two people he's close to, his twin sister Hokuto and their friend Seishiro (a local veterinarian). Subaru cares a lot about his job and tries to help people no matter what, often putting his own safely on the line. 

The Good: I'm not sure if the two stories were based on stories from the manga but considering how well they were paced I'm inclined to think they were original stories. Both stories were rather different from each other, interesting, and in an odd way it reminded me of why I liked xxxHolic, Clamp just seems to be better at writing more episodic series than plot-central ones. I did enjoy these two shorts, even if I was wincing at some of the weird 1980s styles that had crept in, and wish it had been a full series, partially because of a problem I'm about to bring up below.  

The Bad: If you don't know anything about TB this is not the series for you, while it briefly touches on Subaru and Seishiro's connection (which ends up being a huge deal later in the story) it's still rather vague. The stories here don't require you to know much about the characters but when they don't explain anything at all it's clear who the show is aimed at. As I mentioned last week with X, that show works a bit better if you know more of Subaru's backstory and, since that is explained there, I could see these OVAs working if someone was to watch them and immediately follow them up with X to get a better grasp on how Subaru has changed in the 7+ years that separate the two. Other than that I really can't recommend this to anyone who hasn't already seen it, it just doesn't have that wide an appeal when it's almost completely lacking in backstory/explanations.   

The Audio: I about started snickering when the first OVA had a classic, let's-play-music-over-unrelated-images moment, such an 80s thing to do (heck, even the way a lot of shots are framed in the series feel not exactly dated but old school). I was a bit surprised that Subaru was actually voiced by a male voice actor (I've just gotten so used to hearing female VAs do male roles) but it really worked well. Hokuto was rather screechy early on but thankfully mellowed down by the end of the first OVA and the rest of the (Japanese, I don't think there's a dub) was fine. 

The Visuals: Please note the above image has nothing to do with the actual OVAs, it was the best thing I could find on google that wasn't a screenshot (or involve some of the story's more, interesting, outfits). In any case,  I watched this on an incredibly crappy stream (which occasionally had subs when people weren't talking/saying something different than what the characters actually were saying) so I don't really know what to say about how the OVAs looked. They're from 1992 and I'd imagine that they'd look fine if they were remastered although I did see some weird looking animation in places. Aside from that, and I've already established that these OVAs were channeling the 80s like it was going out of style (wait), the only thing I have left to say is that yes, Subaru is pretty damn adorable and one I would actually call moe (and I'm nigh-positive I'm not the only person who would say that).

So, hasn't aged that well in terms of looks (although if it was remastered that would help) and has a narrow appeal, come to think of it you can probably apply those statements to a lot of Clamp shows (or will be able to in another decade or so). I had fun with this but hopefully next week I'll finally be back to shows where I can whole-heartedly recommend them to people.

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