Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Anime Review: Jyu Oh Sei

Originally I was hoping to review the manga before this since my library had it at one point (heck, I remember reading the first volume back in high school) but the first volume has gone missing, they never had the third, and I couldn't find it any of the bookstores around me or scanlations. So yeah, I'll get around to reading the series another time (I know that I can buy the volumes online in any case) and I liked the story here enough to want to read the original, maybe I can find the volumes at another library...

Jyu Oh Sei (Planet of the Beast King)

Summary: It's the distant future and humanity has colonized one or two solar systems outside of Earth but they have a seriously reduced lifespan for some reason. But that is the least of Thor's worries for the moment, he's just found his parent's slain on the orders of his older brother, the prime minister, and then he and he's twin brother Rai are dumped on the secret planet of Chimera where even the plants are out to kill you. But if Thor survives he can become the Beast King and gain his freedom to challenge his brother and find out the reason for his parent's deaths. 

The Good: This is real true, old style science fiction and, as I've said before, I really do enjoy the genre (probably because I read a lot of it back in early high school). So seeing a sci-fi story where the world isn't perfect (both in the social classes and as in the physical world) and that being the cause of the problems is neat and interesting. The timeskip in the story works well and, while a few things about Thor come off as a desu ex machina, most of those revelations make sense in retrospect and clear up one or two plot holes. Plus, this is one of the few noitaminA series which seemed to work well with 11 episodes. Yes a 12th episode would be nice but, unlike others, the story did manage to wrap up well in 11. 

The Bad: One thing that bothered me within the story was how the women of Chimera were said to be respected and powerful in their own right, the three we meet are all rather weak. They don't seem to win the fights they get into or really accomplish much on their own and that contrary set of statements just didn't sit right with me (also, the original story was written by a woman and it's just weird to see a woman write a story where the women in it are subjected). Other than that, apparently the anime left out a big plot twist at the end and, while the story worked, having heard the spoiler yeah that was kind of a huge thing to leave out of the ending. I wish it had gotten worked in somehow but the story did work despite that.

The Art: Nothing really special about the designs here, the only thing that stood out to me is how the characters are divided up into groups based on how dark their skin is and none of the characters here seemed to have very dark skin at all. My best guess for that is that the manga-ka lived in Japan which doesn't have the variety of skin tones the US does (especially since I live in southern part of the US, lots of dark skinned people around here) and it would have been nice if those characters had some variety in facial features as well but most anime don't do that either (plus, this is based on a shojo manga which isn't well known for being horribly realistic).

The Music: I thought that the opening was a pretty catchy song myself but the ending song confused me a bit. I think it's a love song from Tiz to Thor (that's what the lyrics and the images suggest) but, since Tiz doesn't appear for a few episodes and halfway through the series they go through a timeskip so the characters don't even look the same. And honestly, in a series that's about humanity surviving no matter how much of themselves they lose, a love song just doesn't make sense for the ending.

So, barring the manga being far faaaaar superior to the anime I'll probably buy this sometime (plus, there's a super cheap SAVE version of it, hell, buying the anime may be cheaper than buying the manga) but I'm checking out the manga for sure at some point. It's been on my to read list for a little while actually, that and some other older shojo sci-fi titles, plus older science fiction in general, I swear I'm gonna have time to read it all someday!