9.06.2009

Romeo x Juliet


Look at that gorgeous artwork. Anyways, I had originally written this one off as something I'd never watch, given that I had already read the original Shakespeare play more than once and watched countless, horrid movie adaptations. Combined with the fact that by 2007, I had lost faith in Gonzo's ability to produce a meaningful anime series [read my side rant about this at the bottom of this post], I skipped the series in its entirety in 2007, but I recently discovered that I had made a serious mistake in judgement back then.

After reading several recommendations from around the internet and staring at huge one page advertisements in various anime magazines/catalogs for the recent DVD release, I become very curious and decided to give it try. What I discovered completely blew away my expectations.

Romeo x Juliet deviates greatly from Shakespeare's source material (which was great for me, since it kept the series fresh), but masterfully transforms each of the characters into something as equally special as the original. In fact, the differences are so great, I would hate to spoil anything for my readers. The setting is about what you expect from previous iterations of this story, but there is a sense of fantasy imbued into it (the entire country is a floating continent for example). Instead of going in depth about the details, I'll just say that the sense of enjoyment that I got out of watching this series was a rare pleasure.

As expected of Gonzo, the animation quality for this series was top notch (except for 2 or 3 of the middle episodes, which had their share of low budget renderings of the characters and their faces, ugh). Again, the unique presentation these characters take center stage and all in all, this was a great reimagination of a classic story. Finally, the musical score by the guy who did FF12's score added greatly to the experience. I also realize that the ratio of review content vs. the hows/whys of my life in this post is greatly unbalanced, so I just want to emphasize one more time what an underrated gem this series really is.

Side rant start: seriously, the studio that rolled out nonstop favorite after favorite from 2000-2003 like Vandread, Hellsing, Full Metal Panic, Saikano, Kiddy Grade, Kaleido Star, and Chrono Crusade started releasing absolute high budget crap starting around 2004. These series (which I list in chronological order) include Last Exile, Peacemaker Kurogane, Gantz, Burst Angel, Desert Punk (Sunabouzu), Gankutsuou, Basilisk, Speed Grapher, Trinity Blood, Red Garden, and Pumpkin Scissors. I don't understand what happened at all, their animation quality were mostly top billing, and some of the visuals were nothing short of brilliant, but the depth of the stories just sank. All of those series from 2004-2007 all have these huge gaping flaws that ruined the fun of watching them. Last Exile (steampunk) and Gankutsuou (waterbrush) in particular were very artsy and stylized, but they were downright boring to watch/endure. I'm very glad that they somehow pulled together in 2007 and have started putting out some nice stuff again, Romeo and Juliet included. Side rant end.

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