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Series Review: Nabari no Ou

October 29, 2009

The main male protagonist. So sweet he will never ever kill a ladybug. The story… he would kill a ladybug!

Story:

Miharu Rokujou is a quiet middle-schooler who is good at cooking okonomiyaki and acting as jail-baits to get whatever he wants from older people. When attacked by a group of mysterious ninjas, he found out that he actually possessed the most powerful ninja technique ever created, called Shinra Banshou. From there on he went on an adventure as he strived to become the Nabari no Ou (King of Nabari).

Essentially, Nabari no Ou’s story structure is quite similar to Bounen no Xamdou I have reviewed not too long ago (therefore comparisons will be inevitable). The main protagonists in these two anime obtains a great power but in the end rarely used them (you can count how many times the main protagonists in those two anime used their power with only one hand). Unlike Bounen no Xamdou though, there are far more action in this anime but usually the protagonist only watches them from the sidelines (if he isn’t running away or being kidnapped etc). I wonder whether this is the new trend in Japan right now, not letting the protagonist use their newly acquired power the way the protagonist in Speed Grapher did.

While Nabari no Ou and Bounen no Xamdou are similar in structure, the quality of the storyline is vastly different, in favor of the latter. Still, Nabari no Ou’s story is still very decent, plus it has more intricate plots compared to Bounen no Xamdou. For the first couple of episodes, this anime has some pacing problems (too fast) and the story develops erratically but those problems goes away after that. Nabari no Ou doesn’t have the slow pacing problem Bounen no Xamdou has.

Character development in Nabari no Ou is more conventional compared to Bounen no Xamdou, with the exception of Miharu Rokujou (the best character) whose character also used the same strategy as the main protagonist of Bounen no Xamdou used. This anime is also dialogue-heavy, but not as much as Bounen no Xamdou is. Plus romance is kept to a minimum, almost as an afterthought. The ending, while is more unpredictable in details compared to other shounen anime titles, ends up being ordinary and unfulfilling. This is definitely one of the negative points of this anime. A shounen hero must have a pet too. As added bonus, the cat is pink, can transform into a girl with white hair, and immortal too.

nabari-no-ou

 

 

Character Design:-
Nabari no Ou used character designs that comes out straight from shounen-ai titles like Loveless or Gravitation (or some random CLAMP anime). Thinking about that, considering the relationship between Miharu Rokujou and the other main male protagonist (did you notice that there are no main female protagonist here – all females in this anime are supporting characters only), this probably is inevitable. Well, at least the designs are not out of place unlike Tytania. Black hairs are common, and that is a good thing. Definitely a positive point for this anime.

Voice Acting:-
Voice acting in this anime is quite good, with the main male protagonist and his sickly effeminate boyfriend being the best of the bunch (the latter only speaks more during the second half of the anime though). Better than Bounen no Xamdou for sure.

Music:-
The OST for this anime is good, but you cannot say the same about the OP and ED themes.

 

Animation/Direction:-
My biggest complaint for this anime. The animation quality in this 2008 anime is subpar (jerky movements with flawed fluidity) compared to the standard set by other anime titles shown in the same year. This applies also for fast-paced scenes that are not part of ninja battles (like moving vehicles). When it comes to those fast-paced ninja battle animations, those blurry vertigo-inducing animation techniques really pissed me off because it makes following the action harder than it should have been. The fact that the two fansub groups that translated this anime introduced many combing artifacts during encoding doesn’t really help either. I docked one point off the final rating for this anime, it was really that bad.

The director has done his/her job neatly, with the exception of the pacing and story flow problems in the early episodes.

Conclusion:-

The problems with the animation, the less than stellar story (compared to the perfect Bounen no Xamdou anyway) and the ending caused Nabari no Ou to fail to even challenge Wolf and Spice. Are you a handsome guy with white hair, good with taijutsu and ninjutsu skills and is immortal to boot? If yes, then you will be popular with women, and some of them may want to follow you home and peek at you in the bathroom.

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