Abandoned V-Day Review


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Was originally going to submit this for V-Day, but since others have a claim on reviewing this show eventually, decided to put it on here as a V-Day treat for the rest of you.



Title: Romeo x Juliet

Rated: Not rated as of yet

Released: Japan: April 4th, 2007, licensed but as of yet unreleased Stateside

Starring: Fumie Mitsuzawa, Takahiro Mizushima

Once again, it's Valentine's Day, time for couples to act all gooey and suck face and make all the rest of us feel horrible about not having found a significant other. And in the spirit of this lovely holiday, I feel like ripping the sucktastic anime adaptation of Romeo and Juliet done by Gonzo a new one.

Fourteen years ago, on the floating continent of Neo-Verona, the Montagues led a coup against the Capulets, and slaughtered the entire family, except for a young girl and her servant. The girl, in the meantime, has been bought up as a boy, Odin, and kept in hiding, occasionally going out as the masked vigilante the Red whirlwind. On the day of her sixteenth birthday, the day when her true identity is to be revealed, she meets Romeo, the son of the Montagues...

As you can tell, this is an extremely loose adaptation of the story. And, honestly, it had the chance to be good.

First off, the few bright spots in this.

Neo-Verona is absolutely beautiful. Gonzo really tried to emulate classical Italian Renaissance architecture in its construction, and they did it well. The winged horses that show up here and there in the series are pretty neatly designed and executed as well.

Overall, the seiyuu for this did a good job in portraying their characters, even if I hated their characters' guts. Props especially to Tybalt and Montague's seiyuu, who pitched their voices so that they matched, something I didn't recognize till I saw them in scenes that happened one right after the other, which was a hint to a major (if slightly WTF-ish) plot point.

The two versions of the OP and its instrumental, a cover of Josh Groban's "You Raise Me Up" by Lena Park, were used at several points in the series, and even if I didn't really like where it was used, I liked the songs themselves. The first ED, "Cyclone" by 12012, was a pretty nice rock piece as well.

However, the story has issues, and lots of them.

First of all centers in the adaptation of the story. It's absolutely bare-bones: two star-crossed lover from rival families who die. It isn't even double suicide because of a misunderstanding; Romeo dies because he's trying to save Juliet from giving her life to save Neo-Verona, which ends up happening anyways upon his death, which makes most of the last two episodes or so pointless in the extreme. I'm not a Shakespeare purist at all, but dear lord, they fucked this up. They can't decide when to use Shakespearean dialogue or when to adapt it, or when to keep scenes from the original play in just to remind people that yes, this is an adaptation. For Christ's sake, they threw in the Bard himself and made him a flaming parody of himself! Is nothing sacred?!

This, in turn, is compounded by the issue that, for most of the series, there is no plot. It's either Juliet running around with Romeo in puppy love, with sides of Juliet angsting, or attempting to lead a revolution but failing at swordfighting when she's supposedly amazing at it, while Romeo either tries to kindly let down his arranged fiancée, or starts to realize just what a douche his father is. Gonzo tries to build the series on Romeo and Juliet's tru wuv, but at best, it's infatuation, as they never meet for anything more than six minutes, yet this is enough for them to decide to run away together about halfway through the series and marry each other and set up house in a pastoral village out in the middle of nowhere.

They get captured, though, and Romeo goes off to the mines to have a slight development arc that makes him even more annoying at the end of it, and Juliet goes off to finally lead that revolution (which is instigated by something so fucking easy that it's a wonder they didn't try this years ago, let alone the other five times that the revolution failed in this series!). And when the revolution comes about, it's glossed over to make room for the aforementioned random tree that apparently keeps Neo Verona in the sky and that is dying because of the Montagues, and apparently Juliet is the next sacrifice to keep it alive.

Another major problem in this is the characters. Gonzo might have been able to pull this off if they'd kept the original personalities from Shakespeare. Instead, Romeo becomes a naive whiny little brat who waxes philosophically (and unconvincingly) about justice and freedom and peace, and Juliet can't decide whether she wants to be a shoujo heroine destined to lead a revolution and avenge her parents or a whiny little Mary-Sue moping over her angsty past and her TRU WUV with Romeo. Other characters from other Shakespeare plays are thrown in haphazardly, but don't hold your breath waiting for them to be like in other plays; they're all butchered versions of their former selves, most of whom are fawning over and coddling either Romeo or Juliet or both.

Background stories for some major characters (such as Tybalt and the generic evil tyrant Montague) don't come until later in the series, and when they do, it's just more WTF (Montague is a son of the Capulets and got adopted into the Montagues and backstabbed his way to the top in order to get his revenge on the Capulets for mistreating his mother, who was, in fact, a whore; and Tybalt is apparently the son of Montague and a Capulet woman).

The biggest issue with characters is the fact that none of them get any development; they're all one-note personalities running around in circles for most of the series.

To say the least, this thing is a mess. And you wonder where it comes from, because on the one hand, you've got wonderful stuff from this studio like Saikano, and Bokurano, and Gankutsuou, and then on the other, you've got this piece of shit.

In terms of animation, there are times when it was pretty obvious that they were trying to save budget with pan shots, still frames, and glossing over fight scenes.

The background music for this was a study in extremes: it was either melodramatic or overdramatic string orchestra, to match the "epic" fight scenes and "dramatic" revelations, or soft and gentle string and piano numbers, to match the "tender" moments and the angst. All in all, it took the suckiness to whole new places. I also didn't like the second ED all that much, as it was another female emo ballad, which we kind of already had in the OP, except tolerable.

In the long run, this was just way too long. I was starting to get sick of this around episode thirteen. If they went and retooled the whole damn thing (and maybe took care of the issues with the plot and the characters), they should've been able to wrap this up in about sixteen to twenty episodes, and had a chance of it being decent, too.

In short, stay the hell away from this sucktastic series. However, if you're feeling vindictive and spiteful on Valentine's Day and are looking for something to mock mercilessly, consider this my Valentine's gift to you.

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