Nabari no Ou Movie Review
Nabari no Ou is an anime series that seems to have its heart set on reaching out to an audience going through that weird coming of age drama that we all go through. However, it doesn’t seem to devote itself to the same cliché concepts we’ve seen time and time again from anime that has gone after that 10 to 17 year old demographic. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t any less over dramatic and “emo” though.
The series is directed by Kunihisa Sugishima and is based off the mango by Yuhki Kamatani. Overall, it’s a rather well thought out story that deviates from the path I predicted it would follow early on. The series essentially follows modern day ninjas as they fight to control a High Scholar who discovers that he is the vessel for a great power known as the Shinra Banshou that has the ability to change the world. The thing is that the kid is an apathetic jerk (voiced by Brina Palencia). As in even I had a very hard time feeling sympathetic for the guy, or even liking him at all.
What I liked best about the series was that it blazed its own trail. As the series opens there is a very clear idea of who the good guys and who the bad guys are. However, as it progresses the bad guys are soon painted in a light that shows them as simply misunderstood. Their motives are to use the Shinra Banshou to make the world a better place by eliminating war, which sounds like a pretty noble cause. The further along it gets, it becomes more and more apparent that the “bad guys” are simply following a concept and are totally unaware of the means that their leader plans to use to achieve the ends they all believe in. This causes the lines to blur as the protagonist finds himself passing between the good guys and the bad guys, even going so far as to form a confusing bromance with one of them named Yaito (voiced by Joel McDonald), who is a walking poster child for those emo kids you see outside of Hot Topic.
As I said before, I respect Nabari no Ou for trying to be unique and original in its approach to the story. However, I feel like it never really manages to find a path of its own and only manages to wander around aimlessly. Overall, it felt as though the series was making promises that it couldn’t deliver on. All these characters seemed set to square off in and epic battle, but none of the action sequences proved to be provoking enough to maintain my attention for long. Instead it felt as though the characters simply jumped back and forth in a manner seeming almost stereotypical. All in all, it had a very flat tone that seemed to almost imitate the protagonist of the series, and that’s not meant as a compliment.
I’m sure that there has to be an audience for Nabari no Ou, but unfortunately, it wasn’t me. I found the entire series to be a letdown overall and never felt like it actually managed to accomplish anything. More importantly, I never found that yearning to move on to the next episode, like I have with some of my favorite anime. It was all just a little too melodramatic without enough reward for me. I’d rather watch Naruto Shippuden to get my ninja fix.