Nabari no Ou Anime Review
For my first post of the year, I reviewed the first tankobon volume of Nabari no Ou by Yuhi Kamatani. At the same time, Hulu provided the dubbed version of the series on their website for a limited time (and can be found on Funimation’s website as well). Liking the first volume, I decided to watch the series as well.
To recap the basic plot, Miharu Rokujou is a middle school student living in the small town of Banten. He is the possessor of the Shinra Banshou and the target of every (or just about) ninja faction out there. This is complicated by the fact that Miharu develops a strong emotional attachment to Yoite, a member of the antagonistic Kairoshu.
The series (2008 dir. Kunihisa Sugishima) is a delight to watch. The animation is almost as good as Kamatani’s art is in the first volume. The characters are rendered beautifully, the landscapes are great, and the action is well done.
I am also impressed with the dubbing. The voice actress for Miharu, Brina Palencia, struggles a bit in the first few episodes, but does an excellent job from there as she grows into the role. The rest of the cast does a nice job in their roles, but I am curious about the choice of a male voice actor for Yoite rather than a female one. But I don’t mind it that much because I think that Joel McDonald does a fantastic job of voicing Yoite.
The music is very good, especially the opening theme song and the second closing theme. While I like the music, some of the internal soundtrack sounds borrowed from X.
On the whole, the adaptation is excellent. It does not drag and keeps my interest during all of the arcs that make up the series. Almost every episodes has me on the edge of my seat with anticipation.
One of my issues with the series is that Miharu is recast into more of a non combatant role. In the first volume of the manga, Miharu clearly knows how to use shinobi techniques and does use them to fight. However, in the anime, he is largely relegated to hiding unless the shinra banshou makes an appearance. I did not find myself liking this.
Reading reviews of the first two volumes of Nabari no Ou on the website of Otaku USA, I found an interesting insight: I was watching Nabari and thinking Naruto. The reviewer pointed out Shinji Ikari. I can see her point that Miharu is rather like Shinji Ikari in that he does not want to engage in the heroics demanded of and forced upon him (unlike other shonen manga in which the young protagonist jumps at adventure). Even so, I do think that the core “team” of Nabari is meant to reference Team Seven.
This difference, this introduction of a different kind of protagonist, makes the series seem so much more interesting and complex. This can be seen in a number of ways: Miharu’s choices, the cute and ultimately bitter sweet relationship of Miharu and Yoite, and the ambiguous question of everyone’s agendas make the series that much better.
In the end, Nabari no Ou is a fantastic series to watch and I highly recommend it.