Review by Elisabeth Eubank, grade 12

Utawarerumono by Leaf

In episodes six to ten of Utawarerumono, we watched Hakuoro rally men around him, attacking the imperial city and gaining the role as emperor after his former adversary Benawi kills the former emperor in an act of valor. Onkami visits the new ruler, deeming him much more capable than the previous emperor and assigning the princess as his mediator. Soon after, a former gladiator arrives, proving her impressive strength and skill before adding herself to Hakuoro’s new forces.

Overall, I found the plot and style of these episodes pleasing; the exploration of many different points of view adds to what could otherwise be akin to any other story of rise to military power. Eruruu’s scenes particularly highlight a different side of the story and of unrequited romantic longing. The fight choreography is what makes this anime stellar; action scenes that are perfectly paced and position the camera in such a way the watcher is not forced to see horrible gore, but instead can watch dancing swords and perfect archery talent with minor blood splatter. How unbelievable it is that these peasants could have mastered these skills so quickly is questionable, but belief can easily be withheld for the beauty of the fight.

However, I do find the action scenes of battle are quickly detracted from with panoramic stills, seeming somewhat lazily drawn and shaken seemingly to indicate action but instead just inciting a mild headache from visual scenes. While I believe overhead panoramic shots could have been used to elaborate the size of many battles, especially the siege of the imperial city, the complete stillness of those supposedly in battle is quite a jarring and sharp cutaway from close-ups of various characters attacking one another in nearly perfect form.

While the use of dinosaurs in place of horses is a rather random choice, I found myself enjoying the playfulness of it in otherwise very intense battle scenes. I found my favorite episode of those I watched to be the last one: The Mercenary. The woman found on the shore is unrestrained in her power and confidence, something not found in the rather quiet female characters appearing in episodes six to nine. I especially enjoyed her kindness to young children, explaining her shackle away as a fashionable necklace and making a daisy chain for the young girl with the same hands that ripped her former captors to shreds. I find I have a soft spot for destructive characters with strong loyalty to the innocent. Hakuoro’s character, however, is a bit bland to me, too traditionally reserved for my tastes. Shirking his workload as emperor does give him some character outside of being the strong militaristic lead oh so blind to Eruruu’s affection, but his predictability makes him much less enjoyable to watch than other minor characters of the show.

Generally, I enjoyed the show, but small issues such as the dull lead and still cutaways take away from what could otherwise be an outstanding series.