Okay, forget Hanasakeru Seishounen, I have found my new Saiunkoku Mongatari josei anime. Can you guess? Well, yeah you probably can if you’ve seen and liked Saiunkoku, because it’s no secret that if you watch one, you’ll watch the other… I just happened to watch Saiunkoku first. Yes, I am talking about~
THE TWELVE KINGDOMS (Juuni Kokuki)
Watching @ 13/45 episodes
I actually downloaded this awhile ago, and watched the first episode; I, like everyone else who’s reviews I’ve read, dismissed this at first because of low quality animation and a plot that seemed all too common. However, I went back to this because I wanted something I could watch in mini-marathons, unlike everything else I’m currently following (stuff airing weekly). When I watched the first episode again, and then the second, I couldn’t stop. Before I knew it, I was drawn into the plot. Although the first episode seemed very average and unambitious, that quickly changed during the second episode. Instead of entering a happy magical world with fun fighting and helpful people, the main character Youko and her two “friends” from school end up alone and friendless and seperated in a world that is unwelcoming to them and speaks a different language.
Soon you realize that something is wrong because Keiki, their guide and the person who brought them to a different world, is missing. This is where it starts to become a much more interesting plot. There is so much detail put into everything; and the character development is extremely interesting to watch. You get to see Youko battling with herself and a mysterious demon like illusion guy who keeps haunting her. She has to come to terms with who she is and what’s going on and what her place is in her world and the one she’s entered… meanwhile, her school mate Sugimoto is a strong counterpart where she is obsessed with the new world and thinks she is some sort of saviour there. Of course, it turns out Sugimoto is delusional and Youko is the one who belongs in the new world. But it’s really fun to watch all that unravel. God, Sugimoto pissed me off, though… just a warning, be ready to throw stuff at your screen when Sugimoto starts going on about how SHE’s the one who belongs in the world of the Twelve Kingdoms.
Other than character development, the amazing thing that draws you in is the details put into the Twelve Kingdoms themselves. While it’s complicated and you kinda have to learn a lot, if you just go with the flow things will make sense eventually. Even though there was a lot to explain, I felt that everything about the kingdoms, the system of rule and the differences of this world and ours were laid out pretty clearly by the end of the first arc without too much just listening to dialogue going on and on. But, I’m pretty tolerant of sequences with a lot of dialogue.
The first arc, which is called Shadow of the Moon, Sea of Shadow (Tsuki no Kage, Kage no Umi) basically sets up everything and introduces you to the Twelve Kingdoms. However, it does this quite well with lots of action and character development. I have a feeling that from here on, the Twelve Kingdoms will become really like Saiunkoku Monogatari. The first arc is similar mostly because the settings are similar, but with this set-up the plot focus will probably be more similar also.
Also worth mentioning is the music, which I really like.
I’m probably going to end up marathoning a lot of this. Needless to say, everything else makes up for the mediocre animation which turned me off at the very beginning.