Jyu Oh Sei
|Format: 11 episodes|
|Allegiance: Jyu-Oh-Sei Production Committee/ Studio Bones|
|Director: Hiroshi Nishikiori|
|Intelligence Agency Report by: Tremolo|
|Thor and his twin brother Rai find themselves marooned on the inhospitable prison planet Chimera after returning home to discover their parents murdered. Wandering through the jungles, full of man-eating vegetation, in search of civilisation, the brothers soon learn that on Chimera, only the strong survive by casting off the weak – and only the strongest of all can become Jyu Oh Sei – The Beast King.|
|Field Agent Report by: Tremolo|
|(not an average)|
Jyu Oh Sei has almost everything possible going for it you could imagine to make a great anime. Fantastic animation? Check. Evocative music? Check. Interesting characters? Check? Great story. Che– Oh. The main, crippling flaw of Jyu Oh Sei is its story. At a mere eleven episodes, there’s not a chance that everything is going to be explored adequately when it comes to a premise like this, which is a great shame because there really is a lot going for it.
For a start, it looks wonderful, and so it should with Studio Bones handling the animation. Everything looks much more visually striking thanks to the production being in widescreen, the studio’s first foray into such a format. Eschewing CG elements, the animation is crisp, clean and detailed with wonderfully fluid movements and action sequences. The killer plant sequences in the first half of the series gain that much more impact thanks to such fluidity, especially when combined with Mizoguchi Hajime’s heart-poundingly intense music. The character designs just about manage to rise above their 1980’s manga origins, although the clothes often don’t, which is rather amusing at times but hardly a flaw.
The aforementioned music is excellent throughout, using cellos to great effect. Perhaps the only letdown on this front is the horrendously cheesy opening theme, but even that grows on you after a while. What takes longer to grow on you are the characters, who, outside the main trio of Thor, Tiz and Third, receive little-to-no development, which is a great shame considering the interesting personalities that are glanced over. Worse still, far too much time is spent on one character further along in the series when the plot could be focused on other, more exciting, things.
As previously stated, the running time of the series really trips up what could be an excellent story. Chimera itself is a huge world with its own seasons and different tribes, but we barely see any of it or how the politics of the people themselves work – it’s disappointing that such an evocative, interesting setting goes to waste. With only eleven episodes, it’s not surprising that the last few episodes are very rushed. Revelations come perhaps a bit too thick and fast and there are some horribly pointless moments that feel tacked-on, as if drama was trying to be created where there really needn’t be any. Striving to be downbeat by killing off characters pointlessly simply does not automatically equate to instant drama, and on top of this, the rather strange final scene leaves something of a bitter taste in the mouth.
The time you spend with Jyu Oh Sei really is genuinely entertaining and good, solid fun, yet for all its strengths, its chances of achieving greatness are thwarted by its brief length. Ultimately, this is an anime that feels like a snapshot of a twenty-six, or even fifty episode-long series that never was.