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DVD Review

DVD cover

Romeo X Juliet
Volume 1


Starring (voice): Fumie Mizusawa, Takahiro Mizushima, Aya Hisakawa and Ayako Kawasumi
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 12
Available 15 February 2010

Neo Verona is a medieval fantasy land which, since the rise to power by the dictatorial and cruel Leontes Montague, has been in steady decline. It has been fourteen years since he rose to the position of prince, following his assassination of all the surviving members of the house of Capulet, time enough for Montague to poison the population who oppose the Capulets. Safe in his position he turned his mind towards the future and an heir. Now Juliet is set to come into her own power and start the road towards the destruction of the Montagues, except that by chance Juliet meets Montague’s son Romeo, a meeting which finds the young couple falling in love...

Romeo X Juliet (2007) is a 24-episode series based very loosely on Shakespeare's play. The anime was directed by Fumitoshi Oizaki from a script by Reiko Yoshida. This volume holds the first six episodes: Two People: When They Met; Promise: The Fragrance of Memories; Love: Cruel Mischief; Shyness: Stuck in the Rain; Cold Whirlwind: Burning Unprepared and Desire: Entrusted Tomorrow.

The first DVD details the first unintentional meeting of the star crossed lovers at a ball. Paralleling this is Odin’s story, apparently a young man disguised in a red costume, he travels the streets of Neo Verona, trying to protect the populace from the excesses of the Montague reign. Only Odin is actually Juliet. Juliet is a character of high morals and combat skills. When we first meet her she is unaware of her true identity, something which will be revealed to her on her sixteenth birthday. I never swallowed this bit of the plot, as the first episode clearly shows that her parents are killed right in front of her. You would have thought that something like that would have stuck in her memory.

Juliet lives, amongst others, with William, a playwright. Here lovers of Shakespeare will either enjoy the many in jokes, the use of play titles and quotes as part of his normal speech pattern, or will be forming a lynching mob. I wouldn’t be too culturally upset as this is a show design for kids, not a history lesson or a production of Romeo and Juliet. If nothing else the flying horses should give that away.

The show is mostly about the seemingly doomed love affair between our two lovers and, while this takes up the majority of the show, Gonzo have been careful to keep the cheese levels low. There is little point in going into a detailed analysis of the plot, as the whole narrative is designed to get our two heroes together, sometimes through unbelievable means.

The disc comes with audio options for either an English 5.1 track or a 2.0 Japanese track, with subtitles. It depends what you’re looking for. If you fancy a fairly flat rendition of the script then the Japanese track is superior, though the English 5.1 track is acceptable, though it does contain a lot more Shakespeare allusions.

The disc has a few extras, beginning with The Making of Romeo X Juliet Anime (27 min, 06 sec). This was actually specially created to publicise the show, as such it is full on image and low on substance. There are the inevitable textless opening and closing sequence and a picture gallery.

Overall, from a first look at the show, it appears to be in line with Gonzo’s other high quality output, though whether an audience will wait over twelve hours to see if the lovers end up together is another matter.


Charles Packer

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