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DVD Review

DVD cover

Nabari No Ou
Series 1 - Part 1


Starring (voice): Mitsuki Saiga, Rie Kugimiya, Akeno Watanabe and Akio Suyama
Manga Entetainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 20 June 2011

Miharu Rokujo is a bit of an apathetic slacker, with little interest in the world around him. Even though he is invited to clubs and other seems to take an interest in him, he seems oblivious to the attention until one day when he is attacked by ninjas. Following the initial attack, and having got over his fear and surprise, Miharu discovers that he is carrying the Shinra Banshō, a powerful ninja weapon and he is being both hunted and protected by different ninja factions. None of this changes his apathetic outlook...

Nabari No Ou (2008) is an anime show based on an original manga by Yuhki Kamatani. The twenty-six episode anime adaption was directed by Kunihisa Sugishima.

Although the synopsis makes the show sound very much like Narato, in fact they are very different. Not only is Nabari placed in a contemporary setting, making the ninjas look a little anachronistic, but having the central character being, initially, so anti-heroic gives the show a different flavour.

The art work for the show is the first thing that you notice. Although character design is strong, most of the characters have slightly elongated necks - an artistic choice which is not given any explanation, but one I’m sure was inserted to keep the characters visually in line with their manga depictions. There is another thing which sets the show apart and that is its backgrounds. I thought the characters were not particularly highly detailed, but the backgrounds look to have been hand drawn using pencil and pastel water colours. If its computer generated then it’s pretty impressive.

The first outing for the show comes on a double DVD set containing an impressive thirteen episode, making the show very good value for money as it represents half of the series. Given that so much stuff has been squeezed into two DVDs it's little wonder that the only extra is a commentary for episode two. The picture is sharp and bright with audio options for either an English 2.0 or the superior Japanese 5.1 with subtitles.

Though for all its good points, like Naruto, the show has a tendency to fall back on the ‘fight of the week’ format. Great if you like that sort of thing, but it often gets in the way of other story elements. There is something endearing in watching Miharu as a reluctant hero, a kid with a good heart but no interest in becoming a warrior. This trait allows him to act as a moral compass for the various parties, trusting neither side just because they demand it; his apathy makes them define themselves to him and the audience.

Overall it is an interesting show which is trying to do something out of the ordinary and in many ways succeeding.


Charles Packer

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