I get to redefine my definition of MISERY based on what these characters go through.
Been wanting to watch this, I got this since 2 years ago. I could have started anytime. Anytime is a good time. That is what makes this retro mini-anime timeless.
I’m half-way through, about to start on episode 6 - The Cicada Spirit Cry. I am simply LOVING the reveals - the characters, the story, the twists - the freaking snake of a villain ohgawdthatguyWHY
The animation is mixed and quite free-handed, so it is not super neat like Bleach’s cookie-cut lines. This was first released in 1990, so as expected there was some wild limb angles and crooked villain faces, but at least it was fluid and swift. And boy, the fluid and swift animation is a must for those action-packed sword fights.
Speaking of fluidity, there are lots of symbolism and acid-tripping nightmare imagery, which speaks volumes of the characters’ psyches. I miss this in newer animes (especially in Naruto and Bleach, where symbolism of this nature is stiff and seems forced to me), where studios may water down the content too much by dragging out back-story with the over-use of FLASHBACKS (I’m looking at you Big Three), leaving nothing to the imagination. Here, they show quick flashes of vivid pictures and colours, similar to how you would recall memories that evoke strong emotions - traumatic experiences, death of a loved one, unjust moments. For each of these images, there is stark contrast of colour, and a strong focus - spattering of red blood against white paper walls, a tiny silhouette against the whiteness of a violent snow storm, a smashed sake bottle on the ground - the audience can recall the context of those images easily.
For each new character reveal, there is a delightful moment between the two or more main characters that meet each other - a holding of breath, dawning realisation - two characters that were about to kill each other realise that their meeting was fated, so much so that they stop their conflict and ally with each other. Each of the eight main characters hold an identical symbolic item. The item reveals themselves in the heat of the moment and the two characters simply stop, stare at the blasted pair of items, look at each other, back at the items, and have a “…Ah.” moment. It’s a heartwarming moment in the midst of a fiery encounter.
Violence is not sugar-coated here. There be GORE! When the gore is not shown explicitly, the suggestive violence is shown in the spatters on the wall, the corpses in the aftermath, the bloody decorations left behind by the sword. What comes after violence is even louder - the silence of shock and despair, or the screams of rage or terror.
My favourite voice actors are making it seem so easy. In the characters’ gentle moments, they speak with easy-going harmonic tones; in tragic ones, they speak as if truly in howling agony. Oh, not to mention the tons of fighting scenes, be it sword fights or hand-to-hand combat or running the hell away, there be lots of TERIAAAA and SEIYAAAA cries. I am familiar with how the protagonist’s seiyuu, Seki Toshihiko, sounds, after hearing many of his other works. Seki-san has voiced at least three other similar characters, they all sound very similar, but I’m managing to distinguish between them because of the character reveals.
With every episode comes new challenges and characters, and the protagonist, being who he is, JUST manages to pull through unexpectedly, and this makes the show exciting, so I get to immerse myself in the world and believe in him. Getting hunted down by the Lord’s entire army? No problem, simply face down his imprisoned ax-crazy ex-guard who is ridiculously powerful, and then befriend the guy after the two of you almost get struck by lightning, but fall into the lake, almost drowning to death, but end up getting saved by the ex-guard’s random friend, hiding away from a rogue army that want the protagonist’s head for the Lord’s reward. I love a moving plot.
I’ve been listening to the music CD for this anime, where each of the main eight voice actors sing one song, themed after their characters. I’m starting to appreciate it even more, now that I have the context behind the lyrics.
A live-action of this anime is entirely possible. The pacing and suspense in the anime could be translated to live-action almost verbatim, and the cinematography of the landscapes and indoor settings are possible, we still have those. The occasional supernatural element is possible to process using CGI. The toughest bit to capture would be the action scenes. I think that’s why there aren’t many excellent samurai scenes - impossible close-ups on the swordsmens’ expressions, and capturing the strength of their sword swing is difficult, as the HD camera might be cut in the process… It is a challenge to make the fight look wild and violent, when it actually has to be controlled and monitored. I suppose we could always
cheat and shoot the scenes in reverse NAH
Going to continue watching. Hopeless little me is going to keep looking out for the protagonist. Whee~