Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito anime was originally released in 2003. Based on an ero-game visual novel, in 2004 when I reviewed it, I said, Hazuki was one the “most openly lesbian character in all of 2003.”
It’s quite extraordinary how much changes in 13 years. There are series I loved when they debuted, that upon aging, never really held up. And there are series that I really loathed at the beginning but, as they and I aged, we both mellowed a bit.
It’s even been 8 years since Touka Gettan, the main selling point of which was that it was by the same team that brought us Yamibou (not much of a selling point, I thought then and still think.)
Somewhat surprisingly, Yamibou, which has been released by Media Blasters under their Anime Works imprint, is both better and worse than I remembered.
Let’s get the bad out of the way quickly. I had technical difficulties playing the disk. We had to dig out a computer with an old version of Windows Media Player to get it to work. Our DVD player and my several media payers failed to do more than open up the title page. The title page is slim, but typical of Media Blasters, you’re just never quite sure your choice has stuck, until the video starts. ^_^
The art is….well, of course, it’s all subjective, but it’s worse than I remembered. Obsessively male gaze, and the faces are the most absurdly big eyes – small mouth I’ve ever seen. Almost a parody of the worst bits of the genre. Lots of high-contrast light and gel lens effects and do not get me started on the “shaky camera” that is so overused I was beginning to feel seasick. UGH, animators who use a shaky camera, there is a special place in hell for you.
The story is, well, it’s better than I remembered, if only because it’s got an actual story within all the story jumping. I only remembered dribs and drabs of the narrative.
The first part of the story is, of course, our introduction to high schooler Azuma Hazuki, who is in lust with her older sister , Hatsumi. On Hatsumi’s 16th birthday, she disappears, Hazuki follows her into a library in which millions of stories exist, all of which are a world that Hazuki, and the keeper of the Library, Lilith enter, ostensibly to look for Hatsumi, but more realistically so we can lasciviously leer at the sexual harassment of a variety of female characters.
We learn that Hatsumi is actually Eve and that the melodramatic Adam by the name of Gargantua, is looking for her…for reasons. Reasons which include being insane and obsessing over Eve’s ability to give life and therefore immortality.
Mostly we’re watching Hazuki wander through worlds in which she is cast as the strong but silent and broody type that all the girls fall in love with, including Lilith. She’s cool, if you like that type and she’s voiced by Noto Mamiko, which I hadn’t remembered at all. (Shimizu Ai plays Hatsumi, although admittedly, not a chewy part what with Hatsumi being mute for huge chunks of the story and all.)
If this anime was re-done to not work so hard to be appealing to a truly lowest denominator audience who imagine that young women objectify and sexualize their objects of desire the way a male audience is presumed to, it might not be bad. Instead it vacillates between deeply cringe-making and not-entirely-awful. ^_^;
Art – 5 what was I thinking in 2004?
Story – 5
Characters – 7
Yuri – 7
Service – a grillion
Overall – 7 If you know what you’re getting into, it still has moments that are worth watching for.
Another thing that has changed, in 2003 I apparently didn’t like the music, but Aitai, the OP, has been on my MP3 player for a decade and I still like it, so in your face younger me. :-P
Thanks so much to Media Blasters for the review copy. It is truly a blast rewatching this.