As soon as the series begins you are bombarded with familiar phrases such as Jutsu, Ninjutsu and Shinobi and the first thing you are likely to think of is Naruto but this is just about where the similarities end. Although the series does have Ninja and hidden villages and other things that appear in other anime it manages to create a very original story using familiar themes in a modern setting.
Nabari no Ou is the story of an apathetic school boy called Miharu Rokujo whose ordinary life is about to be turned upside down by events that he has no control over. He learns that his body carries the Shinra Bansho, the most powerful secret art in the ninja world of Nabari. The only problem is that he has now become the target of the great Ninja clans who want to use his secret powers for their own purposes.
Miharu is not alone he befriends people who vow to protect him these are Koichi, a calm minded wind ninja, Raimei, leader of the Fuuma Samurai family and Tobari his languages teacher. With these three friends they must fight against the forces that wish to steal the Shinra Bansho, the only problem is that not everybody is what they seem.
This volume is the first half of the series (episodes 1-13) and does a fantastic job of setting up the story for the rest of the series. The first few episodes introduce you to the main characters and the scenario at a steady pace, the characters are very well-developed each with their own history and back story. One thing that is demonstrated very well is that all the characters, both hero and villain have their light and dark sides, some are more apparent than others. This helps create characters that you can really believe in and feel for. There are some fantastic episodes where the characters are forced into confrontations because of a dark secret from their past. Also there is no clear definition between which is the correct side for Miharu to align himself with. It’s all pretty compelling and there are a lot of plot twists just in these first thirteen episodes of the series.
The animation is a treat to behold, it’s surprising how well the art style works. The background art work is all water-colour in style creating very light and soft looking environments while the characters have a fairly rough hand drawn style that works really well at creating a unique feel for each character and the two art styles work very well together. The production value are high and the quality of animation remains consistently very good through these episodes. This is certainly one of the original and best looking shows to be released in a a long time.
Along with the great animation is an equally impressive soundtrack, it’s a rarity to have an anime soundtrack fully orchestrated but this show pulls it off, the music accompanies the series perfectly from soothing celtic themes to Akira Kurosawa inspired battle scenes, this series is a delight to see and hear. The english dub is also very good. the cast seems to be very well-chosen, for a series of its nature you won’t find any squeaky voiced Monica Rials or Luci Christians here! The only issue would be that Miharu sound a little too feminine for a boy.
If you are looking for a series that offers something new then you should certainly check this one out. If you are looking for a series that looks and sounds great then you should also certainly check this one out. If you are looking for one of the best series to be released in the UK this year then you will have to get this on.
Nabari no Ou is due for release 20th June and is available for pre-order now.
Nabari No Ou – Series 1 Part 1 [DVD] – £14.99 (£1.15/episode)