Descendants of Darkness
Descendants of Darkness, also known as Yami no Matsuei, is a show I’ve seen multiple times, yet have not finished it. Which is a real shame, because I cannot review the conclusion. However for all anime I have the belief that the journey is more important then the destination, because some of the best anime ever made, have outright terrible endings. I have to apologize for reveiwing a show in which I’ve only seen 11 of the 13 episodes, despite it airing on the Sci-Fi channel and on Anime Selects so many times, but I never got around to seeing the ending. But I still wish to draw attention this title, which in my opinion anyone could easily enjoy. Although it will really find a dedicated audience among Yaoi fans and horror fans. I still think it has a larger apeal then that. So without knowing how it ends, the journey is great! What a series. On to the review!
While it’s not exactly original, I really liked the story. This anime is about a group of shinigamis or Gods of Death, who deal with problems releated to the recently deceased human beings. The problems range from vampires, to mysterious murders, to issues in the main characters past. There is a overarching story, with a great main villian, but it’s slowly developed, even though this is a relatively short anime. With only 13 episodes, it still takes it time with the main plot. An approach I liked, but could discourage many. If you didn’t like the way “Witch Hunter Robin” handled it’s plot, stay clear of this series.
Now this is a dark, gothic series, and I have a soft spot for those types of things. But I really enjoyed this show. From the first episode to the last episode I saw I can say I was never bored with it Now it’s not fast paced, or action packed, but instead a character driven drama, with a very thought out plot. The writing is pretty strong though out, and the direction was decent too. Now there are some great action scenes, but this series is not based on action. Some of the scenes are very funny, and it’s used to balance out the darker and more dramatic scenes very nicely.
I like the way this series handled the afterworld. It’s a complex government bureaucracy, filled with lots of rules, guidlines, and red tape. An interesting take on what’s to come once we are no longer of this world. To think after living a life in this world, what awaits us is some more government bureaucracrats! It’s a little like the american Live Action movie “Beetlejuice” in that respect. I also liked how it shares similarities with police dramas and mysteries. Perhaps that’s why I liked this show so much, two genres I love put together (Gothic Horror and Police Drama!). A lot of the show is devoted to solving the “cases” of the dead, and this leads to some longer-then-you’d expect archs, but they are all well worth the ride.
Now this is a yaoi title. The first time I saw this series, I was in denial for the entire time. As a straight male that sort of thing does not really interest me. However I was not repulsed at all thoughout the entire show. In fact I though the slight yaoi tendencies added to the show. It did not feel like it was pandering to the fangirls, but in fact just part of the show. I still feel like they slipped yaoi into this show without me noticing it half the time, and the other half of the time thinking it made the show more interesting, yet a little unsettleing. I mean what’s worse then a villian who wants to kill you? How about a guy who wants to kill you, but first have sex with you? That would scare me to death!
Overall I found the art to be a disappointment. The backgrounds were nice looking but not detailed enough. The animation just didn’t flow to well during scenes too. However the character designs were great! I really thought they put a lot of work into desiging each and every character. They look original and interesting looking. My only problem with the designs is one of the main characters, Hisoka Kurosaki, is supposely 16 years old, but looks much older. This was probally intentional however due to some of the more edgy scenes in the anime. The animation really improves during the short action scenes or fight scsnes, and it is during these times that everything on scene is really impressive. CGI is used from time to time, most notably in the Opening Sequence, and while dated by todays standards, looks really good. It looked even better years ago, and in my opinion gives it a nice edge to it other series of it’s time didn’t have. Still I think it could have been much better, given it’s lenght. But it apparently did not have a huge budget. Still I can live with what we got in terms of animation.
The music in this series ranges from average to above average. While nothing too great, everything is listenable. The background music is really good at times, and fits. The opening theme song is really good in my opinion, and very original sounding. The ending theme was a disapointment though in my opinion.
I thought the dub was pretty good, but not without it’s problems. First let’s adress the acting. This anime is very well acted. Dan Green and Liam O’Brien really outddid themselves with this one. They are some of my favorite voice actors, and this is why. They really pull off every line with expertise. The other actors do a great job, or at least about as much as we can expect. So if the acting is not the problem what is you say? The casting and some accent/vocal decisions made. Some of the actors seem very miscast in their roles, while easy to overlook does not help the production. However my bigest problem with the dub is the accents and vocal decisions. Soem characters speak with a faux british accent which sounds stupid most of the time, and a few of the characters sound like Mickey Mouse and Miney Mouse, or sound scary! While I can’t blame them do to the designs of the characters (who do look very cartoony, as they aren’t people but do act like people), I have to wonder if there was maybe another way these characters could have sounded. It’s not a whipe though. I found it to be pretty good overall, but marked by bad casting decisions and vocal/accent decisions. I place the blame more on the ADR director then the actors however. Still if you enjoy dubs there is no reason not to listen to this one. It’s a decent New York dub, very refreshing, but not without some problems. But if you like your subs, your probally better off sticking with them on this one.
All the characters are interesting enough.While it does sort-of fall into the trap non-original characters for it’s background cast, it’s not really a bad thing in my opinion. The two main characters are likeable and a mystery to us at first. Which means we start to wonder how they got to where they are today, and eventually leads to us careing abou them. Which makes learning about their pasts much more interesting in my opinion. Mr. Tsuzuki is a cool dude, who likes his sweets! The viewer will probally associate with him, more then the angsty teen, Hisoka Kurosaki (I mean unless your an ansgty teen of course 😛 ). While Mr. Tsuzuki can be childish and playful at times, he is still a mature adult, and it’s nice to see such a lead character. He’s even a little admirable. Hisoka while angsty, is not anoying. Some may not really like him completely, but I found his history to be very interesting, and well though out. It helps explain his character, and why he is who he is. But the real star of the show is the main villian, Dr. Muraki . He is charismatic, yet creepy. Powerful yet has a weakness. Interesting, yet your scared to learn more about him! Easily the best villian in anime since Vicious in “Cowboy Bebop”, and King Hamdo in “Now and Then, Here and There”! He’s that good! This guy is freaken nuts, but in a way you think he’s totally sane! Well worth watching this show just to see what totally disturbing and morally unsettling thing he does next.
I have to agree with the fangirls on this one! This is a very enjoyable and watchable show! While not groundbraking or remarkable, it’s damn good entertainment! I really enjoyed watching this series, and hope to one day buy it on DVD ( I saw it multiple times on Anime Selects On Demand) and finish it finally. Shoujo horror (Hell Girl, Ghost Hunt, Red Garden, Vampire Princess Miyu, etc) always apeals to me for some reason(even though I’m a guy, go figure!), so this review is a little biased. Not to mention I love urban crime dramas. But still I think this show would be enjoyed by anyone, as long as they are not against seeing some slight yaoi. And as long as you don’t need action scene followed by action scene, or riveting fast paced series you probally will enjoy this. If you like a good drama look no further then this well written little gem!
Overall – 8/10