Saturday, February 2, 2013

Anime Review: Jyu Oh Sei (Planet of the Beast King)

Jyu Oh Sei or "Planet of the Beast King" is an anime that moves at an amazingly steady pace given its limit of 11 episodes.  It draws you into the cold, high-tech space colony of Juno and its contrasting setting, the relentless and wild Chimaera.


Plot: "Thor and his twin brother, Rai, are cast off to a forsaken planet by unknown masked men after witnessing the suspicious death of their parents. Given only a beam knife and a smelly satchel, they wander together in search of civilization on the primarily plant based world. They soon discover the plants have the advantage. Only the strong survive; the ones who throw away their humanity and become the beasts humans once were." Anime News Network



The cover art (the first picture) is slightly deceiving because at no point in the anime does the main character Thor appear like that.  So here's a better cover art piece that represents the anime more wholeheartedly.


 STORY                                                                                                               

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the plot of Jyu Oh Sei drew me in right away and all of the episodes never failed to leave a suspenseful cliffhanger (although it got to the point of being obviously calculative).  It's seems like a blend of Trigun (with the theme of two brothers being sent from a futuristic setting to a desolate planet) and the movie Origin: Spirits of the Past (with plants being the dominant species).

I really liked the theme of brotherhood but I was really disappointed that one of the brothers, Rai, was killed off so early in the plot; And not only was he killed off, but Rai showed up in maybe three more episodes before he disappeared off the face of this anime.  This seemed to cheapen his existence and greatly weaken the bond between Thor and Rai which could have proved to be a strong plot theme.

Jyu Oh Sei dives straight into the core essence of the plot, leaving no room for dawdling; I can't exactly blame the writers though with this hefty piece of fiction and a limit of 11 episodes.

 ANIMATION                                                                                                        

Both environments and characters were animated beautifully.  The space colony which debuted for only an episode or two, successfully portrayed its cold and sterile environment where even computerized projections of a clear blue sky only made the setting appear more unnatural.  Chimaera on the other hand was a fascinating and harsh environment with stark contrasts between the lush green forests and desolate wastelands.  Carnivorous plants came to life and reenforced the fact that it was a hard reality to live on Chimaera. 

Character designs are reminiscent of Escaflowne.  Overall, I liked the characters' appearances although some of them could have been a bit more original; Characters such as Tiz looked like at least three other characters from separate anime series.  I found it somewhat amusing that the child version of Thor was graced with an awkwardly large nose compared to when he matured later in the story.  Aren't children supposed to have smaller noses than their older counterparts?

 SOUND                                                                                                                

The music wasn't all that memorable and I can't even remember any of the background music.  The only thing that I can recall is the opening theme song which is has quite a catchy jazz tune.  It's not a bad song for the opening theme although it's tone doesn't really match the series.  Well, at least it's memorable.

I was happy with most of the English voice cast except for younger Thor and Rai.  I found it really strange how their voices sounded so much like whiny little girls.  Younger characters usually have women for a voice actor but when kid Trunks (DBZ) sounds more like a boy than these two, I'm a bit iffy about it.  In this situation, I don't think Allison Viktorin was a good fit for the character.

The most emotional performance I heard was probably from Trina Nishimura who played Tiz.  Tiz is a character with an annoying personality but Nishimura made her character much more likable with her honest and emotional performance.

If I were to watch this anime over again, I'd probably go with the original Japanese dub as I've watched a few episodes in Japanese and overall, the voice acting is much more emotional than its English counterpart.  Also, young Thor manages to sound like a boy.

 OVERALL                                                                                                           
RATING: 6/10

Jyu Oh Sei fell short of developing to its fullest potential.  This is partially due to the fact that there were a limited amount of episodes and this story seems to be one that should have been 20 episodes minimum.

There were some other tweaks that could've been made such as giving Rai more flashbacks and actually putting some effort into incorporating him into the story.  The wrap up at the end was also squeezed into one gigantic elaboration that could have been slowly spaced out and hinted from the beginning to end of the series.

Lastly, I shall briefly mention my thoughts on each of the characters.  Just a warning, I won't be subtle about it!

Tiz 
At the beginning, I could somewhat understand Tiz being so obsessed with Thor as it was "Chimaerean culture" for the women being able to choose their mates/husbands.  Thor being the attractive and exotic male and the situation of Tiz claiming him as her husband to save his life made it all sort of fall into place.

Unfortunately for Tiz, continuing to act like a total booty-call did not earn her points in favor of Thor's affections.  She must have appeared to Thor as an overly possessive girl who only wanted him for his body (with her constantly pestering him about being her baby-daddy). 




Thor
Here is the attractive, older version of Thor with so much less personality compared to when he was a child.  Somewhere along the way, he lost a lot of the spunk he started off with and turned into quite the bland guy.  Good thing Tiz likes him (mostly) for his looks.  The lame thing about Thor, at least his older self, is that he's so predictable!  He sees a hot girl, he goes for the hot girl; Zagi acts like a total douchebag, Thor quickly assumes Zagi is evil; the girl Thor likes dies, he decides to go with Tiz (This is somewhat understandable though.  Tiz is the biggest booty-call ever).

Don't get me wrong, I do like Thor, but I was fairly disappointed that even with all the effort Tiz put into getting Thor to like her over the years, after just a moment of seeing a hot girl, he drops Tiz like a hot potato and gives her the "I think of you as a sister" explanation.  She seemed so shocked after that revelation that I'm left to believe that Thor hasn't ever revealed this fact to Tiz.  Shouldn't he have told her this a long time ago?  Talk about crap timing on his part.

Third
It's like Jyu Oh Sei took all the interesting qualities of a character and channeled them into Third.  Third is a very intriguing character with many hidden motives.  People are left to wonder why he does certain things such as staying Third instead of rising to the top with his mad skills or constantly helping Thor to become the 'Beast King'.  It's fun to watch him because we never know what he'll do next; He's obviously got something up his sleeve.

I love mysterious characters and Third adds just the right amount of suspense to the show.  I never expected what would happen at the ending with Third and honestly, I was very surprised with the outcome.  He could have used a bit more of a back story though as his motivations were a lot simpler than I had imagined.


Zagi
Besides the fact that Zagi was kind of a prick, he's the second most interesting character of the series.  I think he had a thing for Thor; His actions made even Karim jealous.  I'm still unsure of what Zagi's true intentions were as it wasn't made very clear even at the end.  My guess is that he was doing everything he did out of pure curiosity.

Zagi is obviously a special person in Thor's life because he was the first person Thor encountered when he first landed on Chimaera.  He disappeared for a while after Thor joined the Ochre Ring but came back in later episodes with some unclear objective which added a lot of mystery to his character.




Chen
Chen is your typical headstrong, alpha woman who deserves a lot more respect than she gets credit for.  She starts off as stubborn but is quick to accept her mistakes and becomes humble after being defeated by Thor in battle.  Her only flaw is her pride as she stubbornly exiles herself from the world after she loses one of her legs in battle.

She holds great importance to the story because she eventually gets over her issues and supports Thor in the end.





Karim
I have only one word for Karim and that's slut.  She's a character that's quite tasteless and I wonder how Thor could be so deluded.  For one, she's overly jealous of Thor (because Zagi is apparently so hot for him) and therefore, acts like a total b*tch, even in a life threatening situation.  She's also got the hots for both Zagi and Thor, even going as far as admitting that she wanted to have both their babies.  Is it just me, or do women on Chimaera immediately fall for any hot guy they meet?  She's just too shallow with a pathetically weak motivation in her life.  Note to all women: Don't revolve your world around one guy!

I guess you could call her an honest slut because she openly admitted that she wanted to sleep with both men.  I could just imagine this b*tch suggesting a threesome!  Karim is a lame character because she based her whole world around Zagi for God knows why, has little self-respect, and above all, is a slut.

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