Heeeey MoarPowah! Long time no see. I haven’t written a review in a while since my weekly posts have just been the Guoventures series, but I’m finally going to write some more anime reviews. On today’s menu is No.6, Bones’ futuristic action-fantasy offering to the Summer 2011 Anime Season. Just from the poster you can tell the show will have plenty of BL-undertones, but considering how it was first based on a (completed) light novel series, and then serialized as a manga, I still had high hopes for this show. Let’s see how I liked it?
Without further ado, let’s dig in! Itadakimasu~
So the setting is typical of most utopian societies; the environment is uniformly green and beautiful, the houses are practically mansions, and everyone seems to be perfectly happy. In fact, our setting has basically two defining traits: its name, No.6 (as opposed to being named No.5, the name of a neighboring utopia) and a thimble-like facility dead in its center called the Moon Drop. However, soon we learn that No.6 is actually very differently from its neighboring utopias. While the anime leaves many questions unanswered, one thing is clear. No.6’s motto is to protect its eternal unchanging-ness, by all means necessary, even if it means kidnapping any who harbor doubt or framing its own citizens for murder. Later we also discover that the higher echelons of No.6 are so greedy they have no bouts with genocide (like their friendly neighboring forest tribes) for the sake of harnessing knowledge.
Onwards to the characters. We have our immediate MC’s, Shion and Nezumi (which translates into either “rat” or “mouse”. Later we learn that he is the sole survivor of the aforementioned obliterated forest tribe). Nezumi is a runaway criminal, and though he’s pretty smart himself (he disables chips and makes mechanical mice), he’s entirely different from Shion, who is a genius on the track to becoming an elite since the age of 2. Through some miracle, these two opposites meet. In other words, Nezumi sneaks into Shion’s room and threatens to kill him. After the initial ‘introduction’ Shion is all but overjoyed to stitch up the apparently girlish-looking runaway’s bullet wounds. The two develop a sort of deep connection overnight, but the next day Nezumi is no where to be found while Shion is charged for harboring a criminal and stripped of his entitlement to an elite’s education. Shion and Nezumi meet again after a four-year time skip, and live together for the majority of the series.
Somehow I don’t think these two frames should happen within a minute of one another.
Now all I have to say about the two MC’s relationship is that it is at the very least hard to believe. Harboring a complete stranger with a gun wound? Okay, that’s been done before. Not turning him in after realizing he’s a criminal? Still believable. But developing a connection with this stranger and, more importantly, cherishing the memory for four whole years, that’s what I don’t understand. The anime (and probably the manga and light novel as well) used the excuse that Shion is a “natural airhead” but no matter how air-headed you are, getting threatened with a knife to your throat is a scary thing. I refuse to just let plot holes like these pass if the author/director hope that by slapping on a flimsy old band-aid, my (rather nonexistent) need to see a canon homosexual pairing will allow me to turn a blind eye to this glaring problem. It’s liberties like these that make the shounen-ai genre
crap infamously just really bad. This turn-out of events is entirely unbelievable on Shion’s end, so a large chunk of my expectation was chopped off from the start.
The only other notable character is Safu, Shion’s childhood friend who harbors unrequited love for him. In terms of persistence and patience, this girl takes the cake. I didn’t particularly like her as a character, but I really have to hand it to her, she just doesn’t give up. She tells Shion that her kiss to him on his birthday is an expression of her desire to reproduce with them, and after the four year time skip she asks him to have sex with him. Even when becomes the vessel for the goddess Eriulias and is granted any one wish, her only wish is to see Shion again so she can say she loves him. This girl is tragic, but by gosh she is really something.
In terms of character development, No.6 sucked. Well, that may be a little harsh, but it really wasn’t all too good. We learn very early on that Shion is too nice and too oblivious for his own good, so Nezumi has to break out of his usual calm and cool persona to babysit Shion. Other than that, development does not happen. Much like No.6’s motto, the characters are stuck in eternal unchanging-ness. Even at the end of the series, I couldn’t tell if Shion and Nezumi’s relationship changed at all from what they had that one night four years back. The only thing that hinted at Nezumi’s love for Shion was that he kissed him in the very end (it wasn’t their very first kiss though), but this led to more questions than answers for me. Furthermore, I didn’t sense any romantic meaning from the kiss, so what was the point? A heartfelt hug would have served the same purpose (and caused half as many questions) so why did the author/director choose to use a kiss? Is there any other meaning behind the kissing or was it just fan service? Either way, the intent failed to be conveyed. The development between these two is littered with blindsiding the viewers with uncalled for actions on both of their parts and what seems to be scattered clips and frames of fan service.
Development on some side characters, on the other hand, was much better but almost insignificant. Here I’ll introduce Inukashi (translated as dog loan, because she loans dogs). Inukashi is the most androgynous character ever, but I’ve concluded that she’s a girl due to certain events towards the end of the series. At first her character is just really rough and tough, but through contact with Shion and the scenes when she spends time with her dogs, her real personality shows through. Inukashi is capable of being very kind and caring, but acts the way she does because that is the only way to survive outside the walls of No.6. Even so, there are things that still throw her off balance, such as the thought of being forgotten after she dies, or when she gets molested by a creepy official. Only during these times, you realize that even though Inukashi is very capable of defending herself, she’s still quite vulnerable and very new to the ways of the world. I very much enjoyed discovering the layers to her personality, so she’s probably my favorite character of the series. Her voicing was fantastically androgynous as well, but as I’ve said before, the MCs are no where nearly as complex and Inukashi is but a supporting character.
Aside from development, there were still plenty of directly and indirectly character-related problems, namely, the excess of unnecessary characters and even places. I’ll start out with No.6’s happy-go-lucky neighbor, No.5. Safu transfers to a school in No.5 to further her educational studies, but it serves no other purpose than just that; to separate Safu from her grandmother. In fact, again, all it does is make rise to new questions. What makes it different from No.6 that it changed Safu and caused her to notice No.6’s flaws? Why is it that No.5 doesn’t fall? Again, unanswered questions seems to be one of this series’ biggest flaws.
After that we have characters who seem to have a role but can be altogether cut out. Most obvious of these is one of the founding members of No.6. First of all, why are some of them still alive (we meet the one kneeling in the center in a later episode). The “continuing of an unchanging eternity” nonsense that No.6 spouts, if anything, implies that it’s been in existence for a large chunk of eternity. As shown in the photo, both Shion’s mother, Karan, and a man named Rikiga (who at first helps out Shion a lot due to his crush on Karan) were at most 20 years younger when they took that picture. And the younger scientists look at most 30 years old, so taking into account that they have at most 10 years of prior work in them, No.6 is at most currently… 30 years old as well? Its motto is entirely baseless, and yet it manages to gain so much trust and dependency from its inhabitants. Time and time again, this series brings up theories I find incredibly hard to believe.
But back to this founding member of No.6 character. He was so minor he didn’t even have a name, and yet he has a whole episode dedicated to him. All he accomplished was to show Nezumi’s backstory and to give Shion a data chip that ultimately never gets analyzed. Then there is no point in even knowing that the chip existed. That whole episode could have been condensed into a much shorter 5 to 10 minute segment of an entirely different episode that could have potentially helped the pacing of the series. The series is so rushed, and yet it has time to introduce disposable and meaningless characters one after another.
Now, I said “all he accomplished” but it’s not all he did. This nameless man is apparently the first victim to the parasitic bees that plague No.6 and almost killed Shion. I’ve failed to mention them even though they were such a large part of the show because they were so underplayed and question-ridden, and the founder failed to provide any new definitive information. All he did was muddle the situation even more. If he was the first victim, when did this happen? Did the bees just take victims sparingly after that or the bees stop taking victims altogether, and if so then why? And why did they restart their hunting during Shion’s time? I can keep on asking these questions, but my point is that No.6 needs a more clear-cut timeline, because the pacing is just God awful.
Another seemingly main character that gets watered down in the end is a “rebel” type character named Yoming (the name is ridiculous). He attempts to convince Karan to join his forces and overthrow No.6 but not only does she refuse his offer and his advances, but his coup d’état falls on
deaf dead ears, and he himself also perishes. His role may have been to bring to light that Shion and Nezumi are not the only ones going again No.6, but he takes up too much screen time for what he’s worth.
There’s not as much to say for art or animation, and I’ve never paid too much attention to music in anime (unless it’s absolutely incredible). I really liked the art style, and the animation was generally consistent. There weren’t that many fighting scenes, but there were a good number of flashy action scenes, and those were pretty well animated. I hated the OP for No.6, but I really liked the ED. The ED animation told more about Shion and Nezumi’s relationship than the whole series managed to convey, which may not say much, but what I mean is that it’s really good.
As you can see, No.6 was a disappointment. The art was the only thing that kept me going for this series, aside from wanting to know what happens in the end. Maybe it was a little too deep for me, because I’ve read some highly rated reviews for it, but if I have to analyze the story that deeply, I call it a failure on the part of the author/director, as it’s their job to make the story understandable but still complex enough to be interesting. No.6 had great potential; it had a great premise and a great voicing staff and even had the whole story already completed. However, in the anime, the characters failed to carry the story fluidly and the pacing was just terrible. Maybe it was because the series was only 11 episodes long, but really. It was all over the place.
Gochisousama deshita! Over and out.